A Century of Censuses: Population

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Report by NewsroomPlus.com

This week Statistics New Zealand released a set of information it has titled: A century of censuses: Long-term trends from the Census of Population and Dwellings to 2013.

In their announcement of the release, Statistics NZ researcher Rosemary Goodyear said a century of censuses shows how New Zealand’s population has increasingly shifted towards the North Island. “(Another of the) marked changes in the past century has been the change in the size of the Māori population, which has increased by over 1,000 percent – from approximately 50,000 in 1911, to nearly 600,000 in 2013,” said Dr Goodyear.

A century of censuses: Long-term trends from the Census of Population and Dwellings to 2013 brings together a range of indicators from censuses over the years. Because some variables are not available for all census years, Statistics New Zealand have included the longest time period possible.

For some counts, they have been able to include information from as far back as the 1800s. However, some variables are only available for certain years – for example ‘address five years ago’ was only added in 1971.

In the lead-up to the 2018 Census, Statistics New Zealand will add sections on topics such as work and education, and health.

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Changing familes. The photo at left is of the Sanft family 1911 (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-68953) and the diverse family photo at right is sourced from teara.govt.nz

A CENTURY OF CENSUSES – POPULATION (extracted from Stats.govt.nz )

Here is a compilation of the key sections of A century of censuses: Long-term trends from the Census of Population and Dwellings to 2013 for Population.

Census night and usually resident population, 1911–2013

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  • In 1981 we changed the way we provided information about the population. Until 1981, most information was for the number of people in New Zealand on census day, including overseas visitors.
  • From 1981 onwards, most information we provide is about the usually resident population, which excludes overseas visitors. We continued to count both the total people here on census day, and the usually resident populations.

Māori census night and usually resident populations, 1911–2013
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  • In 1911, Māori made up 5 percent of the total census night population. In 2013, Māori made up 14.1 percent of the population.There were 52,722 Māori counted in 1911 – 49,844 in the ‘native’ census and 2,877 in the general census.
  • In 2013, the census counted 598,602 Māori.
  • The total New Zealand population has increased by around 300 percent between 1911 and 2013, while the Māori population has increased by over 1,000 percent.
  • Note there have been substantial changes in the way that the Māori population has been counted over the years. Prior to 1945, some Māori, (such as Māori wives of Europeans) were included in the general population, but most were enumerated separately. A separate Māori census was carried out until 1945. However, South Island Māori were counted with the European population from 1916 to 1945.
  • Because of definitional changes around ethnicity and the undercount of the Māori population, any time series for Māori can be regarded as approximate only.

Distribution of the population, 1858–2013

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  • The population has increasingly shifted towards the North Island.Until 1926, Māori were enumerated separately and were usually not included in the overall population count. In 1858, over half of the population (excluding Māori) lived in the North Island, but the gold rushes of the 1860s led to a rapid increase in the population of the South Island.
  • At the peak of the gold rushes, almost two-thirds (63.4 percent) of the settler population in New Zealand lived in the South Island.
  • By the beginning of the 20th century, the balance had shifted in favour of the North Island, and since then the North Island has increased in population at a greater rate than the South Island. Data from 1926 onwards includes Māori.Note that until 1981, population data is for census night populations, and from 1981 onwards data is for census night and usually resident populations.

Change in North and South island populations, 1901–2013

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  • The North Island grew at a much faster rate than the South in the 20th and 21st centuries.Particularly in the late 1970s and early 1990s, the South Island population experienced low rates of growth.
  • In fact, between 1976 and 1981 the census night population of the South Island actually fell by almost 1 percent.

Population density, 1874–2013

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  • Over the past century, the population density of the North Island has increased more quickly than that of the South.
  • Overall population density in New Zealand increased from 1.1 people per km2 (excluding Māori) in 1874, to 2.6 people per km2 in 1901, 5.2 in 1926, and 15.8 in 2013.

Population density of most densely populated districts, 1926–2013

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  • Central Auckland has the greatest population density in New Zealand.Central Auckland has also had the greatest increase in people per square kilometre since 1926, going from 42.4 people per square kilometre, to 255.2 people per square kilometre in 2013.
  • Over time, New Zealand has had many different geographical classifications, which makes it difficult to compare population change at a regional level.

Age group distribution, 1911–2013

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  • The proportion of children in the population has fallen since 1911, while the proportion of older people has increased.In 1911, around half of the population was aged under 25, with almost one-third of the population children (ie aged under 15 years). Just under 5 percent of the population were aged 65 years and over.
  • The proportion of children fell in the mid-1920s and the Depression years, then rebounded again in the post-war baby boom.
  • In contrast, by 2013 children made up just 1 in 5 of the population, while people aged 65 years and over made up around 1 in 7 of the population – roughly three times the 1911 proportion (around 1 in 21 people).

People born overseas, 1881–2013

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  • In 2013, around one-quarter of New Zealand’s population was born overseas. This was about the same proportion as in 1921. We can trace the increasing diversity of the New Zealand population through place of birth.
  • However, it is difficult to generate a completely consistent time series for birthplace, as some countries have changed in name (or political existence) over time. So the most straightforward time series is whether the population was born in New Zealand or overseas.
  • In 1911, around 7 out of 10 people in New Zealand were New Zealand-born, up from around half of the population 30 years earlier. The proportion increased steadily during the 20th century, reaching a high of 86.3 percent in 1951 (census night population).
  • From 1981, most census statistics are presented for the usually resident population, rather than the total or census night population. By the 1990s, the proportion of the usually resident population who were New Zealand–born started to fall.
  • In 2013, 74.8 percent of New Zealanders who stated a birthplace said they were born in New Zealand.

Migration, 1971–2013

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  • Migration within New Zealand and from overseas increased in the 2000s, but slowed in 2013. Migration rates are based on a question first asked in the 1971 Census that asks ‘where did you live five years ago?’
  • Through this question we can see how the mobility of New Zealanders has changed over time.In 1971, the population was less mobile, with just over one-third of people (35 percent) having moved from the address they were at five years before the census. Migration increased in the 1990s, and peaked in 2006, when 54.7 percent of New Zealanders had changed their residence since the last census.
  • In 2013, around half of New Zealanders had either moved from overseas or changed address within New Zealand since March 2008 (total migration rate) and 46.3 percent had changed address within New Zealand (internal migration rate). Note that children not born five years ago are excluded, as are people who have left New Zealand.

Number of children born, 1916–2013

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  • The proportion of women having four or more children has fallen since the 1970s and 1980s.The proportion of women aged 15 and over who had no children has remained relatively constant since 1981, at just over 30 percent.
  • The proportion of women with only one child has also remained fairly similar, while the proportion of women with four or more has fallen from 19.2 percent to 12.7 percent since 1981.
  • In 1981, the average number of children ever born alive to women aged 15 years and over was two. This number fell to 1.9 in 1996, and 1.8 in 2006 and 2013.The 1916, 1971, and 1976 censuses collected information on the number of children born alive – but only from women who had ever been in a legally registered relationship (ie women who were married, divorced, widowed, or separated). So we have created a time series to allow comparisons with these earlier years.
  • Note that this cannot be completely comparable as marriage rates have fallen in recent years. In 1981, for example, around three-quarters of adult women were or had been married, compared with less than two-thirds in 2013.In 1916, the average number of children born alive per married woman was 3.2, compared with 2.6 in the 1970s and 2.4 in 2013.
  • However, the number of ever-married women having children follows a similar pattern for all women, with a decrease in the proportion of women having four or more children.The number of ever-married women who had no children has fallen from around 1 in 6 ever-married women in 1971, to around 1 in 9 ever-married women in 2013.

(This extract was compiled by the production team of Shereel Patel and Rupeni Vatubuli).

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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