Provisional fertility rates for the year 2004 indicate that New Zealand women average 2.01 births per woman, an increase from 1.95 in 2003 but still
below the level required by any population to replace itself without migration
(2.10 births per woman). Sub-replacement fertility is a feature of most developed
countries, including France (1.9 births per woman), Australia and Denmark (1.8), England and Wales, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden (1.7), and Japan (1.3), but is less of an issue in the United States (2.0). The comparatively high rate in New Zealand reflects the higher fertility rates of Māori (2.65 births per woman in 2004) and Pacific women (2.94 in 2000–2002). In
2001, Māori and Pacific together made up over a fifth (22 percent) of women in the reproductive
Since 1992, the median age of New Zealand women giving birth has risen from 28 years to 30 years. The median age of Māori women giving birth is younger but is also increasing (from 25 years in 1996
to 26 years in 2004).
New Zealand has
a relatively high rate of childbearing at young ages compared with other developed
countries, but the trend has been downward in recent years. The birth rate
for women under 18 years was 18.0 per 1,000 females aged 15–17 years in 1996
and 14.9 per 1,000 in 2004. The rate for young Māori is higher but has fallen faster over the same period (from 48.3 to 40.1 births
per 1,000 15–17 year old females). The birth rate for Pacific females under
18 years declined from 28.2 to 22.9 per 1,000 between 1995–1997 and 2000–2002,
the latest period for which Pacific fertility rates are available.