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Components of population change

Changes in national population size are driven by two factors: natural increase (births minus deaths) and net external migration.

Births exceeded deaths by 30,400 in the December 2006 year, an increase from 29,700 in 2005. Historically, natural increase has been the main component of population growth in New Zealand, but its contribution is set to decline gradually as the population ages and fertility remains stable. By 2020, natural increase is projected to be about 20,000 a year.

The number of people coming to live in New Zealand in 2006 exceeded those leaving the country to live elsewhere by 14,600, more than twice the net migration gain of 7,000 in 2005. In the December 2006 year, the net gain from permanent and long-term migration accounted for 32 percent of population growth, up from 19 percent in 2005.

Figure P2 Components of population change, 1982–2006

Figure P2 Components of population change, 1982–2006

Source: Statistics New Zealand 
Note: Before 1991, estimated population change was based on the de facto population concept. From 1991 onwards, population change was based on the resident population concept

Almost 70 percent of New Zealand nationals returning home in 2006 after a long-term absence came from either the United Kingdom or Australia. These two countries were also the most popular destinations for New Zealand citizens departing for a permanent or long-term absence.

The net inflow of non-New Zealand citizens more than doubled between 2000 and 2002 (from 26,600 to 54,900), fell to 32,000 in 2005, then rose to 38,200 in 2006. The main contributing countries in 2006 were the United Kingdom (10,900), the Philippines (2,400), Fiji (2,300), and India (2,100). Most new migrants settle in Auckland.

In the decade to 2006, New Zealand had a net gain of 110,500 migrants. Two age groups contributed most of this gain: adults aged 25–49 years (61 percent) and children aged under 15 years (28 percent).