NZ FAQ Series: Population

As of July 2017, the estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4.59 million. On average, one person is born in New Zealand every eight minutes and one migrant arrives every two hours.



New Zealand’s entire population could fit comfortably several times over into what most people classify as cities. In New Zealand, any area with a population upwards of 20,000 people is liable to be referred to as a city. However, if we define a city as a major urban centre housing a significant proportion of a nation’s population and large conglomeration of business enterprises and/or government departments, New Zealand has three: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.


Interesting Facts

  • While many people immigrate to New Zealand, many New Zealanders emigrate to other countries, meaning its net migration balance is quite volatile

  • Three out of every four New Zealanders live on the North Island.

  • New Zealand’s population is not projected to reach five million until the mid-2020s and six million until 2061.

  • The median age of the population is 37 years. Children (aged 0-14) make up 20% of the population, people of working age (15-64) make up 66% and those of retirement age (65+) 14%.

  • There are 97 males for every 100 females in New Zealand.

  • Maoris are estimated to account for 682,200 of the population.

(Source: Statistics New Zealand)


Social Customs

Like many parts of the New World, New Zealand makes a virtue of its egalitarianism and Kiwis take an informal approach to everything from dressing and dining to greeting others and using the English language.

Maori meeting house - Marae

As a general rule, Kiwis are friendly, polite and hospitable but may come across as reserved to those from more outgoing cultures.

There can be marked differences between the way Maoris and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European background) behave. Maoris are friendly and place great value on hospitality, but have a range of protocols about things such as howvisitors should be welcomed and farewelled.

In many respects, New Zealanders of Anglo-Celtic background remain quite British, from their obsession with discussing the weather through to their distance for self-promotion.