23 September 2019
New Zealand’s 34th Census of Population and Dwellings was held on 6 March 2018. We combined data from the census forms
with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats NZ’s quality criteria for population
The census night population count of New Zealand is a count of all people present in New Zealand on a given census
night. The census usually resident population count of New Zealand is a count of all people who usually live in and were
present in New Zealand on census night. It excludes overseas visitors and New Zealand residents who are temporarily
overseas. The following population information is based on the census usually resident population.
Results of the 2018 Census showed:
• The Māori ethnic group comprised 16.5 percent of the census usually resident population.
• New Zealand was the most common birthplace, at 72.6 percent. This was followed by England (4.5 percent), the
People’s Republic of China (2.9 percent), and India (2.5 percent).
• The most common languages spoken were English (95.4 percent), te reo Māori (4.0 percent), and Samoan (2.2
• More than 9 in 10 households (91.9 percent) in occupied private dwellings had access to a cell or mobile phone,
a higher proportion than those with access to the internet at 86.1 percent.
The percentage of the population who identified themselves as belonging to the Māori ethnic group was 16.5 percent.
There was no change in the top five ethnicities between the 2013 and 2018 Censuses: New Zealand European (64.1 percent),
Māori (16.5 percent), Chinese not further defined (nfd) (4.9 percent), Indian nfd (4.7 percent), and Samoan (3.9
The 2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights tables have national counts of ethnicities at the most detailed
level of the ethnicity classification. However, 2018 Census population and dwelling counts
has broad groupings of ethnicities (that is, European, Māori, Pacific, Asian, MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American,
and African), and Other ethnic groups) at various levels of geography.
Of the census usually resident population, 72.6 percent were born in New Zealand. This compares with 74.8 percent in the
The next most common birthplace was England at 4.5 percent, down from 5.4 percent in 2013.
This was followed by the People’s Republic of China (2.9 percent or 132,906 people) and India (2.5 percent or 117,348
people), both up from 2.2 and 1.7 percent respectively (or 89,121 and 67,176 people) in the 2013 Census.
Of the top five languages, both te reo Māori and Northern Chinese (including Mandarin) speakers increased slightly since
the 2013 Census, from 3.7 to 4.0 percent, and from 1.3 to 2.0 percent respectively.
English was the most common language with which people could hold a conversation about everyday things, with 4,482,135
speakers (95.4 percent of the population).
The next most common languages were:
• te reo Māori (185,955 people or 4.0 percent)
• Samoan (101,937 people or 2.2 percent)
• Northern Chinese (including Mandarin) (95,253 people or 2.0 percent)
• Hindi (69,471 people or 1.5 percent).
New Zealand Sign Language was used by 22,986 people (or 0.5 percent). In 2013, this was 20,235 people (or 0.5 percent).
Education and training
One in four New Zealanders (24.5 percent) participated in full- or part-time study. Of these, 87.0 percent participated
in full-time study.
Of the population, 18.2 percent of adults reported no qualification for their highest qualification, down from 20.9
percent in 2013.
The proportion of adults who had a bachelor’s degree or level 7 qualification for their highest qualification was 14.6
percent, while 5.9 percent had an overseas secondary school qualification.
The proportion of households in occupied private dwellings who owned or partly owned their homes, and made mortgage
payments, was 27.8 percent. An additional 18.8 percent owned or partly owned their homes and did not make mortgage
Of households whose dwelling was not owned or held in a family trust, 31.9 percent made rent payments, while a further
3.4 percent lived in a dwelling rent-free.
Of the households who paid rent, 83.5 percent rented from a private person, trust, or business, and 0.3 percent of
households who paid rent rented from an iwi, hapū, or Māori land trust.
Heat pumps were the most common form of heating used in New Zealand homes (47.3 percent), followed by electric heaters
(44.1 percent), and wood burners (32.3 percent).
Most households in occupied private dwellings had access to a cell or mobile phone (91.9 percent), and 86.1 percent had
access to the internet.
About the 2018 Census dataset
We combined data from the census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats
NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.
We added real data about real people to the dataset where we were confident they should be counted, but they hadn’t
completed a census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources, and statistical imputation
methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people.
The independent External Data Quality Panel has endorsed the statistical approaches used by Stats NZ to mitigate
We analysed the quality of the 2018 Census dataset to get a comprehensive picture of its quality. This quality
assessment found the majority of key data was either very high, high, or moderate quality, but some data is poor or very
Three key variables were identified as being very poor quality and are not available in the census totals by topic
• Families and households – we are investigating whether we can improve the information for families and
• Iwi affiliation – we are continuing to work with the Data Iwi Leaders Group to consider the quality of data and
identify possible solutions to the data gap.
• Absentees – the new methodology used to create the census dataset has reduced the importance of this variable.
Absentees are not used for population counts. The main impact of poor absentees data is on the quality of
Data for the usual residence one year ago indicator and usual residence five years ago indicator variables was collected
in the 2018 Census. It is currently unavailable but is expected to be released soon.
See 2013 Census totals by topic
for national-level counts of the 2013 Census topics.