June 05, 2024

First data from Census 2023 released

Usual residents stand at almost five million people

Finally, in May 2024, the first data from the 2023 Census was released. It shows that one in three people live in Auckland, and one in five people are of Māori descent. 

According to Statistics New Zealand, the country had 4,993,923 usual residents as of March 2023, up 294,168 or 6.3 percent from the March 2018 Census.

Taking lessons learnt from the 2018 Census, there has been a substantial improvement in the overall response rate and coverage rate for the 2023 Census. For the 2018 Census, the overall response rate was 85.8 percent, and for the 2023 Census it stands at 88.3 percent. Also, the overall coverage rate for 2018 was 97.4 percent and for 2023 it stands at 99.1 percent. For both 2018 and 2023 the coverage rate has been boosted by administrative enumeration, which is the process of including individuals who did not fill in the Census by using administrative records to effectively fill in their Census forms. 

If we compare the 2023 Census back to the 2013 Census, the 2013 Census had a higher response rate (93.2 percent), but its overall coverage rate was lower at 97.6 percent. This means that while the response rate has dropped in the 2023 Census compared to 2013, due to the combined approach to the Census with administrative records also being used now, the overall coverage of the usual resident population is now higher.    

Looking at New Zealand’s largest urban areas, Auckland has increased its population by 84,768 since 2018, a 5.4 percent increase, which takes the population to 1,656,486. Christchurch City now has a population of 391,383, which is a 22,377 (or 6.3 percent) increase since 2018, and the Wellington Region now has a resident population of 520,971, which is a 14,157 (or 2.8 percent) increase.  

Selwyn District had the largest percentage increase in population, a 29 percent increase between 2018 and 2023, adding 17,583 people. This was followed by Queenstown-Lakes District with just over a 22 percent increase, or 8,655 more people. The Waikato District population grew by 13.7 percent or 10,350 additional people. Dunedin City’s population grew by only 2.1 percent or 2,646 people. The Gore District and Invercargill City had marginal growth of 2.5 and 2.6 percent respectively between 2018 and 2023. While the Chatham Islands had a small decline in the number of usual residents, with a of loss of 51 people, or a 7.7 percent decrease.

Māori population continues to grow

Māori continue to be the second largest ethnic group in New Zealand, comprising 887,493 individuals. This represents a 14.4 percent increase, equivalent to 111,657 people, between 2018 and 2023. Not far behind, the Asian ethnic group is a very close third, with 861,576 people, with a substantial increase of 21.8 percent or 153,978 people. Of concern though is while the interim coverage rate for the Māori population was 98 percent, and 98.4 percent for the Pacific Peoples population, the response rates for these population groups were 76.7 percent for Māori and 79.9 percent for Pacific Peoples. This means that roughly around 20 percent of the coverage of these population groups is coming from administrative enumeration. This compares to the roughly 11 percent for the overall population (including Māori, NZ European, Asian, Pacific Peoples, etc.).  

Our population is getting older

The number of people aged over 65 increased by 113,415. Overall, the percentage of 65-year-olds as a share of the total usual resident population has grown from 15.2 percent in 2018 to 16.6 percent in 2023, while the share of the population aged under 25 has shrunk from 32.8 percent in 2018 to 31.4 percent in 2023.