Half of NZ's same-sex marriages come from overseas

Gay marriage

About half the total of same-sex marriages and civil unions in New Zealand last year were registered to overseas visitors, Stats NZ has revealed.

And more than half of those overseas couples were from Australia, the figures show.

"Couples from Australia accounted for 58 percent of overseas same-sex couples coming here to marry," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "A further 17 percent came from China."

  • 23,196 marriages and civil unions were registered in New Zealand in 2016
  • 954 were same-sex marriages or civil unions
  • 483 of those were to NZ residents, and 471 were to overseas residents
  • 309 were female, and 174 were male

The newly-released figures from Stats NZ also show that there was a slight increase overall in Kiwis getting married or a civil union.

  • 20,235 NZ resident marriages or civil unions in 2016
  • 19,947 NZ resident marriages or civil unions in 2015

Most couples preferred to marry than get civil unions - with 23,136 opposite-sex and same-sex marriages registered in New Zealand in 2016, compared to just 60 civil unions.

Marriage rates peaked in 1971 at 27,201. Back then the median age at first marriage was 23 years old for men and about 21 years old for women.

Today the median for a first marriage or civil union is about 30 years old for men and 29 years old for women.

As for divorce, analysis of the numbers by year of marriage shows that just over one-third (38 percent) of New Zealanders who married in 1991 had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary (25 years), Stats NZ says.

This compares with 34 percent for those who married in 1981, and 29 percent for those who married in 1971.