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Population of New Zealand


If you’re going to visit New Zealand, you might want to learn something about the population of New Zealand too. Have you any idea how many New Zealanders there are, or where they originate from?

population of New Zealand

How many?
If you’d like to know how many people are currently living in New Zealand, check the New Zealand population clock. As at Tuesday, 7 August 2012), the estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,434,351. As New Zealand’s total surface is about 270,000 sq km, this means that it is one of the world’s least crowded countries (16 inhabitants per sq km). Countries that are comparable in size (the United Kingdom for instance, and Italy), have a much higher population density (246 and 193 respectively).

But when you arrive in Auckland after a long-haul flight, this for sure isn’t your first impression of the country. That’s because about 25% of the population of New Zealand (more than one million people) live in the Auckland region alone – more than in the entire South Island! And it’s not just Auckland and its surroundings that are crowded – in fact, more than half of the population of New Zealand lives in the northern half of the North Island!

As these figures imply, the South Island is much more sparsely populated: only close to one million people live there. The busiest region of the South Island is Canterbury – which houses more than half of the population of the South Island. The West Coast is the less crowded region of the South Island – it is home to only about 30,000 people.

Rural or urban?
Though you might think of New Zealand as a predominant rural country, in reality 75% of the population of New Zealand lives in urban areas of 10,000 people and more. Half of the population is concentrated in just four cities: Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. On the latest census night (7 March 2006) Auckland was the region with the highest population (1,318,700), followed by Canterbury and Wellington, which had census night populations of 537,600 and 451,400, respectively. In reality, only one in seven people live in rural areas.

Multi-cultural: European, Maori, Asian, and Pacific Island
The population of New Zealand is becoming more and more multi-cultural, though the majority of the people still is of European descent (almost 70%), due to the fact that until the mid-1970s immigrants came overwhelmingly from Europe. In recent years however, the proportion of people belonging to other ethnic groups is increasing. Also, the number of children of mixed ethnic parentage is increasing: in 2001, 18% of all children under 15 belonged to more than one ethnic group.

Maori make up about 8% of the population of New Zealand. They are the original inhabitants of New Zealand. The number of people who have some Maori blood is slowly increasing, because Maori women are having more babies than European or Asian women. About 90% of Maori live in the North Island – predominantly in the Gisborne region.

Another important minority are the people of Asian origin. They make up about 6 – 7% of the population of New Zealand. People who belong to this ethnic group originate from countries like China, India, Korea, the Phillippines, Japan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand. About two-thirds of them live in the Auckland region.

And finally, there is a fairly big group of Pacific Islanders (4 – 5% of the population of New Zealand). They originate mainly from Samoa, the Cook Islands, and Tonga. The population of people from the Pacific Islands is also mainly concentrated in the Auckland region.

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