New Zealand's fastest-growing region revealed

The fastest-growing region of the country is the Bay of Plenty, new figures from Statistics NZ show.

Between 2013 and 2019, Bay of Plenty's population grew an average 2.7 percent a year - followed by Northland at 2.4 percent, Waikato and Otago at 2.3 percent and Auckland at 2 percent.

Between then, the four northernmost regions accounted for 60 percent of the country's population growth over those six years. Together they now account for more than half the country - 54 percent. 

Auckland had the biggest increase in population of the 16 regions, from 1.49 million to 1.68 million - the equivalent of adding the population of Dunedin and Invercargill, or more than the entirety of Hamilton. 

"Net migration drove the growth in these regions which reflected the significant contribution of international migration to New Zealand's overall population growth," said population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers.

The only region to lose people was the South Island's West Coast, which lost 700 people. 

Drilling down to territorial authorities, (excluding Auckland) the data shows the biggest growth took place in Queenstown-Lakes (up 7.1 percent a year), Selwyn (6), Central Otago (3.7).  The biggest loss was in the West Coast's Buller District, down 1.5 percent a year.

In Auckland, the fastest growth was recorded in Papakura (up 4.7 percent a year), followed by Rodney (3.7), Upper Harbour (3.2), Manurewa (2.9) and Hibiscus and Bays (2.8).

No Auckland local board area saw its population decline.

The total population is now 5,084,300, believed to have passed the 5 million mark in September last year.

"The updated estimates confirm that the growth of New Zealand's population has been relatively high, averaging 1.9 percent a year in the 7 years ended June 2020," Theyers said. "Growth in the previous 20 years averaged 1.1 percent a year."

Two-thirds of the growth came from migration, averaging 56,000 a year. 

Statistics NZ
Population growth across the country. Photo credit: Statistics NZ

The population aged 60-plus grew fast, averaging 3.2 percent a year. There are now more people 60 and above than 15 or under. The fastest-growing demographic though was 25- to 34-year-olds, thanks to migration. 

"Net migration gains in the younger working ages caused the median age of the population to decline slightly from 37.6 years in 2013 to 37.2 years in 2018," said Theyers.

"This is likely to be a temporary reversal in the upward trend in the median age, which has climbed from 25.6 years in 1970."

Where different Kiwis live

The new data also shows the ethnic makeup of each region's population is markedly different. For example, in the Gisborne Region 53.5 percent of people identify as Maori - with only 58.1 percent 'European or other' and 2.9 percent Asian.

But on the West Coast, 91.8 percent identify as European or other, and in Auckland 29.1 percent say they're Asian. 

"The latest ethnic population estimates show that about two-thirds of New Zealand’s Asian and Pacific populations live in Auckland, and about half of our Middle Eastern, Latin American and African population,” said Theyers.

"Overall, Auckland is home to just over one-third of New Zealand's total population."

The discrepancies can also be seen within Auckland, with almost half of Howick residents Asian, compared to Waitakere's 14.6 percent and Rodney's 6 percent. 

One in four Kiwis aged under 25 is Maori now, compared to one in six Kiwis overall (833,500 people). 

"The median age of Māori and Pacific people is 25.6 and 23.7 years, respectively, while those identifying with a European ethnicity have a median age of 41.2 years," said Thayers.

The data also shows women continue to outnumber men, 2.53 million to 2.5 million. The last time Kiwi men outnumbered women was 1967.