New Zealand Atlas of Population Change

Contribution to Change by Component (Urban Places)

These maps provide an overview of the components (drivers) of population change across New Zealand's urban places for each decade between 1976 and 2013 (note that the final period is for just seven years). The maps represent simultaneously both annual (average) percentage change, and change in absolute size, by using a mix of symbols – colour and size. Separate maps of net migration, natural change, and total population change are provided by choosing the relevant category from the list. (Natural Change refers to both the difference between births and deaths, conventionally referred to as 'natural increase' or 'natural decrease', and to change in the size of each cohort as younger cohorts move into the next age group.)

Most of the spatial variation in population change is explained by net migration, because it differs markedly for each urban place, while natural change is relatively even across New Zealand. Although some towns are already experiencing natural decrease (where deaths exceed births), at this stage the decrease is relatively small and plays a minor role in overall size. Projections indicate that natural change will be negative in the future across many more towns, as the population ages. The spatial variation patterns of net migration are more complex to understand and are driven by economic and employment factors as well as lifestyle choices, such as climate and topography, and access to essential services – hospitals, universities and airports. These spatial patterns in net migration vary with different age groups as can be seen in the maps. Younger people are moving away from small agricultural towns to larger cities with universities and employment options, as well as tourist towns. People approaching retirement age are moving out of large cities to lifestyle towns but still want to be close to large population centres and international airports. See the readings listed below for more information.