The Royal Society of New Zealand has undertaken a major review of the rapidly changing New Zealand population, and the implications of this for the economy, social cohesion, education, and health. Its purpose is to promote informed discussion of the implications of the 2013 New Zealand Census for understanding the changing nature of New Zealand society.
Ko te pae tata, whakamaua, kia tīnā, Ko te pae tāwhiti, whaia, kia tata – Secure the horizons that are close to hand and pursue the more distant horizons so that they may become close
Our Futures: Te Pae Tāwhiti brings together data and analysis from the 2013 census and other sources, together with input from a wide range of researchers, to provide evidence-based pointers to the future of New Zealand society. It covers seven key themes: diversity, population change, tangata whenua, migration, households and families, regional variation, and work.
Our Futures panel chair Professor Gary Hawke FRSNZ explains the purpose and process of the report and shares some of the key findings.
Summary from Our Futures: Te Pae Tāwhiti, The 2013 Census and New Zealand’s changing population
- New Zealand has always had minority communities – both ethnic and religious – but in the last twenty years, the country has become diverse in new ways: increasing migration from Asia and an increasing proportion of the population born overseas.
- The implication for New Zealand is that it is, increasingly, a country with multiple cultural identities and values.
- People are living and staying active longer, and the proportion of the population in the older age groups will increase.
- The implications for New Zealand are that people will need income for longer, and keeping the birth rate above replacement level will be a challenge.
- Māori have a distinctive but rapidly changing population structure with significant assets, as well as labour.
- Māori culture and institutions continue to endure and evolve along with demographic change, but the maintenance of Te Reo Māori faces challenges.
- New Zealand’s population is the product of two long-established migration flows: immigration and circulation of citizens of other countries, and emigration and circulation of New Zealanders.
- The implications for New Zealand could include immigration surges from the diaspora, such as the 650,000 New Zealanders who live in Australia, and from the 23 million Australians that have right of access to the New Zealand labour market and welfare. The contribution migration makes to population growth is likely to increase, relative to that from natural increase from the mid-2030’s as the gap between births and deaths continues to shrink with rising numbers of deaths and falling birth rates.
- Household patterns have changed little in the 21st century.
- There has been a rise in two-family households, and many children live in households which have limited income and assets.
- New Zealand is regionally diverse and interconnected, with Auckland accounting for over half the population growth between 2006 and 2013. Internal migration has decelerated between regions.
- The implication for New Zealand is a pattern of greater relative growth for Auckland, a few centres with slower growth, and population decline in much of rural New Zealand, with implications for maintaining service levels for an ageing and possibly dwindling population.
- Employment is shifting in terms of location and the rise and fall of occupations and industries. This has been accompanied by changes in labour supply, resulting in part from the ageing of the population, the contraction in entry level cohorts and the reliance on immigrant labour.
- The implications for New Zealand are that the growing diversity of the nature of paid employment will continue, so that there will be less security and participation will be more precarious.