Table of Contents


THIS is the sixty-second issue of the New Zealand Official Year-Book.

Included in this issue is a summary of the 1955 Revision of the Consumers' Price Index as Appendix (d). This is complementary to the Appendix “Retail Prices in New Zealand, with Special Reference to the Consumers' Price Index” in the 1947–49 Official Year-Book.

The illustrations in this issue have primary production as their main theme.

Subsection 5C on Mental Hospitals has been substantially revised, as also has Subsection 38F on Workers' Compensation. In Subsection 29B there is a new presentation of Sector Accounts. The system of industrial sector accounts is now complete and fully integrated, although to date it relates only to the year 1952–53. This represents a considerable advance in the techniques of social accounting. The sector accounts provide a static model of the whole economy wherein the various transactions can be illustrated in much finer detail than was previously possible.

My thanks are extended to all who assisted in the preparation, editing, and printing of the Year-Book.

Government Statistician.

Department of Statistics,
20 June 1957.


(Obtainable from the Government Printer, Publications Branch, Wellington)

TitleLatest No.Date of IssuePrice Per Copy (Post Free)

* £2 10s. per annum (post free).

† Cyclostyled copies showing numbers with overseas War Service, enumerated in each county, borough, and town district at the 1951 Census, are available on application (no charge) from the Department.

NOTE.—This list is subject to revision from time to time.

Annual Report of the Department of Statistics (H. 39)1957June 195716
New Zealand Official Year-Book1957August 1957150
Pocket Digest of New Zealand Statistics1956May 195736
Annual Statistical Reports:
  Population, Migration, and Buildings Statistics1955–56March 195776
  Vital Statistics1955December 195676
  Justice Statistics1955May 195776
  Shipping and Other Transport Statistics1956August 195776
  External Trade Statistics, Report on and Analysis of1954July 1956136
  Farm Production Statistics (including Historical Appendix)1954–55July 1956116
  Industrial Production Statistics1954–55November 1956300
  Insurance Statistics1955May 195756
  Prices, Wages, and Labour Statistics1955February 1957106
  Industrial Accidents Statistics1955June 195796
  Income and Income Tax Statistics for the Income Year1953–54April 195786
  National Income and Sector Accounts1955–56October 195686
  Balance of Payments1955–56November 195656
Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand1954–55April 1957150
Monthly Abstract of Statistics*  50
    Retail Trading Statistics (Quarterly Issue)March QuarterJune 1957  
    Factory Production (April Abstract)1955–56May 1957  
    National Income and Expenditure (July Abstract)1955–56August 1956  
    Regional Distribution of Factory Production (July Abstract)1954–55August 1956  
  Special Supplements:
    Consumers' Price Index, 1955 Revision (November Abstract) December 195616
    Report on the Inter-Industry Study of the New Zealand Economy in 1952–53 (February Abstract) March 195716
    New Zealand Tables of Working Life, 1951 (February Abstract)1951March 195720
Agricultural and Pastoral Statistics of New Zealand, 1861–1954 July 195620
Final Report on the Census of Farm Production1949–50May 1956116
Volumes of 1951 Census Results:
  Vol. I. Increase and Location of Population1951April 195376
  Vol. II. Ages and Marital Status1951January 1954106
  Vol. III. Religious Professions (Including Summaries for Dependent Children, Race, and War Service)1951November 195350
  Vol. IV. Industries, Occupations, and Incomes1951September 1954126
  Vol. V. Birthplaces and Duration of Residence of Overseas-Born1951December 195450
  Vol. VI. Maori Census1951January 195566
  Vol. VII. Dwellings and Households1951August 195460
  Vol. VIII. General Report1951August 1956256
  Appendix A. Census of Poultry1951February 195326
  Appendix B. Life Tables 1950–52 and Values of Annuities1951December 195656
  War Service1951November 1953  
Census of Distribution, 19531953April 195460
Census of Public Libraries, 19541954June 195546
Volumes of 1956 Census Results: Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings1956November 195646


FOR some of the statistical series included in this issue of the Year-Book later information is available than is included in the body of the book. This later information is given in the following paragraphs, with references to the appropriate portion of the Year-Book containing more detailed information for earlier periods.


Inter-censal Population (p. 35).—Recent population changes are given in the following table.


Year EndedMalesFemalesTotalMean Population for Year
Total Population (Including Maoris)
30 June 19561,094,8841,083,0532,177,9372,161,068
30 September 19561,101,2381,089,1642,190,4022,171,701
31 December 19561,110,9911,097,7892,208,7802,182,617
31 March 19571,116,6861,104,4832,221,1692,194,108
Maori Population
30 June 195670,66567,542138,207135,453
30 September 195671,27168,161139,432136,765
31 December 195671,83768,729140,566138,081
31 March 195772,55269,482142,034139,421

The above figures are exclusive of the population of the Cook Islands, 16,680 (at Census date 25 September 1956); Niue Island, 4,722 (at 31 December 1956); Tokelau Islands, 1,645 (at 31 March 1957); and Western Samoa, 98,685 (at 31 March 1957).

Natural Increase.—Owing to the uniformly high levels in births in the last few years and the relative stability in the number of deaths, population gains from natural increase—i.e., excess of births over deaths—have been particularly marked in recent years, the excess of births over deaths in 1956 at 36,897 constituting a record.

Migration (pp. 36–38).—The total number of arrivals in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1957 was 170,511, while the total number of departures in the same year was 159,656. Excluding crews and through passengers, arrivals totalled 76,055 and departures 64,563, making the net excess of arrivals 11,492, as compared with 8,092 in 1955–56. A classification of total arrivals and departures gives the following results.

Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Arrivals
Immigrants intending permanent residence20,87823,030
New Zealand residents returning21,91525,046
Through passengers8,26420,718
      Total arrivals142,644170,511
Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Departures
New Zealand residents departing—
Temporary residents departing25,65729,181
Through passengers8,26420,718
      Total departures133,975159,656

Until 1953–54, recent statistics of the numbers of immigrants intending permanent residence had shown considerable increases—arrivals under this heading being 18,234 in 1950–51, 24,922 in 1951–52, and 29,005 in 1952–53. However, this upward trend was halted in 1953–54, when a substantial decrease of 4,109 on the previous year was shown, the total being 24,896. This downward trend continued in 1954–55, when the figure was 19,453, another drop of 5,443 on the previous year. However, 1955–56 showed an increase once again, total immigrant arrivals being 20,878, an increase of 1,425, over the previous year, and this upward move has continued with the immigrant arrivals in 1956–57 showing an increase of 2,152 over 1955–56, the total being 23,030.

The continuation of assisted passages for certain classes of immigrants is reflected in the statistics. The following were the numbers arriving under this heading over the past five years: 1952–53, 7,581; 1953–54, 6,299; 1954–55, 4,332; 1955–56, 5,123; 1956–57, 4,593.

In response to an international appeal, New Zealand agreed during 1956–57 to accept a number of Hungarian refugees. The first of these arrived in December 1956, and 617 Hungarian refugees had arrived up to 31 March 1957. They are not included in the assisted immigrant figures covered in the previous paragraph.

In 1956–57 while assisted immigrants fell by 10.3 per cent, unassisted immigrants (including the Hungarian refugees mentioned above) rose by 17.0 per cent compared with the previous year.


Timber Production

Timber Production (pp. 567–569).—Provisional figures issued by the New Zealand Forest Service indicate a continued high level of timber production for the year ended 31 March 1957, the output of rough-sawn timber being given as 596,900,000 board feet, a decrease of 28,900,000 board feet below the output of the previous year. The output of the principal species was as follows: rimu and miro, 212,500,000 board feet; matai, 33,400,000 board feet; kahikatea, 17,300,000 board feet; beech, 18,800,000 board feet; totara, 9,900,000 board feet; tawa, 15,500,000 board feet; and exotic pines, 273,300,000 board feet. Indigenous species totalled 312,100,000 board feet, and exotics, 284,800,000 board feet.

Factory Production Statistics, 1955–56

Production totals for the 1955–56 year showed a rise of 5.7 per cent in volume of output over the previous year. The 1954–55 totals gave a record rise in volume of output for one year of 10.2 per cent. Three groups of industries recorded decreased output in 1955–56—tobacco manufactures, textiles, and leather and leather products, while eight groups recorded rises in volume of production of over 5 per cent. These were paper and paper products 43.42 per cent, rubber products 9.99 per cent, printing and publishing 8.60 per cent, electrical machinery and appliances 7.13 per cent, non-metallic mineral products 6.29 per cent, chemicals and chemical products 5.48 per cent, and beverages 5.18 per cent. The miscellaneous group heavily weighted by metal products, machinery, and transport equipment recorded a rise of 6.20 per cent.

Three important factors in the production increase for the year were the rise in persons engaged, the increase in overtime worked, and the huge increase recorded in the volume index for 1955–56 for the paper and paper products group. Included in this group was the first full year's output of the Tasman Pulp and Paper Company. The number of persons engaged during the latest year was 4,590, or 3 per cent, higher than the previous year, and overtime hours worked at 21,037,049 recorded an increase of 7.2 per cent on the previous year. These increases were not relatively as high as those recorded in 1954–55, when employment rose 4.9 per cent and overtime worked increased by 18.6 per cent. Average overtime hours worked by all wage-earners in 1955–56 were 195 for males and 41 for females, as against 185 and 46 in the previous year. Whereas in 1954–55 all groups recorded overtime increases, this year (1955–56) eight groups registered declines. Of the other twelve groups the following all showed increases of over 10 per cent—rubber products 22.8 per cent, transport equipment 15.1 per cent, wood products 11.4 per cent, and non-metallic mineral products 10.2 per cent.

The total number of persons engaged increased by 4,590 over 1954–55 (3,797 males and 793 females). The following groups accounted for the bulk of this increase: Food 1,252, wood products 582, paper and paper products 960, printing and publishing 467, transport equipment 1,001.

Wages paid in industry during 1955–56 averaged £741 for males and £390 for females, as against £696 and £373 the previous year, increases of 6.5 and 4.6 per cent respectively. These averages include overtime payments and bonuses, etc.

Added value at £201,169,110 represents the contribution to New Zealand's production in 1955–56 by manufacturers covered in this series, and shows a rise of 8.5 per cent over 1954–55. Increases of more than 10 per cent recorded over the previous year were paper and paper products 52.1 per cent, transport equipment 14.6 per cent, and non-metallic mineral products 12.5 per cent.

Capital expenditure during 1955–56 amounted to £26.1 million, compared with £20.6 million and £18.3 million in 1954–55 and 1953–54 respectively. These amounts cannot be treated as the total capital expended by New Zealand manufacturers, as the totals do not take into account capital expenditure of units not yet in production.

One final point of importance is the relative share of net production (added value) taken by the salary and wage-earner as opposed to the manufacturer. In 1955–56 salaries and wages represented 53.6 per cent of added value (53.0 the previous year). The manufacturers' surplus was 18.3 per cent of added value in 1955–56 (21.1 in the previous year).

This series of industrial production statistics compiled by the Department of Statistics covers 80 per cent of the labour force engaged in manufacturing activity. Actually the proportion of industrial production covered by the survey would be greater than 80 per cent, in that all establishments of any considerable size are included.

The year covered by these statistics is in general that ended 31 March 1956, although concerns are permitted to furnish returns covering financial years most closely corresponding to that period. In the case of dairy factories and meat-freezing works the years correspond to the respective seasons ended June and September 1956.

Summary (p. 619).—Following are the principal statistics of factory production for 1955–56, with comparable figures for the two previous years.

General Summary1953–541954–551955–56
Number of establishments8,3778,3668,515
Persons engagedNo.146,426153,558158,148
Production costs—
  Salaries, wages£86,579,12398,362,829107,870,738
  Other expenses£40,392,91747,943,23056,540,803
Value of output£495,376,770550,790,555584,035,667
Manufacturers' surplus£35,746,55339,111,02836,757,569
Value added in manufacture£162,518,593185,417,087201,169,110
Overtime worked by wage-earnersHrs.16,555,37019,629,27521,037,049
Volume index for industry: Base 1949–50 (= 1000) 1,1841,3051,379
Premises and plant—
  Value at end of year—
    Land and buildings£69,359,86080,687,46196,214,215
    Plant and machinery£52,909,37057,886,92073,659,189
  Capital expenditure during year—
    Land and buildings£6,511,4378,530,21111,000,461
    Plant and machinery£11,786,76912,061,18215,113,205
Coal consumption as fuelTons864,521898,571955,171

Principal Statistics 1955–56 (p. 643).—The following table gives the number of persons engaged, production costs, value of output, and added value for the year 1955–56, classified according to industry groups.

Industry GroupNumber of Persons EngagedProduction CostsValue of OutputAdded Value
Salaries and WagesMaterialsOther ExpensesTotal
Tobacco manufactures1,1006144,3944175,4256,0691,675
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods25,63012,41223,5632,88738,86241,12317,560
Wood and cork products (except furniture)12,9169,24119,1035,14733,49136,47817,375
Furniture and fittings4,9503,2425,1377969,1759,9434,806
Paper and paper products4,3543,1859,4316,49619,11219,0739,642
Printing, publishing, etc.9,4576,7807,0983,00416,88219,81712,719
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)1,6121,0212,8243264,1714,4761,652
Rubber products2,8482,2895,0431,4228,7549,9644,921
Chemicals and chemical products4,9113,62217,0952,72523,44226,0798,983
Petroleum and coal products2982311,4812251,9362,130649
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.6,3344,7846,4384,72315,94418,16911,731
Basic metal manufactures8616741,8193292,8213,1311,312
Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment)7,5055,86910,8222,25418,94620,98010,158
Machinery (except electrical)9,1476,96814,8572,31424,13926,42711,570
Electrical machinery and appliances4,2852,8406,1901,18110,21111,0914,901
Transport equipment20,21914,06534,4694,62853,16258,24523,776
Miscellaneous products2,7141,6652,6856855,0365,5322,847
      Totals, all groups158,148107,871382,86756,541547,278584,036201,169

Volume of Industrial Production (pp. 640–641).—The following analysis shows the variations in the volume of industrial production in the several industrial groups. The series is based on the volume of production in 1949–50.

GROUP INDICES: BASE 1949–50 (= 1000)

Industry Group1953–54 Index1954–55 Index1955–56
IndexIncrease Over 1954–55

* Decrease.

 Per Cent
Tobacco manufactures1,1741,1481,122–.26*
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods1,0551,1611,1700.77
Wood and cork products (except furniture)1,1961,2521,2751.81
Paper and paper products1,59919992,86843.42
Printing, publishing, etc.1,1741,3631,4808.60
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)981946883–6.65*
Rubber products1,6082,1882,4079.99
Chemicals and chemical products1,2381,4111,4885.48
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.1,1551,3141,3976.29
Electrical machinery and appliances1,2861,3961,4967.13
Furniture and fittings1281144415336.20
Petroleum and coal products
Basic metal manufactures
Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment)
Machinery (except electrical)
Transport equipment
Miscellaneous products
      Totals, all groups1,1841,3051,3795.67

Regional Distribution of Factory Production, 1955–56.—The table following gives a general summary by employment districts and shows a comparison of the manufacturing strengths of each district. The fairest guide to actual volume of production is the column in the table on Added Value. This shows Auckland district's dominance in the manufacturing world; its production all but equalling the total for the South Island.


Employment DistrictNumber of FactoriesPersons EngagedSalaries and Wages Paid
New Plymouth3433,7656922,866,995241,937
Palmerston North4094,4361,3183,302,352510,386
Lower Hutt3097,3802,3076,404,9581,053,873
  Totals, North Island5,90881,65028,04864,600,24111,511,450
  Totals, South Island2,60736,47211,97827,195,7944,563,253
  Totals, New Zealand8,515118,12240,02691,796,03516,074,703
Employment DistrictCost of MaterialsValue of OutputAdded Value
TotalPercentage of Total*

* Bracketed figures are percentages in previous year (1954–55).

Whangarei13,016,21817,372,8344,356,6162.2 (2.0)
Auckland97,107,357152,767,02355,659,66627.7 (28.7)
Hamilton25,088,31033,651,9298,563,6194.3 (4.5)
Paeroa10,105,72412,468,8852,363,1611.1 (1.1)
Tauranga3,697,6614,975,5781,277,9170.6 (0.7)
Rotorua11,580,11522,311,84610,731,7315.4 (3.8)
Gisborne3,422,4545,393,0791,970,6251.0 (1.0)
Napier3,982,1696,305,4612,323,2921.2 (1.1)
Hastings11,191,08515,193,8334,002,7482.0 (1.9)
New Plymouth20,046,16825,720,3615,674,1932.8 (3.0)
Wanganui9,821,20914,117,0054,295,7962.1 (2.2)
Palmerston North18,585,96325,621,7927,035,8293.5 (3.7)
Masterton6,472,5918,709,8472,237,2561.1 (1.2)
Lower Hutt32,488,95748,172,71515,683,7587.8 (6.9)
Wellington19,005,65135,773,68616,768,0358.3 (8.8)
  Totals, North Island285,611,632428,555,874142,944,24271.1 (70.6)
Blenheim2,141,0323,056,188915,1560.4 (0.4)
Nelson3,727,9656,601,1892,873,2241.4 (1.5)
Westport438,528776,173337,6450.2 (0.2)
Greymouth1,922,9593,505,2321,582,2730.8 (0.8)
Christchurch38,147,45064,478,40526,330,95513.1 (13.1)
Ashburton2,610,6243,793,2841,182,6600.6 (0.7)
Timaru8,773,88011,672,1082,898,2281.4 (1.5)
Oamaru2,826,8044,422,1981,595,3940.8 (0.8)
Dunedin20,210,64433,508,95713,298,3136.6 (6.8)
Invercargill16,455,03923,666,0597,211,0203.6 (3.6)
  Totals, South Island97,254,925155,479,79358,224,86828.9 (29.4)
  Totals, New Zealand382,866,557584,035,667201,169,110100.0 (100.0)


Building Permits in Urban and Rural Districts Combined.—The following table gives a summary for New Zealand of building permits (including State building operations) for the years ended 31 March 1956 and 1957.

New Houses and Flats: NumberNew Houses and Flats: ValueTotal, All Buildings: ValueNew Houses and Flats: NumberNew Houses and Flats: ValueTotal, All Buildings: Value
 ££ ££
Urban districts14,16238,511,68770,156,97813,44537,171,05469,009,424
Rural districts5,34212,974,09520,016,2664,90912,042,73220,378,817
  Totals, New Zealand19,50451,485,78290,173,24418,35449,213,78689,388,241

Building Permits Issued: New Zealand Totals

Year Ended 31 MarchNew Houses and FlatsValue of Other Buildings and Alterations and AdditionsTotal Value of All Buildings

Building Permits Issued: Urban Districts.—Urban districts include all cities, boroughs, and town districts, together with the counties of Waitemata, Manukau, Makara, Hutt, Paparua, Waimairi, Heathcote, Peninsula, and Taieri.

Year Ended 31 MarchNew Houses and FlatsValue of Other Buildings and Alterations and AdditionsTotal Value of All Buildings

Building Permits Issued: Rural Districts.—Rural districts include the remaining counties of New Zealand and islands outside county boundaries.

Year Ended 31 MarchNew Houses and FlatsValue of Other Buildings and Alterations and AdditionsTotal Value of All Buildings

Houses and Flats Completed.—Local authorities supplying building permit figures were also requested to supply the number of houses and flats which were completed during the year. In those cases where local authorities could not supply actual figures for completions, they were asked to make an estimate of the number.

The total figures on this basis for new houses and flats completed during 1956–57 were 19,200, compared with 19,200 in 1955–56 and 18,500 in 1954–55. Those completed in urban districts numbered 14,300 in 1956–57, 14,200 in 1955–56, and 13,900 in 1954–55.


Statistics of external trade in the calendar year 1956, in continuation of the statistics included in pages 292–355 of this Year-Book, are given below.

Total Commodity Trade.—Following are statistics of exports and imports in 1954, 1955, and 1956.


Calendar YearExportsImports (c.d.v.)Excess of Exports Over Imports
New Zealand ProduceTotal Exports

* The corresponding c.i.f. values were £245,820,000 in 1954, £287,134,000 in 1955, and £268,564,000 in 1956.



BASE 1952 (=100)

Calendar YearExportsImports
Value IndexVolume IndexValue IndexVolume Index

The total trade per head of mean population in 1956 was £234 (exports £126 and imports £108).

Exports.—New Zealand's export commodity trade in 1956 was valued at £275.1 million, an increase of 6.3 per cent over the previous year. An indication of the movement in the value of exports in the main groups of commodities is afforded by the following table.



Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWoolHides, Pelts, and Skins

Apart from the question of values, a special interest attaches to progress in the volume of our export trade in major export commodities. In the following table the fluctuations in the quantities of exports of butter, cheese, meat, and wool since 1946 are shown. Tons (000)

Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWool

Direction of Export Track.—The table below shows the main destinations of New Zealand exports in 1956. £(000)

CountryTotal Exports*

* Provisional figures.

United Kingdom177,679
Malaya and Singapore545
Hong Kong237
Rhodesia-Nyasaland Federation136
Union of South Africa384
Trinidad and Tobago988
British Guiana92
Gilbert and Ellice Islands58
Western Samoa573
Other Commonwealth countries472
  Totals, Commonwealth countries198,163
Belgium and Luxemburg5,697
German Federal Republic10,246
Republic of Ireland134
Belgian Congo93
Netherlands Antilles284
Panama Republic207
United States of America19,304
Society Islands137
American Samoa115
Other countries735
    Totals, all other countries76,282
Ships' stores689
    Totals, all countries275,134

Exports to Commonwealth countries in 1956 accounted for 72 per cent of the total exports, excluding ships' stores.

Imports.—The table following classifies imports by broad divisions.



Calendar YearFood, Beverages, and TobaccoMineral FuelsChemicals (Including Manufactured Fertilizers)Base Metals and Manufactures of MetalMachinery and Transport EquipmentTextiles, Clothing, and FootwearTotal*

* Including classes not listed.


Direction of Import Trade.—The next table shows the main sources (origin) of New Zealand's imports in 1956.


CountryTotal Imports*

* Provisional figures.

United Kingdom126,249
Bahrain Island3,192
Hong Kong968
Malaya and Singapore3,180
Kenya and Uganda306
Union of South Africa1,019
Trinidad and Tobago182
Gilbert and Ellice Islands149
Nauru Island628
Western Samoa257
Other Commonwealth countries503
  Totals, Commonwealth countries185,396
Belgium and Luxemburg2,115
German Federal Republic6,590
Saudi Arabia505
Netherlands Antilles376
United States of America18,065
Other countries683
    Totals, all other countries50,029
    Totals, all countries235,425

Imports from Commonwealth countries in 1956 comprised 79 per cent of the total.


Following the Census of Distribution in 1953 a continuing quarterly retail sample inquiry was inaugurated. The results of the census formed the framework from which a random sample of firms, stratified by store-type in broad geographical divisions and size of turnover, was drawn,

The actual sample inquiry is confined to just under 10 per cent of establishments, but these, on the basis of the census, represent approximately 28 per cent of total turnover. To provide the estimates presented in the following tables the figures have been expanded to represent the activity of all retail stores with the exception of hotel, motor vehicle, and motor accessory trading, which are excluded from the sample inquiry, and also from the census figures quoted by way of comparison.

Turnover by Store-types.—In the following tables details are shown for the latest periods. With two exceptions, other apparel and hardware, value of turnover increased in all store-types in the year ended 31 March 1957 as compared with the year ended 31 March 1956, the largest relative increases occurring in the grocer, other food and drink, chemist, and “other” store-type groups.



Store-typeNorth IslandSouth IslandTotals, New Zealand
Auckland Urban AreaWellington and Hutt Urban AreasRemainder of North IslandTotals, North IslandChristchurch Urban AreaDunedin Urban AreaRemainder of South IslandTotals, South Island
Year Ended 31 March 1956
Butcher, etc.4,1302,8488,99215,9702,3701,4404,1697,97923,949
Other food and drink9,7144,93313,67028,3173,7362,3275,47811,54139,858
Other apparel10,6356,97519,10236,7124,5922,8217,73215,14551,857
Furniture and soft furnishings4,5112,4545,50012,4651,7039762,0104,68917,154
Household appliances, radios, etc.1,8401,5313,3246,6959316911,4193,0419,736
General, department, and variety12,8225,58634,68053,0888,8213,36514,51326,69979,787
Year Ended 31 March 1957
Butcher, etc.4,1902,9738,93616,0992,3311,4194,1967,94624,045
Other food and drink10,4405,08114,13229,6533,9812,4725,55212,00541,658
Other apparel10,1316,74818,79235,6714,3742,7757,75414,90350,574
Furniture and soft furnishings4,7932,4385,41412,6451,7271,0292,2384,99417,639
Household appliances, radios, etc.1,5191,5143,4886,5219977181,5123,2279,748
General, department, and variety12,9175,40935,07253,3988,7003,36914,59126,66080,058
Quarter Ended 31 December 1955
Quarter Ended 31 March 1956
Butcher, etc.9486852,1893,8225823161,0451.9435,765
Other food and drink2,4431,2123,3837,0389005731,4672,409,978
Other apparel2,2071,5674,4018,1751,0076181,6553,28011,455
Furniture and soft furnishings9735841,1522,7093791974199953,704
Household appliances, radios, etc.3813327871,5002131603277002,200
General, department, and variety2,7211,2028,16612,0891,9097713,5626,24218,331
Quarter Ended 31 December 1956
Quarter Ended 31 March 1957
Butcher, etc.1,0137152,1633,8915643421,0611,9675,858
Other food and drink2,5891,2403,5267,3559666111,3862,96310,318
Other apparel2,2071,4164,1897,8129246451,6893,25811,070
Furniture and soft furnishings9735161,1862,6753622165101,0883,763
Household appliances, radios, etc.3644108811,6552351593637572,412
General, department, and variety2,7611,1928,42312,3761,9837553,6746,41218,788

The following table covering retail trading throughout the whole of New Zealand presents turnover figures classified according to the main commodity groups for both yearly periods and for recent quarterly periods.



Commodity GroupYear EndedQuarter Ended
31 March 195531 March 195631 March 195731 Dec. 195531 March 195631 Dec. 195631 March 1957

* Information obtained in the quarterly surveys indicates that retail trading in “Clothing, drapery, dress piece-goods” was divided in the following proportions in the year ended 31 March 1957: Men's and boys' wear, 32 per cent; women's, girls', and infants' wear, 57 per cent; household drapery, 11 per cent.

Groceries and small goods (including butter, bacon, etc.)66,51267,28270,45918,13616,56119,01317,037
Butchers' meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables34,42235,20336,2549,2438,4609,5288,835
Other foods (bread, cakes, pastry, etc.)12.83413,80213,9853,6513,7783,6993,331
Milk, ice-cream, confectionery, soft drinks, etc.11,11911,62011,9203,0193,0173,2053,233
Tobacco, cigarettes, and tobacconists' sundries9,0798,9728,9052,4362,1092,4472,090
Chemists' goods, toiletries, cosmetics (including dispensing)9,65810,86011,2453,0532,5963,0642,778
Clothing, drapery, dress piece-goods*63,53865,42163,77218,62414,51718,17713,990
Furniture, bedding, floor coverings, soft furnishings, and household textiles22,53022,20522,6385,9754,8496,2844,883
Musical instruments, including radios5,0765,2525,7661,5181,1521,6421,314
Household appliances and electrical goods12,65112,72412,4393,8352,8703,9692,926
  Domestic hardware, china, and glassware12.01712,42012,3393,5652,9103,5962,876
  Builders' hardware and materials (excluding timber, bricks, and roofing tiles)15,15915,70614,7273,9543,6933,8533,628
Books, stationery, etc.9,7969,63410,1492,8522,5352,9942,617

Stocks.—The following table shows details of stock figures as at 31 March of the last six years; also as at 31 December 1956.

The figures for March 1957 show a slight increase as compared with stocks at both 31 December 1956, and 31 March 1956.



Store-typeStocks at
31 March 195231 March 195331 March 195431 March 195531 March 195631 Dec. 195631 March 1957
Butcher, etc.378441363408338302310
Other food and drink1,6171,8811,8301,8621,8851,8551,824
Other apparel14,64015,11915,04217,62617,80618,11718,234
Furniture and soft furnishings4,3284,3914,3454,5654,8234,7584,669
Household appliances, radios, etc.1,2781,4141,3461,5801,7391,8041,862
General, department, and variety12,85114,25613,38114,75615,19515,11515,384


Banking and Currency

Reserve Bank (pp. 855–856).—Data showing the liabilities and assets of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand at the last balance day in May 1957 are shown below, together with the corresponding figures for the last balance day in March 1957.


As at Last Balance Day in
March 1957May 1957

* Expressed in New Zealand currency.

  Total liabilities (including other)171,287161,837
  Bank notes71,99872,711
  Demand liabilities—
  Total assets (including other)171,287161,837
    In New Zealand10,38710,387
    Sterling exchange34,83545,961
    Other exchange249434
    Marketing organizations35,19333,750

Trading Banks (pp. 856–865).—The principal statistics of trading banks for the months of March and May are given below. Debits and clearings cover the weekly periods ended on the last Wednesday of the respective months, while the remaining figures are as at those dates.

As at Last Balance Day in
March 1957May 1957
Bank debits during week—
Advances, including notes and bills discounted£168,741,704162,749,571
Unexercised overdrafts£97,025,863101,817,615
  Not bearing interest£233,800,045246,959,707
  Bearing interest£36,601,65839,072,305
Reserve Bank notes—
  Notes held by trading banks£11,566,96212,487,922
    Net note circulation£60,430,99260,222,894
Ratio of advances to depositsPer Cent61.4156.21

Overseas Assets of Banks (pp. 867–868).—In the following table overseas assets of banks (on account of New Zealand business only) are shown.


Overseas Assets at End of
March 1956March 1957
Trading banks' overseas assets—
  In London30,40624,228
Reserve Bank's overseas assets—
  Sterling exchange28,22734,835
  Other overseas assets28,58628,202
Total gross overseas assets93,19394,412
Overseas liabilities of trading banks8,2734,982
Overseas liabilities of Reserve Bank1459
Net overseas assets84,77589,421

Savings Banks (pp. 871–876).—A summary of statistics of savings banks at 31 March 1957 is given below.

Post Office Savings BankTrustee Savings BanksNational Savings Accounts

* Excess of withdrawals over deposits.

† On deposits held during year ended 30 June 1956.

Number of depositors1,650,331400,395 
Total amount of deposits during year131.443,89033,444,8258,836,057
Total amount of withdrawals during year121,319,48930,407,84513,005,415
Excess of deposits over withdrawals10,124,4013,036,980–236,593*
Interest credited to depositors6,300,8571,229,2672,040,230
Total amount to credit of depositors at end of March 1957236,605,66049,121,27167,321,998

Post Office Savings-bank Accounts Classified by Amount Groups (p. 873).—The following is a classification of the balances in Post Office Savings-bank accounts at 31 March 1955, 1956, and 1957, shown by amount groups and percentage of accounts within each group.

At 31 March 1955*Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1956*Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1957Percentage of Total

* Excludes 17,343 accounts in 1954–55 and 18,278 in 1955–56 domiciled at Apia and Rarotonga.

£ £ 
Under 1354,53523.06342,88621.88345,03720.91
1 and under 10368,07023.94384,66424.55437,41526.50
10 and under 50289,71418.85301,44319.23316,85519.20
50 and under 100123,7868.05126,3118.06130,3767.90
100 and under 200125,9558.19131,6838.40126,9977.70
200 and under 30070,7344.6071,2074.5471,7194.35
300 and under 40045,7772.9847,1743.0147,5502.88
400 and under 50036,9522.4036,7602.3537,4982.27
500 and under 60027,3471.7829,2141.8629,2081.77
600 and under 70016,4861.0716,5931.0618,0261.09
700 and under 80012,3670.8112,9320.8313,6580.83
800 and under 90010,0590.6610,0340.6410,6000.64
900 and under 1,0008,2990.548,5900.559,1840.56
1,000 and under 1,50023,8971.5624,5281.5627,5311.67
1,500 and under 2,00011,0220.7210,7630.6912,5690.76
2,000 and under 3,0009,2170.609,2290.5910,7420.65
3,000 and under 4,0001,8280.121,9120.123,2820.20
4,000 and under 5,0006740.047320.051,1980.07
5,000 and over4870.034890.038860.05
  Total number of accounts1,537,206*100.001,567,144*100.001,650,331100.00

Overseas Receipts and Payments.—The following statement gives statistics of overseas exchange transactions for the years ended 31 March 1956 and 1957. Comparable items for the calendar years 1955 and 1956 are, however, given on pages 869–870. All figures quoted are taken from Reserve Bank sources.


Year Ended 31 March 1956Year Ended 31 March 1957
  Butter49,980 43,336 
  Cheese19,571 20,213 
  Meat67,738 68,309 
  Wool98,375 97,943 
      Totals (including other)273,257 275,289 
  Licensed 43,635 31,901
  Decontrolled 194,461 198,818
  Government 22,285 29,275
      Totals (including other) 264,380 263,576
Transport: Freights, fares, ships' charters3,1485,7554,3157,087
Travel: Private and business (exclusive of fares)2,3966,5913,1556,675
  Insurance, reinsurance, other transfers1,3361,6871,2471,906
International investment income—
Interest, dividends, and other private investment income5,3066,2945,4757,406
Interest on Government and local authority loans 3,592 3,599
      Totals, international investment income5,3069,8865,47511,005
Government transactions—
  Current expenditure by New Zealand Government overseas 6,507 6,424
  Current receipts by New Zealand Government and expenditure by other Governments in New Zealand1,337 1,770 
      Totals, Government transactions1,3376,5071,7706,424
Miscellaneous current transactions—
  Commissions, royalties, rebates, etc.1,5152,3511,5162,867
  Films and entertainments 1,017 929
  Unilateral transfers (immigrants' transfers, personal remittances, charitable, legacies, etc.)7,1857,4527,9588,147
  Expenses of business firms4813,6957134,727
  Other current transactions5421,090511931
      Totals, miscellaneous current transactions9,72315,60610,69817,601
Capital transfers—
  Local authority   6
      Totals, capital transfers14,4849,22518,8475,913
Cook Islands exports or imports92100159105
Unidentified84 99 
Net export and contra prepayments 7,827  
      Grand totals311,164327,565321,054320,290


Consolidated Fund (pp. 785–789).—The following table contains a summary of the receipts and payments of the Consolidated Fund for the financial years ended 31 March 1956 and 1957.


Interest on capital liability—
  Post and Telegraph1,524,3071,964,607
  Electric supply3,592,0014,592,178
  Housing and Housing Construction1,366,1451,474,933
  Land settlement1,625,5561,708,192
  New Zealand National Airways Corporation42,00042,000
  Working railways 716,758
Interest on other public moneys996,6451,055,376
Profits on trading undertakings2,906,3624,254,822
Departmental receipts17,961,28917,672,735
      Totals, receipts197,433,300206,276,330
Permanent appropriations—
  Civil list162,395171,608
  Debt services—
  Administration and management830,309673,318
Superannuation (subsidy and contribution)3,602,0003,864,000
      Totals, permanent appropriations38,887,33240,175,265
Annual appropriations—
  Prime Minister's Office21,54020,532
  External Affairs2,153,8922,191,975
  Inland Revenue1,372,4981,508,451
      Totals, finance14,207,84314,918,961
General administration—
  Public Service Commission119,492130,261
  Internal Affairs3,554,3093,088,707
  Island Territories992,9071,196,092
  Printing and Stationery1,106,8141,169,216
  Maori Affairs887,182908,226
      Totals, general administration10,860,38510,964,194
Law and order—
  Crown Law25,56727,700
      Totals, law and order3,498,6324,257,584
  Defence construction and maintenance2,205,7062,745,114
      Totals, defence24,393,13626,221,270
  Maintenance of public works and services10,558,75613,154,578
Development of primary and secondary industries—
  Lands and Survey1,944,9021,976,709
  Forest Service2,202,0302,436,264
  Industries and Commerce400,711432,031
  Tourist and Publicity1,509,6411,520,915
  Scientific and Industrial Research1,212,6581,404,298,
  Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services2,552,7273,077,054
      Totals, development of primary and secondary industries14,513,39116,678,531
Social services—
  Subsidies to Hospital Boards10,704,31412,895,674
  War and other pensions8,444,5218,927,659
  Contribution to Social Security Fund14,000,00014,000,000
      Totals, social services66,401,85873,995,958
      Totals, annual appropriations146,854,750162,649,838
Unauthorized expenditure40,047125,528
Transfer to Public Works Account7,500,000 
      Totals, payments193,282,129202,950,630
Surplus from current year's operations4,151,1713,325,700
Balance in Fund at end of year11,291,87210,466,402

The surplus for the year 1954–55 of £6,839,916 was expended during the year 1955–56 by transfer to the Public Works Account. The corresponding surplus for the year 1955–56 of £4,151,171 was expended during the year 1956–57 by transfer to the Public Works Account.

Taxation (pp. 796–797).—Particulars of revenue from taxation for the financial years 1954–55, 1955–56, and 1956—57 are contained in the following table.


Item of Revenue1954–551955–561956–57
Consolidated Fund—
  Beer duty6,208,3596,567,3026,753,521
  Sales tax22,621,11923,443,49822,280,915
  Film-hire tax135,959142,021147,218
  Stamp duties6,905,5856,791,1726,889,389
  Death (including gift) duties9,385,1458,483,8108,268,365
  Land tax966,6321,227,6561,399,837
  Income tax88,316,88090,697,96598,117,734
Social security taxation—
  Social security charge56,175,15159,910,71761,635,224
National Roads Fund taxation—
  Highways revenue (less rebates)16,082,40317,499,06518,421,809
      Grand totals234,766,098244,828,777252,851,763

A summary showing the amounts received from direct taxes on income and from all sources during the last eleven years is now given.

YearDirect Taxes on Income (Including War and Social Security Charges on Income)Total Taxation
AmountPer Head of Mean PopulationPercentage of Total TaxationAmountPer Head of Mean Population
 ££s.d. ££s.d.

State Indebtedness (p. 816).—The public debt as at 31 March 1957 amounted to £757,119,696, an increase of £21,918,452 as compared with a year earlier. Of the 1957 debt figure, £100,425,184 was held in the United Kingdom, an increase of £4,621,150.


Revenue of the Social Security Fund for the year ended 31 March 1957, together with the 1955–56 figures in parentheses, was as follows: Charge on salaries and wages, £37,262,667 (£35,272,654); charge on other income of persons, £16,655,458 (£16,706,970); charge on company income, £7,717,099 (£7,931,093); grant from Consolidated Fund, £14,000,000 (£14,000,000); interest or. investments, £80,738 (£77,432); miscellaneous receipts, £140,557 (£122,832); total receipts, £75,856,519 (£74,110,981).

Payments from the Fund in 1956–57, with 1955–56 payments in parentheses, were: Monetary benefits, £57,921,763 (£55,457,934); emergency benefits and special assistance, £913,585 (£697,437); medical, etc., benefits, £16,772,712 (£15,547,154); administration expenses, £1,249,542 (£1,176,779); other payments, £10,342 (£4,488). Total payments from the Fund were therefore £76,867,944 (£72,883,792). The balance in the Fund at the end of March 1957 was £17,056,230.

Particulars of the various social security benefits (monetary and health) and war pensions in force at the end of March 1957, together with total payments during the financial year 1956–57, are shown in the following table.

Class of Benefit or PensionAs at 31 March 1957Payments During Year Ended 31 March 1957£
Number in ForceAnnual Value£
Social security benefits—
    Sickness3,619 1,221,409
    Unemployment94 20,578
    Emergency2,991 729,309
    Special assistance  184,276
      Totals545,142 58,835,348
    Medical  3,797,062
    Hospital  4,869,453
    Maternity  1,414,767
    Pharmaceutical  4,572,556
    Supplementary  2,118,874
      Totals  16,772,712
  War pensions—
    First World War16,3153,100,9593,126,546
    Second World War24,5212,409,3352,410,859
    War Veterans' Allowances9,4733,177,4252,999,656
    South African War245,1065,160
    Mercantile Marine pensions273,4613,375
    Emergency Reserve Corps91,9981,943
  Sundry pensions and annuities52072,51671,585
      Grand totals596,231 84,245,174

LIFE ASSURANCE BUSINESS, 1956 (pp. 913–920)

Ordinary Department.—During the year ended 31 December 1956 New Zealand ordinary life assurance business maintained a rate of growth comparable with recent years. The preliminary figures for 1956 which follow include estimates for two companies whose returns are not yet available. Although the number of new policies issued (excluding annuity policies) decreased slightly from the 1955 figure (81,800 as against 83,391), the amount of new assurance totalled £100.3 million, a rise of £4.7 million over the previous year. The average sum assured per policy was thus £1,195 (£1,147 in 1955). The annual premiums payable on new business during 1956 amounted to £2.74 million (1955 figure, £2.77 million).

Policies in force at 31 December 1956 numbered 978,000, assuring £689.3 million, an average per policy of £705. Comparative figures for twelve months earlier were 927,934, £620.4 million, and £669.

Premium revenue from ordinary business during 1956 totalled £20.7 million, an increase of £1.7 million over the previous year.

Industrial Department.—Policies issued, sum assured, and annual premiums for new industrial business during the year were 27,700, £4.1 million, and £189,000 respectively. The 1955 figures were 29,885, £4.4 million, and £205,000. Industrial policies in force at the end of 1956 numbered 532,800, assuring £43.6 million, compared with 535,188 and £41.8 million for the previous year. The average face value per new policy was £146, and for policies in force £82.


Retail Prices (pp. 967–971).—Details of the consumers' price index for the calendar year 1956, and for each of the quarters ended 31 March 1957 and 30 June 1957, are given below.


(Revised Series)

Base: Weighted average twenty-one towns, 1955 (= 1000)

Calendar Year 1956Quarter Ended 31 March 1957Quarter Ended 30 June 1957
  Meat and fish9959921,028
  Fruits, vegetables and eggs1,2311,0911,141
  Other foods1,0021,0101,029
      All foods1,0571,0251,057
  Home ownership1,0581,1011,118
      All housing1,0551,0981,112
Household operation—
  Fuel and light1,0151,0391,043
  Home furnishing1,0101,0151,016
  Domestic supplies and services1,0161,0561,057
      All household operation1,0131,0331,035
      All apparel9999981,001
  Public transport1,0071,1131,113
  Private transport1,0201,0521,063
      All transportation1,0161,0691,077
  Tobacco and alcohol1,0101,0131,014
  Other supplies1,0351,0511,064
  Other services1,0661,1101,132
      All miscellaneous1,0301,0471,056
All groups1,0351,0411,056

Share Prices (pp. 980–984).—Index numbers of share prices in 1956, together with the average for the year ended March 1957, are given below.

GroupIndex Numbers Base Average for Each Group, 1938 (= 1000)
Average for 1956Average for Year Ended March 1957
Frozen meat2,8092,982
Miscellaneous (including breweries)1,3531,364
      All industrial groups1,4701,490
Loan and agency2,8432,860
      All finance, etc., groups2,2612,270
      All groups combined1,8651,880

Monthly statistics for the first five months of 1956 and of 1957 are given below.


Industrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll GroupsIndustrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll Groups


Wage-rates (pp. 990–993).—Index numbers of average nominal weekly wage-rates of adult male and adult female wage-earners in 1955 and 1956, and of adult male wage-earners as at 31 March 1957, are as follows.

Industrial GroupBase: All Groups 1954 (= 1000)
Adult MalesAdult Females
Average for YearAs at 31 March 1957Average for Year
Provision of—
  Food, drink, etc.1,0911,1181,163938960
  Clothing, footwear, and textiles1,0231,0461,0861,0191,037
  Building and construction9911,0051,057  
  Power, heat, and light9589861,033  
  Transport by water and air1,2121,2431,303  
  Transport by land1,0321,0591,103  
  Accommodation, meals, and personal service9991,0071,0491,1271,138
Working in or on—
  Wood, wicker, seagrass, etc.1,0451,0661,121  
  Stone, clay, glass, chemicals, etc.9811,0031,044  
  Paper, printing, etc.1,1081,1301,180961988
  Skins, leather, etc.9981,0141,054  
  Mines and quarries1,0111,0561,119  
  The land (farming pursuits)950952982  
      All groups combined1,0351,0551,1011,0391,056

Effective Weekly Wage Rates (p. 994).—The following table shows nominal and effective weekly wage rates of adult workers for the years 1955 and 1956, and of males only for the first quarter of 1957. The base of the index numbers is in each case the calendar year 1954 (= 1000).

YearRetail Prices (All Groups)Nominal Weekly Wage RatesEffective Weekly Wage Rates
  March quarter1,0671,101 1,032 

Average Rates of Wages (pp. 996–999).—The following table gives the prescribed minimum average weekly wage rates as at 31 March 1957, the series being confined to adult males.

OccupationAverage Wage (Four Principal Districts) at 31 March 1957
Adult Males
  First shopmen2646
  Second shopmen2465
  Butter-factory employees—
Churning and butter making:
  Assistant smuttermen2296
Meat freezing—
  Slaughtermen, per 100 sheep1117
  Workers not otherwise specified2578
Meat preserving—
  Sausage-casing making: Workers not otherwise specified2656
Aerated water and cordial making—
  Cordial makers2244
  Brewing: Others23811
  Stock cutters (Factory)23911
  Footwear manufacturing workers24410
Woollen mills—
  Carpenters and joiners2481
  Builders' labourers2248
  General labourers2074
  Yardmen, head2584
  Workers not specified2369
Boatbuilding: Shipwrights25510
Metal works, etc.—
  Boilermakers, journeymen24710
  Iron and brass moulders2509
  Tinsmiths, journeymen2533
  Engineering fitters, etc.2541
  Electrical wiremen2585
  Motor mechanics25911
  Linotype operators (day)2636
  Letterpress machinists (day)2538
Skin and leather workers—
  All other workers20810
Mineral and stone workers—
  Flangers and moulders2381
  All other workers2166
Mining (coal)—
  Surface: Tippers2539
  Miners (on day wages, per shift)4910
Agricultural and pastoral workers—
  General farm hands1616
  Threshing-mill: Other workers, per hour5
  Shearers (per 100 sheep shorn)680
  Wool pressers2458
  Dairy-farm workers1900
  Engine drivers, average third and sixth years2839
  Firemen, average second and ninth years25211
  Guards, average first and third years2713
  Conductors (after six months)2272
Shipping and cargo working—
  Assistant stewards, first grade2310
  Assistant stewards, second grade2271
  Chief cooks2826
  Second cooks2557
  Able seamen24711
  Ordinary seamen, 18 years or over1908
  Waterside workers: Ordinary cargo2597
Hotel workers—
  First cooks2386
  Retailing of apparel: Shop assistants2360
  Grocers' assistants2258
  Warehouse storemen2262

NOTE.—The following perquisites (as assessed for statistical purposes), as at 31 March 1957, should be added to the listed occupations: General farm hands, ploughmen and shepherds, 39s., and dairy-farm workers, 36s. per week for board and lodging; shearers and wool pressers, 7s. per day for rations; assistant stewards (first and second grade), chief and second cooks, able and ordinary seamen, 50s. 10d. per week as value of board and lodging; and hotel first cooks and waiters, 44s. 10d. per week as value of board and lodging.

Estimated Distribution of the Labour Force (p. 1058).—The following table supplies an estimated distribution of the total labour force at 15 October 1956 and 15 April 1957. (000)

Industrial GroupMalesFemalesTotals
October 1956April 1957October 1956April 1957October 1956April 1957
Primary industry139.6139.212.812.8152.4152.0
Manufacturing industry150.1156.945.245.9195.3202.8
Power, water, and sanitary services11.411.30.80.812.212.1
Building and construction69.469.61.41.370.870.9
Transport and communication72.
Distribution and finance92.094.444.345.1136.3139.5
Domestic and personal services19.519.726.927.346.447.0
Administration and professional59.560.454.255.8113.7116.2
      Totals, in industry613.4624.4195.0198.6808.4823.0
Armed forces8.
Unemployed0.30.4  0.30.4
      Totals, labour force622.6634.0195.6199.3818.2833.3

Half-yearly Surveys of Employment (pp. 1060–1063).—Following is a summary of the employment statistics as returned for 15 April 1957.

Primary Industry (Other than Farming, Fishing, and Hunting)Manufacturing IndustryPower, Water, and Sanitary ServicesBuilding and ConstructionTransport and CommunicationDistribution and FinanceDomestic and Personal ServicesAdministration and ProfessionalTotal, all Industries Covered
Male employees (full-lime)10,705139,01111,30349,33153,74669,74911,49645,887391,228
Male working proprietors4569,69396,3441,96910,1053,26057332,492
Female employees (full-time)25742,7647921,1948,98538,74714,15945,673152,571
Female working proprietors21,269  703,4262,0701897,035
Number of establishments63212,5442425,8992,54315,1434,5013,73945,243

The figures shown in the manufacturing industry column are further subdivided as follows.

Food, Drink, and TobaccoTextiles, Clothing, and LeatherBuilding Materials and FurnishingsEngineering and Metal WorkingMiscellaneous Manufacturing
Male employees (full-time)31,06611,58824,31052,31319,734
Male working proprietors1,0491,1592,0534,4101,022
Female employees (full-time)6,93622,5411,4535,1276,702
Female working proprietors45255236124105
Number of establishments1,8141,8752,5994,8661,390

Limitations in the coverage of the figures shown above are noted on page 1061.

Summary of Vacancies, Placements, and Disengaged Persons.—This table gives additional figures to those presented on page 1071.

Vacancies at End of MonthPlacements During MonthDisengaged Persons at End of Month
Monthly average over calendar year—
Monthly total—


Shipping and Cargo Handled (pp. 368–377).—Statistics of entrances and clearances of vessels in the foreign trade in 1955 and 1956, and the total calls made in the foreign and coastal trade for the same years, are shown in the following table. The tonnage of cargo handled is also given.

Calendar Year
    Number of vessels824780
    Net tonnage3,526,5683,364,548
    Number of vessels800785
    Net tonnage3,450,4733,454,721
Total calls made—
    Number of vessels2,2002,268
    Net tonnage9,189,0669,752,769
    Number of vessels13,23912,984
    Net tonnage4,740,2674,855,295
    Number of vessels15,43915,252
    Net tonnage13,929,33314,608,064
Tonnage of cargo handled—
Total manifest tonnage10,954,95910,975,786

Statistics of shipping movement and cargo handled at New Zealand ports in 1955 and 1956 are given below.


Total Shipping MovementTotal Cargo Handled
1955: Net Tonnage1956: Net Tonnage1955: Tons1956: Tons
Other ports6,7287,4512,8843,030

Railway Transport (pp. 381–391).—Summarized statistics of railway transport in the years ended 31 March 1955, 1956, and 1957 follow.

UnitYear Ended 31 March

* Including road motor and other subsidiary services.

Passenger journeys—
  Railway road motor services(000)19,94619,27119,083
Tonnage of goods carried—
  TimberTons (000)7858931,130
  LivestockTons (000)647641628
  Other goodsTons (000)8,9049,1828,567
  TotalsTons (000)10,33610,71610,325
Net ton-miles runMillions1,1091,1481,136
  Railway operation£(000)27,00927,871 
  Railway operation£(000)25,54226,775 

Road Transport (p. 408).—Statistics of motor vehicles licensed at 31 March 1956 and 1957 are as follows.

ClassAs at 31 March
Contract vehicles2,2072,166
Rental cars2,0101.977
Private-hire cars253246
Service cars733733
Vehicles exempted from payment of licence fees (other than exempted Government-owned vehicles)50,68548,459
Government vehicles15,78916,543
Motor cycles24,59225,389
Power cycles4,1805,781
Dealers' cars2,8753,079
Dealers' motor cycles130197
    Grand totals677,322733,656

EDUCATION (p. 171)

The following table shows the number of scholars and students receiving instruction in the educational institutions of New Zealand during the years 1955 and 1956. Registered private schools are included.


* Exclusive of students taking part-time courses with the Correspondence School, 1,345 in 1955 and 1,241 in 1956.

† Includes 891 students taking short courses at the agricultural colleges in 1955 and 676 in 1956.

Primary schools382,714399,466
Post-primary schools81,338*85,774*
Technical classes (part-time)38,41637,877
Teachers' training colleges2,7412,979


Radio Licences (p. 444).—The number of radio licences for receiving stations in force on 31 March 1957 was 519,778, and for all classes of radio licences 525,049, compared with 516,792 and 521,813 respectively at 31 March 1956.

Horse Racing (p. 811).—The number of racing days in the calendar year 1956 was 373. Totalizator investments totalled £43,468,000 in 1956 (£44,697,000 in 1955) while Government taxation totalled £4,018,000 in 1956 (£4,144,000 in 1955).

Land Transfers (pp. 450–454).—Transactions under the Land Transfer Act showed decreases in both number and consideration for the second successive year. The average amount per transaction (town and suburban properties) in 1956–57 was £1,986, as compared with £1,950 in 1955–56 and £1,889 in 1954–55.

Year Ended 31 March
Town and suburban properties—
  Consideration £88,761,00080,684,00075,614,000
Country properties—
  Area Acres2,123,5001,525,6091,449,962
  Consideration £47,964,00040,256,00039,064,000
All properties—
  Consideration £136,725,000120,940,000114,678,000

Mortgages (pp. 887–897).—Particulars of gross totals of mortgages registered and discharged during the last three financial years are shown below. Mortgage registrations have shown a decrease in both number and value. Mortgages discharged have shown a decrease in number but an increase in value.

Year Ended 31 MarchRegistered*Discharged*

* Inclusive of duplicate registrations and discharges.

 £ £

Justice.—Prisoners in gaols at end of calendar year (p. 260): 1955, 1,154, or 5.39 per 10,000 of population; 1956, 1,403, or 6.43 per 10,000 of population.

Registration of Aliens (p. 43).—The number of aliens on the register at 1 April 1957 totalled 26,381 (16,832 males, 9,549 females), compared with 1 April 1956 figures of 25,184 (16,337 males, 8,847 females).

Naturalizations (p. 42).—The number of certificates of naturalization issued to former aliens during the year ended 31 March 1957 was 627, compared with a total of 255 in the previous year. Certificates of registration as a New Zealand citizen were granted to 665 citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or of former aliens (415 in 1955–56), and 292 certificates of registration (107 in 1955–56) to minor children (either citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or former aliens).

Dog Registrations.—In connection with the problem of hydatids, it may be of interest to give the number of dog registrations. A special collection was made of dog registration statistics, and in the year ended 31 December 1955 there were 146,669 dogs registered in counties, of which 96,696 were in the North Island and 49,973 in the South Island. The total number of dogs registered in boroughs was 30,170, in town districts 1,082, and in road districts 218.

Unregistered dogs and those up to six months old are not included in these figures.


AREA AND BOUNDARIES.—The administrative responsibilities of New Zealand devolve over a large area, the land territories of which consist principally of a number of islands of varying size in the South Pacific Ocean, together with a large normally uninhabited tract in the Antarctic Ocean. While the two largest and most important islands, the North and South Islands of New Zealand, are separated only by a relatively narrow strait, the remaining islands or island groups are very much smaller and in general are widely dispersed over a considerable expanse of ocean.

The boundaries of New Zealand inclusive of its most outlying islands and dependencies range from the northern limit of the 8th degree of south latitude to south of the 60th degree of south latitude, the complementary extremes of longitude with origin Greenwich being from the 160th degree of east longitude to the 150th degree of west longitude.

The precise boundaries as they now exist were originally defined in the relevant proclamations, letters patent, and legislation mentioned in the pages immediately following; general statements are contained in the description next presented relating to those areas over which New Zealand exercises jurisdiction or administrative responsibility. In all instances the measurement of longitude refers to the number of meridians east or west of Greenwich.

In proceeding from north to south, the first area, including the Tokelau Islands some 300 miles north of Western Samoa or 2,300 miles approximately north by east of Wellington (the capital of New Zealand), extends from the 8th to the 10th degrees of south latitude and from the 171st to the 173rd degrees of west longitude. The second area encloses the Cook and associated islands distant from Wellington in a north-easterly direction approximately 2,100 miles Lower (Southern) Group to 2,800 miles Northern Group and Niue. The Lower (Southern) and Northern Groups are bounded on the east and west by the 156th and 167th degrees of west longitude respectively, and on the north and south by the 8th and 23rd degrees of south latitude. Niue Island is situated in latitude 19° 02' south and longitude 169° 52' west.

Then follows a third zone covering the Trust Territory of Western Samoa, which is some 2,000 miles distant to the north-north-east and contained within the 13th to the 15th degrees of south latitude and the 171st to 173rd degrees of west longitude.

Farther south, and slightly north by east from New Zealand, a matter of roughly 1,000 miles from Wellington, are situated the Kermadeo Islands. These islands lie between the 29th and 32nd degrees of south latitude and the 177th and 180th degrees of west longitude.

New Zealand as defined after the extension of boundaries in 1863 constitutes the fifth and principal area. Its boundaries extend from the 33rd to the 53rd degrees of south latitude and from the 162nd degree of east longitude to the 173rd degree of west longitude.

The sixth area relates to the Ross Dependency which is administered by New Zealand and consists of the coasts of the Ross Sea with adjacent islands and territories between the 160th degree of east longitude and the 150th degree of west longitude, and south of the 60th degree of south latitude.

Jointly with the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Australia, New Zealand is responsible for the administration of the Trust Territory of the Island of Nauru. The administrative appointments for Nauru are made by the Australian Government, but New Zealand appoints a representative to the British Phosphates Commission, which controls the working of the phosphate deposits.

For statistical purposes, the following classification of the administrative area of New Zealand is the most convenient, the actual areas being also given. It should be noted also that statistics for “New Zealand” refer to the group of islands shown in (a) only, unless it is expressly stated that the other islands as a whole or in part are included.

New Zealand:

(a) Exclusive of Island Territories—Area in Square Miles
North Island44,281
South Island58,093
Stewart Island670
Chatham Islands372
Minor islands—
    Kermadec Islands13
    Campbell Island44
  Uninhabited (areas in parentheses)263
Three Kings (3). Snares (1). 
Solander (½). Antipodes (24). 
Bounty (½). Auckland (234). 
      Total New Zealand, exclusive of Island Territories103,736
(b) Island Territories—
Tokelau Islands, comprised of Fakaofo Island, Nukunono Island, Atafu Island.4
Cook and associated islands, comprised of—
  Lower (Southern) Group78
Rarotonga.  Aitutaki. 
Mangaia.  Mauke. 
Atiu.  Takutea. 
Mitiaro.  Manuae and Te-au-o-tu. 
Northern Group12
Palmerston.  Pukapuka. 
Penrhyn.  Suwarrow. 
Manihiki.  Nassau. 
Niue Island100
    Total New Zealand, inclusive of Island Territories103,930
Ross Dependency(Estimated) 175,000
Trust Territory of Western Samoa1,133

The total area of the foregoing groups exclusive of the Ross Dependency and the Trust Territory of Western Samoa is 103,930 square miles. Elsewhere in this issue—viz., in the section on land tenure, settlement, etc.—the aggregate area of New Zealand appears as 66,390,700 acres—i.e., 103,736 square miles. The latter area does not include the Cook and associated islands or the Tokelau Islands.

The relevant Proclamations, defining from time to time the administrative area of New Zealand, are briefly referred to in the following paragraphs.

The Proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand, dated 30 January 1840, gave as the boundaries of what was then the colony the following degrees of latitude and longitude: On the north, 34°30' S. lat.; on the south, 47° 10' S. lat.; on the east, 179° 0' E. long.; on the west, 166° 5' E. long. These limits excluded small portions of the extreme north of the North Island, and of the extreme south of Stewart Island.

In 1842, by Letters Patent, and again by the Imperial Act 26 and 27 Vict., c. 23 (1863), the boundaries were altered so as to extend from 33° to 53° of south latitude and from 162° of east longitude to 173° of west longitude. The minor islands mentioned earlier were thus brought within the extended boundaries of New Zealand, being assigned to the appropriate province on the occasion of the 1847 Proclamation dividing the country into two provinces. The number of provinces was increased in later years, though all were finally abolished in 1875. By Proclamation bearing date 21 July 1887 the Kermadec Islands were declared to be annexed to and to become part of the then colony of New Zealand.

By Proclamation of 10 June 1901 the Cook Islands, and all the other islands and territories situate within the boundary lines mentioned earlier, were included as from 11 June 1901.

The Territory of Western Samoa was formerly administered pursuant to a mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty, to be administered on his behalf by the Government of New Zealand, and confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 17 December 1920. Following the replacement of the League of Nations by the United Nations, a draft Trusteeship Agreement for Western Samoa was prepared by the New Zealand Government and submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations late in 1946. This draft agreement replaced the original mandate and thus brought the Territory within the framework of the international trusteeship system established under the United Nations Charter. Under the new agreement the New Zealand Government assumed direct responsibility for the administration of Western Samoa. The agreement was approved by the General Assembly on 13 December 1946. Western Samoa is comprised of two large islands, Upolu and Savai'i, and the small islands of Manono, Apolima, Fanuatapu, Namu'a. Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, and Nu'usafe'e.

By Imperial Order in Council of 30 July 1923 the coasts of the Ross Sea (in the Antarctic regions), with the adjacent islands and territories between the limits specified earlier, were declared a British settlement within the meaning of the British Settlements Act 1887. This region was named the Ross Dependency, and placed under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand. The Dependency is normally uninhabited. However, part of the Dependency became one of the main bases for the New Zealand expedition to the Antarctic in the summer of 1956–57.

By Imperial Orders in Council of 4 November 1925 the Tokelau Islands (consisting of the islands of Fakaofo, Nukunono, and Atafu, and the small islands, islets, rocks, and reefs depending on them, a total area of only four square miles) were excluded from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, and placed under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand. In accordance with a provision of the second of these Orders in Council, the Governor-General's authority and power in connection with the administration of the islands were, by New Zealand Order in Council of 8 March 1926, delegated to the Administrator of Western Samoa.

By the Tokelau Islands Act 1948, which came into operation on 1 January 1949, the Tokelau Islands were declared to form part of New Zealand. This Act emerged as the result of an agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments.

GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES.—Coast Line.—Since the combined length of the North and South Islands extends just over a thousand miles, and since the width of neither Island exceeds 280 miles at its broadest point, New Zealand possesses a very lengthy coast line in proportion to its area. With the exception of the low-lying North Auckland Peninsula, the New Zealand landmass lies along a south-westerly and north-easterly axis, parallel to the direction of its mountain chains.

By reason of the latter fact the coast line is, on the whole, not greatly indented; and, as a consequence, New Zealand is not well endowed with natural harbours. In the North Island, Auckland and Wellington are the only two safe natural harbours of which the fullest commercial use can be made. On the east coast of the North Auckland Peninsula several deep and sheltered harbours exist, but as the surrounding country is comparatively undeveloped they are of little economic consequence at present. In the South Island the Marlborough Sounds and the West Coast Sounds form perfect land-locked harbours, but owing to their situations and to the rugged nature of the terrain they have—with the exception of Queen Charlotte Sound—little or no commercial utility. Where vital localities have not been endowed with ideal harbours it has been necessary to improve existing facilities by dredging and by breakwater construction, etc. In this manner efficient ports, capable of accommodating overseas vessels, have been formed in Lyttelton, Otago, and Bluff harbours. On the west coast of both Islands the strong ocean drifts and high seas cause shoaling at river mouths and harbour entrances, while on the east coast of the South Island similar circumstances prevail, due to the large quantities of shingle brought down by the rivers being spread along the coast by ocean currents. The mountainous nature of the country makes the haulage of goods to and from the better equipped natural harbours both costly and difficult, and the construction and maintenance of further ports at various points along the coasts of both Islands has been necessary, either by dredging river mouths or by harbour-construction work.

Mountains.—The mountainous nature of New Zealand is one of its most striking physical characteristics, less than one-quarter of the land surface lying below the 650 ft. contour. In the North Island the higher mountains occupy approximately one-tenth of the surface; but, with the exception of the four volcanic peaks of Egmont (8,260 ft.), Ruapehu (9,175 ft.), Ngauruhoe (7,515 ft.), and Tongariro (6,458 ft.), they do not exceed an altitude of 6,000 ft. Of these four volcanoes only the first named can be classed as dormant. Ruapehu was particularly active from March 1945 to the end of that year, being responsible for considerable deposits of volcanic ash over a very wide area, while spectacular activity was exhibited by Ngauruhoe in 1949 and again in 1953 and 1954. In both cases violent eruptions alternated with quieter periods. Other volcanoes include Mount Tarawera and White Island, each of which has, upon one occasion within historical times, erupted with disastrous consequences. Closely connected with the volcanic system are the multitudinous hot springs and geysers.

The mountain system of the North Island runs generally in a south-west direction, parallel to the coast, from East Cape to Cape Turakirae, and includes the following ranges from the north: Raukumara, Huiarau, Ruahine, Tararua, and Rimutaka. This chain is flanked on the west between the Huiarau and Ruahine by the Ahimanawa, Kaweka, and Kaimanawa ranges, while west of the Kaimanawa is the National Park volcanic group comprising Mounts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. The Hauhangaroa and Rangitoto ranges run in a northerly direction from the National Park group. In the east the Colville and Moehau ranges parallel the length of the Coromandel Peninsula. Mount Egmont forms the only country above 4,000 ft. on the west coast of this island.

The South Island is much more mountainous than the North, but shows fewer manifestations of recent volcanic activity. Along almost the entire length of the Island runs the massive chain known as the Southern Alps, which attains its greatest height in Mount Cook (12,349 ft.), while no fewer than seventeen peaks exceed 10,000 ft. West and north-west of the main portion of the Southern Alps are the Victoria, Brunner, and Lyell ranges and the Tasman Mountains, the Victoria range being flanked by the Paparoa range. To the north run the St. Arnaud and Raglan ranges, while to the north-east are the Spenser Mountains and the Kaikoura and Seaward Kaikoura ranges, the two latter ranges running parallel to the east coast. The south portion of the Southern Alps breaks up into a miscellany of ranges dominating the mountainous Fiord and north-western Southland regions.

As might be expected, the higher mountains of the South Island have exerted a greater influence on the economic development of the country than those of the North Island. For many years the Southern Alps were an effective barrier to communication by land between the east and west coasts, while their climatic effects on the Canterbury plains and Otago plateaux determined the types of cultivation undertaken. Moreover, the existence of much elevated open country led to the development of pastoral holdings on a large scale. While the mountains in the North Island are not as high nor as extensive as those of the South Island, in the early days they effectively isolated various portions of the coastal plains and valleys. Their effect on climatic conditions, however, is considerably less, the rainfall being more evenly distributed. Owing to this more even distribution of the rainfall, and to the existence of considerable areas of lower relief, the foothills of the mountain systems were heavily wooded, and so proved a hindrance to agrarian development.

In the 1931 issue of the Year-Book a list was given, not claimed as exhaustive, of 223 named peaks of 7,500 ft. or more in altitude. Below is a list of the peaks restricted to the four largest volcanic cones in the North Island and to mountains of a minimum height of 9,000 ft. in the South Island. The list has been compiled from various sources, and does not purport to be free from omissions.

Mountain or PeakHeight (Feet)
Kaikoura Ranges
Southern Alps
  David's Dome10,443
  Malte Brun10,421
  Elie de Beaumont10,200
  Douglas Peak10,107
  La Perouse10,101
  De la Beche10,058
  The Minarets10,058
  Glacier Peak9,865
  Arguilles Rouges9,731
  Le Receveur9,562
  Big Mac9,511
  Conway Peak9,510
  Bristol Top9,508
  Hochstetter Dome9,258
  The Footstool9,073
  The Dwarf9,025
Darran Range

Glaciers.—In keeping with the dimensions of the mountain system, New Zealand possesses, in the South Island, a glacial system of some magnitude. Of the glaciers the largest is the Tasman, which, with others of comparable site, rises in the more elevated area surrounding Mount Cook. Flowing down the eastern slope of the range, the Tasman Glacier has a length of 18 miles and a width of 1½ miles. In common with other glaciers on the eastern slope, of which the more important are the Murchison (11 miles), the Mueller (8 miles), the Godley (8 miles), and the Hooker 71¼ miles), its rate of flow is slow, while its terminal face is at an altitude of somewhat over 2,000 ft. On the western slope of the range, owing to the greater snow precipitation, the glaciers are more numerous and descend to lower levels, while the steeper slope gives them a more rapid rate of flow. The two largest of these are the Fox and the Franz Josef, with lengths of 91¾ miles and 81½ miles respectively, and terminal faces at altitudes of 670 ft. and 690 ft.

As will be realized, these glaciers are an important tourist attraction, and as such have definite economic significance. Moreover, those glaciers on the eastern slopes which feed rivers utilized for irrigation and hydro-electric purposes are valuable in that they help to ensure a steady volume of water throughout the year.

Rivers.—Of the numerous New Zealand rivers few are cf sufficient length or volume to be navigable. Moreover, owing to the high relief of the country, they are mostly swift-flowing, while, as mentioned previously, nearly all are obstructed at their mouths by bars. For the purpose of internal communication, therefore, they are of little economic utility, and only in two or three isolated instances have they been thus consistently used. With improved roading conditions, however, their traffic has become negligible even in these cases.

As sources of hydro-electric power New Zealand rivers are of considerable importance, since their rapid rate of flow and dependable volume of ice-free water make them eminently suitable for this purpose. At the present time the Waikato and the Mangahao in the North Island and the Waitaki, Cobb, Clutha, and Waipori in the South arc used for major hydro-electric schemes. The characteristics just mentioned are also important for purposes of irrigation, but, owing to the country's reliable rainfall, there are few areas other than in Canterbury and Otago where the rivers are so utilized.

In the 1932 Year-Book appears an account of the rivers of New Zealand, but space in this issue is however, available only for a list of the more important ones. The lengths of rivers shown have been recently revised and differ in many instances from those previously given. For purposes of uniformity, the length of a river is taken to be the distance from the mouth to the farthest point in the system, whether this should happen to bear the same name or that of an affluent, and is inclusive of the estimated course of a river flowing into and emerging from any lake in the system.

Flowing into the Pacific Ocean
  Waihou (or Thames)95
  Waiapu (from source Mata River)75
  Waipaoa (from source Waipapa Stream)70
  Wairoa (from source Hangaroa River)85
  Mohaka (from source Taharua River)95
Flowing into Cook Strait
Flowing into the Tasman Sea
  Waikato (from source Upper Waikato River)270
  Wairoa (from source Waiotu Stream)115
  Hokianga (from source Waihou River)45
Flowing into Cook Strait
  Aorere (from source Spec River)45
  Takaka (from source Cobb River)45
  Waimea (from source Wai-iti River)30
Flowing into the Pacific Ocean
  Waiau-uha (or Waiau)105
  Rangitata (from source Clyde River)75
  Waitaki (from source Hopkins River)135
  Clutha (from source Makarora River)210
Flowing into Foveaux Strait
  Aparima (Jacobs River)70
  Waiau (from source Clinton River)135
Flowing into the Tasman Sea
  Waiho (from source Callery River)20
  Buller (from source Travers River)110

The discovery in 1861 that the beds of numerous rivers in the South Island contained extensive deposits of alluvial gold was of considerable importance in the economic development of the country. Not only did it lead to an increase in population and in wealth, but, through the following of the numerous streams to their sources, it also led to the rapid exploration of large tracts of remote country. The exploitation of these deposits has been carried on with varying degrees of success up to the present time by both manual and mechanical means.

A further factor in connection with the rivers is that, owing to the very successful acclimatization of fresh-water fish, notably trout, many of them now provide exceptionally fine fishing.

Lakes.—In considering New Zealand's numerous lakes a distinction can be made, especially from the scenic viewpoint, between the lakes of the two Islands. Surrounded by extremely rugged country the larger lakes of the South Island are distinguished by the grandeur of their alpine settings, while those of the North Island, situated on a volcanic plateau, are of interest by reason of the neighbouring thermal activity. Owing to the excellence of their fishing, the North Island lakes possess an added tourist attraction. In both Islands the larger lakes are situated at high altitudes, and their consequent remoteness renders them unsuitable as a means of communication. In their functions as reservoirs the lakes of both Islands are of vital importance for the maintenance of the streams draining them and as a means of flood prevention. More especially is this the case where hydro-electric schemes are involved, Lakes Waikaremoana and Taupo in the North Island, and Lakes Coleridge, Pukaki, Tekapo, Wanaka, Hawea, and Wakatipu in the South Island, being of particular significance in this respect.

An article on the lakes of New Zealand will be found in the 1932 Year-Book. Some particulars of the more important are given in the following table.

LakeLength, in MilesGreatest Breadth, in MilesArea, in Square MilesDrainage Area, in Square MilesApproximate Volume of Discharge, in Cubic Feet Per SecondHeight Above Sea Level, in FeetGreatest Depth, in Feet
Tarawera1575 1,032285
Wairarapa104271,250  64
Rotoiti5286 1,997228
Rotoroa78146 1,470 
Brunner5416145 280357
Kaniere5811 422646
Coleridge1131870 1,667680
Wanaka30475960 922 
Te Anau3361321,32012,660694906
Manapouri12656416 5961,458
Poteriteri17217162 96 
Waihola1⅛3 1/32,200 (Tidal)52
Ellesmere1610107½745 (Tidal)45

GEOLOGY.—An article on the geology of New Zealand, prepared by Dr. J. Henderson, M.A., F.R.S.N.Z., former Director of the Geological Survey, is contained in the 1940 and earlier editions of the Year-Book. For more detailed information the reader is referred to the treatises of Professors Park and Marshall, the bulletins of the Geological Survey, and the many papers that have appeared in the “Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand”.

EARTHQUAKES.—An article on earthquakes in New Zealand appeared in the 1942 and earlier issues of the Year-Book. The information given below has been supplied by Mr. R. C. Hayes, Superintendent of the Seismological Observatory.

Seismicity and Earthquake Distribution.—A comparison between the records of destructive earthquakes in New Zealand and those in other seismic countries shows that the seismicity of New Zealand, on the whole, is surprisingly high. However, this is due to the occurrence of a large number of earthquakes of the semi-destructive type (M.-M. 7) with comparatively few major destructive shocks (M.-M. 8–12).

During the period 1835–1956, 81 destructive earthquakes are known to have occurred in New Zealand, 61 of which were of the semi-destructive type (not exceeding intensity M.-M. 7). Of the remainder 14 were of intensity M.-M. 8–9 and 6 of intensity M.-M. 10–12.

The total number of earthquakes of all intensities, and the maximum intensity, reported felt in New Zealand in each of the years 1922 to 1956 were as follows.

YearNumber of Earthquakes Reported FeltMaximum Intensity of Heaviest Shock
R.-F. ScaleM.-M.* Scale

* Modified Mercalli Scale of 1931, which is now used for recording earthquake effects in New Zealand.

193423098 +

The abnormally large number of earthquakes reported in the year 1922 was due to the swarm of local shocks in the Taupo region in the latter half of that year. Abnormally large numbers of shocks also occurred in 1929–30, due to aftershocks of the Buller earthquake of 17 June 1929.

Summary of Earthquake Activity in New Zealand During the Year 1956.—During 1956 there were two earthquakes of sufficient strength to cause minor damage.

The most severe one occurred on 29 December in the region between Opotiki and Tolaga Bay, where reports indicate an intensity of at least M.-M. 7 at some places in the vicinity of Toatoa. Intensity 6 was experienced at Opotiki and Motu. The instrumental magnitude was 6½. The shock was perceptible to the western Bay of Plenty and as far south as parts of Northern Manawatu. There were a considerable number of aftershocks and minor tremors.

The other shock causing damage occurred on 3 March, with maximum intensity M.-M. 6–7 in the Tokaanu area. The instrumental magnitude was 5.3. The origin was some ten miles north-west of Tokaanu, at very shallow depth. Owing to the small focal depth, the shock was not reported felt at any places beyond about sixty miles from the epicentre. There were a large number of aftershocks and minor tremors.

On 30 January a series of shocks affected a region extending from the Auckland area to eastern Bay of Plenty. No intensities above M.-M. 5 were reported. The disturbances originated about seventy miles north-east of Tauranga.

On 14 March another series of shocks originated off the Bay of Plenty. These affected mainly the Great Barrier Island, but some of the shocks were also felt at Auckland and in the Coromandel Peninsula.

A third disturbance, originating off the Bay of Plenty on 8 April, gave rise to a shock felt on Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel Peninsula, and in the Auckland area. Intensities up to M.-M. 4 were reported.

Local shocks reaching M.-M. 5 were experienced at Wanganui on 2 May and 15 June.

A total of 131 shocks were reported felt during the year; 110 of these were felt in the North Island and 27 in the South Island, while 6 shocks were felt in some part of both Islands.

Regional Distribution.—New Zealand earthquake statistics over the past hundred years or so show that certain parts of the country are subject to almost continuous seismic activity with occasional destructive shocks, while other parts are more or less free from seismic disturbances. By combining early earthquake records with the more precise data of later years it is possible to divide the country roughly into four seismic regions. These regions are classified below, in order of seismicity.

  1. All areas of the North Island east and south of an approximate line from the vicinity of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty to the vicinity of Hawera in South Taranaki, and all areas of the South Island north of an approximate line from the vicinity of Hokitika on the West Coast, through the region of Lake Coleridge, to Banks Peninsula:

  2. South Auckland, western Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Taranaki (except the southern portion):

  3. Areas of the South Island, south of the boundary of region I:

  4. Areas north of Auckland.

The following table shows the average frequency of earthquakes in each of the four regions defined above.

RegionAverage Number of Earthquakes Per Year (1921–1940)Average Number of Destructive Shocks Per Decade (1835–1940)Relative Seismicity Based on Destructive Shocks
Minor Shocks (R.-F. 8)Major Shocks (R.-F. 9. 10)
II23.01.1 1.1
III12.10.1 0.1
IV1.1  0.0

The boundaries between the seismic regions are not well defined, since one region generally merges more or less imperceptibly into another. Further, seismic frequency is not uniform. This leads to the number of shocks being considerably above the average in some years and below it in others. The normal irregularity is increased by the occasional occurrence of earthquake swarms in certain regions. Probably the most notable swarm in New Zealand was that which occurred in the Taupo region in the latter half of 1922. The number of minor local shocks in this swarm was so great that only the stronger ones, or those affecting the adjacent region, were used in determining the average frequency of region I. Major earthquakes occur chiefly in the eastern and southern parts of region I.

Deaths Due to Earthquakes.—During the period 1848–1956 the number of deaths recorded in New Zealand as due directly or indirectly to earthquakes was 284. Of these, 255 were due to the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931.

CLIMATE.—The collection of climatic data for the use of Government Departments and the general public is a function of the New Zealand Meteorological Service. It maintains approximately 140 climatological stations within New Zealand and 60 on islands of the South Pacific. In addition, there are 1,070 rainfall stations in New Zealand and 90 in the Pacific Islands. Most of these stations are operated by public bodies, Government Departments, or voluntary observers. Additional records are provided by over a hundred stations which report by telegraph or radio for forecasting purposes.

A general description of the climate of New Zealand is contained in an article supplied by Dr. M. A. F. Barnett, O.B.E., M.Sc., Ph.D., F. Inst. P., Director of the New Zealand Meteorological Service, which was included in the 1942 and earlier editions of the Year-Book.

Detailed climatological statistics are published annually in the Meteorological Observations. Work on this publication ceased during the war years, and this has delayed the appearance of recent issues, the latest available being that for 1950. Current statistics appear monthly in a climatological table included in the New Zealand Gazette.

The following table provides a brief summary of the main climatological elements for selected locations.


StationAltitudeAverage Annual Rainfall*Average Number of Rain DaysAverage Bright SunshineTemperature in Shade, Degrees Fahrenheit
Mean Daily MaximumMean Daily Minimum

* Rainfall averages refer to standard period (1921–1950).

† Normals relate to present site.

 Ft.In. Hrs. 
Te Paki, Te Hapua20056.711692,16972.859.265.957.045.952.0
Hamilton East13145.951612,05674.655.65.551.737.144.7
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana2,10076.90183 68.147.658.042.037.745.0
New Plymouth16061.161862,21169.154.862.255.242.949.3
Grasslands Division, Palmerston North11039.051701,83970.553.162.254.339.146.9
Waingawa, Masterton34038.011422,09174.353.363.750.535.843.4
Kelburn, Wellington41547.471662,04567.651.259.854.441.548.3
Lake Coleridge1,19531.54114
Milford Sound20253.50194 64.448.357.
Musselburgh, Dunedin529.741611,71565.249.359.

Brief Review of 1955: Year.—Rainfall was well above average in Northland, in eastern districts, from Gisborne to Castlepoint, in the south-western part of the Wellington Province, and in Marlborough Sounds and northern coastal districts of Nelson; in coastal areas of northern Hawke's Bay the departure reached about 50 per cent. It was appreciably drier than usual in Waikato and Canterbury; in parts of South Canterbury the departure exceeded 30 per cent.

The year 1955 was one of the warmest on record, with an average departure from normal over the whole country of 1.6° F. From Northland to Waikato and in mid-Canterbury departures exceeded 2° F. Other very warm years in New Zealand were 1910, 1916, 1924, and 1938.

For the fifth year in succession sunshine was mainly below normal, and departures were greatest over the North Island. The total of 1,660 hours for Whangarei was one of the lowest ever recorded in any town in the North Island.

Seasonal Notes.—A warm spell which had started in November 1954 continued until May 1955. In the North Island in February mean temperatures were mainly about 5° F. above normal, approximately the same as February 1935 and February 1938, the two warmest months on record February was also unusually cloudy.

January was a dry month; in fact, for many parts of the North Island it was the driest January since 1928. By the end of the month the countryside looked very parched. In the Waikato the dry weather continued until the middle of April, causing a serious shortage of green feed. Most other districts received good rain in February or March.

There were two periods of particularly heavy rain in February in western districts from Levin to Westport, with flooding in the Wairau, the Buller, and several rivers rising in the Tararua ranges. In Northland, March proved to be a very wet month, and many areas were flooded on 15 March after five days of heavy rain.

April was exceptionally dry in Canterbury and North and Central Otago. On the last three days of the month there was a temporary change to wintry conditions with strong south-westerly gales over the South Island and snow on the mountains of the North Island.

In May a combination of mild weather with adequate rainfall proved beneficial, and in most districts good growth was reported. During a spell of northerly winds from 4.8 May heavy rain was reported in central districts, with serious flooding in parts of Wairarapa and Marlborough.

The winter months from June to August were unusually dull. In July a high frequency of south-easterly winds caused very wet conditions in eastern districts, with flooding on several occasions, notably from 21–24 July on the Taieri Plains. July was also colder than usual, especially in inland districts of the South Island. From 12–14 July snow affected many districts as far north as Rotorua, and there were some exceptionally heavy falls on the high country of the North Island. However, August was a mild month and provided favourable conditions for early lambs.

The spring season from September to November was marked by unusually warm temperatures and an absence of cold spells. In dairying districts conditions were favourable, but on the East Coast rainfall proved rather inadequate and there was a shortage of feed. On 5 October heavy rain resulted in the flooding of thousands of acres of farm lands in central districts of Northland.

The warm spell continued through December, which was in some respects a month of contrasts. In Otago it was one of the driest, sunniest, and warmest Decembers on record, but in Northland it was exceptionally dull and wet. Flooding was reported over large areas of Northland on 6, 17, and 18 December. Feed was plentiful in Auckland and Hawke's Bay, but in the South Island pastures were drying up.

Brief Review of 1956: Year.—1956 was an exceptional year in the North Island, being in fact the wettest in seventy years of records (equal with 1893), the warmest in sixty years (equal with 1916) and the cloudiest in thirty years (equal with 1953).

Rainfall was well above normal over the whole of the North Island and also in parts of Nelson, Marlborough, and Canterbury. Departures exceeded 50 per cent over considerable areas of the Auckland district, where many stations established new records. Southland was the only part of the country with rainfall appreciably below normal.

Temperatures were above normal over the whole country. The average departure was 2.0° F. over the North Island and 1.6° F. over the South Island.

Sunshine was below normal, except in most of Westland and on the Southland coast. The deficiency exceeded 200 hours over the greater part of the North Island and also in the Mackenzie County of Canterbury and in Central Otago. Five stations received record low totals, including Napier, which had only 2,026 hours, nearly 400 hours less than normal.

Seasonal Notes.—January was an exceptionally warm month. For the South Island it was easily the warmest month on record. The temperature of 101° F. at Ashburton on 19 January was the highest temperature ever officially recorded in this country. Drought conditions developed from Canterbury southwards following several months of low rainfall and warm temperatures, but good rains at the end of the month brought relief to all but North Canterbury.

February and March were both very dry months in the southern half of the South Island. For the seven-month period from September 1955 to March 1956, parts of Central Otago and inland South Canterbury had the lowest rainfall in 60 years of record.

The following month was the warmest April on record and it was also rather humid. Growth was unusually good for the time of the year, but the Auckland district suffered from excessive rain. During the first four months of the year stock in many parts of the North Island were severely affected by several outbreaks of facial eczema.

The four-month period from May to August was unusually wet and unsettled in the North Island, where the health of stock was adversely affected. In the South Island conditions were drier and mainly favourable.

By contrast September was dry, and sunny in most district. Lambing conditions varied considerably; in the South Island losses occurred during south-westerly weather from 13–15 September.

The last three months of the year were rather unsettled, and wetter than usual. Conditions were favourable for growth, but shearing and haymaking were seriously delayed.


The observations from which the following summary was compiled for the year 1955 were taken at 0900 hours New Zealand Standard Time—i.e., 2100 hours Greenwich Mean Time.

StationTemperatures in Shade—Degrees FahrenheitBright Sunshine (Hours)Rainfall
Mean Daily MaximumMean Daily MinimumApproximate Mean Temp.Extremes for 1955Extremes*
Maximum and MonthMinimum and MonthAbsolute MaximumAbsolute MinimumTotal Fall (Inches)No. of Rain Days

* Highest and lowest temperatures for duration of records.

Te Paki, Te Hapua68.053.960.982.8 Feb.32.2 July82.827.01,88359.86199
Auckland67.454.761.084.0 Feb.37.1 July90.431.91,99847.28165
Tauranga67.050.458.785.2 Feb.27.4 June91.922.52,16749.47155
Hamilton East67. Feb.23.8 July94.414.21,80341.03157
Rotorua65.346.956.187.0 Feb.25.7 June98.021.31,87347.98156
Onepoto Lake Waikaremoana59.046.652.881.2 Feb.30.8 June88.122.2 93.11184
Gisborne67.348.958.192.0 Feb.28.7 June95.825.92,09749,86145
New Plymouth63.550.957.278.5 Mar.33.1 June86.029.12,03059.31155
Napier66.450.558.593.0 Feb.29.0 June96.527.52,17439.51116
Wanganui64.550.757.686.2 Feb.30.8 July88.028.62,05238.34139
Grasslands Division, Palmerston North64.648.156.486.1 Feb.26.7 June87.021.21,79736.89171
Waingawa, Masterton65.345.155.287.0 Jan.24.0 June95.419.52,04343.37170
Kelburn, Wellington60.749.655.277.3 Mar.34.0 June88.028.61,99558.56166
Nelson Airfield62.545.654.079.9 Mar.21.0 July92.021.02,35346.42127
Blenheim65.645.655.687.1 Dec.25.1 June94.616.12,42626.04110
Hanmer62.640.051.387.0 Dec.20.0 July97.08.21,95641.88136
Hokitika60.245.552.872.0 Mar.26.8 June84.525.01,823110.06181
Lake Coleridge61.841.751.885.0 Dec.21.0 June92.010.0 29.23105
Christchurch63.545.354.491.7 Jan.24.3 July95.719.32,06322.32116
Timaru62.444053.290.8 Jan.24.6 July99.019.81,92619.27115
Milford Sound59.344.551.979.2 Dec.27.2 July81.823.1 246.19192
Alexandra63. Dec.20.0 July94.411.02,04411.9992
Musselburgh, Dunedin59.845.352.584.1 Jan.26.5 July94.023.01,73535.95170
Invercargill59.243.551.483.5 Feb.22.8 July90.019.01,68543.00192

For 1955 the mean sea-level pressure values in millibars at 0900 hours New Zealand Standard Time were: Auckland 1016.7; Wellington 1015.1; Nelson 10154; Hokitika 1015.5; Christchurch 1013.6; and Dunedin 1012.6.

PLANTS OF NEW ZEALAND.—Those desiring information on the flora and plant covering of New Zealand are referred to the article by Dr. W. R. B. Oliver, D.Sc., F.R.S.N.Z., which appeared in the 1940 and previous issues of the Year-Book, while a brief reference to the geographical distribution of the forest trees is made in the section of this Year-Book dealing with Forestry (Section 21). For more detailed information the following works may be consulted: “The Forest Flora of New Zealand” and “The Students' Flora of New Zealand and its Outlying Islands”, by T. Kirk, 1889; “The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants”, by L. Cockayne, 1923; “Manual of the New Zealand Flora”, by T. F. Cheeseman, ed. 2, 1925; “New Zealand Plants and Their Story”, by L. Cockayne, ed. 3, 1927; “New Zealand Trees and Shrubs and How to Identify Them”, by H. H. Allan, 1928; “The Vegetation of New Zealand”, by L. Cockayne, ed. 2, 1923; “Grasses of New Zealand”, by H. H. Allan, 1936; “A Handbook of the Naturalized Flora of New Zealand”, by H. H. Allan, 1940; “The Flora of New Zealand”, by W. Martin, ed. 3, 1947; “Pasture Plants and Pastures of New Zealand”, by F. W. Hilgendorf and revised by J. W. Calder, ed. 6, 1948; “The Trees of New Zealand”, by L. Cockayne and E. Phillips Turner, 1950 (reprint); “Poisonous Plants in New Zealand”, by H. E. Connor, 1951; “Plants of New Zealand”, by R. M. Laing and E. W. Blackwell, ed. 6, 1951; “New Zealand Ferns”, by H. B. Dobbie, ed. 4, 1952; “Weeds of New Zealand and How to Eradicate Them”, by F. W. Hilgendorf and revised by J. W. Calder, ed. 5, 1952; “New Zealand Birds and Flowers”, published by A. H. and A. W. Reed, Revised Edition, 1955; and numerous articles published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

FAUNA.—A brief article on the fauna of New Zealand, originally prepared by the late Mr. James Drummond, F.L.S., F.Z.S., and revised by him in 1935, is contained in the 1940 and earlier editions of the Year-Book. Other publications dealing with this topic include “The Animals of New Zealand”, by Captain F. W. Hutton and J. Drummond, ed. 4, 1923; “Native Animals of New Zealand”, by A. W. B. Powell, 1947; “Introduced Mammals of New Zealand”, by Dr. K. A. Wodzicki, 1950; and “New Zealand Birds and How to Identify Them”, by P. Moncrieff, ed. 4. 1952.


Table of Contents

EARLY HISTORY: General.—When New Zealand was discovered by Europeans in 1642 it was found to be inhabited by a race of Polynesians called Maoris, who had migrated to these islands many centuries previously. At what time the discovery of New Zealand was made by the Maoris, and from what country they came, cannot be stated accurately, for being an unlettered people they had only oral records of their history. The origins of the Maori people prior to their final migration are even more obscure, but in accordance with the general tradition of the Polynesian race it would seem that from Asia they migrated eastward by way of Malaysia to the Pacific. According to their mythology their Pacific home was the island of Hawaiki—the position of which is now unknown—and from there, many generations ago, one of their chiefs, after a long voyage, reached the northern island of New Zealand. Returning to his home with a glowing description of the country he had discovered, this chief persuaded a number of his people to set out in a fleet of double canoes for the new land. This migration was followed by others, and from comparisons of the tribal legends it has been possible to obtain a definite knowledge of the subsequent division and history of the numerous tribes after their occupation of New Zealand. On their arrival the Maoris found inhabitants on the east coast of the North Island of similar racial origins to themselves. Known to the Maoris as Morioris, “inferior people”, this race was driven to the South Island and to the Chatham Islands. Through absorption by the dominant Maoris, the Morioris finally became extinct by the death of their last member during the last decade. Of their history nothing is known, and their origins remain a mystery.

Coming from tropical latitudes, the Maoris mainly confined themselves to the warmer North Island, and when discovered by Europeans were in a high state of neolithic civilization, with marked superiority in the arts of wood-carving and military engineering. Their principal social unit was the family group, and from combinations of the numerous groups were formed the sub-tribes and tribes. With highly developed social and ritualistic customs, their system of land tenure and methods of cultivation were communal within the sub-tribes. Inter-tribal and intra-tribal warfare was common, and as individuals they displayed exceptional courage and intelligence.

The immediate effect of European contacts on the Maoris was the outburst of a series of tribal wars waged with greater ferocity and a vastly greater loss of life than was customary in pre-European tribal engagements. The high mortality could, of course, be credited to the acquisition of a more lethal weapon, the musket. The advantage lay originally with the coastal tribes as a result of their earlier contact with Europeans, the wars continuing until all tribes were equally well armed. These wars were later followed by wars against the colonists, but after 1870 the story has been one of unbroken peace between Maoris and Europeans.

The introduction of European diseases and firearms, and the impact of European civilization on the traditional way of life and customs of the Maoris, had such an adverse effect that their numbers must have been reduced by over half during the nineteenth century. However, the virility of the race gradually asserted itself, and from the beginning of the twentieth century the Maori population has been rapidly increasing.

Other island groups, such as the Cook Islands, Niue Island, and the Tokelau Islands, had also long been inhabited by Polynesians from various successive migrations extending over considerable periods prior to their discovery by Europeans.

Discovery by Europeans.—On 13 December 1642, Abel Janszoon Tasman, a navigator of the Dutch East India Company, discovered the country to which he gave the name of Straaten Land, and which later became known as “Nieuw Zeeland”. Tasman had left Batavia on 14 August 1642, and, after having discovered Tasmania, he steered eastward and sighted the west coast of the South Island, described by him as a high mountainous country. Sailing north, he had the misfortune to come into conflict with the Maoris at Golden Bay, on the north coast of the South Island, so that though he continued his northward journey until he reached the northern tip of the country, he did not again attempt to land. His exploration was of necessity very cursory, for having explored only part of one coast he had no knowledge of the country's extent or shape.

There is no record of any European visit to New Zealand after Tasman's departure until Captain Cook sighted land on 6 October 1769, at Young Nick's Head. On his first voyage Cook spent six months exploring the New Zealand coast-line, and he completely circumnavigated the North and South Islands. His activities can be best described by saying “he found New Zealand a line on the map, and left it an archipelago.” Not only was Cook's ability shown by his cartographical accuracy, but also in his peaceful dealings with the truculent Maoris. He returned to New Zealand again in 1773, in 1774, and in 1777.

Several other explorers also visited New Zealand during the latter portion of the eighteenth century, amongst whom may be mentioned M. de Surville 1769, M. Marion du Fresne 1772, Captains Vancouver and Broughton 1791, Captain Raven 1792–93, Alejandro Malaspina and Jose de Bustamente y Guerra 1793, Lieutenant Hanson 1793.

The European discovery of many of the islands of the Cook group was made by Captain Cook in 1773. Rarotonga and Mauke were not officially discovered for another fifty years, although there were records of earlier visits by the Bounty under the control of the mutineers in 1789 and later, in 1814, by the Cumberland. Niue Island was discovered by Cook in 1774. The first recorded discovery of the Tokelau Islands was made by Quiros in 1606. Of the remaining islands of the group, Atafu was discovered in 1765, Nukunono in 1791, and Fakaofa in the 1840's.

European Settlement and Colonization.—So far as is known, the first instance of Europeans being left in New Zealand to their own resources occurred in 1792, when Captain Raven of the Britannia landed a sealing-party at Facile Harbour, on the west coast of the South Island, where they remained a little over twelve months before being called for.

In the years that followed, whaling stations sprang up along the coast, and a trade with New South Wales began not only in whale oil and seal skins, but also in flax and timber—to say nothing of the disreputable traffic in dried tattooed heads. Attracted to New Zealand were deserters from whaling vessels and escaped convicts from Australia, who, in the absence of any jurisdiction, soon became notorious for their extreme lawlessness. In 1814 Samuel Marsden, chaplain to the Governor of New South Wales, obtained permission to send two of his proteges, Kendall and Hall, to the Bay of Islands to consider the desirability of establishing a mission station. Later they returned to Sydney for Marsden, who arrived in New Zealand to preach his first sermon at the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day, 1814. Of the many admirable activities undertaken by the missionaries, their action in having the Maori language “reduced to a rational orthography” deserves special mention.

In 1825 three separate, but abortive, attempts were made to found colonies; however for some years the only settlements were those round the principal whaling stations, although a number of Europeans gradually penetrated inland and resided there permanently, many marrying Maori women.

The first body of immigrants under a definite scheme of colonization arrived in Port Nicholson in January 1840, there to found the town of Wellington. The New Zealand Company, whose moving spirit was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, endeavoured to systematize colonization by transplanting sections of English society into virgin country.

It was hoped that, by producing a proper balance of capitalists and artisans, self-contained communities could be successfully established. However, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the land-purchases, considerable difficulty was experienced in these initial settlements, and friction grew up not only between the settlers and the Maoris, but also between the Governor and the settlers. Before his death in 1842 Governor Hobson had transferred his capital from Russell to Auckland, but this transfer was of little assistance to the colonists, who had extended their settlements to Wanganui, New Plymouth, and Nelson. In 1865 the seat of government was removed to Wellington.

Following the death of Hobson, the existence of the colony became precarious, for, through lack of funds and weak administration, Maori aggression became a real menace. To cope with the situation, the Colonial Office appointed Captain George Grey as Governor. Being well equipped with troops and funds, as well as being a man of vigour and perception, Grey soon restored order and won the confidence of both the settlers and the Maoris. During Grey's term two further organized settlements were made. In co-operation with the New Zealand Company the Free Church of Scotland sponsored the Dunedin Settlement of 1848, and the Church of England the Canterbury Settlement of 1850. These settlements, owing to their more favoured situations, their satisfactory land-purchase agreements, and their freedom from trouble with the Maoris, achieved a greater measure of success in carrying out the company's avowed aims.

After Grey's departure the question of relationship with the Maoris again came to the fore through the land-purchasing activities of the settlers—a situation aggravated by subsequent lack of consideration for the Maori system of land tenure. Following an incident at Waitara in the Taranaki district, where a dispute arose concerning land titles, war broke out in 1860 and lasted spasmodically till 1870. The recall of Grey did not solve the problem, as Grey, an autocrat, could not work with the elected Ministers, nor did his presence prevent the confiscation of land belonging to the Maoris, whether friendly or hostile. It was under the sympathetic administration of Sir Donald McLean as Minister for Maori Affairs that the dispute finally died down.

These hostilities were confined to the North Island; and, in the meantime, in 1861, large alluvial deposits of gold had been discovered in the South Island—leading to a tremendous influx of population and an alteration of the economic structure of the country.

No organized form of European colonization has at any time taken place in the Cook Islands, Niue Island, or the Tokelau Islands.

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT (1870 ONWARDS).—The discovery of gold, by its increase of wealth, allowed the South Island to obtain a lead in commercial and political development which it long maintained. Moreover with the subsequent agrarian expansion, especially in the development of the large pastoral holdings, the country ceased to be merely self sufficient agriculturally, but began to develop a substantial export trade, mainly in wool, which it has maintained to the present day.

These factors, together with freedom from strife with the Maori population, led after 1870 to a quickening in political activities. Under the leadership of Sir Julius Vogel a policy of extensive borrowing for railway and road construction was begun. The provincial system which really commenced in 1853 had largely outlived its usefulness; in fact, the parochialism of their assemblies had frequently proved obstructive, and in consequence the provincial system was abolished in 1875, local administration being provided for by the Counties Act and the Municipal Corporations Act of 1876.

Of great social significance was the passing in 1877 of the Education Act, making education-free, compulsory, and secular, while the laying during that decade of the first cable between Australia and New Zealand was a major advance in communications. At this time party politics began to enter into the parliamentary system, and the slump conditions which prevailed in the “eighties” (due to a fall in the world price level) intensified the political atmosphere. By the abolition of plural voting in 1889, and the introduction of female suffrage in 1893, the way was opened for a practical expression of political convictions by all adult members of the community.

In 1891 Ballance, as Leader of the Liberal Party, became Premier, to be followed on his death in 1893 by Seddon, and during the next decade the legislative essays of this party evoked world-wide interest. The main aim of the legislation was social justice, and its principal manifestations were in land division, the establishment of the Court of Arbitration, and the introduction of old-age pensions. The policy of land division aimed at closer land settlement, and it was achieved by the compulsory subdivision of large estates, with subsequent loans to small independent farmers wishing to establish themselves. In inaugurating the Court of Arbitration the object was to eliminate strikes by giving labour a recognized bargaining status; and the enactment was in accord with the enlightened code of labour legislation passed at that time.

With the commencement of the refrigerated trade in 1882, the policy of closer settlement progressed rapidly, since the production of frozen meat and dairy produce for export encouraged more intensive farming. There thus arose a new farming class which in 1911, some five years after Seddon's death, was mainly responsible for the overthrow of the Liberal regimé.

The policy of the succeeding Reform Party under Massey was one favouring agricultural production. Farming interests were given constant encouragement by a series of enactments of which the extension of rural credit was typical. Three years after the advent of the Reform Party the First World War 1914–18 broke out, leading to the formation of a Coalition Government and an Imperial commandeer of exports. War activities were marked by heavy casualty lists, in proportion to the population, and by enhanced cordiality in Imperial relations. One noteworthy outcome of the war commandeer was the precedent given for the establishment, after the war, of Control Boards to regulate the export of pastoral products.

Though the effects of the post-war depression during the period 1921–24 showed themselves in an increase in unemployment and slight wage reductions, no drastic legislation was necessary to stabilize economic conditions. During the following years the price level rose; and, from the administrative side, it was characterized by extensive public-works expenditure, with particular attention to hydro-electric schemes and highways.

Owing to the encouragement given to farming, pastoral production constantly expanded, so that New Zealand became one of the world's greatest exporters of pastoral produce. As a consequence, her national income was extremely sensitive to price fluctuations of these products; so that, with the advent of the depression in 1930, her economic position became extremely vulnerable. In order to produce balanced budgets, both public and private, various legislative remedies were attempted. In particular, enactments were provided for unemployment relief, for the suspension, in effect, of compulsory arbitration, for the establishment of a Reserve Bank, for a mortgage moratorium, for raising the exchange rate, and for reduction in interest rates and wages. With the recovery in price levels and consequent general economic revival, amendments were made to several of these Acts, removing the more stringent measures. The election of a Labour Government in 1935 led to a change in administrative policy, the preoccupation being mainly with social problems. Further amendments were made to the depression legislation, certain restrictive measures were removed, and other temporary adjustments made permanent.

The general climate of opinion and gradual maturity of outlook furnish the background in which certain distinctive trends appear in legislation passed from 1936 to 1956.

The first major influence was an attitude which forcefully rejected the human suffering and economic waste associated with a major depression. Evidence of this is implicit in the provision for a basic wage, and later for a minimum wage, employment-promotion legislation, amendments to workers' compensation, industrial conciliation and arbitration, mining, etc., legislation, the system of guaranteed prices for certain primary produce, the creation of farm industry reserves, and the rationalization of production and marketing by the establishment of boards for certain items of primary produce.

The second major influence on legislation was conditioned by the outbreak of the Second World War, 1939–45. A vast body of legislation was placed on the statute book during the war period dealing with the control of manpower and materials, stabilization of prices, wages, and rents, conditions of employment and suspension of certain peacetime features of industrial activity, discouragement of some industries and diversion to or encouragement of other industries, provision for rehabilitation, etc.

A third dominant trend was the acceptance of the principle that society should take active steps towards the improvement of the working, living, and social circumstances of its members. Foremost in this category was the Social Security Act and its later extensions providing for monetary benefits such as age, superannuation, family allowances, sickness, and unemployment, and for removal of the fear of want; failure to obtain needed medical assistance and hospitalization by the deterrence of crippling costs was obviated by the provision of a system of medical benefits.

Other legislative enactments under this heading include the provision for paid annual holidays, joint family homes, reduction of working hours, extension of workers' compensation insurance, improvement in safety and health and welfare conditions in industry, and extension of educational facilities and opportunities.

A fourth approach to law-making resulting from maturity of outlook has been the increased participation by New Zealand in international affairs consequent on its acceptance of responsibility in the wider issues of the present era. Legislation authorizing participation in United Nations activities generally and in particular emergencies, such as army and naval service in Korea, Malaya, and elsewhere; the extension of New Zealand representation in overseas countries and with the United Nations; the greater frequency of Commonwealth consultation; extension of aid to less developed countries, e.g., to Greece, and participation in the Colombo Plan; all bear witness to this change in outlook.

Another influence on legislation presents some parallels to that last mentioned, but is more concerned with the domestic sphere. It is exemplified in the increasing interest taken in welfare and social development generally of both the rapidly growing Maori population and the inhabitants of New Zealand's island and trust territories, such as the Cook Islands and Western Samoa.

Contemporaneously with the expansion of the field of legislative interest, other economic and industrial development of the country has proceeded with marked impetus in recent years. Partly induced by war-time shortages and the lack of self-sufficiency, and partly because the predominantly farming section of the country cannot absorb any very large inflow into the labour force, there has been in evidence a marked expansion with greater diversification of secondary industry. At the same time the basic industries of the country, those concerned with primary production, have prospered, assisted by the rapid absorption into practice of the technological improvements and achievements of the period.

The history of New Zealand's island territories has been largely one of wise paternal oversight, particularly in the earlier periods, by the New Zealand Government and by the various missions established in the islands. More recently, successive Governments have in various ways encouraged the inhabitants to take an increasing share in the administration of their communities, thus paving the way for some form of self-government. Much attention has been paid to combating tropical diseases and to health problems generally; such island industries as citrus, orange, and banana growing being fostered and encouraged in various ways, with outlets being found for produce available for export. By and large, however, their economy is necessarily one of a subsistence type only, with financial and other assistance provided from Government sources for the expansion of educational facilities and opportunities, public works such as roading, conservation of water supplies by reservoir construction, communication facilities, etc.

Owing to limitations of space, the foregoing is but a brief résumé of New Zealand history. For detailed information, reference should be made to the many excellent books dealing with the subject, of which the more recent ones are listed in the General Bibliography appearing in Appendix C of this volume, and others in earlier issues.

SOVEREIGNTY.—Following representations from Maori chiefs for protection from the prevailing turmoil and lawlessness caused by inter-tribal warfare and the rough element around the whaling stations, the New South Wales Government appointed, in 1832, Mr James Busby as British Resident at Russell. Owing to the failure to supply him with any means of exerting authority, his appointment was largely ineffective. Finally the disorder, and the friction between the two races, became so intolerable that even the missionaries, who were opposed to annexation, made representations for British sovereignty.

On 29 January 1840, Captain William Hobson, R.N., arrived at the Bay of Islands, empowered, with the consent of the Maoris, to proclaim the sovereignty of Queen Victoria over the Islands of New Zealand, and to assume the government thereof. Hobson formally read his commissions at Kororareka on 30 January 1840, and on 6 February of the same year a compact called the Treaty of Waitangi was entered into, whereby all rights and powers of sovereignty were ceded to the Queen, all territorial rights being secured to the chiefs and their tribes.

On 21 May 1840 Governor Hobson proclaimed British sovereignty in the case of the North Island by virtue of the Treaty of Waitangi, and in the case of the South Island and Stewart Island by right of discovery. New Zealand remained a dependency of New South Wales until 3 May 1841, when it was created a separate colony by Royal Charter dated 16 November 1840. The capital was at first transferred by Hobson from Russell to Auckland, but in 1865 it was again transferred, on this occasion to Wellington, where the seat of Government has since remained.

During Governor Grey's term, steps were taken to draft a constitution for the colony. An Act granting representative institutions was passed by the Imperial Parliament on 30 June 1852, and was published in New Zealand by Proclamation on 17 January 1853. Under it provision was made for the constitution of a General Assembly consisting of a Legislative Council and a House of Representatives. Provision was also made for the division of the country into provinces, each province having an elected Council and Superintendent. (The provincial system was abolished in 1875 and the Legislative Council in 1950.) In the first General Assembly of 27 August 1854 certain members of this body were associated with the permanent members of the executive but they did not hold any portfolios. It was not until 7 May 1856 that responsible government was actually established.

With the gradual development of the country's economy, the acquisition of political and administrative experience, and the increasing desire for self-reliance in political matters, the degree of self-government became more complete. In recognition of this and of a nascent sense of nationality, New Zealand was given the title of Dominion in lieu of Colony, the new title taking effect on 26 September 1907.

Of the constitutional events in recent years the passing by the United Kingdom Parliament of the Statute of Westminster in December 1931, was of major importance. The draft of this statute was submitted for the confirmation of the various Commonwealth Legislatures before its passage through the United Kingdom Parliament. The statute granted complete autonomy to the various self-governing member countries, but it did not automatically apply to Australia or New Zealand. In other words, its operation in the latter self-governing members of the Commonwealth was declared to require specific adoption by the Legislature of that country. It was not until 1947 that the New Zealand Government formally adopted the Statute of Westminster.

As far as the island territories are concerned, the Cook Islands were proclaimed a British protectorate in 1888, and in 1901 were annexed and proclaimed part of New Zealand under the Colonial Boundaries Act 1895, Niue Island is part of the Cook Islands, though separately administered, and became part of New Zealand in 1901 with the extension of boundaries to include the Cook Islands. The Tokelau Islands were placed under the protection of Great Britain in 1877, formally annexed at the inhabitants' request in 1916, and from 1925 were administered by New Zealand at the request of the United Kingdom Government. From 1948 they became part of New Zealand by virtue of the Tokelau Islands Act 1948.

CONSTITUTION OF NEW ZEALAND: General.—New Zealand is a monarchical state; it is also a constituent member of the Commonwealth. It is in this context that the preamble to the Royal Titles Act 1953 is significant … whereas it is expedient that the style and titles at present appertaining to the Crown should be altered so as to reflect more clearly the existing relationships of the Members of the Commonwealth to one another and their recognition of the Crown as the Symbol of their free association and of the Sovereign as the Head of the Commonwealth … Constitutional elements besides that of the titular head, the Monarch, can be reviewed under the categories of legislative authority, the executive and administrative structure, and the judiciary. This division is a convenient one, even though there is no absolute line of demarcation between the three phases (e.g., legislation may and often does arise through the day to day experience of those responsible for administration and execution of policy, or through difficulties or anomalies made explicit in the course of dispensing justice or interpreting law). Conversely, in the exercise of the powers and functions of industrial and other tribunals, commissions, authorities, etc., both administrative and judicial elements may be discerned.

THE MONARCH.—The New Zealand Parliament in the Royal Titles Act 1953 gave its assent to the use of the royal style and titles as follows: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

While the seat of the Monarch is normally in the United Kingdom, the Queen is represented in New Zealand by the Governor-General appointed by the Crown on the advice of Her New Zealand Ministers. The Governor-General has however an official existence, even in the country to which he has been appointed, only in the absence of the Queen from that country. In the island territories the Crown is represented by the Resident Commissioner or Resident Agent, and in the trust territory of Western Samoa by the High Commissioner. These officials carry out the constitutional functions of the Crown, but they also possess in varying degree certain executive and legislative powers, being responsible to the New Zealand Government for the administration and good government of the islands concerned.

Many powers held by the Monarch (or her representative) comprise but the means of giving effect to the public will. In New Zealand the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Ministers, which cannot be constitutionally ignored. Despite the long-term trend for powers to be assigned directly to Ministers without any necessity for vice-regal consultation, there are still many phases of Government which require Royal participation.

The Queen (in her absence the Governor-General) gives consent or approval prior to a Minister taking office or the formation of a Ministry; summons and prorogues Parliament; delivers the Speech from the Throne at the opening of a session; gives the Royal Assent to measures which have passed all stages in the House of Representatives, without which they have not the force of laws; makes appointments to most important State offices, to Knighthoods and other honours, etc.; and also provides that background of stability, continuity, and experience in many facets of government which is so desirable whenever there are sweeping changes in the dominance of political parties.

Besides those duties associated with the constitutional role, the Royal personage or representative makes an important contribution to the ceremonial life of the nation. This was particularly well illustrated during the sojourn of the Royal visitors to New Zealand in 1953–54. Both as the symbol of the nation and in virtue of her identification with the life and interests of her people, the Queen becomes the focus for all State occasions, as does the Governor-General in her absence.

LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY.—The Supreme law-making body with power to legislate for the whole country is Parliament, which consists of the House of Representatives only, the former Legislative Council having been abolished since the close of 1950.

The powers of Parliament to make laws are legally untrammelled. This was not always so, for prior to the adoption by New Zealand of the Statute of Westminster in 1947 there was incapacity to make laws on certain matters which conflicted with United Kingdom statutes extending to New Zealand. There was also some doubt as to New Zealand's power to make laws possessing extra-territorial validity.

Although they do not limit the legal powers of Parliament as stated above the provisions of the Electoral Act 1956 creating reserved sections in that Act are of great constitutional significance. The Act provides that certain of its sections may not be repealed except by a 75 per cent majority of the House of Representatives or following a referendum. These sections are those relating to—

  1. The constitution and order of reference of the Representation Commission;

  2. The number of European electoral districts and the basing of their boundaries on the total population;

  3. The fixing of the tolerance within which the Commission must work at 5 per cent;

  4. The age of voting;

  5. The secret ballot;

  6. The duration of Parliament.

This innovation is not legally effective in the sense that it does not prevent a subsequent Parliament from ignoring it, since one Parliament cannot bind its successors. It should not be thought, however, that the new provision is a mere gesture. It records the unanimous agreement of both parties represented in Parliament that certain provisions have a fundamental character in the system of Government and should not be altered at the whim or a bare majority. Considered in this light the provision creating reserved sections introduces something in the nature of a formal convention which could not constitutionally be ignored.

While the law-making function is the prerogative of the members of Parliament, it must be remembered that, as in most democracies, laws are passed because of their acceptability to the majority party in Parliament—i.e., the Government party. Furthermore the initial acceptance will have probably been made in the deliberations of Cabinet.

With the increasing range and complexity of the statutory field, the multifarious concerns of a modern twentieth century government, and the necessity of conserving time for consideration of more important issues, much of the detailed procedural steps and other amplifying matter must become the subject of Orders in Council or of regulations made under the authority of some statute, rather than being incorporated in the statute itself. In this form of what has been termed legislation by delegation, the power to originate and sanction regulations rests with that comparatively small proportion of the majority party in Parliament individually known as Members of the Executive Council (or of Cabinet) and who collectively, together with the Governor-General, comprise the Executive Council. The same individuals, excluding the Governor-General, in New Zealand are members of the Cabinet, provided that each is the holder of a portfolio.

Cabinet may and often does function in a deliberate sense as well as in an executive or administrative sense. However regulations, etc., though originating in Cabinet and becoming effective in the proceedings of the Executive Council, still remain subject eventually to the sovereign will of Parliament as a whole.

Parliament.—The General Assembly now consists of the House of Representatives, the former Legislative Council (in existence 1854 to 31 December 1950) having been abolished by the Legislative Council Abolition Act 1950.

Meeting of Parliament.—Parliament is summoned, prorogued, or dissolved by Proclamation issued by the Governor-General. A session is that period between the summoning of Parliament and its prorogation. Its length varies, but it usually occupies the months from June to November. When Parliament is prorogued all the business on hand lapses, and if this is to be proceeded with in the next session it must be re-introduced.

The course of a session may be interrupted by an adjournment.

Parliamentary Privileges.—While in session these include freedom of speech and freedom from arrest, and also the right to engage in secret debate, if required, etc.

The Party System.—There are two political parties represented in Parliament in New Zealand at present: National and Labour. At any General Election these parties, together with any other political parties which may be desirous of so doing and also those standing as independents, state their respective policies before the electors. Each party normally puts forth one candidate for each of the eighty electorates into which the country is divided. The party which wins the majority of seats, although not necessarily the majority of votes, at the General Election forms the Government. The leader of the elected members of the majority party becomes the Prime Minister, who selects the most outstanding or experienced persons from among the majority party (Government members) for Ministerial appointments. The leader of the minority party in Parliament becomes the Leader of the Opposition. The effectiveness of the party system relies largely on the general agreement that the majority party is to govern and the minority is to criticize—so that there is ample time allocated for debate on Government measures in Parliament. While party control is exercised by national and local organizations outside Parliament, within the latter it is maintained by the respective party Whips.

Parliamentary Procedure.—The House of Representatives has its Standing Orders, which govern its procedure and which are administered by Mr Speaker in the exercise of his control of the House. Mr Speaker's rulings on interpretation of the Standing Orders are followed in a similar manner to judicial decisions in the ordinary courts of law. The main means by which Parliament does its work is through the system of debate and Committees. The election of a Speaker is the first business of a new House after the members have been sworn. A Chairman of Committees is elected as soon afterwards as is convenient. Twenty members, inclusive of the Speaker, constitute a quorum.

Parliamentary Functions and Control.—The Parliament controls the Government in power in the last resort by its power to pass a resolution of no confidence in the Government, or to reject a proposal which the Government considers so necessary that it is made a matter of confidence, and thus force the Government to resign.

Financial control is exercised by the fact that expenditure of public money must be authorized by the House of Representatives in the form of an Appropriation Act, which authorizes or grants money to the Government for the purposes approved. The authority for the raising of revenue by taxation or borrowing must also be given by Parliament. The functions of Parliament are of course the passing of legislation and taking action to make available finances or funds as required for State expenditure, while it also controls the Government. Legislation can be initiated from any member of Parliament, but in practice almost all Bills are introduced by the Government in power as a result of policy decisions taken in Cabinet, sometimes at the instigation of those Government Departments which will be responsible for their administration when the Bills become law. The chief exceptions are private Bills, which are designed for the particular interest or benefit of a person or body of persons, whether incorporated or not, and local Bills which relate largely to matters of local (as distinct from central) government business. The process of passing a public Bill is as follows: it receives a formal first reading on introduction, is then printed, and after some time may be given a second reading as a result of a debate on its general merits or principles. It may then be referred to one of the Select Committees, for consideration in the closest detail, before being considered by the whole House sitting in Committee. During these stages members have opportunities to suggest amendments which may be incorporated in the Bill if the majority so decide. The Bill is then reported to the House, and later read a third time, and passed. Debate rarely occurs at these stages. The final stage is to send the Bill to the Governor-General for the Royal Assent and, unless provision is made for commencement on another date, it then becomes law. The Bills providing for receipt of moneys, such as the Finance Bill, and expenditure of moneys, such as the Appropriation Bill, are initiated only by a Minister of the Crown, normally the Minister of Finance.

Duration of Parliaments.—Quinquennial Parliaments, instituted under the Constitution Act, were abolished by the Triennial Parliaments Act 1879, which fixed the term at three years. General elections have been held at three-yearly intervals since 1881, with a few exceptions. The term of the nineteenth Parliament was during the First World War extended to five years by special legislation, and that of the twenty-fourth (1931–35) and subsequent Parliaments to four years under the Electoral Amendment Act 1934. By the Electoral Amendment Act 1937 the three-year term was restored, but on account of war conditions the term of the twenty-sixth Parliament was extended to four years by the Prolongation of Parliament Act 1941. The Prolongation of Parliament Act 1942 extended the term still further to one year from the termination of the war, but with a proviso for a motion to be moved in the House of Representatives each year after the year 1942 either approving the continuation of the House or fixing an earlier date for its expiry. During the 1943 session a motion in favour of dissolution was carried, and Parliament was dissolved on 30 August 1943. Since then the duration of Parliaments has been of three years, with the exception that the twenty-ninth Parliament was dissolved after the expiration of approximately twenty months. The three-year limit was re-enacted in the Electoral Act 1956, this being one of the reserved provisions referred to on page 21.

Number of Representatives.—The number of members constituting the House of Representatives is eighty—seventy-six Europeans and four Maoris. They are designated “Members of Parliament”. The number was originally fixed by the Constitution Act as not more than forty-two and not less than twenty-four, and the first Parliament called together in 1854 consisted of forty members. Legislation passed in 1858 fixed the number of European members at forty-one; in 1860, at fifty-three; in 1862, at fifty-seven; in 1865, at seventy; in 1867, at seventy-two; in 1870, at seventy-four; in 1875, at eighty-four; in 1881, at ninety-one; in 1887, at seventy; and in 1900, at seventy-six. Since 1867 there have been four Maori representatives, and provision for this number was retained in the Electoral Act 1956. In 1952 the boundaries of the Maori electoral districts, which had remained unaltered since 1867, were changed by Proclamation so as to give a greater degree of equality of population among the four districts (in effect the Southern Maori Electoral District now includes a considerable area of the North Island).

Qualifications of Members.—Under the Electoral Act 1956 every registered elector of either sex, but no other person, is qualified to be a parliamentary candidate. It is provided, however, that a person shall not be so elected who is disqualified as an elector under any of the provisions of the Act (see under “Franchise” post); or is an undischarged bankrupt; or is a contractor to the public service of New Zealand to whom any public money above the sum of £200 is payable, directly or indirectly (but not as a member of a registered company or incorporated body), in any one financial year. Although women have had the vote since 1893, they were not eligible as Parliamentary candidates until the passing of the Women's Parliamentary Rights Act 1919. Prior to 1936 a public servant was prohibited from being elected, but this prohibition was removed by the Political Disabilities Removal Act 1936. The present law is that if a public servant is elected to Parliament he vacates his office forthwith and he cannot resume employment in the Public Service within twelve months of ceasing to be a member of Parliament unless he had previously been a public servant for at least five years.

Salaries, etc.—In accordance with the recommendations contained in the report (issued in 1955) of the Royal Commission upon parliamentary salaries and allowances, the Prime Minister's salary, as from 1 August 1955, was increased to £3,750 with a tax-free allowance of £1,500 for the expenses of his office and the Ministerial residence. In addition, while travelling on official business he receives £3 3s. per day to meet expenses, and by virtue of his office is entitled to free cars, secretarial assistance, and free postage. The salary of each Minister holding a portfolio is £2,500 with a tax-free expense allowance of £550, and that of each Minister without portfolio £2,000, with £450 tax-free expense allowance. Where the office of Minister of External Affairs is held by a Minister other than the Prime Minister the expense allowance is increased to £715. Any Minister not occupying a Ministerial residence receives an allowance in lieu at the rate of £300 per annum. This allowance or the assessed value of the residence where one is provided is subject to income tax. Previously Ministers did not receive an expense allowance as such, but the Commissioner of Inland Revenue allowed a deduction from salary of £250 as an expense allowance. Ministers also receive an allowance of £3 3s. per day when travelling on official business.

The Civil List Amendment Act 1936 made provision for the appointment of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries, an innovation in executive control in New Zealand. The rate of salary attachable to such position is now £1,500, with the same house provision or allowances, and travel allowance while on official business, as for Ministers. An expense allowance of £400 is also payable. Since the general election of November 1954, no appointments or reappointments have been made.

The Civil List Act 1950 provided that, on a recommendation of a Royal Commission, the salaries and allowances of Ministers and Members of Parliament may be fixed by Order in Council, in which event the salaries and allowances so fixed will be payable instead of those specified in the Civil List Act 1950. In conformity with the recommendations of the Royal Commission issued in 1955 the honorarium paid to members of the House of Representatives has been increased to £1,100 per annum. They are also paid a basic allowance at the rate of £275 per annum for expenses incurred in connection with parliamentary duties and a sessional allowance of £165 per annum to all members except those representing the nine electorates in or around Wellington. To meet the higher travelling and other expenses for partly rural and predominantly rural electorates additional increments of £82 10s. and £165 respectively are paid to members representing such electorates, subject to the classification of electorates by the Representation Commission into the five classes of (a) urban electorates in or near Wellington or Lower Hutt, (aa) substantially urban (where an allowance of £25 per annum is made to meet extra travel costs), (b) urban electorates other than Wellington electorates, (c) partly urban and partly rural electorates, and (d) predominantly rural electorates. A special additional allowance of £100 per annum is paid to the member for Southern Maori and a special additional allowance of £50 per annum to the members representing the other three Maori electorates (refer Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Order 1955). Payment to members is subject to certain deductions for absence not due to sickness or other unavoidable cause. In addition to the honorarium, members are entitled to certain privileges in respect of railway and other forms of travel, a stamp allowance of £5 a month, etc. The Civil List Act 1955 provides that a Royal Commission shall be appointed to fix parliamentary salaries and allowances within three months after the date of every General Election.

Part V of the Superannuation Act 1947, as amended by the Superannuation Amendment Act 1955, introduced a contributory superannuation scheme for members of the House of Representatives, which provided a minimum retiring allowance of £350 per annum for a member with nine years' service, the allowance increasing by £50 per annum for every year's service in excess of that period until a maximum allowance of £700 per annum is reached after fifteen years' service.

A member must be fifty years of age before he qualifies, on ceasing to be a member, to receive the allowance. The annual contribution, which is compulsory, is £85 per annum, but a member may if he so desires receive a refund of his contributions upon ceasing to be a member.

In the case of a male member dying and leaving a widow surviving she becomes entitled during her widowhood to receive an annuity of two-thirds of the retiring allowance to which her husband was entitled at the time of his death.

Both the Speaker and Chairman of Committees hold office until a dissolution and receive payment until the first meeting of a new Parliament. The Speaker's remuneration is £1,950 per annum, in addition to which he receives an expense allowance of £600 and residential quarters in Parliament House. The honorarium of the Chairman of Committees is £1,575, and an allowance of £500 per annum to cover expenses incurred in connection with his parliamentary and official duties is also paid.

The Leader of the Opposition is paid a salary of £1,950 with an expense allowance of £490. In addition, a secretary and typist are provided by the State and an allowance of £215 is payable for travel outside his electorate. His official stamp allowance is £12 10s. per month.

ADMINISTRATION AND EXECUTIVE RESPONSIBILITY.—After the election of a new Parliament, the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party in the elected members, is given the task of selecting the members of the Executive Council (i.e., the new Ministry). Each of those members of Parliament to form the Government is entrusted by the Prime Minister with responsibility for administration of a specified field or aspect of government. This field is entitled a portfolio e.g., all relevant matters relating to Customs would be allocated to one member, who is henceforth known as the Minister of Customs. He may also have other portfolios and the supervision of one or more Government Departments in which the activities carried out, though important, either do not rank as portfolios or are subsidiary aspects of the field—in these cases the Minister's responsibility will extend to being in charge of the named Department. One or other of the appointed Ministers in this way is responsible for the direction of activities and executive acts of each of the Government Departments and offices, etc., embracing the entire range of State activities. Thus arises the concept of Ministerial responsibility.

In the legal sense those members of Parliament who have been appointed Ministers, together with the Governor-General, comprise the Executive Council; for purposes of prior and informal discussion on executive or administrative action and deliberation on proposed policy, they, with the exclusion of the Governor-General and of those Ministers without portfolio, become what is known as Cabinet.

Executive Council.—The powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Governor-General and the Executive Council under the present system of responsible government are set out in Royal Letters Patent and Instructions thereunder of 11 May 1917, published in the New Zealand Gazette of 24 April 1919. The Royal Powers Act 1953 provides that the statutory powers conferred on the Governor-General may be exercised either by Her Majesty the Queen in person or by the Governor-General. In the execution of the powers and authorities vested in him the Governor-General must be guided by the advice of the Executive Council; but, if in any case he sees sufficient cause to dissent from the opinion of the Council, he may act in the exercise of his powers and authorities in opposition to the opinion of the Council, reporting the matter to Her Majesty without delay, with the reasons for his so acting.

In any such case any member of the Executive Council may require that there be recorded in the minutes of the Council the grounds of any advice or opinion that he may give upon the question.

A point of interest is that the Civil List Act 1950, in section 6, provided that no person shall be appointed a Minister or a member of the Executive Council unless he is a member of Parliament and that a person who ceases to be a member of Parliament cannot continue to be a Minister or a member of the Executive Council for more than twenty-one days. This gave statutory recognition for the first time to what had long been the convention.

At present (January 1957) the Executive Council consists of sixteen members in addition to the Governor-General. Two members, exclusive of His Excellency or the presiding member, constitute a quorum.

Under the Civil List Act 1950, which consolidated and amended the Civil List Act 1920 and its amendments, His Excellency the Governor-General receives an honorarium of £5,000 per annum, an allowance of £5,000 per annum for the salaries and expenses of his establishment (exclusive of the Official Secretary), plus all expenditure incurred in respect of the transport to and from New Zealand and the travel within or outside New Zealand of the Governor-General and his family and staff.

Cabinet.—There is a close relationship between the Cabinet, in itself not a legal entity, and the Executive Council, a statutory body. While the Executive Council consists of all Ministers, and is presided over by the Governor-General, membership of Cabinet may or may not extend to the entire Ministry; at present Ministers without portfolio are not members of Cabinet nor, of course, are its proceedings attended by the Governor-General. Where certain Cabinet decisions have to bear the imprint of legal form to become effective, the juridical acts are taken by others—the Crown, the Executive Council, a Minister of the Crown, a Statutory Commission, and the like. The preliminary review of proposed policy or of current administrative developments which takes place in the informal discussion atmosphere of Cabinet meetings implies both deliberate or selective and administrative procedures on the part of this body. Consequently, as a result of the device of Cabinet, a general consensus of agreement can exist on any proposed line of action by either an individual Minister, or by the Government as a whole, which enables (a) the Executive Council confirmation to proceed smoothly and expeditiously, (b) the Minister in introducing legislation into the House of Representatives or on other occasions to be confident that his measure will have the unqualified support of the Government no matter what divergences of opinion may have individually been apparent before the general agreement in Cabinet was made, (c) a consistent and agreed upon course of action or attitude to be followed on any particular issue. Thus the concept of collective responsibility of the Government is introduced and exemplified in the workings of Cabinet.

Complex questions and/or related problems may be initially considered by committees of Cabinet composed of those Ministers primarily concerned. Some executive action may be undertaken by these committees within the lines of established Government policy. Their work is subject to periodical report to and overall supervision by the entire Cabinet. On occasions also ad hoc committees may be established to review or investigate particular questions of the moment and to present their conclusions and recommendations to Cabinet for decision or for authority to take executive action. The decisions of Cabinet which require executive action, although notified to all concerned, are usually made effective through the agency of the Minister concerned.

Cabinet deliberations being investigatory or preliminary to action in other organs of Government are naturally informal, while anonymity as to the individual advocacy or opposition to some concerted line of action or area or general agreement is preserved in the form of recording system adopted. A small Cabinet secretarial is set up for the purpose of achieving co-ordination, continuity of action, and review, and to enable the smooth functioning of the work of Cabinet.

In brief, the functions of a Cabinet have been described as (a) the final determination of the policy to be submitted to Parliament, (b) the supreme control of the national executive in accordance with the policy prescribed by Parliament, (c) the continuous co-ordination and delineation of the activities of several Departments of State.

Government Departments.—The Minister as the political head of a Department of State may in fact have several Departments under his control. There are however some forty-four different Departments with separate functions in New Zealand. Each of these has a permanent head who is responsible for the work and administration of the Department. He is of course responsible to the Minister in charge of the Department, while he also acts as adviser to the Minister on all matters within his appointed competence. Besides ensuring that the Ministerial policy and directions communicated to him are effectively put into practice, his functions as the adviser include assessing the consequences of any executive action resulting from his departmental activity, evaluating the merits and demerits, whether political, social, or financial, of various modes of action, and making suggestions for improvements and for new policy measures as derived from departmental experience in the day to day execution of policy.

Departments can be broadly classified according to the administrative or regulatory, developmental, or social nature of their activities. Within the first group are the servicing sub-group, such as the Legislative, Prime Minister's Office, External Affairs, Printing and Stationery, Law Drafting, Valuation, Statistics, and Audit; the finance sub-group—Treasury, Customs, Inland Revenue; the regulatory sub-group—Public Service Commission, Internal Affairs, Island Territories, Labour, Marine; the defence and law and order sub-group—Navy, Army, Air, Justice, Crown Law, and Police; the publicity and research sub-group—New Zealand Broadcasting Service, Tourist and Publicity, Scientific and Industrial Research.

In the second group are the transport and communications sub-group, such as Transport, Post and Telegraph, and Railways; the developmental—Ministry of Works, Agriculture, Lands and Survey, Mines, State Hydro-electric, Maori Affairs, and Industries and Commerce; the commercial—Public Trust, Government Life Insurance, State Advances Corporation, and State Fire and Accident Insurance.

The third group comprises the Education, Health, and Social Security Departments.

This broad division serves merely to indicate in which field the dominant activity or purpose of the particular Department is engaged on or concerned with. Most Departments have servicing, informative, and regulatory functions, and many are equally regulatory and developmental in nature.

In addition to the system of direct administration in the form of Government Departments, there are other activities over which the State exercises some ultimate measure of control or ownership, though divorced in varying degrees from immediate supervision. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (the central bank), and one trading bank, are entirely State-owned, although the actual administration is quite independent, subject in the case of the Reserve Bank to the proviso that the Governor or Board of Directors is to give effect to any resolution of the House of Representatives in respect of the bank's functions or business.

Further instances of this principle are shown by the National Airways Corporation, which, although owned by the State, is administratively self-contained, and by the Tourist Hotel Corporation. In certain other avenues the type of administration is in between the normal departmental form and that evident in the corporation type; of such is the National Roads Board, which, though determining policy to a large degree, yet makes' use of departmental administrative structures for implementation of policy.

Some administrative organizations have also quasi-judicial functions. Examples of this class are the Price Tribunal, Transport Charges Authority, Licensing Control Commission, and Local Government Commission.

JUDICIARY.—The hierarchy of Courts in New Zealand comprises the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, and the Magistrates' Court. Apart from these Courts of general jurisdiction there are other Courts dealing with specific fields. In the latter category are the Court of Arbitration, concerned with awards and general orders governing wage determination and conditions of employment in industry; the Compensation Court dealing with workers' compensation; and the Land Valuation Court, which settles land valuation disputes and compensation claims where land is taken for public works. For further details refer to Section 8 (Justice) of this issue.

ELECTORAL PROVISIONS.—The law on these matters is now contained in the Electoral Act 1956. Following each population census, which is normally taken every five years, New Zealand is divided anew into seventy-six European electorates. In addition, there are four Maori electoral districts, three in the North Island and one covering a portion of the North Island together with the whole of the South Island, where the Maori population is comparatively small. The Governor-General may at any time by Proclamation alter the boundaries of the Maori electoral districts, but, as in the case of European electoral districts, any alterations are to come into force at the expiry of the Parliament existing when the Proclamation is issued.

The Government Statistician is required to supply population figures to the Surveyor-General as soon as possible after the census. The population used as the basis in obtaining the quota for each European electoral district is defined in section 2 (1) of the Electoral Act 1956.

The term “European population” means total population with the following exceptions:

  1. Maoris:

  2. Persons residing on board ship, whether as passengers or members of the crew or otherwise:

  3. Persons residing temporarily as guests in any licensed hotel:

  4. Persons residing temporarily in any naval, military, or air force camp, station, or establishment:

  5. Persons residing as patients or inmates in any hospital:

  6. Persons in respect of whom receptions orders under the Mental Health Act 1911 are in force:

  7. Persons detained pursuant to convictions in any penal institution.

After the population is supplied by the Government Statistician it is then the responsibility of the Representation Commission to define new electoral districts for Europeans. The Commission is constituted by virtue of section 15 of the Electoral Act 1956 and comprises seven members. Four of these, the Surveyor-General, the Government Statistician, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Director-General of the Post and Telegraph Department, are official members. Two are unofficial members, being persons nominated by the House of Representatives, one nominated to represent the Government, and one to represent the Opposition. The seventh member is appointed, on the nomination of the official and unofficial members of the Commission or a majority of them to be the Chairman of the Commission. The Chairman and unofficial members cease to be members on the date on which the first periodical census is taken after the date of their appointment.

The Commission then determines the number of electoral districts in the North and in the South Islands so that the number of districts in the North Island bears, as nearly as possible, the same proportion to the number of districts in the South Island as the European population of the North Island bears to the European population of the South Island. Once this is done the next step is to determine the population quota for electoral districts in each Island by dividing the European population of each Island by the number of districts in that Island. In applying the quota, provision exists for an allowance by way of addition or subtraction of 5 per cent of the total population where districts containing the exact quota could not be formed consistently with consideration of topography, community of interest, communications, and existing electoral boundaries.

When the boundaries have been provisionally determined, maps are prepared illustrating the proposed electoral districts, and descriptions of each electoral district are published in the New Zealand Gazette. A time limit of one month is given thereafter in which objections to the proposed boundaries may be lodged. These objections are then considered by the Representation Commission and a final decision reached on boundaries which then become the new electoral districts.

In addition to determining new European electoral districts the Representation Commission is also charged with the responsibility of classifying them for the purpose of allowances as provided by section 11 of the Parliamentary Salaries and Allowance Order 1955. Under this section provision is made for an allowance based on the size, topography, and transport facilities of the electorate, the nature of its roads, the distribution of its population, and all other considerations that the Commission deems relevant.

The 1950 amendment Act provided that all general elections and by-elections shall be held on a Saturday and for both European and Maori elections to be held on the same day. Previously the Maori elections were held on the day preceding the European elections. An amendment in 1951 provided for the polling hours in Maori electorates to be extended to 7 p.m., as in the case of European electorates.

The Electoral Amendment Act 1951 provided that, if at any time Parliament is dissolved before it has been two years in existence, the main and supplementary rolls used in the previous general election, together with a further supplementary roll, may be used if in the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer it is impracticable to print new main rolls. The same rolls, together with a further supplementary roll, are to be used for any by-election occurring before the next following general election.

The latter amending Act also provided for the voting at elections and licensing polls by servicemen serving overseas who are or will be of, or over the age of, twenty-one years before the date of the election or poll, whether or not registered as electors of any electoral district. Each such serviceman shall be qualified to vote as an elector of the electoral district in which is situated his usual place of residence before he last left New Zealand.

FRANCHISE.—Since the abolition of plural voting in 1889 and the introduction of women's suffrage in 1893 every person 21 years of age or over (with certain obvious exceptions) has had the right to exercise one vote and one vote only in the election of members of the House of Representatives. The present law relating to electors and elections is contained in the Electoral Act 1956, and a note of some of the more important provisions of this Act is given below.

Qualification for Registration as Elector.—To be qualified for registration as a parliamentary elector in New Zealand a person must have attained the age of 21 years and must (a) be a British subject or Irish citizen, (b) be ordinarily resident in New Zealand, (c) at some period have resided continuously in New Zealand for at least a year, and (d) except in special cases have resided continuously for three years or more in the electoral district in respect of which application for registration is made, and not have subsequently resided for three months or more in any other electoral district.

The Act defines what is meant by the term “ordinarily resident.” To be ordinarily resident in New Zealand, a person must be or have been actually resident in New Zealand with the intention of residing there indefinitely. If he is absent from New Zealand he must have had, ever since he left New Zealand, an intention to return to reside there indefinitely, and (except in the case of a public servant or the wife or husband of a public servant) must not have been absent from New Zealand for more than three years.

This new requirement that an elector must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand is an important departure from the previous position. Prior to 1957 any British subject who had been in New Zealand for a year was entitled to register and to vote, even though his residence might have been of a temporary nature and although he did not associate himself with the New Zealand community. Conversely, a New Zealander absent from New Zealand for more than a year lost the right to vote. Broadly speaking, the new qualifications restrict the right to vote to permanent residents, the test laid down being similar to the legal concept of domicile.

The following persons are disqualified from registration as electors: (a) Those in respect of whom reception orders under the Mental Health Act 1911 are in force, (b) those detained pursuant to a conviction in any penal institution, and (c) those whose names are on the Corrupt Practices List for any district. These qualifications and disqualifications apply alike to Maoris and Europeans.

Registration of Electors.—A system of compulsory registration of electors has been in operation in respect of Europeans since 1924 and was introduced in respect of Maoris in 1956. Every person qualified to be registered as an elector of any district must, if he is in New Zealand, apply for registration within one month after the date on which he first becomes qualified to be registered as an elector. He must also apply for registration within three months after the issue of every Proclamation proclaiming the names and boundaries of electoral districts or within such later period as may be provided by Order in Council. Qualified electors who are outside New Zealand may apply for registration if they wish.

A European is not entitled to be registered as an elector of a Maori district and a Maori (other than a half-caste) is not entitled to be registered as an elector of a European district. A half-caste Maori may choose to be registered either for a Maori or European district, and special rules are laid down to govern a change from one to the other.

Voting at Elections.—Voting at parliamentary elections is by secret ballot, a method which was first introduced in New Zealand in 1870. Recognition of the fundamental character which the secret ballot has attained in New Zealand was given in the Electoral Act 1956, which included the section providing for this method of voting among the reserved sections which may be repealed only by a 75 per cent majority vote or following a referendum.

In general, only those persons whose names are lawfully on the main and supplementary rolls of electors compiled prior to an election may vote at that election. The following classes of persons whose names are not on the roll are however entitled to vote—

  1. Those who have applied for registration between writ day and polling day and have satisfied the Registrar that they became qualified for registration not earlier than one month before writ day;

  2. Those who are qualified for registration and were at the last preceding election registered in that district or, where boundary changes have intervener', in some other district in which their then residence within the first-mentioned district was then situated;

  3. Those who are qualified for registration and have since the last election and before 6 p.m. on writ day applied for registration in that district, or where boundary changes have intervened, in some other district in which their then residence within the first-mentioned district was then situated.

  4. Servicemen outside New Zealand, if they are or will be twenty-one years of age or more on polling day and their place of residence before they left New Zealand is within the district.

Special Voters.—A vote is normally cast by the elector at a polling booth within his district. An elector may, however, vote as a “special voter”, either at a polling booth outside his district or by post, in the following cases:

  1. If his name does not appear on the main roll, or any supplementary roll for the district or has been wrongly deleted from the roll;

  2. If he will be outside New Zealand on polling day;

  3. If he is or will be absent from the district on polling day;

  4. If he will not be within two miles by the nearest practicable route of any polling place in the district during the hours of polling;

  5. If he will be travelling during the hours of polling under conditions which will preclude him from voting at a polling place in the district;

  6. If he is ill or infirm;

  7. If, in the case of a woman, she is precluded from attending at a polling place by reason of approaching or recent maternity;

  8. If he is a lighthouse keeper or a member of a lighthouse keeper's staff, or if she is the wife of a lighthouse keeper or of one of his staff;

  9. If he has a religious objection to voting on the day of the week on which polling day falls;

  10. If he satisfies the Returning Officer or Deputy Returning Officer that on any other ground he cannot vote at a polling place in the district without hardship or undue inconvenience.

These latter conditions replace the former classes of absentee, postal, and declaration voters, including servicemen outside New Zealand.

Local Authority Elections.—For the system of local government administration a modified form of franchise exists, a ratepaying qualification being necessary for the exercise of votes on financial issues. Further reference to the local government franchise will be found in Section 31 of this Year-Book.


Table of Contents

GENERAL REVIEW.—A population census was taken as for the night of Tuesday, 17 April 1956, in New Zealand, while censuses of its Island Territories were conducted by the Department of Island Territories for the night of Tuesday, 25 September 1956. Final population figures by sex and by geographical areas for the 1956 census are published in this Section. For tables where 1956 returns are not yet available figures for the 1951 census have been used.

The minor islands (see page 2), other than the Kermadec Islands and Campbell Island, were uninhabited at the date of the census. The Ross Dependency, situated in Antarctic regions, had a population of 166 males at the 1956 census date.

The 1956 census population of geographic New Zealand (i.e., excluding Island Territories and the Ross Dependency) was 2,174,062, inclusive of 137,151 Maoris.

For the Island Territories 1956 census figures were: Cook Islands and Niue Island, 21,103 (as estimated at 1 April 1956); Tokelau Islands, 1,619; Trust Territory of Western Samoa, 96,969. The total census population of New Zealand and Island Territories was 2,196,784. Armed Forces personnel overseas at the time of the census and not included in the population numbered 2,162 (Europeans 1,972, Maoris 190).

The following table gives a complete summary of New Zealand population.


* Includes population of the inhabited minor islands—i.e., Kermadec Islands, 11 (males); and Campbell Island, 7 (males).

† Preliminary census figures.

New Zealand—    
(a) Exclusive of Island Territories—    
    EuropeansCensus 17 April 19561,023,1221,013,7892,036,911*
    MaorisCensus 17 April 195670,08967,062137,151
    Totals, New Zealand (excluding Island Territories) 1,093,2111,080,8512,174,062*
(b) Island Territories—    
  Tokelau IslandsCensus 25 September 19567378821,619
  Cook IslandsEstimate 1 April 19568,6007,82416,424
  Niue IslandEstimate 1 April 19562,2712,4084,679
  Totals, New Zealand (including Island Territories) 1,104,8191,091,9652,196,784
Trust Territory of Western SamoaCensus 25 September 195649,72447,24596,969
Ross DependencyCensus 25 September 1956166 166

INCREASE OF POPULATION.—Since the commencement of European settlement in New Zealand the European population has in every year shown an increase, though the rate of increase has fluctuated considerably. As will be seen later in this Section, the movement of Maori population has followed a different course. Census records since 1901 are quoted in the succeeding table and include Maoris.

Date of CensusNumbersIntercensal Numerical IncreaseIntercensal Percentage IncreaseAverage Annual Percentage Increase

* Excludes New Zealand Armed Forces personnel overseas, overseas.

† Includes New Zealand Armed Forces personne

March 1901*815,85372,6469.771.89
April 1906936,304120,45114.762.75
April 19111,058,308122,00413.032.52
October 1916*1,149,22590,9178.591.50
April 19211,271,664122,43910.652.27
April 19261,408,139136,47510.732.06
March 19361,573,810165,67111.771.13
September 1945*1,702,298128,4888.160.83
September 19451,747,679173,86911.051.11
April 1951*1,939,472237,17413.932.37
April 19511,941,366193,68711.081.91
April 1956*2,174,062234,59012.102.31
April 19562,176,224234,85812.102.31

In no fewer than five of the ten censuses covered by the above table the figures are disturbed by the absence overseas of Armed Forces. Increase during the intercensal period preceding the census is thus diminished and in the period following is augmented by the return of such personnel or, more accurately and regrettably, the survivors. Numbers of Armed Forces personnel overseas at the respective dates were: 1901, 2,500 (approx.); 1916. 44,000 (approx.); 1945, 45,381; 1951, 1,894; and 1956, 2,162.

It will be noted that the growth of population has been substantial in each period. The lowest rates are those of 1926–36, a result of the great economic depression, and of 1936–45, which included six years of war.

Omitting movements of army and air force personnel but including naval crews, post-war increases in population have been—

 NumbersPer Cent

The increase in the rate of population growth, after an upward movement from 1950 to 1952 (the highest gain in the history of New Zealand), showed a downward trend in 1953, which was sharply accelerated in 1954. However, in 1955 and 1956 this downward trend war halted.

Sources of population increase are threefold—viz., enlargement of territory, excess of arrivals over departures, and excess of births over deaths or natural increase. The first is inapplicable to New Zealand, the second is dealt with later in this Section, and the third is discussed in the Section relating to vital statistics. One aspect of the latter may, however, be given here. This is the reproduction index which, though not free from error, is a convenient indication of the growth or decline of a population. It is based on female children born (gross rate) and probably surviving to maturity (net rate). A net rate of 1.0 indicates a stationary population; above unity a rising population and below unity a falling population.

Reproduction rates during the latest five years were as follows, the figures relating only to the European population.

YearGross RateNet Rate

A cautionary observation may be appended here. Though the total increase of population is the sum of natural increase and migration increase, certain discrepancies may be noted. The reason is that, following the census, revisions have been made to statistics of total population, but it has not been possible to make corresponding adjustments to migration or natural increase figures. A further discrepancy may be due to the exclusion from the migration statistics of movements of members of the Armed Forces.

POPULATION PROJECTION.—It is of interest to note that New Zealand reached its first million of population in December 1908 and the second million in August 1952, the population thus having doubled in approximately 43¾ years.

Interest in the future population of New Zealand was such that it was obvious there was a real need for up-to-date forecasts. However, to produce forecasts of real value, considerable work is involved in making careful studies of trends in fertility, mortality, immigration, etc. To meet the needs of those wishing to make estimates based on probable future changes in population, the following provisional projections have been made after the 1956 census for the total population, inclusive of Maoris. These are based on two assumptions:

  1. That the annual rate of natural increase will be 15 per thousand persons living.

  2. That the net inflow due to migration will be 10,000 persons per annum.


YearEstimated Population

COMPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.—In the following summary of certain selected countries the two most recent census years are quoted together with the annual average percentage increase of population during the respective intercensal periods.

CountryCensus PeriodAverage Annual Percentage Increase

* Excluding Newfoundland.

† European population.

‡ Including Hyderabad, but excluding Kashmir, Jammu, and the tribal areas of Assam.

§ Excluding full-blooded aborigines.

NOTE.—Minus sign (—) denotes a decrease.

New Zealand1951–562.31
England and Wales1931–510.46
Northern Ireland1937–510.48
Republic of Ireland1946–510.03
Union of South Africa1946–512.18
United States of America1940–501.36

It will be noted from the above table that the highest annual rate of increase is that shown for Australia—2.46 per cent for the intercensal period 1947–54. During the previous intercensal period, 1933–47, the annual rate of increase was only 0.96 per cent. The large rise in the annual rate, since 1947, is due mainly to post-war immigration.

The next highest rate of increase is that shown for New Zealand, 2.31 per cent. The Union of South Africa (2.18 per cent), Canada (1.97 per cent), and Ceylon (1.51 per cent) show the next highest rates of increase. On the other hand, European countries show the lowest rates of increase—Hungary actually shows a decrease—with the United Kingdom countries recording very low figures.

SEX PROPORTIONS.—The figures for the census of 17 April 1956 show that males outnumber females by 9,333 in the European population, 3,027 in the Maori population, and 12,360 in the total population. Females per 1,000 males were: European, 991; Maori, 957; total population, 989. Net increase of population from migration adds to the male preponderance, but the major source of population increase is the excess of births over deaths, and this results in a female preponderance. Females per 1,000 males at the last five censuses have been—

1945 (including Armed Forces abroad)991
1951 (including Armed Forces abroad)989
1956 (including Armed Forces abroad)987

There are marked differences in the sex proportions of the population of different parts of New Zealand. The following observations relate to the census of 1956 and give the number of females per 1,000 males.

In the aggregate of cities and boroughs the ratio was 1,060, in town districts, 962; and in counties, 887. For the provincial districts ratios were—

Hawke's Bay1,014
Otago (Otago portion)1,009
Otago (Southland portion)935

Female preponderance in towns does not appear to have a direct relation to the size of the towns. Of the fifteen urban areas which comprise the largest centres of population, ten had ratios higher than the average for all cities and boroughs, but five were below the average, and of these Hutt, fifth largest urban area, even had an excess of males.

New Plymouth1,084
Palmerston North1,077

METHOD OF COMPILATION.—In common with almost all countries, the chief instrument in compiling population data in New Zealand is the census, which in this country in normal times is taken quinquennially. The minutiae of the distribution of population, together with analyses of various population characteristics compiled from census data, will be found in the official publications compiled after each census.

The basis adopted for the census, and virtually throughout population statistics in New Zealand, is that of the population present, which may be defined as the population present at the place of enumeration at the time of the enumeration.

All references to New Zealand relate solely to geographic New Zealand—i.e., Island Territories are omitted except hi the first table where their inclusion is specifically stated. Though Cook Islands, Niue Island, and Tokelau Islands are constitutionally part of New Zealand, for geographical reasons they are administered separately.

Maoris are included in all population data unless the contrary is stated. Maori-Europeans who are in half or greater degree of Maori origin are included with Maoris. For some purposes the population dichotomy of European and Maori is necessary or desirable and “European” is used, conveniently if not altogether accurately, as referring to all population other than Maori, a usage long established in New Zealand.

INTERCENSAL RECORDS.—The intercensal statements of total population, prepared from the records of vital statistics and of external migration, have been, by virtue of the favourable position of New Zealand in this respect, relatively accurate. Discrepancies have in fact been so slight that no revisions of the intercensal figures are contemplated.

The following population figures exclude members of New Zealand Armed Forces who were overseas, and also members of the Armed Forces of other countries who were in New Zealand.

Population (Including Maoris) at End of YearIncrease During YearMean Population for Year
MalesFemalesTotalNumericalPer Cent
Years Ended 31 March
Years Ended 31 December

The figures given in the preceding table show the copulation inclusive of Maoris. The following table shows the population exclusive of Maoris.

Population (Excluding Maoris) at End of YearIncrease During YearMean Population for Year
MalesFemalesTotalNumericalPer Cent
Years Ended 31 March
Years Ended 31 December

EXTERNAL MIGRATION.—Statistics of external migration have been recorded in New Zealand since 1860. Since 1 April 1921 they have been compiled from individual statements obtained from each person entering or leaving New Zealand.

Including crews of vessels, 134,380 persons from overseas arrived in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1956, which, compared with 1954–55, shows an increase of 9,091. During the same period 125,711 persons departed. This figure, compared with the corresponding one for 1954–55, shows an increase of 7,798.

In addition to the figures just quoted there were also 8,264 “through passengers” and tourists on cruising liners who called at a port of New Zealand en route to their destination.

The excess of total arrivals over total departures for 1955–56 was 8,669, compared with an excess of 7,376 during 1954–55.

The numbers of arrivals and departures during the last eleven years are given in the table following. Crews of vessels, “through passengers,” tourists on cruising liners, and members of the Armed Forces, etc., have not been taken into account in this table.

Year Ended 31 MarchArrivalsDeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures

In 1953–54 the number of arrivals decreased by 4,395 from the preceding year and a further decrease of 235 occurred again in 1954–55. However, this trend has been halted, and in 1955–56 there was an increase in the number of arrivals of 4,862 over the 1954–55 figure.

Departures continued to increase and in 1955–56 the increase was 3,800, compared with an increase of 8,176 in 1954–55.

The decline in the excess of arrivals over departures evident in 1954–55 has been checked and 1955–56 showed a slight increase, the excess being 8,092, compared with 7,030 in the previous year.

In the ten-year period ended 3 i March 1956 the net gain from passenger migration was 96,636, while if movement of crews is taken into account this is increased to 98,045.

Classes of Arrivals and Departures.—The following table gives an analysis of all classes of arrivals during the last five years, including “through passengers,” tourists on cruising liners, and crews. In classifying arrivals or departures as “permanent” the commonly used international rule is applied—i.e., residence or absence of one year or more.

Immigrants intending permanent residence24,92229,00524,89619,45320,878
New Zealand residents returning20,42618,57017,44320,21121,915
  On business2,8462,5022,8343,1643,154
  Theatrical, entertaining, etc.582785686629696
  Educational purposes133199128152191
  Others, officials, etc.6131,0351,1981,3861,943
  In transit651835802788811
Through passengers and tourists on cruising liners2,7445,6457,44811,0058,264

The succeeding table gives a similar analysis of departures.

New Zealand residents departing—
Temporary residents departing18,44419,62221,07923,60325,657
Through passengers and tourists on cruising liners2,7445,6457,44811,0058,264

Ages.—The following table gives the age-distribution of immigrants and emigrants for the twelve months ended 31 March 1956.

Age, in YearsPermanent ArrivalsPermanent DeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures
60 and over3537061,059238330568491
Not specified16102625719

Of the permanent arrivals during the year 1955–56, 19 per cent were under fifteen years of age, 42 per cent under twenty-five years, 71 per cent under thirty-five years, and 85 per cent under forty-five years. Permanent departures represented a similar age distribution, with percentages of 19, 43, 73, and 85 respectively.

Origin.—The following table shows for the last three years the birthplaces of immigrants intending permanent residence and of New Zealand residents departing permanently.

Abnormal figures are reflected in some years, particularly in those cases where the acceptance of displaced persons or assisted immigrants from countries other than Great Britain (e.g., Netherlands) was for a limited period only.

Country of BirthImmigrants Intending Permanent ResidenceNew Zealand Residents Departing Permanently
Commonwealth Countries
England and Wales10,7257,5538,8811,6772,5722,287
Northern Ireland507311401619862
United Kingdom (undefined)311261238404952
Gook Islands and Niue314425383293033
New Zealand3,6223,0963,2303,3593,9024,592
Other Commonwealth countries in the Pacific218211255617269
Other countries within the Commonwealth316308360968787
  Totals, Commonwealth countries21,21316,64518,1156,5378,2298,643
Other Countries
Republic of Ireland60139646571155159
Russia (U.S.S.R.)321828142215
United States of America248297278133131142
  Totals, other countries3,6632,7932,753506781793
At sea121   
Not specified1913952 
    Grand totals24,89619,45320,8787,0489,0129,436

Assisted Immigration.—Various systems of assisted immigration have been in force since 1871, with the exception of the period 1892 to 1903 (inclusive). The scheme that was operating prior to 1947 had been largely suspended since 1927, and only 50 immigrants received financial assistance during the ten years ended 31 March 1946.

To alleviate the shortage of staffs in mental hospitals the Government decided in 1946 to recruit labour in the United Kingdom, and the number of arrivals under this system totalled 240 (all females).

In July 1947 a comprehensive assisted-passage scheme was introduced by the Government. Under this scheme financial aid was granted to certain categories of immigrants. Eligibility was confined to single residents of the United Kingdom (with no dependants) between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years who were suitable for, and willing to accept employment in, a wide variety of productive and servicing occupations. All assisted immigrants were required to enter into a contract with the New Zealand Government that they would engage in approved employment for two years after their arrival in New Zealand.

A scheme of child migration from the United Kingdom was in operation from June 1949 to May 1953. Arrivals of British children between the ages of five and seventeen years totalled 169 in 1949–50, 107 in 1950–51, 99 in 1951–52, 87 in 1952–53, and 68 up to terminating date during 1953–54.

In May 1950 a new immigration policy was announced by the Government, the main changes being as follows:

  1. The existing scheme in regard to unmarried British immigrants, including nominations, to continue, but with an extension of the age limit from thirty-five to forty-five years of age.

  2. Extension of the free-passage scheme to certain categories of married British immigrants with up to two children.

  3. The acceptance, after negotiation and conclusion of agreements with the countries concerned, of a number of single non-British men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years. Dutch, Danish, Swiss, Austrian, and German nationals are being selected.

The number of assisted immigrants (exclusive of displaced persons) arriving in New Zealand since the reintroduction of the scheme in 1947 was as follows.

Year ended 31 March 1947158 158
19481,140 1,140
19491,527 1,527
19502,532 2,532

In the preceding migration tables assisted immigrants are included in the totals of “Immigrants intending permanent residence”.

Displaced Persons.—Commencing with the year 1949–50 the Government agreed to accept drafts of displaced persons from Europe, who were brought to New Zealand in shipping provided by the International Refugee Organization. These settlers were chosen by a New Zealand Selection Mission, and arrivals totalled 941 in 1949–50, 978 in 1950–51, and 2,663 in 1951–52, made up of young single men and women, widows with one child, family groups, orphans, and a number of elderly people. This scheme was brought to an end with the arrival in April 1952 of the final two displaced persons accepted by the Government.

PASSPORTS.—Authority for the issue of passports in New Zealand and by New Zealand representatives overseas is contained in the Passports Act 1946 and the Passport Regulations 1946.

New Zealand passports are issued by the Department of Internal Affairs at Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch. United Kingdom, Canadian, Australian, and Indian passports are issued by the respective High Commissioners for those countries. The representatives of New Zealand at London, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Ottawa, Canberra, Paris, The Hague, Bombay, Tokyo, Singapore, and Bangkok, are authorized to issue and renew New Zealand passports.

Entry into New Zealand.—Apart from British subjects arriving from Australia, no person sixteen years of age or over may land in New Zealand unless in possession of a valid passport or other travel document satisfactorily establishing nationality and identity. Exemption (which is additional to the requirements of the Immigration Restriction and Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Acts) may be granted by the Minister of Internal Affairs. With the exception of nationals of those countries with which New Zealand has concluded agreements for the mutual abolition of visas, all aliens require a British visa.

People born in Niue and Cook Islands are British subjects and New Zealand citizens. They require to obtain formal exit permission from the Resident Commissioner if they wish to proceed to New Zealand.

Most people born in Western Samoa are New Zealand protected persons. If they wish to visit New Zealand as temporary visitors for periods of up to three months they must obtain prior permission from the High Commissioner for Western Samoa. Those desiring to enter New Zealand for longer periods than three months are required in addition to make prior application to the Secretary of Labour, Department of Labour, Wellington.

A British subject who is the master or a member of the crew of the vessel in which he arrives does not need to produce a passport.

Departure from New Zealand.—British subjects leaving New Zealand, with the exception of those travelling to Australia or making the round trip to New Zealand's island territories, should be in possession of a valid passport or other travel document.

IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION.—The legislation respecting the restriction of immigration into New Zealand is contained in the Immigration Restriction Act 1908 and its amendments, and the Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Act 1919.

The Immigration Restriction Act is administered by the Department of Labour, while the Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Act is administered by the Department of Justice.

Subject to certain exemptions, the following classes of persons are prohibited from landing in New Zealand:

  1. Persons not of British birth, unless in possession of permits issued by the Department of Labour. (Note.—A person is not deemed to be of British birth by reason that he or his parents or either of them is a naturalized British subject, or by reason that he is an aboriginal Native or the descendant of an aboriginal Native of any dominion (other than New Zealand), colony, possession, or protectorate of Her Majesty.)

  2. Idiots or insane persons.

  3. Persons suffering from contagious diseases which are loathsome or dangerous.

  4. Persons arriving in New Zealand within two years after the termination of a period of imprisonment for a serious offence.

  5. Persons who are considered by the Attorney-General to be disaffected or disloyal, or of such a character that their presence in New Zealand would be injurious to the peace, order, and good government of the country.

  6. Aliens of the age of fifteen years or over who refuse or neglect to take an oath (or make an affirmation) of obedience to the laws of New Zealand.

To obtain permits to enter New Zealand as permanent residents, application must be made by the intending immigrants themselves to the Secretary of Labour, Wellington. The application must be made in the prescribed form and must be supported by documents duly attested in the country of origin, in which country the applicant must have resided for at least twelve months prior to the date of application. Each application is considered individually on its own merits.

Provision is made in the law to permit persons covered by clause (1) above to pay temporary visits to New Zealand for the purposes of business, pleasure, or health. Temporary permits are normally restricted to some period not exceeding six months, but may be extended if the proper authorities consider that the circumstances warrant such action. A deposit may be required in respect of such temporary permit, and is returned on the departure of the visitor if the conditions of the temporary permit have been complied with. A deed to be entered into by some approved person or persons resident in New Zealand guaranteeing to pay all expenses that may be incurred by the Crown or any public body for the visitor's maintenance, relief, arrest, or detention in New Zealand or his deportation therefrom may also be required.

Provision is also made whereby, under certain conditions, students may be allowed to enter New Zealand temporarily.

Restricted Immigrants.—When persons who are lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind, or infirm arrive in New Zealand and are likely to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution, the master, owner, or charterer of the ship by which such persons came to New Zealand may be called on to enter into a bond of £100 for each such person, guaranteeing payment of any expenses which may be incurred for his support and maintenance by or in any such institution within a period of five years.

Declaration by Persons Arriving in New Zealand.—Every person of and over the age of fifteen years who lands in New Zealand must, unless exempted by the Minister of Immigration, make and deliver an officer of Customs a declaration giving the following particulars: Name, age, marital status, occupation, birthplace, nationality, race, particulars of children under fifteen years of age arriving with him, residence, etc.

NATIONALITY AND NATURALIZATION.—The British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948, which came into force on 1 January 1949, was enacted following a conference of nationality experts of Commonwealth countries in February 1947 to discuss the basis of new nationality legislation. The scheme of the new legislation accepted by Commonwealth Governments is the “common status” of all British subjects, namely, that in each Commonwealth country all persons are recognized as British subjects who possess citizenship under the citizenship laws of any of the members of the Commonwealth. (Note.—The Act states that “British subject” and “Commonwealth citizen” have the same meaning.)

Upon the commencement of the Act, New Zealand citizenship was automatically conferred on the following classes of British subjects:

  1. Those born in New Zealand.

  2. Those naturalized in New Zealand.

  3. Those ordinarily resident in New Zealand throughout the whole of the year 1948.

  4. Those whose fathers were British subjects born or naturalized in New Zealand.

  5. Women married before the commencement of the Act to men who become citizens under the various provisions of the Act.

Since the commencement of the Act, New Zealand citizenship may be acquired in the following ways:

  1. By birth in New Zealand.

  2. By descent.

  3. By registration.

  4. By naturalization.

Citizens of other Commonwealth countries acquire New Zealand citizenship by registration. The requirement is twelve months' ordinary residence. A British woman married to a New Zealand citizen is entitled to registration without any residence qualification.

The principal conditions governing the grant of naturalization to aliens under the 1948 Act are that the applicant shall satisfy the Minister of Internal Affairs (a) that he has resided in New Zealand for a period of five years, (b) that he is of good character and has a sufficient knowledge of the English language, (c) that if his application is granted he intends to reside permanently in New Zealand, (d) that the applicant gives a year's notice of his intention to apply, and (e) that the applicant possesses a sufficient knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship. There is discretionary provision for the Minister to allow residence in other Commonwealth countries to be reckoned for the purposes of the first condition, but in such cases a minimum of two years' residence in New Zealand is essential.

Naturalization granted to a married man does not automatically confer New Zealand citizenship on his wife and children, if they are aliens. These dependants may apply to be registered as New Zealand citizens after the head of the family has been naturalized. An alien woman marrying a British subject does not acquire her husband's nationality on marriage, but may apply to be registered as a British subject and New Zealand citizen. Acquisition of citizenship by naturalization or registration automatically confers the status of a British subject, and the two methods of acquiring citizenship are differences in legal procedure only.

A British woman marrying an alien does not lose her nationality under the present Act.

The complete numbers of naturalizations, registrations, etc., during the year ended 31 March 1956 were as follows.

Country of BirthCertificates of Naturalization (Aliens and British-protected Persons)Certificates of Registration as a New Zealand Citizen (British Subjects, Irish Citizens, British-protected Persons, and Aliens)Certificates of Registration as a New Zealand Citizen—Minor Children (British Subjects and Aliens)
United Kingdom  138721413
Northern Ireland  6   
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland    2 
Union of South Africa   2  
Cyprus   2  
India3 13982
Pakistan  1   
Federation of Malaya   1  
Hong Kong  1   
Canada  1   
Australia  421 
Western Samoa2  41 
Fiji  21  
Tonga1  2  
Republic of Ireland  82  
Norway21 122
Denmark6  351
Finland   1  
Russia (U.S.S.R.)14413  
Estonia34 21 
Latvia55 7 1
Lithuania5  531
Poland203 114 
Germany143 1664
Netherlands61  2445
France1  1  
Switzerland5  3  
Italy83 4 1
Czechoslovakia222 1042
Austria31 4 4
Hungary54 8  
Yugoslavia10  611
Rumania 1 1  
Greece1  2  
Egypt1  3  
Turkey 2    
Syria 11   
Lebanon   1  
Burma  10621
Indonesia12  22 
China13  526
Japan   1  
United States of America   11 
Society Islands1  1  
At sea1     

Of the certificates of registration granted to adult males, 183 were to British subjects or Irish citizens who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, and 3 to British subjects generally resident outside New Zealand who were registered as New Zealand citizens by virtue of their close associations by way of descent, residence, or otherwise, with New Zealand.

The certificates of registration granted to adult females were 82 to British subjects who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, 22 to British wives of New Zealand citizens, and 125 to alien women married to New Zealand citizens by birth or naturalization.

Certificates of registration granted to minor children were 96 (57 males, 39 females) to children of New Zealand citizens by naturalization or registration, and 11 (6 males, 5 females) who lodged applications independently.

REGISTRATION OF ALIENS.—The registration of aliens in New Zealand is provided for by the Aliens Act 1948, the administration being carried out by the Police Department. This Act repealed earlier enactments relating to aliens.

The number of aliens on the New Zealand register at 1 April 1956 was 25,184, comprising 16,337 males and 8,847 females. This is not the complete number in New Zealand, as certain classes are not required to register, including the following: (a) children under sixteen years of age; (b) persons holding diplomatic status, Consuls, or employees of Embassies, Legations, and Consulates who are resident in New Zealand solely for the purpose of performing official duties; (c) certain temporary visitors to New Zealand'; (d) Western Samoans, except in special circumstances. Under the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, though not possessing the status of British subject (or, in alternative phraseology, Commonwealth citizen), is nevertheless not classed as an alien and is not required to register.

The following table shows the numbers on the register at 1 April 1955 and 1 April 1956.

Country of Nationality1 April 19551 April 1956
Russia (U.S.S.R.)1278220912377200
Albania31 3131 31
United States of America625306931675316991
Other countries70361066658124

The number of aliens on the register at 1 April 1956 shows an increase of 929 as compared with twelve months earlier. The only country which contributed a substantial increase was Netherlands, the increase being 678. Other countries showing increases of note were United States of America, 60; China, 108; Switzerland, 49; and Denmark, 40.

Decreases were shown by several countries, the largest being Czechoslovakia, 34.

The following table shows the number of aliens on the register classified by ages and country of nationality.


Country of NationalityAge in YearsTotal
Under 2121–2930–3940–4950–5960–6970 and OverNot Specified
Norway4224012171814 127
Sweden2101212111714 78
Denmark1210212397351819 406
Finland26172355  58
Russia (U.S.S.R.)411323424153 123
Estonia36339754 67
Latvia1026695141153 215
Lithuania18283281  78
Poland52294295198119303 991
Germany9613821121414 169
Netherlands2134,5112,5994811374312 7,996
Belgium 1084218 33
France71915161154 77
Portugal1121    5
Switzerland711010948242310 331
Italy12688039341611 260
Czechoslovakia37075402041 213
Austria5147486334 216
Hungary3364628219  143
Yugoslavia191151741521388126 705
Albania 191011   31
Rumania27201251  47
Bulgaria27653104   145
Greece26149164149933818 637
Lebanon 9721   19
United States of America29135243107714545 675
Other countries3231413535 66
Stateless27191623114 82
      Totals, males6096,4824,5251,8221,566881451116,337
Norway 812881  37
Sweden 9910112 32
Denmark184678611481 226
Finland2819131   43
Russia (U.S.S.R.)61022181443 77
Estonia7637221091 92
Latvia42865940178 221
Lithuania310385631 76
Poland93260176050145 688
Germany107561 181113 222
Belgium 571 12 16
France323247784 76
Portugal12331   10
Switzerland94652391396 174
Italy643572626136 177
Czechoslovakia22023211351 85
Austria 24167545 61
Hungary414221515611 87
Yugoslavia21701057266233 360
Rumania 61272   27
Bulgaria 54 11  11
Greece25112135114452415 470
Lebanon 17 11  10
United States of America10726574542219 316
Other countries222164473 58
Stateless 715192294 76
      Totals, females4483,3932,3361,34584833713828,847

The next table shows the number of aliens on the register at 1 April 1956, classified by occupational groups and principal countries of nationality.

Occupational GroupNationalityTotal
PolandNetherlandsGreeceChinaOther Countries (Including Stateless)
Architects, engineers, surveyors, draughtsmen, and related technicians13993 77192
Biologists, agricultural, silvicultural, and animal scientists, and veterinarians and related workers3281 2961
Nurses, health technicians, and midwives232231251
Teachers (including University teachers)231 22762
Other professional, technical, and related workers (including professional accountants, social scientists, and social workers)231  2053
Proprietors, directors, and managers: wholesale and retail trade44021505107677
Proprietors, directors, and managers, n.e.c.139211971151
Office clerks, n.e.c.40285102105442
Salesmen, shop assistants, and related workers: wholesale and retail trade61671021986488
Commercial travellers and manufacturers' agents 43182173
Farmers, farm managers, and overseers82643553151979
Specialised farm workers (including farm machinery drivers and operators, shearers, etc.)337  1151
Other farm workers23965 2801561,424
Fishermen and related workers 43 4855
Forestry and related workers (including loggers)629  4277
Stevedores, dock and wharf labourers86106321116341
Drivers, n.e.c. and deliverymen3023813669356
Other workers in transport occupations274326138135
Spinners, weavers, knitters, dyers, and related workers832333278
Tailors, cutters, furriers, and related workers156310444136
Leather cutters, lasters and sewers, and related workers16189 2871
Carpenters, joiners, cabinet makers, coopers, and related workers738241333831,296
Furnacemen, rollers, drawers, moulders, and related metal making and treating workers14541233104
Toolmakers, machinists, plumbers, welders, platers, and related workers1001,15550184271,750
Electricians and related electric and electronics workers28321201170450
Bricklayers, masons, and related workers1232125 175533
Compositors, pressmen, photo-engravers, bookbinders, and related workers3651336108
Bakers, millers, brewmasters, and related food and beverage workers35254121987407
Skilled and semi-skilled production process and related workers126885107200
Labourers n.e.c.3111,6652451479083,276
Housekeepers, stewards, cooks, and related workers753285550193
Waiters, bartenders, and related workers7332112578
Building caretakers, cleaners, and related workers7221412569
Launderers, dry cleaners, and pressers614611910155
Other personal service workers3591 1780
Other occupations33292138247593
Occupations ill-defined or not classifiable15841362100274
Persons not actively engaged in gainful occupations287416268223609
Armed forces 9  110
      Totals, males9917,9966372,3444,36916,337
Nurses, health technicians, and midwives121411293249
Teachers (including University teachers)6131 3252
Clergy6   52.58
Typistes, stenographers, and related workers481208247225
Office clerks, n.e.c.5315618475306
Saleswomen, shop assistants, and related workers146285836178
Spinners, weavers, knitters, dyers, and related workers165019 40125
Tailoresses, cutters, furriers, and related workers110230729209630
Skilled and semi-skilled production process and related workers10371723197
Labourers, n.e.c.6715989111334–59
Housekeepers, stewardesses, maids, cooks, and related workers83753472363561,475
Waitresses, barmaids, and related workers940652181
Other personal service workers2373 1759
Other occupations481803737145447
Occupations ill-defined or not classifiable4322134148254700
Persons no; actively engaged in gainful occupations1611,8561105501,0293,706
      Totals, females6884,0554701,0642,5708,847

The final table on aliens shows, for the same countries as in the previous table, the geographical location of those on the register.

PolandNetherlandsGreeceChinaOther Countries (Including Stateless)
Auckland Urban Area1251,377146501,2933,459
Hamilton Urban Area2019213587335
Gisborne Urban Area26144130138
Remainder of Auckland Provincial District831,69282436902,716
Napier Urban Area124383827128
Hastings Urban Area683212831169
Remainder of Hawke's Bay Provincial District789 4617159
New Plymouth Urban Area226921742152
Remainder of Taranaki Provincial District401361981267
Wanganui Urban Area8735754147
Palmerston North Urban Area17127197769309
Hutt Urban Area1273562785222817
Wellington Urban Area3268684224108812,907
Remainder of Wellington Provincial District373177260151772
Marlborough Provincial District552 61376
Nelson Urban Area771 738123
Remainder of Nelson Provincial District1385 441143
Westland Provincial District426151955
Christchurch Urban Area55843371093281,372
Timaru Urban Area251 16675
Remainder of Canterbury Provincial District2018282535270
Dunedin Urban Area2549033144111803
Remainder of Otago portion of Otago Provincial District14344147069511
Invercargill Urban Area52355720272
Remainder of Southland portion of Otago Provincial District9134 514162
      Totals, males9917,9966372,3444,36916,337
PolandNetherlandsGreeceChinaOther Countries (Including Stateless)
Auckland Urban Area83800122348361,965
Hamilton Urban Area2212131255213
Gisborne Urban Area243 211379
Remainder of Auckland Provincial District2880011263031,258
Napier Urban Area12277162385
Hastings Urban Area34813111691
Remainder of Hawke's Bay Provincial District84822716101
New Plymouth Urban Area253611334109
Remainder of Taranaki Provincial District25633651148
Wanganui Urban Area543483595
Palmerston North Urban Area1563133038159
Hutt Urban Area60182749119417
Wellington Urban Area2754273401844831,709
Remainder of Wellington Provincial District24186212666404
Marlborough Provincial District124 6536
Nelson Urban Area245 12876
Remainder of Nelson Provincial District450 52281
Westland Provincial District1712718
Christchurch Urban Area444231941241768
Timaru Urban Area123 8335
Remainder of Canterbury Provincial District137651727138
Dunedin Urban Area20249277697469
Remainder of Otago portion of Otago Provincial District513573728212
Invercargill Urban Area296349114
Remainder of Southland portion of Otago Provincial District840 41567
      Totals, females6884,0554701,0642,5708,847

DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION.—Detailed population statistics are compiled for each census, and these are published in Census Vol. I—Increase and Location of Population. Preliminary figures for the 1956 census for provincial districts, urban areas, counties, cities, boroughs, town districts, extra-county islands, and shipping have been published in “Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings, 1956 Census”. Final figures for these have been published in the “Report on Population, Migration, and Buildings, 1955–56”. In addition to these, Vol. I will show figures for subdivisions of counties into (a) ridings, and (b) townships, localities, etc.

North and South Islands.—In 18.30 the North Island had a larger population than the South, but this position was reversed at the succeeding enumeration, and the South Island had the larger population (exclusive of Maoris) at each census from 1861 to 1896. In 1901 the North Island was found to have slightly the larger total and since then has steadily increased its lead

The following table gives the population of the North and South Islands as disclosed by each census since 1901.

Census YearPopulation (Excluding Maoris)Proportions Per Cent
North IslandSouth IslandTotalNorth IslandSouth Island

* Includes Maori half-castes (total, 4,236) living as Europeans.


The natural increase of European population (i.e., excess of births over deaths) for the North Island during the 1951–56 intercensal period was 103,999, and the total net increase 163,113. For the South Island the natural increase was 45,832, and the total net increase 50,002. The population of the North Island has increased at a greater proportionate rate than the South Island between the 1951 and 1956 censuses. Inclusive of Maoris, the North Island increase was 183,495, or 13.97 per cent, and the South Island increase 51,095, or 8.17 per cent.

At the 1956 census the North Island population was 1,497,364, inclusive of 131,894 Maoris; and the South Island population 676,698, inclusive of 5,257 Maoris.

Provincial Districts.—The approximate areas and the estimated populations, inclusive of Maoris, of the various provincial districts are given in the next table.

For the guidance of overseas readers it is necessary to explain that there have been no provinces in New Zealand since 1875. Provincial districts are simply the former provinces, but they have no functions and are now merely historic divisions serving as useful units for a primary geographical break-down. There is no Southland Provincial District and the “Southland portion of Otago” has little resemblance in area to the former Southland Province.

Provincial DistrictArea (Square Miles)Population Census 1956
Hawke's Bay4,260102,326
  Otago portion14,070168,861
  Southland portion11,46085,271
New Zealand103,7402,174,062

The foregoing table illustrates the wide disparities in the size of the provincial districts, whether measured by area or by population.

Urban and Rural Population.—On 17 April 1956 somewhat over two-fifths (43.3 per cent) of the population of New Zealand (excluding Maoris) were included in the five principal urban areas—Auckland, Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and over one-half (57.7 per cent) in all the urban areas. In the following table urban population means the population in cities and boroughs, while rural population covers counties, all town districts, and extra-county islands. It will be observed that there was a marked slackening in the rate of the urban drift between 1926 and 1936, but the 1945 figures, due no doubt to wartime influences, disclosed a substantial increase in the urban population, whereas the rural population for the first time recorded a decrease. In the 1945–51 period a substantial gain was recorded in the rural population, but it was insufficient to prevent further deterioration of its ratio to total population. This drop in the ratio of rural population has continued in the period 1951–56.

CensusPopulationPercentage of Total

* Figures exclude military and internment camps.

† Figures include Armed Services in New Zealand at census date and internment camps, but exclude members of the United States Forces present in New Zealand and also enemy prisoners of war.

‡ Inclusive of Maori half-castes (3,221 in 1916 and 4,236 in 1921) living as Europeans.

Excluding Maoris—
Including Maoris—

Another conception of urban and rural population is presented in the next table. For this purpose urban population has been taken as that enumerated in cities, boroughs, or town districts with a minimum population of 1,000. Migratory population is excluded.

Including MaorisExcluding Maoris
Urban : towns of—
25,000 or over338,213701,948337,221690,231
  Totals, urban798,1881,357,783792,5761,322,411
  Totals, New Zealand1,401,0012,174,0621,337,3842,036,911
Urban : towns of—
25,000 or over24.1432.2925.2133.89
  Totals, urban56.9762.4559.2664.92
  Totals, New Zealand100.00100.00100.00100.00

Some apparent anomalies, where the numbers exclusive of Maoris exceed those inclusive of Maoris, arise from the transfer of towns to other population categories.

An important characteristic of the distribution of urban population in New Zealand is what may be termed its decentralization. In place of one great metropolis containing a huge proportion of the population, the more highly urbanized portion of the community is localized in four widely separated centres. These four centres (counting Wellington and Hutt as a single conurbation) have always existed more or less on the same plane, a fact which has played no small part in the development of the country. An interesting feature is the wide gap which has long existed between the four major centres and the next largest towns.

Urban and rural communities are not evenly distributed. The South Island, for example, contains proportionately more rural population than does the North Island.

RECENT MOVEMENTS IN TOWNS AND COUNTIES: Urban Areas.—These are statistical conceptions and not administrative units. Their purpose is to provide definite, stable, and comparable boundaries for the larger centres of population. In addition to the central city or borough, they include neighbouring boroughs, town districts, and parts of counties which are regarded as suburban to the centre of population.

Urban areas were formed in 1917 and, except for two additions and one deletion, remained unaltered until 1951, when a revision of boundaries was made and the new areas used in the 1951 census. From census records and maps revised population figures were prepared on the basis of the new boundaries. In the case of European population the figures were revised for each census back to 1911, and on the basis of population including Maoris the revision was possible back to the 1926 census. The most significant change resulting from this revision was the division of the former Wellington Urban Area, plus additional areas to the north, into the two adjacent urban areas of Hutt and Wellington. The two areas in a sense form a single conurbation, and for some purposes it may still be convenient to use a combined figure. However, the extent and pattern of development in the Hutt Valley have been such as to establish it as a centre complementary to Wellington but no longer suburban to it. In Auckland the boundaries were extended considerably, but in most other cases it was found that little change was necessary.

Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)Population Increase 1951–56
New Plymouth18,59721,05724,92328,2923,36913.52
Palmerston North24,37227,82032,90837,7754,86714.79

In the twenty years covered by the table all urban areas have consistently recorded increases in population. Auckland has had the greatest numerical growth in this period, Hamilton and Hastings the highest proportionate increase.

Wellington Urban Area's increase of nearly 4 per cent between 1951 and 1956, compared with under 1 per cent in the previous intercensal period, resulted mainly from housing development in the Titahi Bay and Porirua areas. The rate of growth of Hutt Urban Area is seen to be slowing down in the last intercensal period, the greatest expansion now taking place in the Upper Hutt Borough just north of the urban area. For Hutt and Wellington Urban Areas combined the increase rate was 7.71 per cent, a rate exceeded by all urban areas except Dunedin.

Of particular interest is the marked increase in the Maori population in urban areas during the last twenty years. In Auckland the number of Maoris increased from 1,863 in 1936 to 11,361 in 1956. In the fifteen urban areas there were 5,371 Maoris in 1936 as compared with 22,825 in 1956.

The next table contains the population (Maoris included) of the fifteen urban areas as recorded at the census of 17 April 1956. The component parts of the five largest centres of population are given in detail, while for the remaining ten areas totals only are quoted. In most of the ten cases the urban area comprises the central city or borough plus the urban portion of the adjoining county. At the 1956 census the five largest urban areas had a total population of 898,150, this being equivalent to 41.31 per cent of the New Zealand total. The total for all urban areas at the same date was 1,197,183, or 55.07 per cent, of the total population of New Zealand.

Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)
Auckland City136,540
  East Coast Bays Borough7,498
  Birkenhead Borough5,644
  Northcote Borough3,777
  Takapuna Borough18,724
  Devonport Borough11,179
  Henderson Borough2,623
  Glen Eden Borough4,096
  New Lynn Borough7,547
  Mount Albert Borough25,644
  Mount Eden Borough18,629
  Mount Wellington Borough11,990
  Newmarket Borough2,217
  Ellerslie Borough4,501
  One Tree Hill Borough12,889
  Mount Roskill Borough25,555
  Howick Borough3,788
  Onehunga Borough16,702
  Otahuhu Borough8,555
  Papatoetoe Borough11,031
  Manurewa Borough4,596
  Papakura Borough5,235
  Remainder of urban area32,103
Lower Hutt City47,813
  Upper Hutt Borough12,226
  Petone Borough10,288
  Eastbourne Borough2,724
  Remainder of urban area13,002
Wellington City122,070
  Tawa Flat Borough4,015
  Remainder of urban area12,212
Christchurch City142,711
  Riccarton Borough7,914
  Lyttelton Borough3,589
  Heathcote County5,228
  Remainder of urban area33,925
Dunedin City71,277
  Port Chalmers Borough3,012
  West Harbour Borough2,182
  St. Kilda Borough6,946
  Green Island Borough4,482
  Mosgiel Borough4,050
  Remainder of urban area7,421
New Plymouth28,292
Palmerston North37,775

Counties.—The following table gives the population (including Maoris) of individual counties at the 1956 census, together with the approximate area of each. It should be noted that “Administrative Counties” do not include boroughs or town districts independent of county control, but include town districts which form parts of counties.

Administrative CountyPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres
North Island—
  Bay of Islands12,310823
  Great Barrier Island271110
  Hauraki Plains5,75223?
  Hawke's Bay19,7841,671
  Waimate West2,99883
  Wairarapa South3,090440
South Island—
  Mount Herbert60566
  Chatham Islands524372
  Stewart Island541670
      Grand totals790,305102,615

Between the 1951 and 1956 censuses Makara County recorded the highest rate of increase for counties (113 per cent), the bulk of this taking place in the townships of Porirua and Titahi Bay, both dormitory suburbs to Wellington City. Other counties with high rates of increase were Rotorua (55 per cent), Waitemata (53 per cent), Paparua (48 per cent), Malvern (47 per cent), and Matamata (44 per cent). The last was due almost entirely to the expansion of Tokoroa Township in Matamata County, which serves the timber industry located there. The fluctuations in the population of Malvern County (which actually recorded a decline of 13 per cent in the previous intercensal period) result largely from the movement in personnel at Burnham Military Camp. Eden County, which showed a high rate of gain (112 per cent) between 1945–51, was merged into Auckland City at 1 April 1956.

Twenty counties lost population in the 1951–56 intercensal period, ten in each island, the South Island on the whole showing greater proportionate losses. The decline in Mackenzie County, which recorded the highest loss (23 per cent), involving some 900 people, was due mainly to the transfer of Ministry of Works employees to other major public works projects in neighbouring counties.

Boroughs.—Similar information as in the case of counties is now given for boroughs.

BoroughPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres

* Proclaimed a city from 8 September 1956.

North Island—
  East Coast Bays7,4983,850
  Glen Eden4,0961,244
  New Lynn7,5471,393
  Auckland (City)136,54018,493
  Mount Albert25,6442,430
  Mount Eden18,6291,476
  Mount Roskill25,5554,605
  One Tree Hill12,8892,430
  Mount Wellington11,9904,075
  Hamilton (City)35,9416,145
  Te Awamutu4,6141,162
  Te Kuiti3,7811,668
  Te Aroha2,8542,783
  Mount Maunganui3,4323,475
  Te Puke1,9251,047
  Gisborne (City)19,6613,610
  Napier (City)21,2703,007
  Hastings (City)*19,1832,612
  Havelock North2,6431,165
  New Plymouth (City)24,0714,257
  Wanganui (City)29,6715,886
  Palmerston N. (City)35,6326,943
  Upper Hutt12,2262,165
  Lower Hutt (City)47,8137,602
  Tawa Flat4,015799
  Wellington (City)122,07017,789
South Island—
  Nelson (City)17,7075,550
  Christchurch (City)142,71125,647
  Timaru (City)23,3083,524
  Port Chalmers3,012714
  West Harbour2,1822,181
  Dunedin (City)71,27713,921
  St. Kilda6,946462
  Green Island4,4821,789
  Invercargill (City)29,0946,571
  South Invercargill1,4152,204
      Grand totals1,360,347334,412

Eighteen boroughs recorded decreases between the 1951 and 1956 censuses, though only three show a significant loss of population. Losses in Newmarket (17 per cent) and Petone (5 per cent) record the normal experience of a built-up central area where commercial buildings are replacing dwellings. Wellington City records the second recession in its history, a loss of 2 per cent; the first decrease of population (3 per cent) took place between 1945 and 1951 censuses. The main cause is the limited amount of building land available owing to the situation and terrain of the city. The population is moving into the Hutt Valley and the Tawa-Porirua-Titahi area and outside the centre of the city into the county portion of Wellington Urban Area.

Kawerau Borough records the greatest proportionate increase; it has expanded in five years from a district of 43 people in 1951 to a borough of 2,740, housing the employees in the pulp and paper mills. Other boroughs with a high rate of growth are Taupo (110 per cent), Howick (74 per cent), Papakura (64 per cent), Tawa Flat (63 per cent), Mount Wellington (63 per cent), and Glen Eden (59 per cent). Apart from Taupo, these areas are in effect suburbs of Auckland or Wellington.

Christchurch City, with a gain of 9,213, had the highest numerical increase of all cities and boroughs, and retained its place as the largest city in New Zealand. Auckland City, with an increase of 8,153, had the second highest numerical increase.

Town Districts.—As stated earlier, the population of independent town districts—i.e., those contained in section (a) of the following table—is not included with that of the county in which the town district is located, but the population of dependent town districts—section (b)—is included in that of the respective parent county.

Town DistrictPopulation (including Maoris)Approximate Area, in AcresTown DistrictPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres
(a) Town Districts Not Forming Parts of Counties
North Island—South Island—
  Kawakawa758280  Takaka739585
  Hikurangi1,007960  Leeston724391
  Kamo1,013852  Wyndham636680
  Onerahi1,476990  Lumsden5921,264
  Warkworth8831,420  Nightcaps650285
  Leamington1,1961,330  Otautau767954
  Bulls793677      Totals4,1084,159
  Totals11,94712,320      Grand totals16,05516,479

* Parent county shown in parentheses.

(b) Town Districts Forming Parts of Counties*
North Island—
  Kohukohu (Hokianga)2391,020
  Rawene (Hokianga)463280
  Russell (Bay of Islands)6171,066
  Mercer (Franklin)3261,000
  Te Kauwhata (Waikato)6771,290
  Ohaupo (Waipa)3231,281
  Kihikihi (Waipa)747523
  Te Karaka (Waikohu)392700
  Patutahi (Cook)2541,275
  Kaponga (Eltham)510558
  Normanby (Hawera)478260
South Island—
  Havelock (Marlborough)286210
  Southbridge (Ellesmere)447531
  Outram (Taieri)362886
  Edendale (Southland)561696
      Grand totals6,68211,576

Of all town districts, Murupara, built like Kawerau to serve the timber-milling industry, records the highest proportionate increase (286 per cent). Two other town districts with high rates of growth. Onerahi (78 per cent) and Kihikihi (66 per cent) serve as dormitory suburbs to adjacent boroughs of Whangarei and Te Awamutu respectively. Three town districts with high increase rates between 1945 and 1951, Tawa Flat, Glen Eden, and Howick, have since been constituted boroughs and these have continued to expand in the last intercensal period. Two town districts, Mangaweka and Leeston, have lost population between 1951 and 1956.

Extra-county Islands and Migratory Population.—In addition to the populations quoted for administrative counties, cities and boroughs, and independent town districts, the New Zealand totals include migratory population and persons located on islands not within the boundaries of any county. The two latter categories comprised a total of 7,355 people at the 1956 census.

Of the islands concerned, Waiheke, with a population of 2,105 at the 1956 census, was the only one of any size.

AGE DISTRIBUTION.—The following table shows the estimated age distribution of the population at 31 December 1955 and of the mean population for the year 1955. The figures are based on the 1951 census data and brought up to date from statistics of births, ages of persons dying, and ages of persons arriving in or departing from New Zealand.

Age, in YearsEstimated Numbers, Excluding MaorisEstimated Numbers, Maoris

NOTE.—The age stated is the age last birthday.

Age Distribution at 31 December 1955
Under 5119,022113,143232,16513,15812,39125,549
5 and under 10110,400106,000216,40010,51010,10020,610
10 and under 1586,00082,300168,3008,3708,06016,430
15 and under 2070,60068,400139,0007,7907,55015,340
20 and under 2564,50061,300125,8006,0105,95011,960
25 and under 3074,50068,100142,6004,9804,9909,970
30 and under 3574,70071,800146,5004,0203,9607,980
35 and under 4067,10068,400135,5003,0303,1706,200
40 and under 4567,80067,400135,2002,9602,8905,850
45 and under 5062,80060,700123,5002,4902,0604,550
50 and under 5554,40052,300106,7001,9001,6203,520
55 and under 6043,80045,70089,5001,3701,1002,470
60 and under 6535,50040,60076,1001,0107901,800
65 and under 7032,30036,60068,9007606301,390
70 and under 7526,80030,80057,600505440945
75 and under 8017,52020,57038,090240210450
80 and over12,05015,46027,510175180355
    Totals, adults (21 and over)621,190627,6901,248,88028,12026,71054,830
    Totals, minors (under 21)398,602381,883780,48541,15839,38180,539
    Grand totals, all ages1,019,7921,009,5732,029,36569,27866,091135,369
Age Distribution of Mean Population, Year 1955
Under 5117,211111,530228,74112,97212,19825,170
5 and under 10108,400104,100212,50010,2309,81020,040
10 and under 1584,70081,000165,7008,3808,06016,440
15 and under 2068,40066,200134,6007,6207,37014,990
20 and under 2564,70061,500126,2005,8705,85011,720
25 and under 3074,50068,200142,7004,9004,8909,790
30 and under 3573,70071,500145,2003,9303,8807,810
35 and under 4066,50068,000134,5002,9903,1306,120
40 and under 4567,50066,900134,4002,9702,8505,820
45 and under 5062,00059,800121,8002,4202,0004,420
50 and under 5553,70051,600105,3001,8801,6103,490
55 and under 6042,90045,20088,1001,3301,0702,400
60 and under 6535,50040,40075,9001,0007901,790
65 and under 7032,40036,60069,0007406301,370
70 and under 7526,70030,40057,100490420910
75 and under 8017,28020,14037,420235200435
80 and over11,79014,92026,710165195360
    Totals, adults (21 and over)616,760623,1401,239,90027,62026,25553,875
    Totals, minors (under 21)391,121374,850765,97140,50238,69879,200
    Grand totals, all ages1,007,881997,9902,005,87168,12264,953133,075

DENSITY OF POPULATION.—The relation of population to area, which is commonly referred to as “density of population,” is a subject of much interest and a source of serious misconceptions. Generally speaking, a dense population must depend upon land-utilization or industrialization. In New Zealand there is a great area of high mountainous country, particularly in the South Island, while there are also large areas of water or of broken, swampy, or hilly country which is either incapable of effective use or which can be used profitably only for pastoral purposes, afforestation, or the like. No exact figures for the whole country are available, but it is known that only a moderate fraction of the total area of New Zealand is potentially arable.

There are no large areas of good land still to be brought into occupation, and most of the land remaining will require special methods or heavier capital expenditure to bring into use. Ultimately many such areas will be developed, and, in addition, new and improved methods and facilities, such as aerial top-dressing, will no doubt increase production from the land, but it seems unlikely that exceptional development may be expected in the near future.

While industrial development has made very marked growth in New Zealand over the years, and extensive further development appears certain, there are factors unfavourable to the growth of industry to a point where dense populations could be supported—not the least of which are weakness in mineral resources, relative smallness of the home market (even with an expanded population), and distance from export markets.

Within New Zealand there are wide variations in density of population. The North Island, with an area of 44,294 square miles, had a population density of 33.80 persons per square mile at the 1956 census date, and the South Island, with an area of 59,442 square miles, had a population density of 11.38 persons per square mile at the same date.

The following table provides comparative density figures on a provincial district basis.

Provincial DistrictArea, in Square MilesPersons Per Square Mile
Hawke's Bay4,26012.4614.9418.0721.4124.02

MAORI POPULATION.—The first official general census of Maoris was taken in 1857–58, and others occurred in regular sequence from 1874 onwards. Owing to inherent difficulties the earlier census records make no pretence towards complete accuracy.

According to census records the Maori population suffered a period of almost unbroken decline from 1858 to 1896. The following causes no doubt contributed to this decline—internecine warfare of the tribes and the heavier casualties which resulted from the introduction of firearms; the susceptibility of the Maori to epidemic and other diseases introduced with the white race; and the mental outlook of the Maori under the new conditions.

During the last fifty years, however, the Maori population has increased continuously, at first steadily and of later years at a fairly rapid rate. In fact, the vitality exhibited by the Maori race in recent years is a most outstanding feature. The rate of natural increase of the Maori population is more than double that of the European.

A statement of Maori population is now given for each census from 1901 to 1956.

YearMaori PopulationIntercensal IncreaseIntercensal IncreaseAverage Annual Increase

* Includes members of Armed Forces overseas at census date.

 NumberPer CentPer Cent

The average annual percentage increase from 1951 to 1956 was 3.47, which is considerably higher than the corresponding figure for the European population—viz., 2.24 per cent. The natural increase ratios for the year 1955 shown below afford a better illustration.

Birth rate24.8643.64
Death rate8.959.56
Natural-increase rate15.9134.08

Of the 137,151 Maoris at the 1956 census, 131,894 were in the North Island. Auckland Provincial District contains the bulk of the Maoris, particularly in the Auckland Peninsula and Poverty Bay regions. In the South Island Maoris do not attain any numerical significance. Maoris have always been residents in rural communities and this is still substantially true. A marked change has, however, taken place during and since the war as a result of employment conditions. As late as the 1936 census only 8,249 Maoris (10.02 per cent) dwelt in cities, boroughs, or independent town districts. By the 1956 census the comparative figure was 33,424 (24.37 per cent). The largest concentration is in Auckland Urban Area, where 11,361 Maoris were enumerated.

The records of the 1945 and 1951 censuses permit of a statement of the total numbers wholly or partly of Maori blood. This information is not yet prepared for the 1956 census.

Counted in the Maori population—

Full Maori61,44076,918
  Three-quarter caste18,95615,201
  Maori-other Polynesian 374

Counted in the population other than Maori—

Maori-European quarter-caste16,90218,421
Maori-American Indian28 
Maori-West Indian1113

In 1951 there were recorded in New Zealand some 134,842 persons wholly or partly of Maori origin, compared with 116,394 in 1945.

STATISTICS OF THE 1951 CENSUS.—The tabulation and analysis of the population census taken for the night of 17 April 1951 is complete and all subject volumes (listed below) have been published.

  • Volume I—Increase and Location of Population.

  • Volume II—Ages and Marital Status.

  • Volume III—Religious Professions, etc.

  • Volume IV—Industries, Occupations, and Incomes.

  • Volume V—Birthplaces and Duration of Residence of Overseas-born.

  • Volume VI—Maori Census.

  • Volume VII—Dwellings and Households.

  • Volume VIII—General Report.

  • Appendix A—Census of Poultry.

  • Appendix B—New Zealand Life Tables, 1950–52, and Values of Annuities. Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings.

Certain statistics of the 1951 census will be found on pages 44–54 of the 1954 Year-Book.

STATISTICS OF THE 1956 CENSUS.—The only volume so far published for the 1956 census taken for the night of 17 April 1956 is the Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings. The others will be published as the results become available.



IT is desirable that a complete coverage of the vital statistics of a country as a whole should be available, and the statistical data presented in this subsection cover the entire population of New Zealand. Europeans and Maoris are dealt with separately in later subsections.

For many years the standard of registration of vital events for Maoris was subject to elements of inaccuracy and incompleteness due to several factors. However, with the introduction of the medical and related benefits under the social security legislation, which covers Maori and European alike, certain information was essential for the claiming of benefits, and a gradual improvement in recent years has been in evidence. Since 1 April 1952 all Maori marriages have been celebrated in the same manner and registration effected in the same way as European marriages. As regards births and deaths, however, separate registers for Maoris and Europeans are used, and in the case of Maoris the information required is not as detailed as that for Europeans. It is probable that the standard of registration of Maori vital events is now very little inferior to that of Europeans.

BIRTHS.—Registration of Maori births is somewhat less accurate (although improvement has been manifest in recent years) than those of the European population. In the table following. which shows the numbers and rates of European, Maori, and total births for each of the last eleven years, allowance should be made for the element of inaccuracy and incompleteness affecting a pro portion of the figures, particularly for the earlier years covered.

For instance, owing to the extensive time lag in the receipt by the Registrar-General of a considerable number of registrations, the statistics of Maori births relate to the number of registrations received during the year, whereas the European figures cover actual registrations effected during the year.

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

The abnormal increase in the number of Maori births shown for the year 1946 is mainly accounted for by the late registration of births which occurred prior to 1946 (see page 110).

The inclusion of Maoris raises the level of the birth rate all through the period covered, but in no case does it reverse the trend of the rate for New Zealand, exclusive of Maoris. In an international comparison for the quinquennium 1951–55 the inclusion of Maoris raises New Zealand's position from twelfth to tenth in a total of twenty-eight countries covered.

NATURAL INCREASE.—The birth and death rates of the population are not subject to violent fluctuation, and consequently the natural-increase rate—i.e., excess of births over deaths—shows, in the period covered by the next table, a steady rise to 1947, and then a regular decline each year until 1952, when a sharp increase was recorded. In 1953 a small decrease was again evident despite the fact that the numerical increase was greater than the previous year. Increases were recorded in 1954 and 1955 but there was a small decrease in 1956. The following table shows the numbers gained by natural increase, together with the rate per 1,000 of mean population, for the last eleven years.

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

In the ten years 1947–56 New Zealand has gained by natural increase of the population a total of 333,160, comprising 293,170 Europeans and 39,990 Maoris.

MARRIAGES.—The following table shows the numbers of European, Maori, and total marriages celebrated during each of the last eleven years.

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

* Not available, see next paragraph.


The fluctuations in the Maori marriage rate, and hence, to a lesser extent, in the total marriage rate, cannot be taken at their face value, as elements of Maori psychology played no small part on occasions in influencing the number of Maori marriages registered, as distinct from the number actually celebrated. Apart from these factors, the differences observed in the movements of the respective rates to 1951 are, of course, considerably affected by variations in the application of social and other legislation tc the Maori race and the European population respectively. As a result of legislative changes it is not possible to distinguish marriages of Maoris from those of Europeans after 1 April 1952.

DEATHS.—The effect of including Maoris is to increase slightly the total death rate for New Zealand, as is seen in the following table.

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Although the Maori death rate is consistently higher than the European rate, the continuous decline of the former has now brought it to a position of almost equality with the European rate. The net result now is that the inclusion of Maoris does not raise the general death rate much above the European rate. Countries with lower death rates (in 1955) than New Zealand included Israel, 5.8; Netherlands, 7.6; Canada, 8.1; Norway, 8.3; and Union of South Africa (European population only), 8.6.

Total Deaths by Causes.—Although the incidence of different diseases as causes of death varies considerably as between the Maori and European sections of New Zealand's population, the only important disease to show a marked influence on the general death rate by the inclusion of Maoris is tuberculosis. The average death rate for the total population from tuberculosis (all forms) for the four years 1952–55 was 167 per million of mean population, as against 120 for the European death rate. New Zealand has for many years had a comparatively low tuberculosis death rate for the European section of its population, but when Maoris are included the latest triennial international figures available (1947–49) show New Zealand to be sixth out of a total of thirty-one countries. With Maoris excluded, New Zealand's position would be second for the same period.

Total deaths for the years 1952 to 1955, according to the Abbreviated List of the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International Classification of Causes of Death, are contained in the following table. Comparative tables for the European and Maori population separately may be found by reference to Section 4D and Section 4E respectively.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per Million of Mean Population
Tuberculosis of respiratory system336262252256168128120120
Tuberculosis, other forms8595523743462517
Syphilis and its sequelae6669293133341414
Typhoid fever 552 221
Dysentery, all forms54363213
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat22211111
Meningococcal infections2127272410131311
Acute poliomyelitis57271292913 14
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic7686679638423245
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues2,9052,8892,9653,1711,4551,4101,4151,483
Benign and unspecified neoplasms4341433921202118
Diabetes mellitus22625319921611312495101
Vascular lesions affecting central nervous system2,2092,2922,3062,3251,1071,1191,1011,087
Non-meningococcal meningitis4056304220271420
Rheumatic fever223321111116105
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease256259234241128126112113
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease4,7984,9984,8654,8992,4044392,3232,291
Other diseases of the heart7045736827603532,280326355
Hypertension with heart-disease653579696663327283332310
Hypertension without mention of heart17015111312485745458
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum15016117117675798282
Intestinal obstruction and hernia11912114610260597048
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of the newborn15113714415176676971
Cirrhosis of liver3847547219232634
Nephritis and nephrosis2121932201781069410583
Hyperplasia of prostate14511812414473585967
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium4732343423161616
Congenital malformations295262308290148128147136
Birth injuries, post-natal asphyxia, and atelectasis339317261329170155125154
Infections of the newborn3948703119233314
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified356322321302178157153141
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined, and unknown causes203134189175102659082
All other diseases1,6401,5691,6701,792822766797838
Motor-vehicle accidents296318332364148155158170
All other accidents638639815653320312389305
Suicide and self-inflicted injury19819817718799978487
Homicide and operations of war21171823108811

TOTAL INFANT MORTALITY.—The establishing of the vital statistics of New Zealand on a total basis by the inclusion of Maoris has the greatest influence upon the infant-mortality rate. The infant-mortality rate of the European population of New Zealand was the lowest in the world for a long period, and recently has declined to a particularly low level. The Maori rate, on the other hand, always a high one, has not shown any noticeable improvement until recent years. It is also subject to violent fluctuations owing to the ravages of certain epidemic diseases, which have relatively very little effect on the European rate. The European, Maori, and total infant-mortality figures for the last twenty years are given in the next table.

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 Live Births

The inclusion of Maoris not only places the infant-mortality rate for New Zealand on a considerably higher level, but also replaces the general downward movement by a much more fluctuating trend.

It also has a considerable effect on the position occupied by New Zealand among the countries of the world. In the quinquennium 1951–55 New Zealand's infant-mortality rate (exclusive of Maoris), with an average of 21, was the second lowest of twenty-seven countries for which reliable figures were available, whereas the inclusion of the Maori population relegated it to sixth place, with Sweden clearly in the lead, and the Netherlands in second place.


(NOTE.—The term European, used in the context of this subsection, means the population exclusive of Maoris.)

REGISTRATION.—The law as to registration of European births is embodied in the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951, a consolidation of the then existing legislation. The provisions generally as to registration are that a birth may be registered within two months without fee. After two months and within six months a birth is registrable only after a statutory declaration of the particulars required to be registered has been made before the Registrar by the parent or some person present at birth, and on payment of the prescribed fee. A birth may be registered after six months only upon the direction of the Registrar-General, who may authorize registration in any case within two years after the date of birth. An information for neglect to register must be laid within two years of date of birth. In cases of neglect or refusal to give the Registrar information in respect of any birth the Registrar-General may at any time within two years after the birth of the child authorize some person to give the Registrar the information required to enable him to register the birth, and to sign as informant the entry in the register, upon which the Registrar shall register the birth.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, power is given by the Act for the Registrar-General to register an unregistered birth which occurred in New Zealand, irrespective of the time that may have elapsed. Satisfactory evidence on oath, and such other proof as the Registrar-General may deem necessary, are required. This provision does not, however, relieve any person from liability to prosecution for failure to register in the proper manner.

Although two months are allowed for the registration of a birth, it is compulsory to notify the birth to the Registrar within a much shorter interval. The occupier of any premises in which a child is born is to give notice to the Registrar according to the best of the knowledge and belief of the occupier of the fact of the birth, the date on which it occurred, the name and address of the mother or father of the child, and of such other particulars as the Registrar-General may require. Any such notice is to be in writing, signed by the occupier and endorsed by some other person, if any, in attendance at the confinement, and is to be delivered or posted to the Registrar within forty-eight hours after the birth if in a borough, or seven days in any other case. Births are to be registered by the Registrar whose office is nearest to the place of birth.

Particulars required to be registered are: date and place of birth; name and sex of child; names, ages, and birthplaces of parents; occupation of father; maiden name of mother; date and place of parents' marriage; and ages and sex of previous issue (distinguishing living and dead) of the marriage. The father of an ex-nuptial child is not required to give information, nor is his name entered in the register unless at the joint request of the mother and himself, or unless he subsequently marries the mother. A child born out of New Zealand but arriving before attaining the age of eighteen months may be registered within six months of arrival. The Registrar-General may authorize registration of such a child who is over eighteen months but under three years of age. Additional information required on notification of birth—but not registration—includes (a) weight of child at birth, and (b) period of gestation of mother. These particulars are required for statistical purposes.

Birth statistics are compiled from the records of the Registrar-General. The births covered by a year's statistics are those registered during the year irrespective of the year of birth. The figures do not include still-births, except in the tables on pages 71–72. A special classification of still-births is given on pages 77–78.

Registration of Maori Births.—Registration of the births of Maoris are effected with the Maori Registrars in the various districts set up for this purpose. Statistics relating to the births of Maoris will be found in Section 4E.

NUMBERS AND RATES.—The general long-term history of the birth rate in New Zealand has been downward. A reference to the diagram on page 70 and to the table on page 68, Showing quinquennial average birth rates, indicates this trend very clearly. After the pioneering days of the nineteenth century, when the population consisted very largely of young immigrants faced with the raising of a family, the birth rate began to decline appreciably. A further migration wave at the turn of the century reversed the trend temporarily, but in 1909 the downward movement was again resumed. With minor fluctuations in the earlier stages and in the years influenced by the First World War this decline continued until 1936. In that year a slight upward movement began, and by 1940 some of the deficit had been made up by the gradual rise. This was accelerated during the Second World War (with minor fluctuations) until successive record high totals (as regards the numbers of births) were established in 1945–47. In 1948 a decline in births was shown with a further recession in 1949. The decreases were not large, and in 1950–52 increases were again in evidence. A very small decrease was shown in 1953. Increases followed in 1954, 1955, and 1956, and in the last year the total exceeded 50,000 for the first time. The numbers and rates of births (children born alive) for each of the last twenty years are given in the following table.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Much of the movement in the birth rate during recent years has been allied to movement in the marriage rate. As may be expected, the movement in the birth rate reflects the tendency for couples to marry and have children in prosperous years rather than in years of depression.

Comparisons of birth rates over a series of years or between different countries are usually made on the basis of the “crude” rates—i.e., the number of births per 1,000 of the mean population, irrespective of sex or. age.

The “crude” rates do not permit of allowance being made for variations in the proportion of women of the child-bearing ages, and it is advisable and of interest to supplement the table of “crude” rates with a computation of the legitimate birth rate per 1,000 married women of 15 and under 45 years of age, or the total birth rate per 1,000 of all women of these ages. The following table gives both rates for New Zealand for each census from 1901 to 1951 together with the “crude” rate for the year.

YearBirth Rate Per 1,000 Women 15 and Under 45 Years“Crude” Birth Rate

* Per 1,000 married women.


The legitimate rate per 1,000 married women between the ages of 15 and 45 fell steadily at each census date from 1901 to 1936, the figure registered in the latter year being equal to a decline of 44 per cent. Considerable improvement was, however, effected in 1945, with a further improvement in 1951, but the latter rate shows a fall of 42 per cent on the 1901 figure. The rate on the basis of all women between the ages of 15 and 45 did not exhibit such a large fall, the 1936 figure being 35 per cent lower, but again substantial improvement was shown in 1945 and 1951, the latter rate being equivalent to an increase of 5 per cent. The proportion of married women in the child-bearing ages is now much higher than in former years; in fact the percentage in 1901 was 43.3 as compared with 64.8 in 1951.

The “crude” birth rates have fluctuated more so than the refined rates, but the decline in 50 years has not been great, the 1951 figure being equal to a fall of 7 per cent on the 1901 rates Figures for 1956 were not available at the time of writing.

A study of the figures for successive censuses reveals considerable changes in the age constitution of married women within the child-bearing ages. As the birth rate varies with age, the change in age constitution over the period is a factor which should be taken into account.

NATURAL INCREASE.—The long-term decline of the birth rate in New Zealand has been accompanied until recent years by a decrease in the death rate. Nevertheless, the nominal rate of natural increase of population has fallen from 29.32 per 1,000 of mean population in 1880 to 15.67 in 1956. Acceptance of this figure without consideration of the effect of the changing age constitution will give an erroneous view of the present margin of increase and of the probable trend of population growth in the future.

The average annual rate of natural increase for the quinquennium 1951–55 was 15.43, compared with an annual average rate of 16.06 for the period 1946–50.

YearNumbersRate Per 1,000 Mean Population
BirthsDeathsNatural IncreaseBirthsDeathsNatural Increase

The natural increase rate provides a useful guide to population increase and a further method is that of the net reproduction index, which is based on female children born and probably surviving. Details of gross and net reproduction rates for recent years will be found in Section 3 of this issue.

The movements that have taken place since 1880 are well illustrated in the accompanying diagram, which shows the rates at annual intervals.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.—An international comparison of birth and natural increase rates is made in the following table. New Zealand's position is higher on the basis of natural increase than it is on that of the birth rate. The rates, which are the average of the five years 1951–55, are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of Population
BirthsNatural Increase
Costa Rica52.140.8
Puerto Rico35.727.3
Union of South Africa25.717.0
United States of America24.715.2
New Zealand24.615.5
Republic of Ireland21.38.8
Germany (Western)15.75.1
United Kingdom15.74.0

SEXES OF CHILDREN BORN.—With the exception of one year (1860), there has always been a preponderance of males in the number of children born in New Zealand. The proportions are usually shown by stating the number of births of male children to every 1,000 female births. This number has been as high as 1,113 (in 1859), and as low as 991 (in 1860), but little significance can be attached to any figures prior to 1870, on account of the comparatively small number of births. It is a popular idea that the proportion of male births tends to increase considerably in war years, but the experience in this country does little to bear out this theory, the average over the six years 1940–45 being 1,057, as against that of 1,050 for the preceding ten years. Figures taken out some years ago prove that the masculinity rate for first births is distinctly higher than for subsequent births. The extreme range since 1870 has been from 1,016 male per 1,000 female births in 1878 to 1,081 in 1923. Rates for the last five years are given below.

YearNumber of Births ofMale Births Per 1,000 Female Births

MULTIPLE BIRTHS.—The number of cases of multiple births and the proportion per 1,000 of the total (living births only) during the last five years are shown in the following table.

YearTotal BirthsTotal CasesCases of TwinsCases of TripletsMultiple Cases Per 1,000 of Total Cases

* Includes one case where triplets would have been recorded had not one child been still-born.

† Includes one case of quadruplets.

‡ Includes three cases where triplets would have been recorded had not one child been still-born.


Counting only cases where both children were born alive, there were 605 cases of twin births registered in 1955. There were also five cases of triplets.

The total number of confinements resulting in living births was 49,254, and on the average one mother in every 81 gave birth to twins (or triplets).

When still-births are taken into account, the total number of confinements for the year 1955 is increased to 49,995, and the number of cases of multiple births to 664. On this basis the proportion of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets is increased to one in 74,

The incidence of multiple births has not varied greatly in recent years, as may be seen from the following summary.

YearCases of TwinsCases of TripletsTotal Multiple CasesRate Per 1,000 Confinements
Both Born AliveOne Born Alive, One Still-bornBoth Still-bornTotalAll Born AliveOne Born Alive, Two Still-bornTwo Born Alive One Still-bornAll Still-bornTotal

* Includes one case of quadruplets.

195150940105598 1 956812.7
19525694786243 1 462813.7
19535624386135* 1 661913.3
195460033136465 31965513.7
195560546765851  666413.3
  Average of five years5694296205 1 762713.3

The proportion of multiple births has been consistently high during recent years, while the rate of 14.2 experienced in 1944 was a record figure. The number of cases of live triplets recorded in 1951 was exceptional.

The likelihood of still-births occurring is much greater in cases of multiple births than in single cases. This is exemplified in the following table. The figures in respect of multiple cases include all cases where one or more of the children were still-born.

YearStill-birth Cases Per 100 of Total Cases (Including Still-births)
Single CasesMultiple Cases
    Average of five years1.678.41

During the five years 1951–55 there were 2,845 cases of live twin births (including ex-nuptial), and of these in 911 instances, or 32.0 per cent, both children were males; in 894, or 31.4 per cent, both were females; and in the remaining 1,040, or 366 per cent, the children were of opposite sexes.

The five cases of triplets in 1955 comprised one of three males, three of three females, and one of two males and one female.

AGES OF PARENTS.—Information as to the relative ages of parents of legitimate living children whose births were registered in 1955 is shown in the following tables.

Age of Mother, in YearsAge of Father, in Years
Under 2121 and Under 2525 and Under 3030 and Under 3535 and Under 4040 and Under 4545 and Under 5050 and Under 5555 and Under 6565 and OverTotal Cases

* Including 44 legitimate cases where twins would have been registered had not one child been still-born, and one case where two of triplets were still-born.

† Including 5 cases of triplets.

Single Births
Under 213561,6481,001152244311 3,190
21 and under 251173,1736,1181,619267762273 11,402
25 and under 30136176,9955,6121,579428983015415,391
30 and under 354551,0544,4463,0191,0703187436510,081
35 and under 40 61066151,9041,5095191435394,864
40 and under 45 26472415743651075361,401
45 and over  11593431164101
Multiple Births
Under 21 962      17
21 and under 25 3750252  1  115
25 and under 30 9837619412  194
30 and under 35 315714319512 159
35 and under 40  11829271031 89
40 and under 45   12431  11
45 and over           
    Totals 5815519395541983 585
    Grand totals4905,55915,43612,6857,1343,7241,3784011802847,015

PREVIOUS ISSUE OF PARENTS.—Information as to the previous issue of the existing marriage, required in connection with the registration of births in New Zealand is useful not only for record purposes, but also as providing valuable data for statistical purposes. Tables are given in the annual Report on Vital Statistics containing detailed information as to number of previous issue in conjunction with (1) age of mother and (2) duration of marriage. The table under the first heading for the year 1955 is here summarized.

Age of Mother, in YearsNumber of Previous IssueTotal Legitimate Cases
01234 6 and Under 1010 and Under 1515 and Over

* This number represents 46,430 single cases and 585 multiple cases.

Under 212,41566711312     3,207
21 and under 255,7673,7601,444420113121  11,517
25 and under 303,8285,2413,8331,7226192311101 15,585
30 and under 351,3822,1622,9621,9199834343908 10,240
35 and under 405667301,0851,0306823874264614,953
40 and under 451601632292332231472193621,412
45 and over1291414117268 101

In computing previous issue, multiple births have been given their full significance, the numbers at the head of the columns relating to children born alive. In the following table this procedure has been followed not only for the previous issue, but also for children covered by the 1955 registrations, who are also taken into account in the computation of the averages.

Age of Mother, in YearsTotal MothersTotal IssueAverage Issue
45 and over1015294.89

It should be stressed that the averages are no more than they purport to be—viz., the average number of children (including those registered in 1955) born up to the present time to those mothers of legitimate children whose births were registered during the year. They do not purport to represent, nor do they represent, the average issue of all women of the ages shown. Furthermore, they include issue born to the existing marriages only. The averages for recent years were as follows: 1951, 246; 1952, 2.49; 1953, 2.51; and 1954, 2.54. In 1915, the earliest year for which reliable comparative figures are available, the average issue was 3.11. This fall in the average issue of women giving birth to children is some indication of the tendency towards smaller families. The 1943 average, for the first time since these figures were compiled, reversed the trend, and a further increase was recorded in 1944, but with the increase in the proportion of first births in the three following years the average declined. A slight improvement has been noted for each year since 1948, this being accounted for by decreases in the proportion of first births.

OCCUPATIONS OF FATHERS AND AVERAGE NUMBER OF CHILDREN.—Page 70 of the 1956 Year-Book gives details of average issue with the occupations of fathers who had children born to them during the years 1953 with comparative figures for 1938.

FIRST BIRTHS.—Of a total of 264,651 confinements resulting in legitimate births during the six years 1950–1955, the issue of no fewer than 82,592, or 31 per cent, were first-born children. In 34,258, or 41 per cent, of these cases the birth occurred within twelve months, and in 60,521, or 73 per cent, within two years after the marriage of the parents. In the remaining 27 per cent of cases where there was any issue to the marriage two years or more had elapsed before the birth of the first child.

Statistics of first births over the last six years indicate that the proportion occurring within one year after marriage is gradually increasing, the rate rising from 39.76 per cent in 1950 to 43.57 in 1955. There has been little fluctuation during the same period in the proportion of first births occurring within two years after marriage. The steady decline in the marriage rate in recent years has been accompanied by a marked downward movement in the actual proportion of first births to total births.

YearTotal Legitimate CasesTotal Legitimate First CasesProportion of First Cases to Total CasesFirst Cases Within One Year After MarriageFirst Cases Within Two Years After Marriage
NumberProportion to Total First CasesNumberProportion to Total First Cases
 Per Cent Per Cent Per Cent
Totals for six years264,65182,59231.2134,25841.4860,52173.28

The period of time elapsing before the birth of the first child has varied considerably during recent years mainly as a result of war and post-war influences. The following table compares the 1955 figures with those for earlier years, and illustrates the movement in the duration-of-marriage factor in first births.

Duration of Marriage, in YearsProportion Per Cent of Total First Births
Under 1 year50.0646.2538.4742.6443.57
1 and under 2 years26.6426.7926.3030.5631.18
2 and under 3 years10.4310.2411.2811.5610.72
3 and under 4 years5.516.167.885.955.61
4 and under 5 years3.033.967.183.303.09
5 and under 10 years3.365.497.365.054.87
10 years and over0.971.111.530.940.96

For the years covered by the foregoing table the average duration of marriage before the birth of the first child was—1924, 1.76 years; 1934, 1.85 years; 1944, 2.22 years; 1954, 1.87 years; and 1955, 1.81 years.

An item of interest extracted from the birth statistics is a table of first births occurring to mothers in different age groups, expressed as a proportion per cent of the total first births. A comparison has also been computed on this basis for the years, 1924, 1934, 1944, 1954, and 1955.


Age of Mother, in YearsFirst Births, Proportion Per Cent at Each Age Group to Total First Births
Under 207.558.907.339.089.91
20 and under 2538.1640.3941.7947.7148.00
25 and under 3032.5932.7929.5427.7927.09
30 and under 3514.681,31014.6110.399.78
35 and under 405.333.795.363.924.01
40 and under 451.590.991.341.021.12
45 and over0.

The figures of average ages of mothers at the birth of their first child are as follows for the above years: 1924, 26.39; 1934, 25.90; 1944, 25.18; 1954, 25.32; and 1955, 25.20.

EX-NUPTIAL BIRTHS.—The numbers of ex-nuptial births registered during each of the years 1945–55, with the percentages they bear to total births registered, were as follows.

YearNumberPercentage of Total Births

The long-term trend in the rate of ex-nuptial births is indicated by the movement in the proportion of ex-nuptial births per 1,000 unmarried women—i.e., spinsters, widows, and divorced women—at the reproductive ages. The figures for each census year from 1911 to 1951 are as follows.

Census YearUnmarried Women 15 and Under 45 Years of AgeEx-nuptial BirthsEx-nuptial Birth Rate Per 1.000 Unmarried Women

Included in the total of 2,264 ex-nuptial births in 1955 were twenty-five cases of twins, the number of confinements being thus 2,239. From the following table it will be seen that of the 2,239 mothers 695, or 31 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age.

45 and over4

The Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act 1930 directed the omission of the word “illegitimate” from the register when the birth of an ex-nuptial child is registered. The word “illegitimate” appearing in any entry made prior to the passing of the Act is deemed to be expunged and deleted, and must also be omitted from any certified copy of an entry.

The Legitimation Act.—Important changes were made by the Legitimation Act of 1939, which repealed previous legislation on the subject. This Act stipulates that every ex-nuptial person whose parents have intermarried, whether before or after the passing of the Act, shall be deemed to have been legitimated from birth by reason of such marriage. The Act requires the parents or surviving parent of any person legitimated under the Act to register with the Registrar-General the particulars of the birth of that person, showing that person as the lawful issue of the parents. Application for registration was required to be made within six months after the date of the passing of the Act in cases where the marriage took place prior to that date. In cases where the marriage has taken place subsequent to the passing of the Act, application for registration must be made within three months after the date of the marriage.

Where the Registrar-General has reason to believe that any person has been legitimated under the terms of the Act, and no application for registration has been made within the prescribed time, he may require the responsible parents or parent to make an application within a specified period of not less than seven days after receiving notice to do so. Any failure to comply with the notice requiring application for registration within the time specified renders the person or persons responsible liable on summary conviction to a fine of £5. If no application for registration is made within the appropriate time specified in the Act or in the notice received from the Registrar-General, application for registration of the particulars of the birth of any legitimated person may be made by that person, or by one of his parents, or by any other person.

The number of legitimations of Europeans registered in each of the last five years, and the total since the Act of 1894 came into force, are shown in the following table.

YearNumber of Children Legitimated
Previously RegisteredNot Previously RegisteredTotal
1951394 394
1952415 415
1953449 449
1954463 463
1955463 463
    Totals from 1894 to 195514,1013,29417,395

ADOPTIONS.—The Adoption Act 1955 consolidated and amended the provisions regarding the adoption of children formerly contained in Part HI of the Infants Act 1908 and Part IX of the Maori Affairs Act 1953. The Births and Deaths Registration Act contains provision for the registration of adopted children. The Registrar of the Court by which any adoption order is made is required to furnish to the Registrar-General particulars of the order, including the full name and place of birth of the child, as well as the full names and addresses of both the natural and the adopting parents. An entry is made in the prescribed form in the register of births, particulars of the adopting parents being given in lieu of those of the natural parents. If the child's birth has previously been registered in New Zealand a note of the adoption order is made on the original entry. An amendment to the Infants Act in 1939 extended the age at which a child might be legally adopted from under fifteen years to under twenty-one years.

The adoption of a Maori child is required to be registered in the same manner as that of a European child.

The following table shows the number of adoptions (exclusive of Maori children) which have been registered during the last five years.


Of the 1,455 adoptions registered in 1955, 878 were children under the age of one year, 251 were between one and five years, 153 were between five and ten years, and 173 were aged ten years or over. In addition, 170 Maori children (92 males and 78 females) were adopted in 1955.

Statistics of adoptions registered have been available in New Zealand since 1919, and these indicate that the numbers are considerably influenced by the economic condition of the country, the lowest total, 329, being recorded in 1931. The highest total prior to 1940 occurred in 1921, when 584 adoptions were registered, this, no doubt, being the result of influences operating after the First World War.

STILL-BIRTHS.—The registration of still-births was made compulsory in New Zealand as from 1 March 1913. Although it is necessary to effect a birth-registration entry for a still-born child, no entry is made in the register of deaths. Section 15 of the Statutes Amendment Act 1946, amending the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1924, stipulated, however, that a medical practitioner or a midwife in attendance at a confinement where a still-birth occurs must furnish a certificate stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the cause of the still-birth. Particulars of causes of still-births will be found in Section 4D relating to deaths. A still-born child is defined as one “which has issued from its mother after the expiration of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy and which was not alive at the time of such issue.” Still-births are not included either as births or as deaths in the various numbers and rates shown in this subsection and in that relating to deaths. The rate of 1.57 per 100 total births in 1955 is the lowest rate recorded since the registration of still-births was made compulsory in 1913.

The registrations of European still-births during each of the years 1951–55 were as follows.

YearMalesFemalesTotalMale Stillbirths Per 1,000 Female Still-birthsPercentage of Still-births to—
Living BirthsAll Births

Masculinity is in general much higher among still-births than among living births, the rate for still-births in 1955 being 1,175 males per 1,000 females as compared with 1,060 for living births.

The percentage of ex-nuptials among still-born infants was in 1955, 5.33, and among infants born alive, 1.91.

Of the living legitimate births registered in 1955, 30 per cent were first births, while of legitimate still-births 39 per cent were first births. Statistics over many years indicate that there is a considerably greater probability of still-births occurring to mothers having their first confinement than to those having subsequent confinements. In addition to the 796 European still-births in 1955, there were 95 Maori still-births registered, comprising 56 males and 39 females.

FOETAL DEATHS.—Section 20 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951 stipulates that in the case of a foetal death where the child has issued from its mother after the twentieth week, and up to and including the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, a medical practitioner or a midwife who was in attendance at the confinement shall sign and supply a certificate stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the cause of the foetal death, and such other particulars as may be required by the Registrar-General. This requirement came into force as from 1 April 1952. A foetal death is not required to be registered as in the case of a still-born child.


MARRIAGE may be celebrated in New Zealand either by a person whose name is on the list of officiating ministers under the Marriage Act, or before a duly appointed Registrar or Deputy Registrar of Marriages. A licence must be obtained from a Registrar of Marriages before a marriage by an officiating minister can be celebrated. Marriage by an officiating minister may be celebrated at any time between 6 o'clock in the morning and 8 o'clock in the evening. Marriage before a Registrar can be celebrated at any time during the hours the office of the Registrar is open for the transaction of public business.

Notice of intended marriage must be given to a Registrar of Marriages by one of the parties to the proposed marriage. In the case of a person under twenty-one years of age, not being a widow or widower, the consent of parents or guardian is necessary. Consent of the Court may also be given in cases of refusal by any person whose consent is required.

The system of notice and licence has operated in New Zealand since 1855. Officiating ministers and Registrars are required to send to the Registrar-General returns of all marriages celebrated, and as the returns come in they are checked off with the entries in the Registrars' lists of notices received. In case of the non-arrival of a marriage return corresponding to any entry in the list of notices, inquiries are made with a view to obtaining the return if the marriage has been solemnized.

Marriage is forbidden between persons within certain degrees of relationship, any such marriage being declared void. The prohibition applies whether the relationship is by the whole blood or by the half-blood, and whether the relationship is nuptial or ex-nuptial. The present law on this matter is contained in the Marriage Act 1955.

Section 34 of this Act provides that proxy marriages may be authorized by a Magistrate in New Zealand of any person who is resident in New Zealand to any person who is outside New Zealand if the Magistrate is satisfied that the person who is outside the country is unable to come to New Zealand by reason of the existence of a state of war or armed conflict.

Any New Zealand citizen who intends to be married in a country other than New Zealand according to the law of that country, and who desires to obtain a certificate for the purpose of complying with the law of that country, may give notice to the Registrar-General who, upon receiving the notice, shall make such searches and inquiries and give such notices as may be prescribed under the Act. If no caveat is entered within fourteen days of the receipt by the Registrar-General, a certificate may be issued, after proper notices have been given that no lawful impediment to the marriage has been shown to the Registrar-General to exist.

Any New Zealand representative who has attended the marriage of a New Zealand citizen in a country other than New Zealand, and is satisfied that the marriage has been solemnized in accordance with the formalities of the law of that other country, may give a certificate and forward a duplicate copy to the Registrar-General, who shall bind the duplicate in a special register kept by him for the purpose.

Since 1933 the minimum age for marriage has been sixteen years of age. No marriage shall be deemed to have been unduly solemnized, however, by reason only of an infringement of the minimum age.

The Maori Purposes Act 1951 stipulates that after 1 April 1952 every marriage to which a Maori is a party shall be celebrated in the same manner, and its validity shall be determined by the same law, as if each of the parties was a European.

As a result of this legislative change, marriage statistics for the year 1952 are inclusive of Maoris and Maori marriage figures as a separate feature have lapsed. Figures quoted in this subsection for years prior to 1952 are all exclusive of Maoris.

Particulars regarding divorce will be found at the close of this subsection.

NUMBERS AND RATES.—The movement of the marriage rate over a lengthy period of time may be observed from the statistical summary appearing towards the end of this Year-Book. The numbers and rates of marriages during each of the last twenty years are here given.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Population

* Inclusive of Maoris.


Both the marriage rate and the number of marriages in 1946 were the highest on record. The main reason for this was the return from overseas of many thousands of men in the most prolific marriage age groups. An appreciable decline, however, in both the number of marriages and in the marriage rate took place in 1947 and 1948 and continued until 1951. Separate figures for European marriages are not available after 1951.

Comparison with Other Countries.—Marriage rates for certain countries for 1955 are given below (these particulars have been taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, issued by the Statistical Office of the United Nations).

CountryRate Per 1,000 Mean Population
United States of America9.3
New Zealand8.3
Puerto Rico8.3
United Kingdom8.0
Republic of Ireland5.5

MARITAL STATUS.—The total number of persons married during the year 1955 was 35,590 of whom 31,677 were single, 1,551 widowed, and 2,362 divorced. The figures for the five years 1951 to 1955, showing the sexes separately, are given in the table following.

YearSingleWidowedDivorcedTotal Persons Married

* Inclusive of Maoris.


The position is more easily seen by studying the percentages given in the next table.


* Inclusive of Maoris.


Reference to the divorce statistics at the end of this subsection will show that the number of divorces since and including the later war years has been at a high level, although there has been a steady decline since 1946. The number of decrees absolute in the period 1951–55 was 7,814, as compared with 4,907 in the five years 1936–40, an increase of 59 per cent. The large number of divorced people remarrying is therefore not surprising. The number of widowed persons remarrying, which was 39 per 1,000 in 1940, rose to 44 per 1,000 in 1955.

The relative marital status of bridegrooms and brides for each of the five years 1951 to 1955 is next given.

YearMarriages Between Bachelors andMarriages Between Widowers andMarriages Between Divorced Men and
SpinstersWidowsDivorced WomenSpinstersWidowsDivorced WomenSpinstersWidowsDivorced Women

* Inclusive of Maoris.


The relative proportions of divorced men and divorced women remarrying during the last three years has changed but little compared with ten years earlier. During the three years 1938–40 the number of male divorcees remarrying was 2,066, as compared with 2,169 females, which gives a rate of 95 males for every 100 females. In 1953–55 the respective numbers were 3,580 males and 3,699 females, and the corresponding rate 97 males for every 100 females. In the case of widowed persons remarrying, however, there has been a marked change in the figures. In the three-year period 1938–40, 2,420 widowers remarried but only 1,619 widows, whereas in 1953–55 there were 2,495 widowers and 2,259 widows who remarried, the number of widowers per 100 widows being 149 in the former period and 110 in the latter period.

AGES OF PERSONS MARRIED.—Of the 35,590 persons married in 1955, 6,134 or 17 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age; 13,174, or 37 per cent, were returned as twenty-one and under twenty-five; 8,344, or 23 per cent, as twenty-five and under thirty; 4,704, or 13 per cent, as thirty and under forty; and 3,234, or 10 per cent, as forty years of age or over. The following table relates to the year 1955.

Age of Bridegroom, in YearsAge of Bride, in YearsTotal Bridegrooms
Under 2121 and Under 2525 and Under 3030 and Under 3535 and Under 4040 and Under 4545 and Over
Under 217682151923  1,007
21 and under 252,8073,0684645713316,413
25 and under 301,3002,7191,263301631755,668
30 and under 3519857659439611850121,944
35 and under 40421221982222036029876
40 and under 451143941321279957563
45 and over118441001472237911,324
    Total brides5,1276,7612,6761,21067445289517,795

There have been some considerable changes in the proportions of persons marrying at the various age periods. To illustrate the extent to which these figures have varied a table is given showing since 1920 the proportions of men and women married at each age group to every 100 marriages.

PeriodUnder 2121 and Under 2525 and Under 3030 and Under 3535 and Under 4040 and Under 4545 and OverTotals

* Inclusive of Maoris.


A perusal of the above table reveals the fact that greater proportions of marriages are now being celebrated at the younger and, to a lesser extent, at the older age groups. This became very marked in the 1951–55 period, and was mainly due to the fact that the outbreak of war induced a number of earlier marriages which resulted in fewer unmarried people entering the middle age groups.

For many years the average age (arithmetic mean) at marriage for both males and females, more particularly the latter, showed a tendency to increase. However, in recent years there has been a tendency towards a slight fall. The figures for each of the years 1946–55 are as follows.

YearBridegrooms (Years)Brides (Years)

* Inclusive of Maoris.


The average ages of bachelors and spinsters at marriage are considerably lower than those shown in the preceding table, which covers all parties and is naturally affected by the inclusion of remarriages of widowed and divorced persons. The average ages of grooms and brides for each of the last five years according to marital status were as shown below. Years


* Inclusive of Maoris.


The foregoing figures give the average ages at marriage, but these do not correspond with the modal or popular age, if the age at which the most marriages are celebrated may be so termed. The modal age for brides (21) has remained unchanged for very many years, but in the case of bridegrooms the most popular age has varied, and for recent years it has been 23 or 24.

Marriages of Minors.—Of every 1,000 men married in 1955, 57 were under twenty-one years of age, while 288 in every 1,000 brides were under twenty-one.

In 768 marriages in 1955 both parties were given as under twenty-one years of age, in 4,353 marriages the bride was returned as a minor and the bridegroom as an adult, and in 233 marriages the bridegroom was a minor and the bride an adult.

The proportion of minors among persons marrying has been increasing over a fairly long period, and in the table below figures are given for the last five years. In the latest year (1955) two brides in every seven were under twenty-one years of age, the proportion for grooms being one in eighteen.

YearAge, in YearsTotals
1617181920NumberRate Per 100 Marriages

* Inclusive of Maoris.


MARRIAGES BY MINISTERS OF VARIOUS CHURCHES.—Of the 17,795 marriages registered in 1955, Church of England clergymen officiated at 4,560, Presbyterians at 4,676, Roman Catholics at 2,679 and Methodists at 1,437, while 3,246 marriages were celebrated before Registrars.

The following table shows the proportions of marriages by ministers of the largest churches and before Registrars in each of the years 1949–55.

ChurchPercentage of Marriages

* Inclusive of Maoris.

Church of England25.8025.9525.8325.4025.0426.2125.63
Roman Catholic12.1711.9312.6713.2314.5214.4015.05
Before Registrars18.9918.8419.5519.8418.8518.6418.24

The foregoing figures must not be taken as an exact indication of the religious professions of the parties married, as it does not necessarily follow that both (or even one) of the parties are adherents of the Church whose officiating minister performed the ceremony, and persons married before Registrars may belong, in greater or lesser proportion, to any or none of the churches. Of the total population (inclusive of Maoris) at the general census of 1951, 37.8 per cent were recorded as adherents of the Church of England, 24.3 percent Presbyterian, 13.6 percent Roman Catholic, 8.1 per cent Methodist, and 16.2 per cent of other religions or of no religion, or who objected to state their religious profession.

NUMBER OF OFFICIATING MINISTERS.—The number of names on the list of officiating ministers under the Marriage Act was (January 1956) 2,832, and the churches to which they belong are shown hereunder.

Roman Catholic Church622
Church of England514
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand460
Methodist Church of New Zealand338
Salvation Army161
Ratana Church of New Zealand155
Ringatu Church46
Seventh Day Adventist39
Latter Day Saints34
Associated Churches of Christ32
Congregational Independent30
Assemblies of God28
Commonwealth Covenant Church21
Jehovah's Witness19
Apostolic Church18
Liberal Catholic Church15
Evangelistic Church of Christ10
Churches of Christ10
United Maori Mission9
Spiritualist Church of New Zealand8
Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Conference8
Church of God7
Church of Te Kooti Rikirangi6
Hebrew Congregations4

The Ratana Church of New Zealand, the Ringatu Church, the United Maori Mission, and the Church of Te Kooti Rikirangi are Maori organizations.

DIVORCE AND NULLITY.—The first New Zealand enactment relating to divorce was passed in 1867, and a brief historical account of the development of the legislation on this subject is given in the 1931 issue of the Year-Book. The present law is contained in the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1928 and its amendments and a résumé of its principal provisions is now given.

Grounds for Divorce.—These are set out as follows:

  1. Adultery since the celebration of the marriage;

  2. Wilful and continuous desertion for three years or more;

  3. Habitual drunkenness for four years, coupled with (wife's petition) failure to support or habitual cruelty, or with (husband's petition) neglect of, or self-caused inability to discharge, domestic duties;

  4. Conviction for attempted murder of petitioner or of any child of petitioner or respondent or for an offence under section 197 of the Crimes Act 1908 against petitioner or any such child;

  5. Conviction for murder;

  6. Insanity and confinement as a lunatic for seven out of ten years preceding the petition;

  7. Insanity for seven years, and confinement for three years immediately preceding the petition;

  8. Insanity and confinement as a lunatic for the five years immediately preceding the petition;

  9. Failure for three years or more to comply with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights;

  10. Separation under an agreement, written or verbal, which has been in full force for not less than three years;

  11. Separation by decree of judicial separation or separation order (or their equivalent in any country), which has been in force for not less than three years;

  12. Parties living apart for not less than seven years and unlikely to be reconciled;

  13. Husband guilty of rape, sodomy, or bestiality since marriage.

In cases based on separation of the parties, whether by order or agreement or otherwise, the Court must dismiss the petition if the respondent opposes it and the Court is satisfied that the separation was due to the wrongful act or conduct of the petitioner. In these cases, and in cases where the ground is failure to comply with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights, the Court has in any event a discretion whether or not to grant a divorce. In practice, however, where the petition is not opposed the Court rarely exercises this discretion against a petitioner.

Jurisdiction.—The court has jurisdiction in divorce only in cases where the petitioner is domiciled in New Zealand. In petitions based on grounds (i) above the petitioner must have been domiciled in New Zealand for at least three years at the time when the petition is filed.

Under the common law a married woman takes her husband's domicile and is incapable of acquiring a separate domicile while the marriage subsists. As a result of a series of statutory amendments, however, a wife who is living in New Zealand apart from her husband has in effect the capacity to acquire a separate domicile for the purposes of the divorce and nullity law as if she were unmarried.

Overseas Divorces.—The common law relating to the recognition of overseas divorces was clarified and extended by an amendment in 1953. Under this new provision New Zealand Courts will recognize divorces granted in any country by Courts exercising jurisdiction there on the basis of the domicile of either party in that country, or of the residence in that country of the wife for at least two years.

Nullity.—The first New Zealand legislation on the subject of nullity was enacted in 1953. It replaces and extends the common law on this topic.

The Court has jurisdiction to make a decree of nullity of marriage if either of the parties is domiciled in New Zealand when the petition is filed or if the marriage was solemnized in New Zealand.

A petition for a nullity decree may be presented in the case of either a void or a voidable marriage. Void marriages are those which are of no effect whether or not a decree is obtained. Voidable marriages are those which are valid unless and until a decree is obtained.

The following are the cases in which a marriage is void by the law of New Zealand:

  1. Where at the time of the ceremony either party to the marriage was already married;

  2. Where, whether by reason of duress or mistake or insanity or otherwise, there was at the time of the marriage an absence of consent by either party to marriage to the other party;

  3. Where the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship as set out in the Marriage Act 1955;

  4. Where the marriage was not solemnized in due form.

A marriage is voidable in New Zealand on the following grounds:

  1. Incapacity or wilful refusal of the respondent to consummate the marriage;

  2. Mental deficiency of either party within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1911, although that party was capable of consenting to the marriage;

  3. Venereal disease (of the respondent) in a communicable form;

  4. Pregnancy of the respondent by some person other than the petitioner.

In cases (b), (c), and (d) the facts alleged must have existed at the time of the marriage and proceedings must be instituted within a year of the marriage. Furthermore the Court must be satisfied—

  1. That the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts;

  2. That marital intercourse with the petitioner's consent has not taken place since the discovery of the existence of the grounds for a decree.

With the exception of inability to consummate the marriage there was no ground on which a marriage was voidable before the passing of the 1953 amendment.

A decree of nullity in a voidable marriage puts an end to the marriage from the date of the decree only and not from the date of the marriage. The principal effect of this is to ensure the legitimacy of any children of the marriage.

War Legislation.—The Matrimonial Causes (War Marriages) Act 1947 made special provisions in respect of war marriages (i.e., marriages celebrated between 3 September 1939 and 1 June 1950) where one of the parties was domiciled outside New Zealand by—

  1. Extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to certain marriages irrespective of domicile;

  2. Recognizing decrees and orders in relation to such marriages made in the United States of America; and

  3. Shortening the period of desertion or separation as a ground for divorce in such cases from three years to twelve months.

By authority of the Act previous legislation on the subject embodied in the Matrimonial Causes (War Marriages) Emergency Regulations 1946 was revoked, accrued rights being protected.

Statistical Data.—Figures showing the operations of the Supreme Court in its divorce jurisdiction during recent years are as follows. About 50 per cent of the decrees granted in any year relate to petitions filed in prior years.

YearDissolution or Nullity of MarriageJudicial SeparationRestitution of Conjugal Rights
Petitions FiledDecrees NisiDecrees AbsolutePetitions FiledDecrees for SeparationPetitions FiledDecrees for Restitution

The later years of the war and the immediate post-war years witnessed a marked increase in divorce. After the peak year of 1946, when 2,133 decrees absolute were granted, the following two years, 1947 and 1948, saw a falling off in numbers, that of the latter year being much larger than the former. A small increase was shown in 1949, after which a substantial decrease was recorded in 1950, with a smaller one in 1951. In 1952, however, an increase of 102, or 64 per cent, was shown, but this was more than offset by a decrease in 1951 of 144, or 8.6 per cent.

For 1954 a drop of only four was recorded, but in 1955 the decrease was rather larger at 64, or 4.2 per cent, below the previous year.

The passing in November 1953 of the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act was expected to have some effect on future divorce statistics, more particularly as regards petitions and decrees for restitution of conjugal rights. While no great change can be seen yet in the number of decrees absolute granted, the expected change has materialized in the number of petitions and decrees for restitution of conjugal rights. This can be seen in the table above.

It is worth noting that there was one divorce for every eleven marriages solemnized in 1953 and 1954, while the ratio in 1955 was one divorce to every twelve marriages.

The next table gives the grounds (dissolution or nullity cases) of petitions and decrees during 1954 and 1955.

GroundsPetitions FiledDecrees Absolute Granted
Husbands' PetitionsWives' PetitionsHusbands' PetitionsWives' Petitions
Bigamy21221 21
Drunkenness with cruelty, failure to maintain, etc.3 106 132
Insanity101545 1253
Sodomy  1   11
Non-compliance with order for restitution of conjugal rights48713 109233112
Separation for not less than three years416390505536314291442480
Nullity  2 21  
Living apart for not less than seven years9765483927492635
Murder 11  11 
Presumption of death     1  
Bestiality   1   1

The figures shown for decrees absolute cover all such granted during the year, whether the antecedent decree nisi was granted in the same or in a previous year. It should be mentioned here that the number of decrees absolute granted can, and often do, number more than the petitions filed. The reason for this is that all decrees granted are not necessarily from petitions filed in a particular year. The petition may have been filed in one year but the case not heard until the succeeding year.

Mention should be made here of the fact that over a period of five years, 1951–55 inclusive, the average percentage of decrees absolute granted on wives' petitions was greater than those granted to husbands. The figures are—wives 86.1 per cent, husbands 79.9 per cent.

The principal grounds on which decrees absolute were granted during 1955 showed the following increases compared with 1938, a normal pre-war year: adultery 174 (110.8 per cent); desertion 20 (9.8 per cent); and separation 199 (34.8 per cent). Decrees for non-compliance with restitution order show a decrease of 61, or 63.5 per cent.

In 446 of the 1,472 cases where decrees absolute were granted during 1955 there was no living issue of the marriage. The number of living issue was 1 in 389 cases, 2 in 315 cases, 3 in 162 cases, and 4 or more in 160 cases.

The table which follows shows the duration of marriage in all cases for which decrees absolute were granted in the five years 1951 to 1955.

Duration of Marriage, in YearsHusbands' Decrees Absolute GrantedWives' Decrees Absolute Granted
Under 516515612687651401101116269
5 and under 10222259231221204228242255286234
10 and under 15171177173184155161206178161163
15 and under 208090109116123114115101116138
20 and under 30.10912491112110118113102112112
30 and over40533543493239283650
Not stated2         

The number of living issue affected by the decrees absolute of their parents during each of the last five years was as follows: 1951, 2,178; 1952, 2,497; 1953, 2,348; 1954, 2,300; and 1955, 2,294.


(NOTE.—The term European used in the context of this subsection means the population exclusive of Maoris.)

REGISTRATION.—The law as to registration of deaths is now embodied in the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951, a consolidation of the then existing legislation. Particulars required in the registration of a death include date, place of residence and domicile, name, occupation, sex, age, cause of death, birthplace, duration of residence in New Zealand, whether cremated or not, marital status, living issue of married persons, race (European or Maori), medical attendant by whom certified, particulars as to burial, and, in the case of married males, age of widow.

Every death occurring in New Zealand is required to be registered within three days after the day of the burial. There is a penalty up to £10 for neglect, the funeral director in charge of the burial being solely responsible for registration. When an inquest is held the Coroner becomes responsible for registration, the time allowed being three days after the conclusion of the inquest. The Coroner may, in writing, authorize an agent to attend to registration on his behalf. Registrations must not be effected before the conclusion of the inquest.

Where the Coroner decides not to hold an inquest the funeral director is responsible for registration of the death.

The law does not impose any limit of time after which a death may not be registered as it does in the case of a birth. Although it is necessary to effect a birth-registration entry in the case of a still-born child, no entry is made in the register of deaths. The principal Act stipulates, however, that a medical practitioner or a midwife in attendance at a confinement where a still-birth occurs must furnish a certificate stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the cause of the stillbirth.

New provisions in the 1951 Act include prohibition of burial at sea of a person dying in New Zealand except upon the authority of a Coroner, and provide for the registration of the death of a person whose body is removed for anatomical examination under Part II of the Medical Act 1908, or is removed for burial outside New Zealand.

Any person burying, or permitting or taking part in the burial of the body of any deceased person without a certificate of cause of death signed by a duly registered medical practitioner, or a Coroner's order to bury the body, renders himself liable to a fine of £50.

From 1 April 1952 (reverting to the system followed prior to 1937) it is incumbent upon a medical practitioner to give the certificate of cause of death to the person required to supply information for the purpose of registering the death (the funeral director in charge of the burial). During the intervening period the medical practitioner was required to deliver the certificate direct to the Registrar. The practitioner is required to report forthwith to the Coroner any case where, in his opinion, the death has occurred in any circumstances of suspicion.

The Act provides for the correction of errors (clerical, of fact, of substance, or of omission) in the register in the manner authorized by the Registrar-General.

The Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act 1955 provides that—where the death of any person occurs outside New Zealand and the death took place on board a New Zealand ship within the meaning of the Shipping and Seaman Act 1952; or on board an aircraft registered in New Zealand pursuant to the Civil Aviation Act 1948 or as the result of any occurrence on board any such aircraft during its operation—the Registrar-General may authorize any Registrar to register the death in accordance with the provisions of the Act relating to the registration of deaths taking place in New Zealand.

Deaths of Members of the Forces While Overseas.—The Registration of Deaths Emergency Regulations 1941, which superseded 1940 regulations of similar title, required the Registrar-General to compile a War Deaths Register of persons of New Zealand domicile who died while out of New Zealand on service in some capacity in connection with the Second World War. Members of the New Zealand Naval Forces were excluded from the regulations, special provision having previously been made in their case. These regulations were revoked by the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act 1947, which made statutory provision in this connection. The amendment required the Registrar-General to compile a register of all persons who have died while out of New Zealand on service with any of the Armed Forces of Her Majesty and who at the time of their deaths were domiciled in New Zealand. Deaths registered in the War Deaths Register were not taken into account in arriving at the number and rate of deaths in New Zealand, nor were deaths of visiting overseas servicemen or prisoners of war in New Zealand. Deaths of New Zealand servicemen which occurred in New Zealand were, however, included. The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951 requires the Registrar-General to compile a register containing particulars of all persons who have died while out of New Zealand on service with any Commonwealth force within the meaning of the Army Act 1950 and who at the time of their deaths were domiciled in New Zealand.

Registration of Maori Deaths.—Registration of the deaths of Maoris are effected with the Maori Registrars in the various districts set up for this purpose. Statistics relating to the deaths of Maoris are not included in this subsection, but are fully covered in Section 4E.

NUMBERS AND RATES.—The following table shows the number of deaths and the death rate per 1,000 of the mean population during each of the last twenty years.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean PopulationYearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

New Zealand has been noted for many years for its favourable death rate. The fact that the death rate is still comparatively very low, despite the older age constitution of the population, is probably due, inter alia, to improvements in medical techniques, expansion of health services, etc. This progress has been reflected, for example, in a relatively low incidence of serious outbreaks of the more important epidemic diseases (which were much more prevalent in the early years of colonization) and in a remarkably low infant-mortality rate.

The general trend of the death rate in New Zealand was for many years downwards, reaching its lowest level during the depression years of the early “thirties”. Since then an upward trend was in evidence for some years, the figures recorded during the war years being the highest for a long time. It is possible that the absence overseas of considerable numbers of men of early adult age, at which mortality experience is the most favourable, would have some effect on the rates established. The strains of wartime would also have some effect on deaths in the older age groups; in fact, the high rate of 1942 disclosed a sharp rise in deaths resulting from diseases of the heart and nervous system. For four years following 1945 a downward trend was again in evidence and, although small increases were recorded in 1950 and 1951, the 1952 and 1953 rates again showed decreases; the figure of 8.84 for 1953 being the lowest recorded rate since 1936 (8.75). A contributing factor to the slight rise in the rate recorded in 1954 was the registration during the year of the deaths of the victims of the Tangiwai railway disaster.

The death rates of males and females for the last eleven years are shown separately in the next table.

YearDeaths Per 1,000 of Mean PopulationMale Deaths to Every 100 Female DeathsMale Rate Expressed as Index Number of Female Rate (= 100)

COMPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.—An international comparison of death rates is made in the following table. They are the average of the five years 1951–55 and are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of Population

* European population only.

Puerto Rico8.4
Union of South Africa*8.7
New Zealand91
United States of America9.5
Germany (Western)10.6
Costa Rica11.2
United Kingdom11.7
Republic of Ireland12.5

DISTRIBUTION OF DEATHS OVER THE YEAR.—An examination of the total number of deaths registered in each quarter of the period 1945–55 gives the following averages: March quarter, 3,602; June quarter, 4,081; September quarter, 4,901; and December quarter, 4,156.

A classification according to month of death shows that in 1955 the months during which the greatest number of deaths occurred were July, August, and June, with totals of 1,858, 1,818, and 1,639 respectively. Excluding December, a proportion of deaths occurring in that month not being registered till January, February had the least number of deaths, 1,155, followed by April and January, with 1,296 and 1,341 respectively.

The lowest number of deaths on any one day, again excluding December, was 24, this number occurring on 27 February. The greatest number (82) occurred on 20 July.

AGE AT DEATH.—The deaths registered during the year 1955 are tabulated below according to age.

Under 1 month422283705
1–2 months554297
3–5 months6239101
6–11 months603999
1 year544498
2 years272754
3 years201939
4 years151530
5–9 years563692
10–14 years453075
15–19 years8835123
20–24 years10742149
25–29 years9439133
30–34 years10860168
35–39 years14695241
40–44 years186142328
45–49 years309219528
50–54 years474326800
55–59 years6473731,020
60–64 years8175661,383
65–69 years1,2058932,098
70–74 years1,5341,1582,692
75–79 years1,5621,4032,965
80–84 years1,0641,1052,169
85–89 years5676891,256
90–94 years166242408
95–99 years385492
100 years325
101 years134
106 years1 1

The following table indicates the changes that have occurred since 1930 in the age distribution of persons dying. The movement in the proportions of deaths occurring at the different age groups is very striking. The results of three main factors are illustrated—viz., health measures, which have achieved an immense saving of young life; the fluctuations in the birth rate over the period; and the great increase in the proportion of old people in the community.

Age, in YearsNumber of DeathsPercentage of Total
Under 19249901,0081,0027.576.936.035.58
1 and under 53272051992212.681.441.191.23
5 and under 101679887921.370.690.520.51
10 and under 1510510864750.860.760.380.42
15 and under 202221511201231.821.060.720.68
20 and under 253152471581492.581.730.950.83
25 and under 303372701421332.761.890.850.74
30 and under 353372901911682.762.031.140.94
35 and under 403743202752413.072.241.651.34
40 and under 454783623283283.922.531.961.83
45 and under 506404725225285.253.303.122.94
50 and under 557947986978006.515.594.174.46
55 and under 608811,1451,0211,0207.
60 and under 651,0031,4611,5031,3838.2210.238.997.70
65 and under 701,0771,6972,1702,0988.8311.8812.9811.69
70 and under 751,1711,7722,5362,6929.6012.4115.1714.99
75 and under 801,2421,5562,3162,96510.1810.8913.8616.52
80 and over1,8052,3403,3783,93514.8016.3820.2121.92

During the earlier period covered by the next table the fall in the death rate was common to all ages and to both sexes. In more recent years, however, there have been some fluctuations in the rates for the higher age groups, but the 1955 figures again reflect a declining tendency. Of special significance are the low rates recorded in the childhood and early adult life age groups in recent years, and the high percentage reduction effected during the entire period. The female rate for the various age groups is almost invariably lower than the male rate. The increase in the death rate (per 1,000 of population) at successive age groups is well exemplified.

YearUnder 1*1 and Under 55 and Under 1515 and Under 2525 and Under 3535 and Under 4545 and Under 5555 and Under 6565 and Under 7575 and Over

* Per 1,000 live births in this case.

Both Sexes

The average (arithmetic mean) age at death of persons of either sex at ten-yearly intervals since 1901 and during each of the last five years was as follows.



There has been a striking upward movement in the average age at death since 1901. A noticeable feature is that in the earlier years the age for females was considerably lower than that for males, the margin gradually narrowing until virtual equality was reached in 1927–28, since when the female average age at death has been higher than the male.

EXPECTATION OF LIFE.—Life tables for the European section of the population based on the mortality experience of New Zealand, ranging from 1880 to 1938, have been published at various times in previous issues of the Year-Book. The latest investigation was based on the 1951 census combined with the deaths for the three years 1950–52, and the (complete) expectation of life at various ages is given below.


The expectation of life at age 0 has risen by 13.00 years in the case of males and by 14.34 years in the case of females over the period since the first New Zealand life table of 1891–95. The effect of the lowered infant-mortality rate and the efficacy of the health services generally is clearly demonstrated, however, by the fact that at age 5 the expectation of life of males has increased by only 7.10 years and females by 9.20 years over the same period.

A brief comparison is quoted below:



The above tables are exclusive of Maoris. A table showing the expectation of life of the Maori population is given in Section 4E.

A comparison of the expectation of life at age 0 for various countries is now given. In selecting comparable tables from the experience of other countries due regard was had to securing the most recent figures available. The countries selected are for the most part those of similar racial stock.


* Exclusive of Maoris.

† White population.

New Zealand (1950–52)*68.2972.43
Australia (1946–48)66.0770.63
Union of South Africa (1945–47)63.7868.31
England and Wales (1953)67.3072.44
United States of America (1954)67.473.6
Norway (1946–50)69.2572.65
Netherlands (1950–52)70.672.9
Denmark (1946–50)67.870.1
Sweden (1946–50)69.0471.58
Finland (1946–50)58.5965.87
France (1950–51)63.669.3
Switzerland (1939–44)62.6866.96
Canada (1950–52)66.3370.83

INFANT MORTALITY.—Over a long period of years New Zealand has been renowned for its low rate of infant mortality, a fact attributable partly to such matters as climate, virility of the race, comparative absence of densely settled areas, etc., and partly to legislative and educative measures—the latter conducted by the State as well as by various organizations (one of the most important of these is the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children which was founded in 1907).

Particulars of deaths of infants under one year of age for each of the years 1946–56 are shown in the following table.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 Live Births

In the following table New Zealand's infant-mortality rate is shown in comparison with that of other countries. The figures are taken from the United Nations Monthly Bulletin of Statistics. It is interesting to observe that the distinction of having the lowest infant-mortality rate in the world now belongs to Sweden, which achieved the phenomenally low ratio of 17 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1955, as compared with New Zealand's 20 for the same year. In the case of the Union of South Africa and New Zealand the European population only has been taken into account

CountryQuinquenniumDeaths Under 1 Year Per 1,000 Live Births
New Zealand1951–5521
United States of America1951–5527
United Kingdom1951–5528
China (Taiwan)1951–5533
Union of South Africa1951–5534
Republic of Ireland1951–5540
West Germany1951–5546
East Germany1951–5555

The male rate of infant mortality is considerably above the female rate, the average for New Zealand over the five-year period 1951–55 being 23.7 male deaths per 1,000, male births and 18.1 female deaths per 1,000 female births.

The rates per 1,000 births for the two sexes combined at different ages during the first year of life are now given for each of the last eleven years.


YearUnder One DayOne Day and Under Two DaysTwo Days and Under One WeekTotal Under One WeekOne Week and Under Two WeeksTwo Weeks and Under Three WeeksThree Weeks and Under One MonthTotal Under One MonthOne Month and Under Twelve MonthsTotal Under One Year

Infants who die in the first year of life may be grouped roughly into two main classes—viz., those dying within one month of birth and those surviving the first month of life but dying before the first anniversary of their birth. Deaths amongst the first class, called neo-natal deaths, are due principally to pre-natal and natal influences. The second group covers those infants who have succumbed in the main to causes arising from post-natal influences such as the various epidemic diseases, diseases of the respiratory system, faulty feeding, and other environmental factors.

The next table shows that, whereas in the quinquennium 1951–55 the death rate for children under one month of age was 50 per cent lower than in the quinquennium 1881–85, the rate for children who had survived the first month of life was only approximately one-tenth as high as in the “eighties.” In other words, whereas formerly over sixty children out of every 1,000 who survived the first month of life died before reaching one year of age, now only six such deaths occur. While the decline in the under-one-month group has been progressive for some years, it was among infants who had survived the first month of life that the most marked reductions were achieved. In the “thirties,” however, the reduction of this rate was arrested, and in the quinquennium 1941–45 an increase was recorded for the first time. For some years it had been considered that any further substantial decrease in the total infant-mortality rate would have to be achieved in the under-one-month group. The figures for 1951–55, however, indicate that whereas this group recorded a decrease of 26 per cent from 1941–45, the one-month-and-over group declined by 36 per cent.

PeriodDeaths Per 1,000 Births
Under 1 YearUnder 1 MonthBetween 1 and 12 Months

The accompanying diagram further illustrates the reduction in the infant-mortality rate that has taken place over a long period.

Causes of Infant Mortality.—The principal causes of infant mortality over the last ten years, showing both numbers and rates per 1,000 live births, are shown in the following table. The classification is according to the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International List.

Causes of DeathNumber of Deaths
Tuberculosis, all forms5635 142 2
Congenital syphilis2 14  1  1
Enteric fever and other salmonella infections    3    2
Dysentery, all forms1  1     1
Diphtheria105  2     
Meningococcal infections924 2510779
Tetanus4  1 1   1
Poliomyelitis      21 2
Measles11 31 222 
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life72807485539679737779
Pneumonia of the newborn27253126223022242821
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life29212117152610121610
Diarrhoea of the newborn65233 1513
Congenital malformations181190159163198151205163208196
Birth injury130154167158142146118127110144
Asphyxia and atelectasis93100102111128164174152110137
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)34373530503834374040
Immaturity unqualified311276193238225191191162198162
Other and undefined causes142162130137122131129136152164
Causes of DeathRates Per 1,000 Live Births

* Less than 0.1.

Tuberculosis, all forms0. *0.1* *
Congenital syphilis0.1 *0.1  *  *
Enteric fever and other salmonella infections    0.1    *
Dysentery, all forms*  *     *
Diphtheria0.20.1  0.1     
Whooping-cough* *
Meningococcal infections0.2*0.1
Tetanus0.1  * *   *
Poliomyelitis      0.1  *
Measles** 0.1* 0.1** 
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life1.
Pneumonia of the newborn060.
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life0.
Diarrhoea of the newborn0. *0.1*0.1
Congenital malformations4.
Birth injury3.
Asphyxia and atelectasis2.
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)
Immaturity unqualified7.
Other and undefined causes3.

Some remarkable changes are disclosed by the next table, which gives the infant-mortality rates for various groups of causes in quinquennial periods commencing with the years 1872–76 and for 1955. It would appear that diseases which can be combated openly, such as epidemic diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases due to faulty nourishment, etc. (i.e., diseases of the digestive system), have shown a definite response to the strenuous campaigns launched against them. If a comparison be made between the averages of the first and last five-yearly periods given —i.e., 1872–76 and 1947–51—it is found that the general infant-mortality rate shows a decline of 74 per cent, while even greater decreases are recorded for tuberculosis (98 per cent), convulsions (99 per cent), gastric and intestinal diseases (95 per cent), epidemic diseases (92 per cent), and respiratory diseases (78 per cent). The rate for epidemic diseases still continues to decline, and it is interesting to note that over 40 per cent of the total under this heading in the years 1947–51 were due to whooping-cough, while an additional 27 per cent were assigned to influenza. During the five-year period 1949–53 there were only two deaths of infants from diphtheria and three deaths due to scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat.

The increase shown for malformations and the decrease for tuberculosis are probably somewhat less than is indicated by the figures. In the earlier years covered by the table the latter heading included all deaths from hydrocephalus, many of which were no doubt due to congenital hydrocephalus, which is now included among the malformations. A proportion of the deaths from hydrocephalus in the earlier years would also probably be due to meningitis. The following table shows quinquennial average death rates of infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births. To enable the comparison with past years to be maintained, the infant deaths for 1950 onwards have been re-assembled to conform to the former classifications for the purposes of this table—i.e., influenza deaths have been included under epidemic diseases, while both pneumonia and diarrhoea of the newborn have been included under respiratory and gastric and intestinal diseases respectively, and not as diseases of early infancy.

PeriodEpidemic DiseasesTuberculosisInfantile ConvulsionsRespiratory DiseasesGastric and Intestinal DiseasesMalformationsEarly InfancyOther CausesTotal

* Less than 0.1.


It is convenient to consider still-births and neo-natal deaths together, as they are largely the result of common causes. The combined group may be termed perinatal mortality. The term is particularly appropriate when we consider how deaths in the newborn crowd closely towards the day of birth. This effect is clearly shown in the table on page 100. Still-births and neo-natal deaths are considered together in the next table and are computed as rates per 1,000 total births.

YearStill-birthsNeo-natal DeathsNeo-natal Deaths Plus Still-births

Recent years have shown a definite trend towards improvement in the combined rate.

CAUSES OF STILL-BIRTH.—A still-born child is defined in New Zealand as one “which has issued from its mother after the expiration of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy and which was not alive at the time of such issue.”

The registration of still-births has been effected in New Zealand since 1913, but no information regarding the causes of still-births was required for registration purposes until 1947. As from 1 July 1952 a certificate of the cause of death in cases of intermediate foetal deaths—i.e., deaths after the end of the twentieth but before the end of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy—was also required to be furnished. There were 91 such cases recorded during 1954. The certificates of causes of still-birth and foetal death provide for both maternal and foetal causes to be entered.

The following table shows the 872 still-births registered during 1954 classified (a) according to maternal causes and (b) according to foetal causes.

Causes of Still-birthNumber of Cases
(a) Maternal Causes
Chronic disease in mother161228
Acute disease in mother61016
Diseases and conditions of pregnancy and childbirth10292194
Difficulties in labour6756123
Other causes in mother415
(b) Foetal Causes
Placental and cord conditions11874192
Birth injury18321
Congenital malformation of foetus4259101
Diseases of foetus and ill-defined causes10587192
      Totals, a causes478394872

PERINATAL MORTALITY AND PREMATURITY.—Approximately three out of every four infants who die in the first year of life do so in the first month, and of those dying in the first month 45 per cent die in the first day of life and 83 per cent in the first week.

A principal factor in the loss of this new life is prematurity. This is seen in the following table, where causes of neo-natal deaths for 1955 are set out in accordance with the International List of 1948.

Causes of DeathUnder One DayOne Day and Under One WeekOne Week and Under Two WeeksTwo Weeks and Under Three WeeksThree Weeks and Under One MonthTotal Under One Month
Congenital malformations392822916114
Injury at birth37395  81
Injury at birth with prematurity33271  61
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis242821 55
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis, with prematurity43335  81
Pneumonia of newborn3323112
Pneumonia of newborn, with prematurity2132210
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia911  11
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia, with prematurity9111  21
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)9111  21
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis), with prematurity873  18
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn35   8
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn, with prematurity11   2
Diarrhoea of newborn1  113
Diarrhoea of newborn with prematurity      
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy 21  3
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy, with prematurity 32  5
Immaturity with mention of any other subsidiary condition   1 1
Immaturity, unqualified93608  161
Pemphigus neonatorum1    1
Umbilical sepsis  1  1
Other sepsis of newborn   1 1
Other sepsis of newborn, with prematurity      
External causes11 125
Other causes4777429

A total of 162, or 23 per cent, of all neo-natal deaths are directly attributed to prematurity (immaturity) and a further 198 deaths are given as associated with it. The principal conditions of early infancy with which prematurity was associated were (i) asphyxia in 81 cases (11.5 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), (ii) birth injury in 61 cases (8.7 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), and (iii) all other causes peculiar to early infancy in 56 cases (7.9 per cent of all neo-natal deaths).

In the case of still-births, out of 872 in 1954 there were 488 cases, or 56 per cent, where gestation fell short of full term.

It is not possible to assess what the reduction in perinatal mortality would be if every pregnancy were to go to full term, but there is no doubt that it would be considerable.

As a first step in the campaign to reduce this grave loss of new life, details of the birth weight and gestation period of all infants born alive or dead after 1 July 1952 were required to be furnished to the Registrars of Births and Deaths. These will provide essential basic data for further studies on prematurity. It will give a measure of the extent of the problem in different localities according to the age and parity of the mother and the occupation of the father, and it will enable cohorts of infants to be followed through their first year of life so that their mortality and morbidity experience may be shown according to their degree of maturity at birth.

CAUSES OF DEATH.—Since 1908 the classification of causes of death in New Zealand has been on the basis of the international classification initiated by Dr. Jacques Bertillon. Almost all countries are member States of the World Health Assembly, and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death has world-wide application.

The sixth (1948) revision of the classification was applied in New Zealand to the deaths for 1950. At the same time a departure was made from the previous arbitrary rules of selection, when more than one cause of death was entered on a certificate, to an assignment according to what is termed the underlying cause of death. This may be defined as (a) the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death, or (b) the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury. The responsibility for indicating the train of events is placed on the physician or surgeon signing the medical certificate of death.

The following table shows the numbers of deaths and death rates per million of mean population according to the Abbreviated List of 50 Causes (Sixth Revision, 1948).

The statistics for tuberculosis, cancer, puerperal causes, and violent causes, which are of special interest and significance, are discussed later on in this subsection. Certain diseases (cholera, plague, smallpox, typhus, and malaria) are not listed in the table below, as there were no deaths occurring from these causes in the years shown.

Causes of DeathNumbersRates Per Million of Mean Population

* Less than one.

Tuberculosis of respiratory system319225183181195174120959297
Tuberculosis, other forms64475523233525281211
Syphilis and its sequelae67626126263733321313
Typhoid fever  23   12 
Dysentery, all forms32 1421 12
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat11221*111*
Meningococcal infections141920221681010118
Acute poliomyelitis15426129*2913114
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic75666752854135352642
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues2,8362,7992,7862,8783,0771,5491,4921,4481,4641,534
Benign and unspecified neoplasms36423639352022192017
Diabetes mellitus24422124219320513311812698102
Vascular lesions effecting central nervous system2,0632,1652,2522,2502,2811,1271,1541,1701,1441,137
Non-meningococcal meningitis1523411927812211013
Rheumatic fever1781713594972
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease204220219200202111117114102101
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease4,9604,6574,8494,7354,7702,7092,4822,5192,4082,378
Other diseases of the heart591660528639702323352274325350
Hypertension with heart-disease676632559679630369337290345314
Hypertension without mention of heart1541651441111228488755661
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum1501401581681728275828586
Intestinal obstruction and hernia118110111134936459586846
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of newborn115757995876340414843
Cirrhosis of liver64574652703530242635
Nephritis and nephrosis1991881782031601091009210380
Hyperplasia of prostate1541401171211428475616271
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium31332525221718131311
Congenital malformations202255234286266110136122145133
Birth injuries, post-natal asphyxia, and atelectasis310292260220281169156135112140
Infections of the newborn30253666271613193413
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified296274258265254162146134134127
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined, and unknown causes20917711917016111494628680
All other diseases1,4261,5351,4651,5661,684778818761796840
Motor-vehicle accidents269252279277313147134145141156
All other accidents549550558730571300293290371285
Suicide and self-inflicted injury182189192175181991011008990
Homicide and operations of war1419101517810588

TUBERCULOSIS.—The death rate from tuberculosis of the respiratory system has shown a declining tendency for many years, but the reduction by nearly one-half in the space of the five years 1951–55 is a noteworthy achievement. The rate for 1955, 97 per million of population, is slightly higher than that recorded for 1954.

In addition to the 195 deaths from tuberculosis of the respiratory system during 1955, there were 23 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis, comprising—

Tuberculosis of meninges and nervous system4
Tuberculosis of intestines, peritoneum, and mesentery2
Tuberculosis of bones and joints6
Tuberculosis of skin 
Tuberculosis of lymphatic system1
Tuberculosis of genito-urinary system9
Tuberculosis of adrenal glands 
Tuberculosis of other organs 
Disseminated tuberculosis1

Deaths from tuberculosis of sites other than pulmonary have also declined greatly in recent years, the death rate from these causes having been reduced by nearly two-thirds during the five years 1951–55. The principal contributory factor towards this reduction has been tuberculosis of the meninges and central nervous system. In 1951 there were 22 deaths from this cause, compared with only 4 in 1955.

The following table shows the number of deaths from tuberculosis in 1955, classified according to sex and age groups. Of those dying from this cause in 1955, persons under the age of 45 years formed 23 per cent.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotal
Under 5 77
5 and under 10   
10 and under 15   
15 and under 20 11
20 and under 253 3
25 and under 30224
30 and under 35538
35 and under 4010414
40 and under 459514
45 and under 5013821
50 and under 5513821
55 and under 6015318
60 and under 6515621
65 and under 7020626
70 and under 75241034
75 and under 8011617
80 and over639

CANCER.—A special report on cancer was issued in 1954 by the Medical Statistics Branch of the Department of Health. This report covers the years 1948–53, and is an analysis of the deaths occurring from cancer in New Zealand during those years, together with a survey of returns received from the various cancer clinics established in New Zealand under the auspices of the British Empire Cancer Campaign Society. From these data estimates have been prepared of the total numbers of new cases of cancer that occur each year and of cancer of different sites at different ages in the two sexes. A comparison is given of the situation in New Zealand with that in other parts of the world, together with estimates of the chances of survival. Special articles and statistical tables on the subject of cancer are contained in the 1917 and 1926 issues of the Year-Book, while the 1949 report of the Department of Health contains data covering the twenty-six years from 1924 to 1949. A summary of the special report on cancer mentioned above is contained in the Medical Statistics Report of the Department of Health for 1953.

Attention is drawn to the transference, under the 1948 Revision of the International Classification, of Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia, etc., into the category of malignant diseases. This classification was introduced in 1950, and all cancer figures quoted for that and subsequent years include these conditions.

Cancer is annually responsible for more deaths in New Zealand than can be assigned to any cause other than diseases of the heart. While it is most prevalent in middle and old age, it exacts a heavy toll throughout the life-span. With the inclusion of Hodgkin's disease and leukaemia under the cancer heading, the disease assumes a very high position as a cause of death among children and adolescents. It is interesting to compare the de-line in the death rate from tuberculosis with the rise in the cancer death rate. These rates are set out in the following table and diagram. The fall in the tuberculosis rate may be said to reflect the achievements of the public-health service, whilst the rise in the cancer rate portrays in general the increasing age of the population.

This is illustrated by the following figures.

 Average Death Rates Per 10,000 of Population

The relative movements in the death rates from cancer and tuberculosis are further illustrated in the following diagram, which shows the rates at five-yearly intervals since 1875.

In 1955 there were 3,077 deaths from cancer in New Zealand, a proportion of 15.34 per 10,000 of mean population. A summary for the last eleven years is given below.

YearNumber of Deaths From CancerRecorded Death RateStandardized Death Rate*

* Standard population used for standardized rates—England and Wales 1901.

† Includes Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia, etc., from 1950 onwards.


A summary showing the location of the disease in deaths from cancer during 1955 is given in the following table.

Site of DiseaseNumbersRates Per Million of Mean Population
Buccal cavity and pharynx322456322428
Intestine, except rectum165206371164206185
Trachea, and of bronchus and lung not specified as secondary2863932528439162
Cervix uteri 9090 9045
Other and unspecified parts of uterus 5252 5226
Prostate199 199197 99
Bone and connective tissue241135241117
All other and unspecified sites313322635310323316
Leukaemia and aleukaemia7462136736268
Lymphosarcoma and other neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic system7056126695663

The standardized figures for recent years suggest that cancer, while undoubtedly increasing in numerical incidence, is not doing so out of proportion to the population exposed to the cancer risk. Improvement in diagnosis has been responsible for some of the numerical increase in the recorded deaths from cancer, though this factor has now become more stabilized. A classification according to sex and age groups for 1955 is now given.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotal
Under 5131023
5 and under 1011516
10 and under 159312
15 and under 205510
20 and under 257512
25 and under 305712
30 and under 35161228
35 and under 40213455
40 and under 45296089
45 and under 507395168
50 and under 55117125242
55 and under 60141109250
60 and under 65180149329
65 and under 70255204459
70 and under 75278215493
75 and under 80241219460
80 and over217202419

Ninety-two per cent of the deaths from cancer during 1955 were at ages 45 years and upwards, and 60 per cent at ages 65 years and upwards. Approximately one death in every six of persons who die after be age of 50 years is due to cancer.

PUERPERAL CAUSES.—In point of numbers of deaths, puerperal accidents and diseases do not rank high among causes of death. Nevertheless, deaths from puerperal causes are of special importance and significance. The rate per 1,000 live births in each of the last twenty years is shown in the following table.

YearProportion Per 1,000 Live Births

A survey of the death rate from puerperal causes since 1872 shows that for a period in the early part of the twentieth century there was a tendency for the rate to decline. Then followed a definite upward movement, culminating in a rate of 6.48 per 1,000 live births in 1920, the third highest on record, this figure having been exceeded only in 1884 and 1885. Comparatively high rates persisted until 1931, since when the decline has been more or less steady. The efficacy of new drugs and methods of treatment is reflected in the extremely low rates recorded in recent years, the figure for 1955 of 0.44 being a new record. This low rate has been achieved mainly by a reduction in the number of deaths from septic abortion and puerperal sepsis. Deaths from complications of childbirth have also been unusually few since 1949.

It is generally conceded that in years of high birth rates the maternal-mortality rate tends to rise, probably due to the abnormally high proportion of first births in the total of births, upon which the death rate for these causes is based. In common with most countries for which recent figures are available, the reverse has been the experience in New Zealand during recent years. Possibly a contributory factor in this reversal has been the rise in the proportion of births taking place in institutions, more particularly in special annexes attached to the larger hospitals, where every facility for the care of the patient is more readily available.

Details of deaths from deliveries and complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium for the three years 1953 to 1955 are shown in the following summary.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per 10,000 Live Births
Toxaemias of pregnancy131122.792.270.40
Placenta praevia      
her haemorrhage of pregnancy 12 0.210.40
Ectopic pregnancy      
Abortion without mention of sepsis or toxaemia12 0.220.410.20
Abortion with sepsis14 0.220.820.80
Abortion with toxaemia 1  0.21 
Delivery complicated by placenta praevia or antepartum haemorrhage     0.20
Delivery complicated by retained placenta21 0.420.210.20
Delivery complicated by other post-partum haemorrhage32 0.640.410.80
Delivery complicated by disproportion or malposition of foetus11
Delivery complicated by prolonged labour of other origin     0.61
Delivery with trauma1  0.22 0.20
Delivery with other complications of childbirth11 0.220.21 
Sepsis of childbirth and the puerperium1  0.22  
Puerperal phlebitis and thrombosis1  0.22  
Puerperal pulmonary embolism 1  0.210.20
Puerperal eclampsia     0.20
Other and unspecified complications of the puerperium      
      Totals, including septic abortion2525225.395.164.41
      Totals, excluding septic abortion2421185.174.343.61

A summary of maternal mortality from all puerperal causes, in triennial periods since 1927, is now given.

Causes of Death1927–291930–321933–351936–381939–411942–441945–471948–501951–53
Puerperal sepsis12858394446301263
Eclampsia and other toxaemias1019793948058624230
Septic abortion47859168586133207
Accidents, haemorrhage, and other mortality12412410491135941107349
      Total maternal mortality40036432729731924321714189
      Maternal mortality, excluding septic abortion35327923622926118218412182

DEATHS FROM EXTERNAL CAUSES.—Deaths from external causes, apart from suicide, claim approximately 6 per cent of the total deaths. The following table shows deaths from external causes for the three years 1953, 1954, and 1955 according to the Intermediate List of the 1948 Revision of the International Classification. It is necessary to refer to the detailed list of circumstances of accident or means of injury if a comparison with years prior to 1949 is required, as the inclusions under the headings below differ considerably from past practice—e.g., drowning from boats and ships or from horseback whilst crossing rivers are included below as transport fatalities, as also are falls on board ship and from horseback.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per Million of Mean Population
Motor-vehicle accidents279277313145141156
Other transport accidents97252855012842
Accidental poisoning27182314912
Accidental falls182181177959288
Accident caused by machinery292228151114
Accident caused by fire and explosion of combustible material234526122313
Accident caused by hot substance, corrosive liquid, steam, and radiation81012456
Accident caused by firearm14813747
Accidental drowning and submersion788795414447
All other accidental causes102107112535556
Homicide and injury purposely inflicted by other persons (not in war)101517588

The number of deaths recorded from all accidental causes in 1955 was 884 corresponding to a rate of 4.41 per 10,000 of population.

Transport Accidents.—In classifying deaths attributable to transport accidents under the various subheadings shown in the following table the rule of assignment is that in fatalities due to collisions of railway trains and electric tram cars with motor vehicles the death is assigned to the railway train or electric tram car as being the heavier and more powerful vehicle. In the case of collisions between motor vehicles and horse-drawn vehicles, the death is assigned to the motor vehicle.

The number and rate of deaths resulting from railway, tramway, motor vehicle, and aircraft accidents during each of the last eleven years are as follows.

YearDeaths Due to AccidentRate Per 10,000 of Mean Population
RailwayTramwayMotor VehicleAircraftRailwayTramwayMotor VehicleAircraft

Deaths occurring as a result of the Tangiwai railway disaster were not registered till 1954; and Consequently were not included in the 1953 totals. These deaths numbered 154, and of course account for the large increase in the number of deaths due to railway accidents shown for 1954. Of this number 1 was a Maori, and 7 were registered as unidentified bodies.

Deaths arising out of aircraft accidents fell off steeply after 1945. This was to be expected, since the figures include Air Force accidents in New Zealand as well as civilian casualties. In 1948 the crashing on Mount Ruapehu of a National Airways Corporation plane with the loss of 13 lives was the principal cause of the high figure for civil air transport accidents in that year. New Zealand's worst air disaster occurred in 1949, when fifteen lives were lost in a crash at Waikanae. The figure of 25 deaths is the highest total recorded in a non-war year.

Deaths from motor-vehicle accidents recorded an appreciable increase up to 1930, but this trend was reversed during the depression years, largely owing to a great reduction in the number of motor vehicles on the roads during that period. With the advent of more prosperous times, the toll of the motor vehicle again mounted, although, fortunately, not in proportion to the tremendous increase in motor vehicular traffic on the highways. An appreciable drop, however, was experienced during the war years on account of there being less traffic on the roads owing to restrictions in the use of motor spirits and rubber tires. Since the war the number of fatalities from motor-vehicle accidents progressively increased up to 1955, with the exception of a small decline in 1952.

The figures given in the above table for deaths from motor-vehicle accidents (which do not include deaths of Maoris) are exclusive of accidents where persons have been killed in collisions between motor vehicles and trains or trams, these being assigned to the heavier vehicle. For 1955 there were 18 deaths from such accidents, bringing the total number of deaths in cases where a motor vehicle was involved up to 313. The corresponding figure for 1954 was 277.

Non-transport Accidents.—The 1948 Revision of the International List makes provision for non-transport accidents (excluding therapeutic misadventure in treatment, complications following vaccination or inoculation, and late effects of injury and poisoning) to be grouped according to the place where the accident or poisoning occurred. The following table shows the deaths, both numbers and rates, for each of the three years 1953, 1954, and 1955 according to this classification.

Place of OccurrenceNumberRate Per Million of Mean Population
Home (including home premises and vicinity and any      
non-institutional place of residence)244253233127129116
Farm (including buildings and land under cultivation, but excluding farm and home premises)433945222022
Mine and quarry7511425
Industrial place and premises9262051310
Place for recreation and sport994552
Street and highway171318979
Public building (building used by the general public or a particular group of the public)681341
Resident institution (homes, hospitals, etc.)19143510717
Other specified places897994464047
Place not specified871431

One in every two fatal non-traffic accidents occurs in or about the home.

The chief killer in the home is falls, which exacts a heavy toll of the aged and infirm. Second comes asphyxia from regurgitation of foodstuffs and inhalation of other objects, or mechanically from pillows and bedclothes: this is the principal hazard of the first six months of life, though a proportion of these deaths is probably due to some undisclosed underlying respiratory infection. Almost all the home drowning fatalities are amongst toddlers between one and two years of age who fall into rivers, creeks, and ponds in the immediate home vicinity.

There were 127 deaths from non-transport accidents on farms in the period covered, while fatal non-transport accidents in industrial plants, factories, and workplaces totalled 55.

Further data regarding accidents will be found elsewhere in this volume (see Index). A later Section is devoted wholly to statistics of industrial accidents.

SUICIDES.—Suicidal deaths in 1955 numbered 181—males 130, females 51—the death rate per 10,000 of mean population being 0.90.

YearNumber of Suicidal DeathsRate Per 10,000 of Mean Population

The following table presents, for annual averages of various quinquennia, the suicide rate per 10,000 of mean population.

Annual Average DuringMalesFemalesBoth Sexes


UNLESS specially stated to the contrary, in the preceding subsections 4B and 4D, Maoris have been excluded from the statistical tables presented. The standard of registration of Maoris is still below that of the European section of the population of New Zealand. This is due partly to difficulties of language, educational status, etc., and partly to problems of access. This latter difficulty arises from the fact that the greater portion of the Maori population is resident in country districts not so well served with modern facilities as regards transport, medical, and nursing services, etc. Consequently registration of vital facts regarding the Maori race as a whole is not quite at the same high level of accuracy as obtains for the European population, but very considerable improvement has been effected in recent years.

MAORI BIRTHS.—In the successive Registration Acts special provision was made for exemption from the necessity of registration in the case of births and deaths of Maoris, though registration could be effected if desired. Section 20 of the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act 1912 (now section 52 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951) empowered the making of regulations to provide for the registration of births and deaths of Maoris. Regulations were made accordingly, and Maori births and deaths became registrable as from 1 March 1913. The number of Registrars of Maori Births and Deaths in New Zealand is over 250, most of these being in the North Island, where the great majority of the Maori population is located. Every Maori settlement of any size is within reach of one of these Registrars. Maori registrations are entered in a separate register, which does not, however, make provision for as many particulars as is the case with registrations of Europeans.

The number of births of Maoris registered during 1956 was 6,163 (3,133 males, 3,030 females). The Maori birth rate in 1956 was almost twice the European birth rate (44.64 per 1,000). Registrations of Maori births in each of the last eleven years were as follows.

YearNumber of Maori BirthsRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Prior to 1946 there was reason to believe that the number of Maori births was somewhat understated, and this view was confirmed by the registration figures for 1946, the year in which the provision of family benefits under the Social Security scheme was extended to cover all children under sixteen years of age irrespective of the income of the parents. Of the 5,776 Maori births registered during 1946, no fewer than 1,447, or 25 per cent, had actually occurred before 1945—i.e., over a year before registration.

For the purposes of the Maori Births and Deaths Registration Regulations 1935 a Maori is defined as “a person belonging to the aboriginal race of New Zealand, and includes a half-caste and a person intermediate in blood between half-castes and persons of pure descent from that race”.

Only registrations relating to persons possessing half or more Maori blood are made in the register of Maori births or Maori deaths. All registrations in respect of persons possessing less than half Maori blood must be made in the European register.

MAORI MARRIAGES.—In the 1953 and preceding issues of the Year-Book a brief statement of the legislative position relating to Maori marriages was given. The Maori Purposes Act 1951, however, brought about a complete change to that hitherto existing. The view was taken that the Maori race had reached a stage where such special dispensations were no longer justifiable. From 1 April 1952 all Maori marriages are subject to the ordinary laws affecting European marriages, and no marriage according to Maori custom subsequent to that date will be held valid. As a result it is not now possible to distinguish marriages of Maoris from those of Europeans, and Maori marriage statistics as a separate feature have lapsed.

The Maori marriage figures for each of the ten years (1942–51) were given on page 99 of the 1955 issue.

MAORI DEATHS.—Registrations of Maori deaths during each of the last eleven years have been as follows.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Maori Population

The rates for the two sexes are much more nearly equal for Maoris than for the rest of the population, the female rate being actually higher than the male in 1949. The total Maori death rate has shown considerable improvement during recent years, and is fast approaching equality with the European rate. Further improvement in the infant mortality rate for Maoris could result in such equality in the near future.

Apart from mere numbers by sex, statistics of Maori deaths are not available prior to 1920, but annual tabulations are now made on the bases of age and cause of death. The ages of Maoris whose deaths were registered during the year 1955 were as shown in the following table.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotal
Under 1219144363
1 and under 5534598
5 and under 10271340
10 and under 15151126
15 and under 20181028
20 and under 25211738
25 and under 30301848
30 and under 35131427
35 and under 40262046
40 and under 45191837
45 and under 50283765
50 and under 55343670
55 and under 60334174
60 and under 65412768
65 and under 70333770
70 and under 75272653
75 and under 80211738
80 and under 85121527
85 and under 9011920
90 and under 955914
95 and under 1008816
100 and over 66

EXPECTATION OF LIFE.—Official life tables dealing with the Maori population have been compiled for the first time. The investigation was based on the 1951 Census combined with the deaths for the three years 1950–52, and the (complete) expectation of life at various ages is given below.


The expectation of life of Maoris is much shorter than that of the European population. A comparison at age 0 shows a longer expectation of 14.24 years for European males and 16.55 years for European females.

A similar table to the above for Europeans will be found in Section 4D.

Causes of Maori Deaths.—With the exception of diphtheria and scarlet fever, epidemic and infectious diseases generally exact a much heavier toll proportionately among Maoris than among the European population, the most noteworthy examples being tuberculosis, particularly of the respiratory system, and typhoid fever. Other diseases of the respiratory system also show much higher rates for Maoris than for Europeans, and the same state of affairs is disclosed for diarrhoeal diseases and stomach complaints.

On the other hand, there is a much lower mortality rate among Maoris from certain diseases which rank high as causes of death among the European population. Principal among these are cancer, heart-disease and other diseases of the circulatory system, nephritis, the group of general diseases which includes diabetes and exophthalmic goitre, and the group of diseases of the nervous system which includes apoplexy and cerebral haemorrhage. Malformations show lower rates for Maoris than for Europeans, but the indefinite nature of the data in the registration entries covering the deaths of many Maori infants may be partly responsible, as the figures of deaths from malformations and the group “early infancy” taken in conjunction indicate a much higher rate for Maoris from these causes as a whole than for the European population.

The Introduction of the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International Classification of Causes of Death in 1950, together with the change to assignment according to the underlying cause of death, prevent accurate comparisons being made between the 1950 and subsequent mortality tabulations and those for earlier years. The following table shows the Maori deaths for 1953 to 1955 classified according to the Abbreviated List of the 1948 Revision.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per 10,000 of Mean Maori Population