New Zealand : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
81 years
Primary enrolment: 

4,506,000 (2013); 86 per cent of people live in urban areas and 32 per cent in urban agglomerations of more than one million people; growth 1.2 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 14 per 1,000 people (22 in 1970); life expectancy 81 years (71 in 1970).

The 2006 census recorded 2,609,592 people of European origin (65 per cent); 565,329 people of Polynesian (Maori) descent (14 per cent); 265,974 Pacific Island Polynesians (6.6 per cent), mostly from Samoa (131,103), Cook Islands (56,895) and Tonga (50,478); some 139,728 Chinese (3.5 per cent); and 97,443 Indians (2.4 per cent). About 75 per cent of people live in North Island, of which the average population density is 24 per sq km (South Island: six per sq km).


English and Maori are the official languages and many information documents are also translated into Polynesian.


Some 60 per cent of people adhere to a religion: Christians 44 per cent (Roman Catholics 12 per cent, Anglicans 11 per cent, Presbyterians/Congregational/Reformed eight per cent, Methodists two per cent); Hindus two per cent; and Buddhists 1.4 per cent (2013 census).


Public spending on health was nine per cent of GDP in 2012. Treatment in public hospitals is free for everyone. There are medical schools at the University of Auckland and the University of Otago. Infant mortality was five per 1,000 live births in 2013 (22 in 1960).


Public spending on education was 7.4 per cent of GDP in 2012. There are 12 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary seven, with cycles of four and three years. The school year starts in January.

Universities New Zealand recognises eight government-funded universities with a total student enrolment of about 180,000 in 2011: the Auckland University of Technology; Lincoln University (near Christchurch, South Island); Massey University (campuses in Auckland, Palmerston North and Wellington); University of Auckland; University of Canterbury (at Christchurch, South Island); University of Otago (main campus at Dunedin, South Island); University of Waikato (main campus at Hamilton); and Victoria University of Wellington.

There are many colleges of education across the country and the University of Waikato has its own School of Education. The tertiary sector also includes 20 institutes of technology and polytechnics, all offering degree courses. The Maori Education Trust – established in 1961 as the Maori Education Foundation – awards scholarships and grants to encourage the Maori into tertiary education. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.50:1 (2010). There is virtually no illiteracy among people aged 15–24.


Largest dailies include The New Zealand Herald (Auckland, the main national newspaper), The Dominion Post (Wellington) and The Press (Christchurch). Many other daily papers – mostly evening editions – are published locally and regionally. The principal Sunday papers are Sunday Star-Times and Sunday News.

Broadcasting was deregulated in 1988. Television New Zealand operates two public channels and further digital channels, and Maori Television promotes Maori language and culture. TV3, Prime TV and Sky TV are private channels.

Radio New Zealand provides three public stations and an external service, RNZI. Ruia Mai is a Maori-owned radio station broadcasting in Maori, and Niu FM provides a public service for the Pacific Islander communities. There are several private radio stations.

Some 97 per cent of households have TV sets (2009). There are 826 personal computers per 1,000 people (2009).


Country code 64; internet domain ‘.nz’. Public phones are generally phonecard- or credit card-operated. Mobile phone coverage is good. Internet access and internet cafés are widely available.

For every 1,000 people there are 411 landlines, 1,058 mobile phone subscriptions and 828 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year (two days), Waitangi Day (anniversary of the 1840 treaty, 6 February), ANZAC Day (25 April), Queen’s Official Birthday (first Monday in June), Labour Day (fourth Monday in October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The anniversaries of the former provinces of New Zealand are observed locally as holidays.

Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday and Easter Monday.