2018 New Zealand census

The 2018 New Zealand census was the thirty-fourth national census in New Zealand, which took place on Tuesday 6 March 2018.[2] The population of New Zealand was counted as 4,699,755 – an increase of 457,707 (10.79%) over the 2013 census.[1]

Thirty-fourth census of New Zealand

 2013 6 March 2018; 3 years ago (2018-03-06) 2023  

General information
CountryNew Zealand
Total population4,699,755[1] ( 10.79%)
Most populous regionAuckland (1,571,718)
Least populous regionWest Coast (31,575)

Results from the 2018 census were released to the public on 23 September 2019, from the Statistics New Zealand website.[3] The next New Zealand census is set to be held in March 2023.[4]



The Census Act 1877 required censuses to be held every fifth year and is well embedded in legislation and government systems.[5] Since 1881, censuses have been held every five years, with the exceptions of those in 1931 and 1941 and the one in 2011 which was cancelled due to the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, which displaced many Canterbury residents from their homes only a few weeks before census day. It was rescheduled for March 2013, so the 2013 census is the previous census completed before this one.[6]

Issues and controversies

In July 2018, it was estimated that the 2018 census had a “full or partial” response for 90 percent of individuals, down from 94.5 percent in the 2013 census and the planned release date for census information was changed from October of the same year to March 2019.[7] This drop, which already amounted to the lowest census response rate for fifty years, was blamed on a 'digital-first' policy for the census.[8][9] An independent review was initiated by the Government Statistician in October 2019, and in November Statistics NZ announced that release of census data would be pushed back to at least April 2019 due to "the complex nature of the task".[10]

In early April 2019, the Government Statistician, Liz MacPherson was facing possible charges of contempt of parliament.[11] She had twice refused, on 13 February and in early April, to disclose the number of partially and fully completed responses.[12] On 9 April, she reported that one in seven New Zealanders, 700,000 people, failed to complete the census.[11]

In July 2019 the independent inquiry returned its findings to the Government Statistician, the Minister of Statistics and the State Services Commissioner, reporting that too little attention had been paid to the non-digital aspects of the census, but also blamed operational complexity and flaws in management. Due to a decision to conduct the census primarily online, the census attracted only an 83% response rate, even lower than the 90% earlier reported, and well short of the 94% census percent target and a nine percent drop from the previous 2013 New Zealand census.[13]

On 13 August 2019 the report was released to the public and Liz MacPherson offered her resignation, taking ultimate responsibility for the results, stating “I'm sorry, the buck stops with me.”[14][15] State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes agreed with her assessment, and asked MacPherson to remain in her role until Christmas of 2019, noting that “she is the best person to finish the remediation work.”[16][17]


The 2018 census collected data on the following topics:[18]

  1. Required to be included under the Statistics Act 1975 or the Electoral Act 1993.
  2. Topic not included in 2013 census.


Statistics New Zealand annually conducts population projections for New Zealand as a whole, which are based on data from the previous census (in this case, the 2013 census) and calculated using a cohort-component method. Population projections also take into consideration births, deaths, and net migration.

In 2016, New Zealand's population at the time of the 2018 census was projected to be between 4,807,000 and 4,944,000.[19]


Data uses fixed random rounding to protect confidentiality;[20] each data point is rounded either to the nearest multiple of 3 (23 chance) or the next-nearest multiple of 3 (13 chance).[21]

The census usually-resident population count of New Zealand is a count of all people who usually live in and were present in the country on census night (6 March 2018), and excludes overseas visitors and New Zealand residents who are temporarily overseas.[22]

Due to the high rate of non-response in the census, the published results combine answers from census forms with data from the 2013 Census and from government administrative data. Reports from an External Data Quality Review Panel include quality ratings for each variable, taking the added data into account[23]

Population and dwellings

Population counts for regions of New Zealand.[24] All figures are for the census usually-resident population count.

Region Population at 2013 censusPopulation at 2018 censusChange Percent change
Northland 151,689179,07627,387 18.05
Auckland 1,415,5501,571,718156,168 11.03
Waikato 403,638458,20254,564 13.52
Bay of Plenty 267,744308,49940,755 15.22
Gisborne 43,65647,5173,861 8.84
Hawke's Bay 151,179166,36815,189 10.05
Taranaki 109,608117,5617,953 7.26
Manawatū-Whanganui 222,672238,79716,125 7.24
Wellington 471,315506,81435,499 7.53
North Island 3,237,0483,594,552357,504 11.0
Tasman 47,15452,3895,235 11.10
Nelson 46,43750,8804,443 9.57
Marlborough 43,41647,3404,014 9.25
West Coast 32,14831,575573 1.78
Canterbury 539,436599,69460,258 11.17
Otago 202,467225,18622,719 11.22
Southland 93,34297,4674,125 4.42
South Island 1,004,3971,104,537100,140 9.97
Area outside region 60066969 11.50
New Zealand 4,242,0484,699,755457,707 10.79
  • Resident population count was 4,699,755, up 457,707 from the 2013 Census.[3]
    • There are 2,319,558 males in New Zealand (49.35% of the population) and 2,380,197 females (50.65% of the population).[20]
  • On average, the population grew by around 2.1% per year since the 2013 Census – significantly higher than the annual average growth between 2006 and 2013, which was 0.7%.[3]
    • The higher growth rate is consistent with higher net migration of 259,000 in the five years ended 30 June 2018 compared with 59,000 in the seven years ended 30 June 2013.[3]
  • Among children (under 15 years), males outnumbered females, with around 105 males for every 100 females. The ratio declined with age: there were 104 males for every 100 females in the age group of 15–29, 95 males for every 100 females at ages 30–64 years, and 87 males for every 100 females at age 65 or above.[3]
  • There was a total of 1,855,962 occupied and unoccupied private dwellings, 108,558 more than in 2013.[3]
    • Ten percent of private dwellings were unoccupied.[3]


In 2018, 3,370,122 people (71.7%) were born in New Zealand, with 1,329,633 (28.3%) born overseas.

Data is for the census's usually-resident population.[20]

BirthplaceResponsesChange from 2013
Number %Numberpp
New Zealand3,370,12271.71 389,298 1.44
Overseas1,329,63328.29 327,846 4.68
England210,9154.49 4,674 0.92
China, People's Republic of[lower-alpha 1]132,9062.83 43,785 0.73
India117,3482.50 50,172 0.91
Australia75,6961.61 12,984 0.04
South Africa71,3821.52 17,104 0.61
Philippines67,6321.44 30,333 0.50
Fiji62,3101.33 9,555 0.01
Samoa55,5121.18 4,851 0.09
Korea, Republic of30,9750.66 4,374 0.01
United States27,6780.59 6,216 0.05
Tonga26,8560.57 4,443 0.04
Scotland26,1360.56 183 0.09
Total people stated4,641,89798.77
Inadequately described4320.01
Not stated57,4261.22
Total4,699,755100 457,707 9.74
  1. Does not include Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.


There was no change in the top five ethnicities between the 2013 and 2018 censuses, which are New Zealand European (64.1%), Māori (16.5%), Chinese (4.9%), Indian (4.7%), and Samoan (3.9%).[22]

Data is for the census usually-resident population count.[20]

Ethnic groupPopulation %
New Zealand European3,013,44064.12
South African European37,1550.79
European nfd34,6320.74
American European16,2450.35
Other European86,5831.84
Chinese nfd231,3874.92
Indian nfd221,9164.72
Fijian Indian15,1320.32
Asian nfd11,8110.25
Other Asian91,6231.95
Pacific Islander423,0369.00
Cook Islands Maori80,5321.71
Latin American27,7560.59
Middle Eastern28,6260.61
New Zealander nfd45,3300.96
Not listed4,0170.09


Most New Zealanders, 48.5% of the population, identify as being irreligious. Data is for the census usually-resident population count.[20]

Religious affiliationPopulation %
No Religion nfd2,264,60148.19
Christian nfd307,9266.55
Roman Catholic295,7436.29
Catholicism nfd173,0163.68
Latter-day Saints54,1231.15
Methodist nfd52,7341.12
Baptist nfd35,9670.77
Born Again33,4860.71
Pentecostal nfd22,2960.47
Jehovah's Witnesses20,0610.43
Christian Fellowship18,0420.38
Seventh-day Adventist17,7990.38
Assemblies of God14,8830.32
Tongan Methodist11,1690.24
Other Christian145,2813.09
Hinduism nfd121,6442.59
Other Hinduism1,8900.04
Islam nfd57,2761.22
Other Islam1,2180.03
Buddhism nfd44,3550.94
Theravada Buddhism4,8510.10
Zen Buddhism1,4010.03
Mahayana Buddhism1,0260.02
Other Buddhism1,1440.02
Judaism nfd3,3480.07
Other Judaism1,9260.04
Māori Religions62,6341.33
Māori Religions, Beliefs and Philosophies nfd/nec5,2830.11
Pai Mārire1,1940.03
New Age19,0110.40
Other New Age Religions nec1,3110.03
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster4,2480.09
Object to answering312,7956.66
Total people stated4,699,755100
Total responses4,732,641N/A


The vast majority of New Zealanders, 95.4%, speak English; in second place is Māori, with 4.0% of the population being able to speak it. Data is for the census usually-resident population count.[20]

LanguagePopulation %
No language (e.g., too young to talk)101,7512.17
Northern Chinese95,2532.03
Sinitic (not further defined)51,5011.10
Fiji Hindi26,8050.57
New Zealand Sign Language22,9860.49
Total people4,699,755100
Total responses5,834,166N/A

Māori descent

18.5% of New Zealanders have at least some Māori descent. Data is for the census usually-resident population count.[20]

Māori descent indicatorPopulation %
Māori descent869,85018.51
No Māori descent3,715,05079.04
Do not know114,8552.44


The largest age group is people aged 25 to 29, who comprise 7.3% of the population. Data is the census usually-resident population count.[20]

AgesPopulation %
5–9 322,632 6.86
15–19 301,821 6.42
25–29 344,466 7.33
35–39 295,395 6.29
45–49 321,483 6.84
55–59 302,759 6.44
65–69 229,032 4.87
70–74 183,636 3.91
85–89 53,979 1.15
95–99 5,910 0.13
105–109 39 0.00
Minors (0–17)1,104,24023.50
Working-age adults (18–64)2,880,34561.29
Seniors (65+)715,17315.22


Data is for the census usually-resident population count of people aged 15 years and over.[20]

Income (NZD)Population %
Zero income257,3106.81
$150,001 or more110,9102.94

Industry of employment

Data is for the census usually-resident population count of employed people aged 15 years and over.[20]

Industry (ANZSIC division)Population %
Agriculture, forestry and fishing143,1275.85
Mining 6,054 0.25
Manufacturing 238,413 9.75
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 18,006 0.74
Construction 226,161 9.25
Wholesale trade 119,928 4.90
Retail trade 219,132 8.96
Accommodation and food services 159,753 6.53
Transport, postal and warehousing 105,150 4.30
Information media and telecommunications 38,889 1.59
Financial and insurance services 64,941 2.66
Rental, hiring and real estate services 49,122 2.01
Professional, scientific and technical services 242,619 9.92
Administrative and support services 111,648 4.57
Public administration and safety 132,279 5.41
Education and training 198,018 8.10
Health care and social assistance 232,119 9.49
Arts and recreation services 44,466 1.82
Other services 95,292 3.90

Home ownership

Data is for the census usually-resident population count of people aged 15 years and over.[20]

Individual home ownershipPopulation %
Hold in a family trust350,1369.27
Own or partly own1,310,92534.71
Do not own and do not hold in a family trust1,548,07840.99

Marriage status

Data is for the census usually-resident population count of people aged 15 years and over.[20]

Legally-registered relationship statusPopulation %
Married (not separated)1,515,26140.12
Divorced or dissolved244,8576.48
Widowed or surviving civil union partner166,8694.42
Never married and never in a civil union1,099,72229.12


  1. "NZ population nears 5 million after fastest growth in 50 years". The New Zealand Herald. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  2. "2018 Census". Stats NZ. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  3. "2018 Census population and dwelling counts". Stats NZ. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  4. "$16m for census improvements and catch-up". Newsroom. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  5. Future New Zealand censuses: Archived 2013-02-14 at the Wayback Machine Implications of changing census frequency or adopting other models
  6. "2018 Census". Stats NZ. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  7. "Update on release of 2018 Census data". Statistics New Zealand. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2019. Stats NZ’s interim calculations show that full or partial information for at least 90 percent of individuals was received, compared with 94.5 percent for the 2013 Census.
  8. Cooke, Henry (12 July 2018). "Census response rate drops as survey moves to online focus". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  9. Huffadine, Leith (11 October 2018). "2018 Census - what happened?". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 7 January 2019. The 2018 Census had the lowest response in more than 50 years - now a team is looking for answers.
  10. "2018 Census data release delayed". Stats NZ. 27 November 2018.
  11. Manch, Thomas (10 April 2019). "One in seven failed to complete Census 2018, a back down from Govt Statistician reveals". Stuff. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  12. "Government Statistician Liz MacPherson faces complaint to Speaker Trevor Mallard over 2018 Census data". The New Zealand Herald. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  13. Report of the Independent Review of New Zealand's 2018 Census (PDF) (Report). Statistics New Zealand. July 2019. ISBN 978-1-98-858337-2. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  14. "Report of the Independent Review of New Zealand's 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  15. Whyte, Anna (13 August 2019). "Government's top statistician resigns in wake of Census 2018 debacle". 1 News Now. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  16. Manch, Thomas (13 August 2019). "Census 2018: Chief Statistician Liz MacPherson has resigned". Stuff. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  17. "Head of Stats NZ Liz MacPherson resigns over botched census". Radio New Zealand. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-06. Retrieved 2017-08-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. "National Population Projections: 2016(base)–2068 (spreadsheet)". Stats NZ. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  20. "2018 Census totals by topic" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  21. "Data confidentiality principles and methods report - data.govt.nz". data.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  22. "2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights". Stats NZ. 23 September 2019. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  23. "2018 Census External Data Quality Panel: Assessment of variables". stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  24. "2018 Census population and dwelling counts – amended". stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 29 October 2019.