Over the last few weeks Stats NZ have updated their annual population and employment stats and there’s a couple of interesting trends to note.


In the year to 30-Jun, Auckland’s population is estimated to have risen by just under 40,000 to reach 1,695,900, and as we’re now in October, we’ll be over 1.7 million now. That means the region has increased by over 200k people in just 5 years and remains the fastest growing region in the country.

Auckland has been growing so fast that it was actually ahead of Stat’s previous ‘high growth’ projection and so last year those projections were updated. They suggest we’re likely to hit the 2 million mark in about a decade but could be sooner. I think that will be an important milestone in Auckland’s history and will be a catalyst to changing how many people perceive the city.

The graph below makes it easier to see just how strong the growth has been in recent years

With Auckland continuing to grow faster than the rest of the country, it means nearly 35% of the country’s population now lives in Auckland and that is expected to grow to about over the next 25 years.

Delving deeper we can see that Auckland’s City Centre remains the fastest growing area with almost another 5,000 now estimated to be calling the area home. That brings the total living in the city centre to 57,000 which is significantly ahead of even the high growth projections of a few years ago. This is important as many of our current plans were based on these projections and given most of these residents will be working and/or studying locally, we’re going to need a lot more improvements to walking and cycling than previously planned.

This graph uses the previous population projections, the more recent ones are in line with the current estimates.


It’s not just population that’s growing in the city centre, employment is too. Last week Stats released the latest employment data and it shows strong growth. As part of this years release they’re using their new Statistical areas. For most places they’re the same as the old Area Units but some areas, like the city centre, they’re now more granular, as can be seen below.

Employees in the city have risen by just over 6,000 to reach 118k, up from just 78k back in 2000, although as a percentage of all jobs in Auckland, it remains about the same at 15%. That number may seem low but to put it in context, many of the major employment areas in Auckland, such as East Tamaki, Manukau or the airport, all have about 25-30k jobs each, and over larger areas too.

It’s also worth considering the entire central area, which incorporates parts of Ponsonby, Eden Terrace, Grafton, Newmarket and Parnell – roughly the inner link. Another 69k jobs exist in these city fringe areas and bring the total for the central area up to 189k jobs or 24% of all Auckland jobs. The graph below shows how the number of jobs in the city centre and fringe have grown over the years.

With big projects like Commercial Bay well underway, we’re only going to continue to see city numbers continue to climb. But are we delivering enough improvements to support all of this growth, especially the likes of pedestrian amenity and priority?

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  1. We’re a member of the UN, and support its goals. So I’m not sure why we’re ignoring its guideline to invest at least 2% of our transport budget in walking and cycling, at both a national and city level. The city centre, with its high resident, working and visiting population, needs far, far better than what it’s got. For the city centre, we also need to halve the paved area, as per Jan Gehl’s recommendation.

    1. I think we could have 100,000 people, 200,000 people and it wouldn’t make a difference unless we actually voted in any meaningful numbers – even at those population levels I can’t see the general population and Auckland Council’s perception of city residents’ rights changing without Councillors and Local MPs valuing them (fearing their wrath).

      The economics already stack up (most walked footpaths in the country by a long way, think of the footsteps per $ spend vs any other footpath) but still lumpy, missing kerb ramps, driveway interference, incorrect camber etc. Walking is still not valued in any sense.

    2. We have never said we will do everything that every bit of the UN recommends. If we did that we wouldn’t require a Parliament. We are also in the OECD and we don’t do everything they recommend and same goes for the IMF and World Bank. These groups exist to provide work to people who like to write reports and go to conferences on the public dollar.

      1. Between all those organisations, there are enough sources of data and recommendations for politicians and commentators of any stripe to use. Therefore they serve the purpose of elevating the discussion from general abuse to civilised research-slinging. This is good role-modelling for our children, who would otherwise think adult life is a verbal version of Fortnite.

  2. Looks like we also reached that dumb CRL employment target that the Ministry of Transport said would be extremely unlikely. Just like the rail boardings target they thought would be extremely unlikely to be met, which we exceeded over a year ago.

    1. Hi Fred, yes you’re right (and yes the target was pretty dumb too!). Employment growth of about 25% from 2012-2018. And still another two years to go before 2020.

  3. So 24% of Auckland’s jobs in the ‘inner link” area. The suburbs surrounding this area need to house large numbers of these workers too, and take stress off our car network. Heritage museum be damned. It’s present and future physical activity levels, overall health, air quality, climate stability that are at stake.

    1. This is Labour’s failing – inability understand that more people living close to things addresses their travel, climate and housing issues. Building big car dependent subdivisions on the outskirts fails the first two issues, just kicking the can down the road for the next lot to have to fix (at an even greater expense than all the current big scary numbers)

      1. Hmmm interesting! I’d actually say this is New Zealand’s failing. Multiple political parties, multiple political leaning Councils and most importantly the old Kiwi psyche that a Quarter Acre with a tramp out back and ample space to park cars out front is the god given right of every citizen.

        Each and everyone in the past has contributed to this, however it can easily be fixed and as we grow even further I believe it will be fixed.

    2. Heidi sounds like you are coming around to my way of thinking. The so-called “character overlay” and other hindernances (such as viewshafts) needs to be removed and allow the inner-city suburbs to intensify. Otherwise the same suburbs will roll out across the land. I remember a time, not that long ago, that Papakura was not counted as part of Auckland and you went to Orewa for a holiday!

    3. After listening to the AM show this morning with Nationals Judith Colions moaning about Kiwi build with no parking for cars she was ticked off by the presenters telling her that there was ample PT around the areas where the new homes will be built , but being a car loving Nat they couldn’t change her silly mind

  4. Phew, 2M people. That makes us a real city in old world terms. Munich, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna all around 2.0M in their urban area (source Wikipedia).

  5. An important thing this chart shows is that business as usual, caution, and first worrying about the disruptions change may cause, are no longer appropriate in planning the city centre.

    The greater risk is in not moving fast enough to change the city physically and organisationally to better suit this new reality.

    City officials need a risk profile re-up. Get bolder, or get out.

    1. The current city centre is essentially the same as it was since its last major change in the mid 1960s. This is when the one-way drag strips of Hobson/Nelson, Mayoral Dr, and all the other motorway focussed street adaptations for planned and begun. Grafton Gully, Newton Gully, Fanshawe, and Wellesley St, all as motorway subservient vehicle routes. All discussed in the Buchanan report.

      The city population then was tiny and regional population a little above 1/4 of the 2m we will soon have:

      Buchanan Report 1966

      1. Pity we didn’t keep the 28 urban or borough authorities. I’ve often wondered how much better my area (Mt Roskill) would be if it was still a separate borough. Surely they would have at least invested a few million into the town centres over the last 30 odd years.

  6. Speaking on population and employment, it would be interesting to see a break down by suburb of where people commute from and to for work.

    1. Search for Richard Paling . Journey to work patterns in the Auckland region. From 2013 census data and at local ward level but still an interesting read.

  7. So a direct result of changes to immigration policy which allowed a huge increase in the numbers able to move to Auckland. Note the dramatic uptick starting around 2013.

  8. I’ve seen recent figures showing that over the last 5 years, more of Auckland’s population growth has been coming from migration than from natural increase. Are there figures to show how much of this is migration from overseas, and how much from the rest of NZ?

    1. For NZ as a whole, 75% of the population growth since about 2013, is due to international net migration. Internal migration has generally been negative for Auckland since the 1990s.

    2. Do note that Auckland is very subject to ebbs and flows, a lot of recent migration is ‘de-migration’, kiwis returning to Auckland from Australia and the UK, as the relative economies aren’t so strong as previously.

      In other words, international migration also includes kiwis who have been living abroad coming home. Everyone who does an OE in London and comes home after a year or two is an immigrant.

      1. The net migration figure for NZ citizens is consistently negative, more leave than return each year even with the mining downturn in Australia.The net migration gain is entirely due to non-NZ citizens.

        1. Except for the last couple of years when it has been positive! That’s the point, the net migration figure is traditionally in the context of 30 to 40,000 kiwis a year, net, leaving new zealand. But that’s not happening at the moment. Slightly more kiwis are coming back than leaving.

          Will probably change again as fortunes change.

        2. Its positive some months, and close enough to zero at the moment on the rolling trend.

          -1,000 a year is certainly not the 30,000 a year net loss that used to be the norm.

        3. As shown in Table 9, for the year ended September 2018, there were 31,714 NZ citizen arrivals and 34,481 departures making a net loss of 2,767.

        4. Zippo – your statement above is not correct.

          ‘The net migration gain is entirely due to non-NZ citizens.’

          It is quite clear from this data that the increase in net migration is caused by both an increase in migration from non-NZ citizens, and a large reduction in the net rate of emigration of NZ citizens.

        5. Yes Zippo, and in the year end September 2012, it was a net loss of 39,545. So in half a decade it’s changed from forty thousand a year to almost none.

      2. If you like big cities (global urbanisation suggests humans mostly do) then there isnt anywhere suitable in NZ to live, hopefully Aucklands growth will change this.

  9. “It’s also worth considering the entire central area, which incorporates parts of Ponsonby, Eden Terrace, Grafton, Newmarket and Parnell – roughly the inner link.”

    Good that you mention the Inner Link. When are AT going to do something meaningful to make this a better service? I am thinking particularly of bus lanes so that a service that operates somewhere close to timetable is achieved.

    1. It’s utterly baffling that in 2018, some of our most iconic streets such as Ponsonby Road and K’Road still do not have Bus or Cycle Lanes!

        1. Karangahape Rd – Bus lane, Citybound, 7am to 10am, Monday to Friday, 351 K Rd to 269 K Rd. That’s 120 m of 1040 m in one direction, zero in the other, ie for 9% of the time, over 6% of the length.

          Ponsonby Road – Bus lane, Citybound, 7am to 10am, Monday to Friday, Opp 50 Ponsonby Road to 1 Ponsonby Road. That’s 120 m of 1700 m in one direction, zero in the other, ie for 9% of the time, over 4% of the length.

          Easily missed, I’d say, in the scheme of things. 🙂

      1. And yet, even more bizarrely, km after km of precious road space on these iconic streets is wasted on kerbside parking for a tiny minority of visitors! There’s plenty of space on Auckland’s streets; what’s needed is decision-makers with the spines to reallocate it sensibly.

        1. Yes. And from a cycling perspective, think of all the public space on the surrounding residential streets that is also given to parking instead of cycling amenity, this creates a swathe of cycling-unfriendly area. It’s another type of severance. Not only is the inner west area shutting out people living there, by retaining its stand-alone house form, it’s shutting out people from being able to cycle through it.

  10. The inner city living is not family friendly and lacking some amenities found in suburbs.

    We need pubic urban primary and secondary school in the city.

    We also miss some decent mid-range large format stores in city. Where is Briscoes? How about a proper sized Farmers? A furniture store?

    The large format shops doesn’t need to be on prime retail site. There are still a lot non-prime retail basement and upper floors that is cheap to rents.

    1. When Chase Corp bought the Farmers they were going build a new store on the corner of Albert and Victoria st’s but they when bust before anything was done . And that’s the site that now has the bungy tower that was previous the Great Northern Hotel

  11. Is there an updated ‘Auckland City Centre Population vs Previous Projections’ graph to 2041?

    That 2041 medium projection must be c.200k up from 80k??

  12. Next year, the population of the Auckland urban area will shrink by around 40-50k, due to a change in area boundaries. The Hibiscus Coast, Waimauku, Kumeu-Huapai, Riverhead, Beachlands-Pine Harbour and Maraetai are becoming urban areas in their own right. Same goes with a lot of urban areas – Hamilton is losing Ngaruawahia, Hastings is losing Havelock North, Palmerston North is losing Ashhurst, Wellington is losing Porirua, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt…

  13. Hi! Sorry could you please let me know the figures for the percentage of NZ population living in AKL in the next 25 years, i think the sentence is incomplete

    “With Auckland continuing to grow faster than the rest of the country, it means nearly 35% of the country’s population now lives in Auckland and that is expected to grow to about __?__ over the next 25 years”


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