New estimates from Statistics NZ based show New Zealand’s population is growing at the fastest rate for over a decade

New Zealand’s population is growing at its fastest rate for over a decade, according to new estimates released by Statistics New Zealand today.

The country’s population grew by 67,800 people, or 1.5 percent, in the year to 30 June 2014. This came from natural increase (births minus deaths) of 29,500 and net migration (arrivals minus departures) of 38,300. New Zealand’s estimated resident population was 4.51 million at 30 June 2014.

“This is the first release of population estimates using results from the 2013 Census and Post-enumeration Survey,” population statistics manager Vina Cullum said.

The estimates are the best available indication of how many people currently live in New Zealand because they include people missed by the census, including those who were temporarily overseas on census night.

New population estimates at the earlier date of 30 June 2013 are also available for broad ethnic groups, and we have revised population estimates for subnational areas.

“These estimates confirm increases in all ethnic populations since 2006. Even the broad European ethnic population has grown to 3.31 million despite its older age structure,” Ms Cullum said.

The June 2013 estimates put the Māori ethnic population at 692,000, the broad Asian population at 541,000, and broad Pacific population at 344,000. An estimated 53,000 people identify with Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African ethnicities.

Population growth was 1.5% over the last year compared with an average for the 2006-2013 period of 0.8%. The graph below shows the change in population over the last decade.

NZ Population Change 1992 - 2014

One of the big factors has been a strong increase in net migration

NZ Net Migration 1992 - 2014

Traditionally the majority of that net migration increase ends up in Auckland so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues when the regional information is released later this year.

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  1. We aren’t really a small country anymore are we?

    Is this proof enough to start building those dreaded “high-rises” yet?

    1. if half of this growth occurs in Auckland, then we’re looking at an additional 35,000 people per year, or 2.3% p.a.

      This is relatively rapid growth by historical standards and may explain the recent ramp-up in current property prices. Looking forward, however, if interest rates go higher, population growth returns to more normal levels, and the supply of new housing increases then it is not beyond the realms of reality that property prices might begin to fall in real terms.

      1. “may explain the recent ramp-up in current population prices”

        Population prices? Presumably you mean property prices.

        My understanding is that immigration has been mostly constant and the increase in net migration is due to Kiwis returning home, given the poor state of the Australian and UK economies and the good state of NZ’s. In that case, will returning Kiwis settle in Auckland or the part of the country they came from originally and where they might still have family and friends? I suspect that later is more likely.

        1. The rapid rise in housing prices started in 2003. The graph above shows why. We shouldn’t continue to allow such a large net migration until we actually have a construction sector that can supply the necessary houses.

          1. aren’t fluctuations in net migration largely the result of changes in the numbers of kiwis leaving/entering NZ? I thought the contribution of immigration from elsewhere to net migration was relatively constant over time. Might be wrong though …

            Ultimately I think positive net migration is a good thing, as one thing NZ suffers from is a lack of scale in many industries, including house construction.

          2. Stu thats the theory, but practice in the last 20+ years has been anything but that well managed. Its been pretty much hands off.

            With a hands off market led policy, many of the returning migrants end up in Auckland, jobs and wages to match their (increased/overseas gained) skills being the common reason for this.
            So, while many who leave NZ come from the regions when they return many come back to Auckland, not all mind, but more often than not, effectively causing an internal population drift to Auckland via Australia.

            As for more people equals a better scale in housing, maybe, but only if the structural issues in the housing market are fixed e.g. why building materials are so expensive here.

            e.g. why is concrete (always usually locally sourced/made) being serioulsy looked at by Ngai Tahu property developments in Christchurch for importation from Mexico because the local stuff is so much more epensive?

            Indicates to me that we have less than a free market in operation.

            Secondly unless all the migrants will accept housing types other than stand alone houses the Auckland sprawl will just increase not actually solving any housing scale issue anytime soon.

          1. Presumably another result of the govt’s hand off approach Greg. Our Commerce Commission has a very bad record of preventing excessive market dominance. Fletcher building…. What don’t they own in the construction sector?

  2. Auckland at 2 million by 2026 a reality? If this growth continues then we might just make it over a major milestone. I really want Auckland to grow to 2 – 3 million. Economies of scale, more business, innovation, great people exchanging ideas, collaboration etc. We not only need CRL but North Shore rail to Albany and rail to the airport and south eastern rail by 2026. Achievable and affordable – the only thing stopping us is political will 🙁

    1. M Juma, there’s no economies of scale from the growth of cities, in terms of the end price to consumers (which is the relevant factor). Auckland has the most expensive prices in NZ of pretty much everything. Provincial NZ is considerably cheaper to live, and a lot more functional, so if those are your goals, growth of Auckland (up or out) won’t achieve them. An Auckland with 3 million will be a lot more expensive to live in than an Auckland with 1.4 million.

      1. Geoff, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Economies of scale are why cities exist in the first place. And these economies appear to be growing stronger, which is why the population of cities around the world is growing faster than peripheral areas.

        Again, you refer to housing costs in isolation from everything else. In reality, most households will choose where to live based on a combination of wages, costs, and amenities. Once wages and amenities are factored into the equation then most households seem to be better off in cities.

        And please provide peer-reviewed academic research to back up your claims.

        1. Stu, you can repeat your mantra as often as you like, it’ll never make it true. Any kiwi from outside Auckland who visits here will tell you I speak the truth. I suggest you travel around NZ more, and see how much cheaper everything is.

          Real estate: Cheaper.
          Food: Cheaper.
          Water: Cheaper.
          Transport: Cheaper.
          Rates: Cheaper.
          Medical care: Cheaper.
          Motels/Hotels: Cheaper.
          Self storage: Cheaper.

          Two comments in my current Facebook newsfeed:

          “Txt Auckland is the rip of capital of the world, and if your a Jaffa and don’t like my post, try traveling to the real world.”

          “A pint of Stella Artois cost more in auckland than in Paris”

          sorethumb, agglomeration benefits are to big business, not residents. And of course as more businesses become overseas owned or based, those financial benefits go offshore anyway. Cities should be for people first, business second, but Auckland has swung that around, making people subservient to business, and it’s only going to cost us more and more in future. Residents pay more and more for less and less, rates skyrocket in a vein attempt to keep infrastructure up with the pace of serving those businesses, and the only parties to really benefit, those businesses, see the money made go to the mansions of their owners and offshore, not the people of Auckland.

          I reject totally that Auckland should develop for big business. The city functioned better for residents 20 years ago, before that “what’s good for business is good for us” mantra took hold. Everything was cheaper, with prices more comparable to the rest of NZ.

          1. Geoff,
            Honest question, why do you live in Auckland? All your posts tell us how overpriced and crap it is, while life is better and cheaper in provincial towns. So what keeps you here, why don’t you live back in Gisborne or Napier etc? What reasons do you have to live in Auckland?

          2. I don’t think you have done much research on your claim that living outside Auckland is cheaper.
            for example rates : cheaper
            My family live in Marton, small town nz
            My mother pays $2,662 rates on a valuation of $225,000
            My brother pays $2,474 rates on a valuation of $160,000

            These are both higher than my rates and I have 4 times the valuation, many more services, so far greater value for money.

          3. If you read the link above the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance concludes: ” based on the available evidence, it seems clear that modest agglomeration economies will accrue gradually in Auckland, but they will not be a causative force that will transform the regional economy. Moreover, a larger and more dense population on which they rely also imposes costs, notably in the land markets.”
            Treasury Paper 14-10 says:
            “More work is required to assess the potential net benefits of an increase in immigration as part of a strategy to pursue scale and agglomeration effects through
            increased population, or whether a decrease in immigration could facilitate lower interest rates, a lower exchange rate, and more balanced growth going forward. ”

            In other words the costs may out weigh the benefits. Nevertheless:

            “In BNZ Chief Economist Tony Alexander’s weekly overview, Auckland house prices are set to move upwards nicely. Here are his 19 reasons why:

            3. The government is explicitly aiming to grow Auckland’s population as a means of achieving “agglomeration” benefits for economic growth which accrue from high interaction amongst economic players.

            17. The government has announced its efforts to improve housing affordability (lower prices) and they are minor and unlikely to have a noticeable impact if any for many years.

            18. Any credibility people may have assigned to those who have been predicting big price declines simply because prices have risen a long way and now fallen sharply in some other countries has gone out the window. Few people will now listen to their price decline views.

            19. Members of the Opposition believe monetary fairies can make the exchange rate settle permanently lower by forcing interest rate cuts and printing money while letting inflation therefore go up. Given the non-zero possibility that such economically ignorant policies get introduced it is worth getting inflation protection by investing more in property – not less.

          4. Nick, that’s the question I’ve asked Patrick Reynold’s various times as well – why live in Auckland when he is highly critical about its development? Doesn’t like the transport, doesn’t like the urban planning, and doesn’t like the kiwi culture – but lives here nonetheless. With all due respect, this blog is essentially by people who reject Auckland as it is, and want it to become more like cities in other parts of the world. I think your question is far more relevant to yourself and the blog writers, than it is to me.

            My own answer to you is quite simple – I love West Auckland for its greenery, and settled here after trying (and rejecting) other parts of Auckland. I live a lifestyle that is not coupled to the cost of things in any huge way, therefore my location isn’t highly relevant to my cost structure. My weekly rent for exaple is not coupled to the Auckland property market, and is comparable to that of a small town ($115.00). I also don’t share the regular desires that most do to accumulate material wealth for example, so I rarely buy anything. You won’t see me in department stores or electronic shops.

            I also believe in doing stuff yourself. Use your noggin more, and make things happen rather than rely on established practice, as described by my post elsewhere about how to build your home in Auckland for under $100k, instead of going through the usual channels and spending four times as much.

            My concerns over Auckland’s future are more for others than myself.

          5. Geoff,

            If we did nothing else, Auckland would still cultivate a better transport system, better planning story, and a richer culture, out of necessity if not desire (but probably both). It won’t stay as is — the city has been on a different trajectory for a long time and that causal structure has only deepened.

            However, if we did nothing else, the path we take will likely be more painful and inequitable, take longer, cost more, and deliver less than optimal outcomes, than what is otherwise within our reach. Hence, this advocacy.

          6. “My concerns over Auckland’s future are more for others than myself.”

            This is clearly false though, since one of the main ideas of your “Everything about Auckland is crap” thesis that the “average New Zealander” would total reject the values that Auckland supposedly epitomises. In fact in this very thread, you mention twice about “Kiwi” values and culture which are, in your view, pro-sprawl and anti urban. This even extends to you saying (in previous topics) that we ought to not urbanise, because the rural character of our cities is what attracts immigrants to the country. To use the (assumed) preferences of a cultural group* as the justification of your preferred urban form, and then to claim “…but actually I don’t care about that” is the most absurd turn this saga has taken.

            *At least, to the extent that “Kiwis” can be considered as a homogenous cultural entity, but thats another discussion.

          7. “Everything about Auckland is crap”

            I said everything is expensive, not crap.

            “This even extends to you saying (in previous topics) that we ought to not urbanise”

            Every town and city in New Zealand is predominently urban, and I support that method of development, based upon it being the #1 choice of kiwis. Not sure how you concluded otherwise? My stance is about protecting that urban lifestyle that kiwis have spent decades building and enjoying.

          8. Interesting, so you’ve “tried and rejected” other parts of Auckland, yet think your chosen way of life is representative of kiwi culture. How can you claim that when you reject how most Aucklanders live?

            And you say you don’t shop and don’t buy anything, well good for you, but that makes you even more removed from Auckland culture. It sounds like you really don’t understand the place or people and just project your romanticised ideals onto what ‘real kiwis want’. You might want to take an objective look at kiwi culture if you think not buying anything is part of it.

            Anyway, I’m born and raised in Auckland and have lived here most of my adult life, and to be honest none of my kiwi peers think the way you do. None of them would say great, I need a house out in the bush so I don’t need to leave, and I don’t want any cafés in my neighbourhood because I’d never socialise in one.In fact most of them now live in the big cities of Australia or Europe, which suggests quite the opposite. Perhaps your views of small town life aren’t actually applicable to Auckland, and that’s why you chose, after much trial apparently, to live in a small village suburb on the very edge of the city. Interesting that, trying to ignore the city as much as possible but not quite able to divorce yourself from its benefits and opportunities.

          9. “yet think your chosen way of life is representative of kiwi culture”

            You’re confused Nick, I have never said my chosen lifestyle is representative of the average kiwi. I’ve specifically said the opposite in fact. You can’t seem to tell the difference between my advocating for the rights of others, and how I myself choose to live, probably because you have a tendency to personalise matters and attack the writer over the subject.

            The vast majority of kiwis live in houses on sections, that’s what they want, that’s what they like, that’s what all the elected councils plan for, and that’s how they live. That isn’t about me, it’s about them! I don’t reject their wish to enjoy suburban life at all – but I do reject anyone who wishes to force change upon that majority, which as we have previously established, is what you wish to do, by removing planning restrictions that protect them.

            Now why do you wish to remove planning restrictions and rights? Because you know that I’m right in my assertion that the majority of kiwis prefer living as they do, and therefore change will almost always come up against opposition. So, in order for a minority to impose change on the majority, let’s take away the protections!

            Democratic rights and protections are a sign of a civilized country.

            “Interesting that, trying to ignore the city as much as possible but not quite able to divorce yourself from its benefits and opportunities.”

            What benefits and opportunities are those? My requirements would be the same regardless of where I live, and would be equally met regardless of where I live. Heck, about all I need is a local supermarket and a Mitre10 store. I’ll find them from Auckland to Gore. You appear to miss the point of my post entirely, which is that my life isn’t location-dependent. I go where the natural environment is more interesting. But again, I note you make the whole thing personal. Can you not argue matters on their own merits instead of making everything about the writer?

          10. Tell me again why we need laws to enforce the suburban way of life if that is what people want?

            All we have ever said is to remove the restrictions and let people do what they want to do.

          11. “Tell me again why we need laws to enforce the suburban way of life if that is what people want?”

            Because those who want to build apartments rarely choose greenfields sites, and almost always target neighbourhoods where people already live in houses. They make things difficult for themselves by trying to develop areas where people don’t want it.

            Perhaps a development consortium could build a dense new satellite town, where every block is zoned for maximum density mixed use, and incorporating all the elements promoted by this blog? Leave existing neighbourhoods as they are.

  3. Tony Alexander says the government is trying to grow Auckland’s population to achieve agglomeration benefits; the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance don’t think the benefits will be great and neither did the NZ Initiative when they argued against a compact city.
    Dr Greg Clydesdale says immigration creates it’s own demand and as the (construction) sector grows , it grows in lobbying power and can influence government whether it is good for the economy or not. Michael Reddell (senior economist at the Reserve Bank) thinks it has been a decisive feature in our high exchange rate and lack of productivity (much like the Savings Working Group said).

  4. I wonder if this is still the case?
    “Given that the goal of immigration has been to generate economic growth, it is interesting to
    compare the economic performance of Auckland to the rest of the country. Figures from the
    Ministry of Economic Development (2005) on Auckland’s economic performance are not
    impressive and do not reveal any benefits from the migration flows. Between 2000 and 2004,
    the nation’s average real GDP growth was 3.5% but Auckland only enjoyed 3%. Auckland’s
    GDP per capita was $30,750 in the year to March 2003 compared to a national figure of
    $32,100. Auckland has 32.2% of the nation’s population, but only 30.9% of nominal GDP
    and 30.3% of the labour force, indicating higher dependency ratios. Although Auckland is
    the largest region, it is only the fourth ranked location for foreign investment. Figures from
    NZIER(2006) are more positive, no doubt buoyed by the infrastructural expenditure
    mentioned in the last section of this paper. These figures provide an average growth of Real
    GDP of 3.6% between 2000 and 2005, slightly above the national average of 3.6 but much
    below that of other main centres (Canterbury 4.5 and Wellington 4.3). Nevertheless, there
    appears to be a broad consensus that Auckland is not achieving desired rates of per capita
    income growth (Skilling 2006, Auckland Regional Council 2005). ”


    Dr Greg Clydesdale (PhD)

  5. “Melbourne appears to be booming. Job growth is far more rapid than in Sydney. This article shows that Melbourne’s economy is being driven by population growth and that most job growth is in the city-building and people-servicing industries. The city’s apparent boom is obscuring its poor performance in exports to international markets. When export and imports are taken into account, the growth in per capita gross state product in Victoria is the slowest of all Australian states and territories since 2000-01. Melbourne is becoming increasingly dependent on external support. ”

    I wonder if Auckland is a parasite economy?

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