Table of Contents

List of Tables


In presenting the forty-first issue of the “New Zealand Official Year-Book” the necessity arises of remarking that, for the third successive year, the dictates of finance have required a substantial reduction in the size of the volume.

Curtailment of services has, in some few instances, rendered material no longer available, but the diminution is due in greater part to the continuance of the kindred processes of abridgement and excision. Despite care exercised in condensation, it is inevitable that the Year-Book has suffered some impairment. It may therefore be of service to refer to other annual publications of the Census and Statistics Office (vide opposite page 1) in the pages of which omissions from, or undue brevity of treatment in, the Year-Book may possibly be remedied.

Pressure upon remaining space has precluded the introduction of new features of sufficient importance to warrant specific mention, but various new addenda of a minor character will be found throughout the volume.

I desire to express cordial acknowledgment of the services rendered by other Departments. I also wish to record my grateful appreciation of the assistance given by my officers—in particular, Mr. D. J. Cruickshank, LL.B., Acting Chief Compiler, who has carried out the difficult and onerous work of editing and condensing the subject-matter.

J. W. Butcher, Government Statistician.

Census and Statistics Office,

Wellington, New Zealand, 15th December, 1932.


Title.Latest No.Month of Issue.Price per Copy.Postage (extra).

* £1 1s. per annum (post free).

† No Census taken in 1931.

‡ Out of print.

New Zealand Official Year-Book1933Jan., 19337610
Annual Statistical Reports—
Population and Buildings1931-32Sept., 1932201
External Migration1931April, 1932201
Vital Statistics1931Aug., 1932508
Justice1931Oct., 1932262
Trade and Shipping (Part 1)1931June, 19322008
Trade and Shipping (Part II)1931Sept., 1932262
Agricultural and Pastoral Production1930-31Feb., 1932261
Factory Production1930-31April, 1932362
Insurance1930Mar., 1932201
Miscellaneous (Prices, Wages and Hours of Labour, Unemployment, Industrial Accidents, Banking, Building Societies, Bankruptcy, Incomes and Income-tax, Statistical Summary)1930April, 1932408
Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand (published annually)1932Aug., 1932768
Monthly Abstract of Statistics....*261
Volumes of Census Results (published quinquennially)
Geographical Distribution1926May, 1927464
Dependencies1926Feb., 1927161
Ages1926Nov., 1928202
Conjugal Condition1926Feb., 1929262
Orphan Children and Dependent Children1926Mar., 1929202
Race Aliens1926Feb., 1929202
Native-born and Foreign-born1926May, 1929202
Religions Professions1926Nov., 1928202
Industrial and Occupational Distribution1926Mar., 1930303
Unemployment from Sickness and other Causes1926Sept., 1930202
Incomes1926May, 1930362
Families and Households1926April, 1931202
Dwellings1926Feb., 1931302
Maori and Half-caste Population1926Mar., 1929303
Public Libraries and Places of Worship1926Mar., 1927161
Poultry1926Mar., 1927161
General Report1926April, 1931503

Note.—This list is subject to revision from time to time. Publications are obtainable from the Government Printer, Wellington.



THE Dominion of New Zealand consists of two large and several small islands in the South Pacific. These may be classified as follows:—

(a) Islands forming the Dominion proper, for statistical and general practical purposes:—

 Square Miles.
North Island and adjacent islets44,281
South Island and adjacent islets58,092
Stewart Island and adjacent islets670
Chatham Islands372

In all further references in this volume, unless the context indicates the contrary, Chatham Islands and Stewart Island are classed with the South Island.

(b) Outlying islands (total area, 307 square miles) included within the geographical boundaries of New Zealand as proclaimed in 1847:—

Three Kings Islands.Antipodes Islands.
Auckland Islands.Bounty Islands.
Campbell Island.Snares Islands.

(c) Islands (total area, 293 square miles) annexed to New Zealand:—

Kermadec Islands.Manihiki Island.
Cook Islands.Rakahanga Island.
Niue (or Savage) Island.Pukapuka (or Danger) Island.
Palmerston Island.Nassau Island.
Penrhyn (or Tongareva) Island.Suwarrow Island.

The total area of the above is 104,015 square miles. Elsewhere in this issue the aggregate area appears as 66,390,262 acres -i.e., 103,735 square miles. This covers not only the Dominion proper, but also the outlying islands and the Kermadecs.

The Proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand, dated the 30th 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 April, 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. By Proclamation bearing date the 21st July, 1887, the Kermadec Islands, lying between the 29th and 32nd degrees of south latitude and the 177th and 180th degrees of west longitude, were declared to be annexed to and to become part of the then Colony of New Zealand.

By Proclamation of the 10th June, 1901, the Cook Group of islands, and all the other islands and territories situate within the boundary-lines mentioned in the following schedule, were included as from the 11th June, 1901:—

A line commencing at a point at the intersection of the 23rd degree of south latitude and the 156th degree of longitude west of Greenwich, and proceeding due north to the point of intersection of the 8th degree of south latitude and the 156th degree of longitude west of Greenwich; thence due west to the point of intersection of the 8th degree of south latitude and the 167th degree of longitude west of Greenwich; thence due south to the point of intersection of the 17th degree of south latitude and the 167th degree of longitude west of Greenwich; thence due west to the point of intersection of the 17th degree of south latitude and the 170th degree of longitude west of Greenwich; thence due south to the point of intersection of the 23rd degree of south latitude and the 170th degree of longitude west of Greenwich; and thence due east to the point of intersection of the 23rd degree of south latitude and the 156th degree of longitude west of Greenwich.

By mandate of the League of Nations the New Zealand Government also now administers the former German possession of Western Samoa; and, jointly with the Imperial Government and the Government of Australia, holds the League's mandate over the Island of Nauru.

By Imperial Orders in Council of the 30th July, 1923, the coasts of the Ross Sea, with the adjacent islands and territories, were declared a British settlement within the meaning of the British Settlements Act, 1887, and named the Ross Dependency. The Governor - General of New Zealand is Governor of the Ross Dependency, and is vested with the administration of the dependency.

By Imperial Orders in Council of the 4th November, 1925, the Union or Tokelau Islands (consisting of the islands of Fakaofu, Nukunono, and Atafu, and the small islands, islets, rocks, and reefs depending on them) 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 the 8th March, 1926, delegated to the Administrator of Western Samoa.


The mountainous character of New Zealand is one of its most striking physical characteristics. In the North Island 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 extinct. Other dormant volcanoes include Mount Tarawera and White Island, both of which have, in recent years, erupted with disastrous consequences. Closely connected with the volcanic system are the multitudinous hot springs and geysers.

The South Island contains much more mountainous country than is to be found in the North. Along almost its entire length runs the mighty chain known as the Southern Alps, rising to its culmination in Mount Cook (12,349 ft.). No fewer than seventeen peaks of the Southern Alps attain a height of over 10,000 ft. Owing to the snow -line being low in New Zealand, many large and beautiful glaciers exist. The Tasman Glacier (Southern Alps), which has a total length of over eighteen miles and an average width of one mile and a quarter, is the largest. On the west coast the terminal faces of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are but a few hundred feet above sea -level.

The following list has been compiled from various sources, and does not purport, to be free of omissions, nor is exactitude claimed in respect of the elevations shown, many of which are known to be only approximate.

Mountain or Peak.Height (feet).
North Island
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
Aiguilles 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 —

The 1931 issue of the Year-Book contained a list, not claimed as exhaustive, of 223 named peaks of 7,500 ft. or more in altitude. In this issue, the list of South Island mountains is restricted to a minimum of 9,000 ft. altitude.


The hot springs of the North Island form one of the most, remarkable features of New Zealand. They are found over a large area, extending from Tongariro, south of Lake Taupo, to Ohaeawai, in the extreme north—a distance of some three hundred miles; but the principal seat of hydrothermal action appears to he in the neighbourhood of Lake Rotorua, about forty miles north-north-cast from Lake Taupo. By the destruction of the famed Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana during the eruption of Mount Tarawera on the 10th June, 1886, the neighbourhood was deprived of attractions unique in character and of unrivalled beauty; but the natural features of the country—the numerous lakes, geysers, and hot springs, some of which possess remarkable curative properties in certain complaints—are still very attractive to tourists and invalids. The importance of conserving this region as a sanatorium for all time has been recognized by the Government, and it is dedicated by Act of Parliament to that purpose.

There are also several small hot springs in the South Island, the best known being those at Hanmer.

The following article on the mineral waters and spas of New Zealand is by the Government Balneologist, Dr. J. D. C. Duncan, M.B., Ch.B. (Edin.), Member of the International Society of Medical Hydrology, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society: —


It has been acknowledged by the leading hydrologists in Europe that New Zealand possesses the most valuable mineral waters in existence. Not only are these mineral waters interesting from a tourist's point of view, but they are, because of their medicinal value, of great therapeutic importance, and, as a Dominion asset, worthy of the deepest scientific consideration.

From the spectacular aspect only a brief mention need be made in this article, as a full description of springs, geysers, and mud-pools has been given in Dr. Herbert's book,“The Hot Springs of New Zealand"—a book that presents a comprehensive and vivid picture of the main manifestations of thermal activity in New Zealand.

Dealing with the medical-scientific aspect of the mineral waters, the space of this article will permit only the shortest account of the treatments; and, as the Rotorua Spa is of premier importance, the article will be confined almost entirely to its operations.

Since and as the result of experience gained during the war, the subject of hydrotherapy has been recreated on modern scientific lines, and the actions of thermal mineral waters have been investigated, both chemically and physiologically, in determining their therapeutic value in the treatment of disease.


The principal treatment establishments are the Main Bathhouse and the Ward Baths.

In the Main Bathhouse are a series of private bathrooms, slipper and step-down, each with its dressing-room attached, and a couch for packing purposes. The baths are arranged for either “Priest” or “Rachel” waters, with undercurrent douches and showers. There are, also, deep “Priest” pools at suitable temperatures for the treatment of chronic cases.

Off the main hall are treatment-rooms where massage and every variety of physiotherapeutic treatment can be given, and, in either wing of the building, a complete establishment for Aix-Vichy douche massage.

The Ward Bathhouse is a handsome new block of buildings which has replaced the old Pavilion Bathhouse. This building, divided into convenient sections for service and control, consists of a large main hall, swimming-pools, hot “Rachel”pools, “Old Priest,” and “Radium” baths and a block of private “Rachel” baths.

At the back of these buildings is an attractive sunken courtyard, with fountain and formal garden, surrounded on three sides by verandas, and on the fourth by an open pergola facing the lake. In this courtyard garden patients and visitors can bask in the sunshine, protected from prevailing winds.

The swimming-pools, open to the air, are spacious baths lined with white tiles and having douches, showers, and convenient dressing-cubicles. These provide recreational facilities for patients and visitors.

The “Radium” and “Priest” baths, built on the pumice bed of the soil, contain some of the most important therapeutic waters in existence, and are invaluable in the treatment of heart conditions and cases of nervous debility. In connection with these baths are comfortable rest-rooms and convenient massage establishments.

The private baths are of the porcelain, slipper variety, and step-down tiled baths—the latter designed for helpless or crippled patients.

The New Blue bath for mixed bathing is now in the course of construction. This bathhouse will consist of two pools—the larger one, 100 ft. by 40 ft., which will provide facilities for championship sports; the smaller one, 70ft. by 36 ft., of suitable and safe depth for children—will, when completed, he one of the first swimming-baths in the Southern Hemisphere. There will, in addition, be a hand-some rest-room and restaurant, and it is anticipated that this establishment will become the social rendezvous of visitors to Rotorua.


The mineral waters which have been harnessed for therapeutic use at the Rotorua Spa are of two main varieties—viz. the “Rachel,” which is an alkaline, sulphuretted water, emollient to the skin, and sedative in reaction; and the “Priest,”or free-acid water, which, due to the presence of free sulphuric acid, is mainly stimulating and tonic in reaction. There is, in addition to the foregoing, a valuable silicious mud similar to that found in Pistany, in Czecho-Slovakia, which, in its own sphere in hydrotherapy, exerts its influence as a curative agent.

However, it is in the “Priest” waters that one finds one's most valuable ally in the treatment of arthritis, fibrositis (the so-called rheumatic affections), and cases of nervous debility. The “Rachel” and mud baths are used mostly in those cases of fibrositis where the condition requires a softening effect; and in the types where pain is a manifest symptom these baths are invaluable as soothing and sedative agents.


In these natural acid—baths the reactions are mainly stimulating, with increased hyperæmia in the parts submerged, and marked lessening of pain and swelling in the affected joints and tissues. Those waters containing free carbonic-acid gas are used for the cases of fibrositis in which the circulation requires the stimulating action of gaseous baths.

The “New Priest” waters, containing approximately 16.80 grains per gallon of free sulphuric acid, are utilized in the form of open pools, deep step-down baths, and slipper baths. They are prescribed at a suitable temperature for the individual case.

The “Old Priest” waters, containing a much lower degree of free acid (3.77 grains to the gallon), and of varying temperatures (from 84° F. to 102° F.), are used for treatment at their source. The waters, percolating through their pumice-bed, are confined in pools, and contain free carbonic-acid gas bubbling through the water.

The very strong “Postmaster” waters are also confined within pools on the natural pumice-bed, and, by a primitive arrangement of wooden sluice-valves, are maintained at three ranges of temperature—viz., 104°, 106°, and 108° F. They contain 22.29 grains of free sulphuric acid to the gallon, and are strongly counter irritant in their reactions.


In such a brief account as this one can only deal in generalizations, and the forms of treatment mentioned must necessarily be subject to wide variations. In any form of hydro-therapeutic treatment the regime must be adapted to the individual manifestations of the disease, and no routine rules or regulations can be laid down in spa operations.

The “New Priest” waters are, for the most part, prescribed for patients suffering from subacute or chronic fibrositis, subacute or chronic gout, and the various forms of arthritis. Except in cases of marked debility, those patients are given graduated baths, at temperatures ranging from 102° to 104° F., from ten to fifteen minutes daily. Most of the baths are fitted with a subaqueous douche having a pressure of 25 lb. to the square inch, which is directed under water on the affected tissues. The bath is usually followed by a light or hot pack, according to the needs of the case.

The sub thermal “Old Priest” waters (temperature 84° F.), containing a high degree of free carbonic. -acid gas, are particularly valuable in the treatment of functional nervous disease, and the methods of administration are similar to those obtaining at Nauheim. The reactions are markedly stimulating through the sympathetic nervous system, and bring about, by reflex action, a tonic effect on the heart.

The “Postmaster” baths are used in the treatment of the more chronic forms of fibrositis, arthritis deformans, and gout, requiring a more or less heroic type of procedure. They are usually prescribed in combination—i.e., a certain time in each pool, commencing with the lowest temperature. The hyperæmic reaction is most marked, and in many of the cases where pain is a predominant symptom there is a temporary paralysis of the surface nerves, as well as a strong reflex excitation of the heart. For this reason these baths are not given to patients suffering from cardiac weakness.

The mud baths being highly impregnated with silica, which has a bland, sedative effect on the tissues, are particularly indicated in cases of acute or subacute neuritis, gout, and certain skin conditions. The action of those baths is to induce an active hyperemia in the patient with an actual absorption of free sulphur, which is present in considerable quantity. Also the radio-activity of this medium (0-185 per c.c.) is possibly an active factor in the therapeutic action of these baths. In some of the cases undergoing mud-bath treatment the effect has been almost miraculous—instant relief from pain: reduction of swelling caused by inflammatory exudates—and such patients have been able to discard crutches or other adventitious aids and to walk with more or less normal comfort.

Perhaps, of more recent date, the most efficacious effects of mud treatments have been manifested in cases of skin conditions—notably psoriasis: cases which have resisted all forms of drug treatment have cleared up in an almost magical manner: and so frequently have such cures been effected that one believes that the silicious mud of Rotorua has some markedly specific action as a therapeutic agent.

The treatment of gout depends entirely on the individual manifestations. In certain subacute and chronic typos fairly high temperatures (104° to 106° F., with hot packs) of “Priest” water are employed, in order to hasten the absorption of exudates and the elimination of uric acid. In cases of acute gout more sedative measures are pursued, such as“Rachel” baths at neutral temperatures, local mud packs, and rest. As soon as the conditions permit, these patients are changed over to acid water baths. Cases of chronic gout exhibiting metabolic stagnation sometimes receive considerable benefit from the counter-irritant effects of the strongly acid “Postmaster” waters.


Separate establishments, containing the most modern apparatus of sprays, douches, hot steam, &c., are available for wet massage and treatments of the Aix-Vichy type.

The massage-rooms are fitted with the latest installations of electrical equipment—Bristowe tables, diathermy, high frequency, Bergonie chair, X-ray, Schnée baths, Greville hot air, and other apparatus for carrying out the most up-to-date methods of electrical-therapeutic treatments.

The baths are administered by a trained staff of attendants, and the massage, electrical-therapy, and douches carried out by a qualified staff of operators.

In every respect the hydrotherapy treatments aim at a restoration of function, and the measures employed are, for the most part, re-educative.


In connection with the Rotorua Spa is a sanatorium of seventy beds, where patients whose finances are restricted can receive treatment at an exceedingly moderate cost. The institution consists of cubicles and open wards. Thermal baths and massage-rooms in the building provide for the more helpless typo of invalid.


From sixty thousand to eighty thousand baths are given annually, and about thirty thousand special treatments-massage, electrical therapy, &., are administered each year at the Rotorua Spa.

The usual course of treatment, lasts from four to six weeks, and the high percentage of cures and improvements testifies to the value of the thermal, mineral waters and the hydro-therapeutic treatments obtaining in this Dominion.


In the 1932 Year-Book appears an account of the rivers of New Zealand by Professor R. Speight, M.Sc., F.G.S., Curator of the Canterbury Museum.

Space in this issue is, however, available only for a list of the more important rivers, with their approximate lengths, the latter being supplied by the Department of Lands and Survey. Figures in parentheses indicate the approximate discharge, in cubic feet, per minute.


Flowing into the Pacific Ocean—Miles.
Waihou (or Thames)90
Flowing into Cook Strait—
Manawatu (over 600,000)100
Wanganui (over 500,000)140
Flowing into the Tasman Sea— 
Waikato (over 800,000)220
Wairoa (over 250,000)95


Flowing into Cook Strait—Miles.
Flowing into the Pacific Ocean— 
Waimakariri (low water 80,000 normal flood 500,000)93
Clutha (over 2,000,000)210
Flowing into the Tasman Sea—
Cleddau and Arthur20
Buller (nearly 1,000,000)105


An article on the lakes of New Zealand, also by Professor R. Speight, will be found in the 1932 Year-Book. The more important lakes are indicated below.

Lake.Length, in MilesGreatest Breadth, in MilesArea, in Square MilesDrainage Area, in Square MilesApproximate Volume of Discharge, In Cubic Feet per SecondHeight above Sea-level, in Feet.Greatest Depth, In Feet.
North Island
Rotorua7 ½63215842091584
Rotoiti10 3/42 ¼1426500913230
Tarawera6 ½6 ½1575..1,032285
Waikaremoana126 ¼211287722,015846
South Island.
Rotoiti522 3/486..1,997228
Rotoroa72 1/28146..1,470..
Kanieri51 ¾811..422646
Te Anau3361321,32012,660094906
Waihola4 ½1 1/83 1/32,200..(Tidal)52
Ellesmerel610107 ½745..(Tidal)45


The following article on the geology of New Zealand was prepared by Dr. J. Henderson, M.A., F.N.Z. Inst., Director of the Geological Survey:—


New Zealand is a small country, but its geological history is as complex and as ancient as that of a continent. Land, though from age to age it varied greatly in area, outline, and elevation, must have persisted in the New Zealand area from the oldest Palaeozoic or earlier. Long periods during which gentle regional oscillations and warpings, aided by the slow-acting forces of denudation, brought about gradual changes were interrupted by great revolutions, when earth-stresses ridged the crust into mountains and quickly altered the whole configuration of the land and sea-floor. For New Zealand the important geological periods are those that followed the two latest mountain-building movements—the Kaikoura deformation of late Tertiary time, and the Hokonui deformation of the early Cretaceous. The deposits laid down in the intervening period of relative crustal stability cover a large proportion of the land, and contain all the coal and most of the limestone of the Dominion. The soils on which grow the forests, pastures, and crops are of post-Tertiary age, and the great bulk of the gold has been won from deposits formed during the same period.


The oldest known fossiliferous rocks in New Zealand are the Ordovician slates and greywackes of west Nelson and south-west Otago. Lower unfossiliferous beds of the same great system extend southward from the northern area and outcrop in the Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, Ross, and Okarito districts. Above the fossil-bearing beds, but probably still of Ordovician age, are the black phyllites, quartzites, and marbles which outcrop continuously from Takaka to Mount Owen, and are again exposed in the upper basins of the Matakitaki, Maruia, and Grey Rivers. The similar rocks of western Otago probably also belong to this group. The complex of gneisses and schists of the same region, intruded by acid and basic plutonics, and usually considered of Archæan age, resembles the part of the Ordovician strata of western Nelson that has been similarly invaded and metamorphosed and may well be of early Palaeozoic age. Different authorities assign the mica, chlorite, and quartz schists of Central Otago to ages that range from the Archæan to the Triassic. They are certainly Palaeozoic or older, since they grade upward into greywackes that, at Clinton, contain Permian fossils.

Silurian rocks are certainly known only in the Baton and Wangapeka districts, and Devonian rocks at Wangapeka and Reefton. These beds, fossils from which have lately been examined in England, cover only small areas. But the old Geological Survey mapped wide tracts of country in Nelson and Otago, covered with beds of the Te Anau Series, as Devonian, and the correlation may well be correct, though the rocks are entirely unfossiliferous.

The Maitai Series, that forms the ranges on the south-east side of the Nelson lowlands, are probably of Carboniferous or Permo-Carboniferous age. Their position in the time scale and their correlation with rocks in other parts of New Zealand have provoked much discussion. Permian strata, as already stated, occur in Otago, where the area they cover may be considerable.

Richly fossiliferous late Triassic rocks are known in the Kawhia-Mokau district, near the City of Nelson, and at several localities in Canterbury and Otago. Except in Nelson and Canterbury, strata that contain fossils referable to several stages of the Jurassic succeed without observed unconformity. The broad belt of greywacke and argillite that forms the mountains of Canterbury and Marlborough, and continues a narrower belt through Wellington to northern Hawke's Bay, is usually referred to the Trias-Jura. Similar rocks outcrop in the centre of the North Island and at many points in North Auckland. There are Upper Triassic molluscs in those beds at several localities, and the vertebra of a saurian with Triassic rather than Permian affinities was found near Wellington. Lithologically the greywackes and argillites of this vast series differ somewhat from the rocks of similar type belonging to the Jurassic and Maitai series; they are therefore thought to be of older Triassic age, but may well range into the Permian. The schists occurring with them in the Kaimanawa, Kaikoura, Moorhouse, and Kirkliston Ranges are probably older.

The thick conglomerates conformably overlying the younger Jurassic shales of the Port Waikato, Kawhia, and Coromandel regions belong to either the youngest Jurassic or the oldest Cretaceous. Strata of early and middle Cretaceous age occur east of the main axis of New Zealand at several points from Marlborough to East Cape. Late Cretaceous beds are much more widely distributed, being known in North Auckland and in many localities along the eastern side of both Islands. They contain thick layers of black shale that give many indications of oil, which, however, has not yet been found in commercial amount. The oldest known workable coal-seams in New Zealand, those at Broken River, Malvern Hills, Shag Point, and Kaitangata, and perhaps some near Greymouth, are in young Cretaceous beds.

Tertiary rocks form the greater part of the North Island and are widely distributed in the South. As a whole they are weaker and more readily weathered than the older strata, and hence have given rise to less rugged country, now mostly-cleared and grassed and forming productive pastoral land.

Eocene rocks are present in North Auckland, and probably also in the Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, and east Wellington districts. In the South Island they occur on the West Coast and in Canterbury and Otago, in which regions they contain valuable coal-seams worked at Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, Mount Somers, and Milton. Of the same age are the auriferous “cements” of the Tuapeka district that greatly enriched the gravels of the neighbouring streams and are themselves worked for gold.

In Oligocene time the maximum subsidence during the Tertiary occurred, and but little of the New Zealand area remained above sea-level at its close. The thick limestones of the Oamaru district and the contemporaneous limestone prominent in many parts of New Zealand are the younger deposits of this age. The older beds contain the extensive coal-measures of the North Auckland, Waikato, Charleston, and other coalfields.

Miocene strata cover large areas in both islands, and also outcrop in the Wanganui, Gisborne, and Hawke's Bay regions, where Oligocene beds are altogether absent. In North Taranaki, the Murchison basin, and parts of the West Coast, thick coal-measures of this age contain workable seams of brown coal.

During the Pliocene the New Zealand area, which had been intermittently rising since the close of the Oligocene, was greatly elevated and deformed. The earth-blocks from which the present mountains have been carved wore uplifted from, or from near, sea-level, and New Zealand as it now is was roughly shaped out. In the South Island the deposits of this period are chiefly gravels deposited in structural depressions; but in the North, and especially in its southern half, there are thick and extensive shoal-water marine sediments. These, and the underlying Miocene strata, are the source of the petroleum found at New Plymouth.

The Pleistocene was a period of regional oscillation. While the land was high the mountains of the South Island were intensely glaciated, and great ice-streams, carrying vast bodies of debris, descended into the low country; after the highlands had been reduced in height through both denudation and decided subsidence the glaciers rapidly retreated, and are to-day represented by comparatively small remnants far in the mountains. While the ice was melting, the rivers of the South Island were unusually active in transporting waste to the lowlands and the sea. At this time, too, as well as somewhat earlier, the volcanoes of the North Island ejected an abundant supply of fragmentary material, much of which was borne away by the streams and used in building plains.

The deposits of Pleistocene and Recent age are in New Zealand of greater economic importance than those of all other ages. The plains, river-flats, and lowlands generally were formed or profoundly modified during this period, and the soils that cover them produced. During the same time practically all the gold won from the gravels of the South Island was liberated from a hard matrix and concentrated into workable deposits, and the rich bonanzas of the lodes of Hauraki were formed by secondary enrichment. The land-oscillations of the period are also of economic importance, for New Zealand's abundant water-power is derived from streams that have not yet, owing to the recency of land-uplift, cut their valleys to grade. On the other hand, land-depression has provided harbours and valuable artesian basins in many parts of the Dominion.


Plutonic rocks intrude many of the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic strata, and some of the formations show evidence of contemporaneous volcanic action. Of the plutonic rocks granite is much the most prominent, and it outcrops at many points in West Nelson, Westland, Otago, and Stewart Island. In Nelson there were at least two periods of intrusion, no doubt corresponding with the great mountain-folding movements of the late Palæozoic and early Cretaceous times. The auriferous lodes of Reefton and other localities on the West Coast probably originated from the cooling magmas that formed the younger granites. Basic and ultra-basic rocks, the latter now largely altered to serpentine, occur in Nelson, Westland, Otago, and, to a less extent, in North Auckland.

Though volcanoes are known to have existed in Mesozoic and Palaeozoic times, they seem to have been more active during the Tertiary than in any earlier age. The vast pile of flow and fragmental rocks that form the Hauraki Peninsula and the range that continues it southward to Tauranga belong to this period. The gold -silver veins extensively worked at Coromandel, Thames, and Waihi are in these rocks, which southward are smothered by the rhyolitic pumice that vents in the Taupo-Rotorua zone ejected during the late Pliocene and Pleistocene. Thick showers of pumice from this region cover a large part of the centre of the North Island and streams have carried the liner material to practically all the low-lying parts of the island. The volcanoes are still alive, as is evidenced by the steam-vents, hot springs, and geysers found in the depressed zone extending from Ruapehu to White Island. The volcanic rocks of Taranaki probably range from the Miocene to the Pleistocene in age. The basalts and scoria cones that occur so abundantly between Kawhia and the Bay of Islands belong for the most part to the late Pliocene and Pleistocene, though cones at Auckland City are probably Recent.

In the South Island the volcanoes appear to be quite dead, for the hot springs at Hanmer and near the alpine chain are due to other causes. In the middle Tertiary, however, there were outbursts at many points, the chief eruptions being at Banks Peninsula and about Dunedin.


In a short article it is impossible to give an adequate idea of what geological workers have accomplished in New Zealand, or of what they have yet to do in order that the wisest use may be made of the country's mineral and agricultural resources. For good general accounts the treatises of Professors Park and Marshall should be consulted, and for more detailed information the bulletins of the Geological Survey and the many papers that have appeared in the “Transactions of the New-Zealand Institute.”


The following article dealing with earthquakes in New Zealand has been prepared by Dr. C. E. Adams, F.R.A.S., Government Astronomer and Seismologist, with the assistance of Dr. J. Henderson, Director of the Geological Survey.

Earthquake and volcanic activity are manifestations of the adjustments constantly occurring in the earth's crust. In the not far distant past, geologically speaking, a more or less continuous belt of mountains was raised up round the border of the great sunken area of the Pacific, and this belt as a whole is characterized by “chronic and acute seismicity.” At times the earthquakes occur within the belt itself, though a large proportion have their epicentres on its submerged frontal slope.

The South Island of New Zealand and the eastern part of the North are on the crest of the great mountain ridge or crustal fold which forms a portion of the real border of the Pacific. This ridge maintains a relatively straight course north-north-east for 1,600 miles, nearly to Samoa. The Auckland Peninsula, part of a decidedly weaker fold, meets the main fold nearly at right angles in the Rotorua-Taupo volcanic region. The earthquakes of this seismically sensitive district, though they may be locally severe, are not usually felt far from their points of origin. On the other hand, the tectonic earthquakes that occur along the main earth-fold shake large areas, some of them being recorded on instruments through out the world. These are caused by the slipping of earth-blocks against their neighbours along fractures, and, fortunately for New Zealand, the most severe earthquakes have their origin along the great shears that probably cut the submerged flank of the main fold about 200 miles east of the North Island. The crest in New Zealand is not straight or simply curved and the elevation is not constant; elongated uplifted areas, most of them in linear series though some overlap, form a continuous ridge.

Many great faults and fault-zones have been traced for long distances, but a few only have been active since European occupation. Movement along a north-trending fault seven miles west of Murchison raised the ground east of the fault about 15 ft., and caused it to shift north-west about 9 ft. The uplift gradually decreases eastward, and dies out sixteen miles from the fault, facts indicating a slight tilt of the earth-block toward the east. Recent levellings show that the block is sinking somewhat irregularly, a movement, no doubt, causing some of the innumerable local after-shocks still being felt in the area. Other sensible earth-movement occurred in connection with the Taupo earthquake series of 1922,*the Amuri earthquake of 1888, the Wellington earthquake of 1855, and probably the Awatere earthquake of 1848. There is also definite evidence of geologically recent differential movement of earth-blocks at several widely separated points in both Islands.

The origin of the New Zealand seismic region will be seen to arrange themselves in groups as follows:—

Group I.—Earthquakes felt most strongly on south-east coast of North Island; the origins form a strip 180 miles from the coast, parallel to the axis of New Zealand, and to axis of folding of older rocks in Hawke's Bay. Chief shocks: 17th August, 1868; 7th March, 1890; 23rd and 29th July, 1904; 9th August, 1904 (intensity IX on R.-F. scale); 8th September, 1904; prob. 23rd February, 1863 (IX, R.-F.); &c.

According to the late Captain F. W. Hutton, F.R.S., the geological evidence shows that New Zealand rose considerably in the older Pliocene period, and was then probably joined to the Chatham Islands. At a later period subsidence occurred, followed again by elevation in the Pleistocene period, with oscillations of level since. The seismic origins of this group are at the foot of a sloping submarine plateau, about two hundred miles wide, which culminates to the east-south-east in the Chatham Islands. This elevation is separated from the New Zealand coast by a trough from 1,000 to 2,000 fathoms in depth, which is widest and deepest between these origins and the mainland.

Group II.

  1. South-east of Otago Peninsula. Shocks: 20th November, 1872, &c.

  2. A strip south-east of Oamaru. Shocks: February, 1870; April, 1876; &c.

  3. Many short and jerky, but generally harmless, quakes felt in Christchurch.

Banks Peninsula, and mid-Canterbury. Chief shocks: 31st August, 1870; 27th December, 1888 (VII, R.-F.); &c. Focus of 1888 shock, sixteen miles long, from west-south-west to cast-north-east, twenty-four to twenty-live miles below surface, being the deepest ascertained origin in the New Zealand region.

These origins form a line parallel to the general axis of the land. It is possible that the loading of the sea-Floor by the detritus brought clown by the rivers of Canterbury and Otago is a contributing cause of the earthquakes of this group.

Group III.—Wellington earthquakes of January, 1855, and Cheviot earthquakes of 16th November, 1901, and of 25th December, 1922 (VIII, R.-F.).

The origin of the earthquake of 1855 was probably the fault that forms the eastern boundary of the Rimutaka Range and the western boundary of the Wairarapa Valley.

The origin of the Cheviot earthquake of 1901 was probably in or near the southern continuation of this fault.

The great earthquakes of October, 1848, probably came from the same region as those of January, 1855. The chief shocks of both series did extensive damage to property, and caused the formation of large rifts in the earth's surface. The Wairau Earthquake on 25th July, 1931 (VII R.-F.), probably belongs to this group.

Group IV.

  1. Region about twenty-Five to thirty miles in length, and ten miles or less in width, running nearly north-north-cast from middle of Lake Sumner, about twenty miles below the surface, whence proceed most of the severer shocks felt from Christchurch to the Amuri, and a large number of minor shocks. Chief earthquakes: 1st February, 1868; 27th August to 1st September, 1871; 14th September and 21st October, 1878; 11th April, 1884; 5th December, 1881 (VIII, R.-F.), when Christchurch Cathedral spire was slightly injured; 1st September, 1888 (IX, R.-F.), when upper part of same spire fell, and still more severe damage was done in the Amuri district; 9th March, 1929 (IX, R.-F.).

  2. A small shallow origin not more than five to ten miles below the surface, a few miles south of Nelson. Earthquake: 12th February, 1893 (VIII to IX, R-F.); chimneys thrown down and buildings injured.

  3. Origin in Cook Strait, north-north-east of Stephen Island, about ten miles wide, and apparently traceable with few interruptions nearly to mouth of Wanganui River; depth, fifteen miles or more. More than half the earthquakes recorded in New Zealand belong to this region; earthquake of 8th December, 1897 (VIII to IX, R.-F.), and other severer ones came from south-south-west end. Probably the first recorded New Zealand earthquake, felt by Captain Furneaux on the 11th May, 1773, belonged to this region. Also 8th May, 1929 (VIII, R.-F.), and 29th May, 1929 (VII, R.-F.).

  4. Taupo Earthquakes.—During June and July, 1922, earthquakes were almost continuous in the Taupo district. The shocks reached intensity VIII on the Rossi-Forel scale, and then gradually subsided. Conditions were practically normal by the end of the year. The shocks were restricted to a small area of country, and were felt most strongly at Taupo, Wairakei, and Oruanui. The disturbances were accompanied by loud rumblings. No effect appears to have been produced on the thermal activities of the region. Considerable subsidence was reported along the north side of Lake Taupo in a general north-easterly direction.

    Former smart shocks in this region were reported in September-October, 1897.

  5. Morrinsville Earthquakes.—During November and December, 1926, earthquakes similar to the Taupo ones of 1922 were felt in and around Morrinsville. The earthquakes were apparently of shallow origin, and were probably caused by a movement along a fault trending west-north-west on the eastern side of the Pakaroa Range. The average intensity of the shocks was about IV, although one shock reached VIII on the Rossi-Forel scale. As in the case of the Taupo earthquakes, there was no evidence of any variation in the thermal activities of the district.

  6. An origin near Mount Tarawera, with a large number of moderate or slight shocks, most, but not all, volcanic and local in character—e.g., those of September, 1866, and those of June, 1886, which accompanied and followed the well-known eruption of Mount Tarawera.

These origins of Group IV are nearly in a straight line on the map; on or near the same line are the origins of earthquakes felt in the Southern Lakes District (15th December, 1883, etc.), the volcanoes Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, Tongariro. Tarawera, and White Island. It is evident that this line, which, like the rest, is parallel or nearly so to the general axis, is a line of weakness or of unstable equilibrium. Hence the adjusting movements that have caused earthquakes may have from time to time relieved the pressure of the rocks that restrained overheated steam and other volcanic agents from bursting out, and so may have led to volcanic eruptions; just as the series of earthquakes in Guatemala and in the Caribbean Sea in April and May, 1902, were the signs of movements in the great folds of that part of the earth's crust, in the course of which, the pressure in the Antillean Ridge being relieved, the volcanic forces below Mount Pelée in Martinique, and Mount Souffriére in St. Vincent, caused the disastrous eruptions of that year.

Group V.—Off the west coast of the North Island near Raglan and Kawhia. Chief shock: 24th June, 1891 (VII to VIII, R.-F.). The line joining this origin to that of the earthquake of 1st February, 1882, is parallel to the other lines of origin (Groups I to IV); but we have no data to establish any connection between them.

* P.G. Morgan: N.Z. Geological Survey; Annual Report for the year 1923, p. 10.

† Alexander McKay: Reports of Geological Explorations during 1888–89. Wellington, 1890.

‡ New Zealand Government Gazette, Wellington, vol. 2, No. 14, 17th October, 1885, p. 116. Sir Charles Lyell, “The Principles of Geology,” tenth edition, 1868, vol. 2, p. 82. London: John Murray.

§ New Zealand Government Gazette, Auckland, vol. 1, No. 27, 13th November, 1848, and vol. 1, No. 29, 20th November, 1848. H. S. Chapman in Westminster Review, vol. 51, 1849.


The outstanding seismic feature of the year 1931 was the disastrous earthquake which visited Hawke's Bay on the 3rd February. The epicentre of this earthquake was on the coast-line of Hawke's Bay at a distance of from five to fifteen miles north of Napier; whilst a detailed study of the seismograph records indicated that the centre of disturbance was from ten to fifteen miles below the earth's surface.

This shock was felt over practically the whole of New Zealand as a swaying motion. It reached intensity 10 on the Rossi-Forel scale in the Napier-Hastings region, and exceeded intensity 8 at many places in the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay districts. The following is a list of the places, arranged in order of latitude, where the shock reached or exceeded R.-F. 8:—

Station.Intensity (R.-F. Scale).
Te Aute9

Aftershocks were frequent immediately following the main earthquake, but, fortunately, the activity subsided fairly rapidly. During the remaining days of February 595 aftershocks were recorded: but in March the number fell to seventy-nine. Immediately after the big earthquake a Milne-Jaggar shock-recorder was installed at Hastings. This recorder has been in continuous operation, and has produced an accurate record of earthquakes in the Hawke's Bay region. The number of shocks recorded at Hastings for each month of 1931 has shown a gradual decline, only twelve being recorded in December.

Epicentres were determined for forty of the principal aftershocks in 1931, the majority of which occurred in February. The positions of the epicentres for 1931 are shown on the accompanying map.

A second severe shock took place on the 13th February, reaching R.-F. 8 at a number of places in Hawke's Bay. The epicentre of this shock was located about thirty miles east of Napier (see map).

A number of other notable earthquakes occurred during 1931; they are included in the following summary:—


New Zealand Mean TimePosition of Epicentre.Maximum R-F. Intensity as feltStation reporting Maximum Intensity.
South Lat.East Long.
Feb.310163920177..10Hawke's Bay.
1312583950177508Hawke's Bay.
16231841..172306Farewell Spit.
2761841..172..6Farewell Spit, Murchison.
Mar.8232039..178..7Hawke's Bay.
13211241..172..6Kahurangi Point.
26221840..175306Palmerston North.
April495140..174..5West Coast, North Island.
22111039..178..7Hawke's Bay.
2520642..172306Takaka, Murchison
June223373730179..6Gisborne, Hawke's Bay.
July251454130173407Farewell Spit.

Several new seismological stations were established in various parts of New Zealand during the year 1931. The purpose of establishing seismographs in different localities is to enable earthquake epicentres to be determined with greater precision, and also to enable some light to he thrown on the velocity of the earthquake waves as they radiate outwards from the origin.

At the Dominion Observatory, Wellington, two Milne-Shaw horizontal seismographs and a Galitzin-Wilip vertical seismograph have been in continuous operation. On the 28th January a Wood-Anderson short-period seismograph was established for the purpose of recording local earthquakes. The Ishimoto clinograph, for recording tilt, has been in continuous operation at the Observatory.

A Milne seismograph which was installed at Arapuni in July, 1930, has given continuous records.

The Imamura strong-motion seismograph was transferred from Wellington to Takaka in January, 1931.

Immediately after the Hawke's Bay earthquake on the 3rd February a Milne-Jaggar shock-recorder was placed at Hastings for recording aftershocks.

On the 6th February a Wood-Anderson seismograph was established at New Plymouth. On the 30th April this seismograph station was discontinued, until August, when it was re-established at the New Plymouth Prison.

In July, 1931, a Wood-Anderson seismograph was installed at the Magnetic Observatory, Christchurch.

A Milne seismograph has continued in operation at the Magnetic Observatory, Christchurch.

A set of Wiechert seismographs with mechanical registration is installed at the Observatory at Apia, Samoa.

One twin-boom Milne seismograph is installed at Suva, Fiji, and by the courtesy of the Government of Fiji the seismograms are forwarded to the Dominion Observatory. The Fiji records are useful in supplementing those of New Zealand.

The records of the New Zealand stations are sent to the General Secretary of the Seismological Committee of the British Association, to the Station Centrale Seismological, Strasbourg, France, and to the principal observatories of the world.

The following table gives the number of earthquakes recorded on the seismographs at the various New Zealand stations:—

Month, 1931.WellingtonArapuni.Takaka.HastingsNew Plymouth.Christchurch.

NOTE.—The stations at Takaka, Hastings, and New Plymouth were not established in January. The New Plymouth seismograph was not recording during the months of May, June, and July. The numbers given for Christchurch are those from the Wood-Anderson seismograph only, which was established in July.


The following is a complete summary of earthquakes as reported felt in New Zealand for the Year 1931:—

Month.Number of Earthquakes reported.Maximum Intensity R.-F. Scale.Locality of Maximum.
North Island.South Island.Both Islands.Total.
January441..455Kahurangi Point
February332164810Hawke's Bay.
March24373577Hawke's Bay.
June269..357Opotiki, Wairoa.
July2993357Hinakura, Porangahau, Farewell Spit.
August12141255Hawke's Bay.
October156..215Hawke's Bay.
November9123186Kahurangi Point, Murchison.
Totals2282252143110Hawke's Bay.

Since 1888 there has been established in New Zealand a system of observing local earthquakes at selected telegraph-stations, and more recently at lighthouses distributed throughout the extent of the Dominion.

Whenever a shook occurs and is felt by an officer in charge of one of these stations he fills up a form giving the New Zealand mean time of the beginning of the shock, its apparent duration and direction, and the principal effects observed by him. Some of the officers exhibit considerable care and skill in making up these returns, and the data have been used to determine principal origins of earthquakes within the New Zealand region. A number of private observers also assist in reporting earthquakes.

The following table gives the number of earthquakes in 1931, in which the maximum intensity reached various numbers in the Rossi-Forel scale of intensity:—

Month, 1931.Rossi-Forel Intensity.Totals.
Per cent. totals0.910.831.733.713.

The maximum intensity experienced in each of the years 1921 to 1931 (inclusive) is given in the following table:—

Year.Maximum Intensity R-F. Scale.year.Maximum Intensity R-F. Scale.

Deaths Due to Earthquakes in New Zealand.

Prior to the Hawke's Hay earthquake on 3rd February, 1931, deaths due to earthquakes in New Zealand were very few.

The following table gives the number of deaths due to earthquakes which have occurred since 1848:—

Date of Earthquake.Locality.Resulting Deaths.
* Deaths registered only. The actual total of deaths possibly reaches 260.
1848, OctoberWellington3
1855, January 23rd"1
1901, March 16thCheviot1
1913, April 12thMasterton1
1914, October 17thGisborne1
1929, June 17thBuller17
1931, February 3rdHawke's Bay251*

The rapid increase in the number of deaths in recent years must be regarded as a natural consequence of the increase in population and settlement. It is not necessarily due to increasing seismic activity.

An important factor in considering the havoc wrought by an earthquake is the position of the epicentre with regard to the centres of population. The Buller earthquake of June, 1920, and the Hawke's Bay earthquake of February, 1931, are both classed as seismological disturbances of the first magnitude, and both would have been attended by equally disastrous results had they occurred in equally populated districts. This was not the case however: the centre of the Buller earthquake was in a sparsely populated region, whilst that of the Hawke's Bay earthquake was within a few miles of two thickly populated towns. Hence the difference in the number of deaths caused by these two great upheavals.


The following article on the climate of New Zealand has been prepared by Dr. E. Kidson, O.B.E., D.Sc., F.N.Z. Inst., Director of Meteorological Services:—

As was the case last year, it has been possible to allot only a small space for the article on climate. The discussion is confined, therefore, to a few aspects. In last year's article data were given for certain stations. This year, in order to extend the information, a somewhat different set will be used. Where data regarding a particular district are found lacking, they will frequently be found on referring to earlier numbers of the Year-Book.

Rainfall.—Of all the climatic elements, probably the one that exerts the greatest influence on our lives is rainfall. It causes us much personal discomfort, but the production of the food by which we live depends directly on the availability of moisture from this source. The distribution of annual rainfall is shown in the accompanying map.

Its control by topography is very conspicuous. Areas exposed to the westerly winds have heavier rains than those protected from them by mountain ranges. Next, the greater the altitude, the greater in general is the precipitation. There must be a limit beyond which precipitation begins to decrease again with altitude, but this has not yet been determined in New Zealand. The indications are that precipitation is heaviest between 3,000 ft. and 4,000 ft. The annual total varies from about 13 in. at Galloway in Central Otago to over 200 in. in parts of the Southern Alps.

The distribution of the precipitation throughout the year is little less important than its total amount, the effect of rainfall in winter, for example, being very different from that in summer. There are three principal factors controlling the annual variation of rainfall in New Zealand. The first of these is the proximity to the high-pressure belt in the subtropics. In this belt the rainfall year is divided into a dry summer and a wet winter season. We will call this distribution type A. As the distance from the high-pressure belt increases, the contrast between summer and winter decreases, so that by the time southern New Zealand is reached the variation due to this factor is small. The next most important factor is the influence of the prevailing westerly winds. These bring rains to the areas exposed to them, while those which are protected from them by mountain ranges have little rain when the westerlies are blowing. Now, the westerly winds are strongest in spring, the maximum How being in October. There is a temporary drop in February, followed by a partial recovery in the autumn, but the How is least in winter. The regime of the westerly winds, therefore, tends to produce a second type of annual variation, type C, in which the rainfall is heaviest in spring, falls somewhat in the late summer, increases again in the autumn, and falls to a minimum in winter.

The third factor is the convection which takes place during periods of light winds, clear skies, and intense sunshine, especially when the preceding winds have brought, cold air over the land from the South. After conditions of the type mentioned have endured for several days, the convection is likely to be so intense as to produce local showers. These are often heavy, sometimes accompanied by thunder, and occasionally of the nature of local cloud-bursts. Rainfall of this type is most common in the interior of continents. Being caused by solar radiation, it is most frequent when solar radiation is strongest—namely, in summer. According to type B. therefore, we would have a relatively wet summer and a dry winter.


Cape Maria van Diemen1.712.882.033.864.834.623.993.732.842.561.611.6536.31
Auckland2.743.043 013.544 664 955.074.233.713.723.312.9144.89
Rotorua4.213.703.514.525.725.235 054.975.
Tolaga Bay3.214.424.735.497.716.386.706.063.603.262.963.0357.55
Riversdale, Inglewood7.566.
Waitatapia, Bulls2.432.502.463 003.533.183.252.682.783.633.222.7135.37
Ditton, near Masterton3.142.963.583.675.454.985.594.783.714.363.563.0148.79
Wellington2.812.673 113.533.984.194.713.823.113.412.902.8441.08
Nelson2.802.592 962.993.063.543.523.033.693.492.992.9837.64
Marshlands, Blenheim2
Hanmer3.933 193.283.304.393.564.443.414.653.873.613.9445.57
Peel Forest4.844.054.383.542.512.753.422.573.773.854.014.8544.54
Clyde1.821 061.501.421.000.930.920.801.051 621.351.7915.26

A rainfall régime of type A in a fairly pure form is experienced in the part of the Auckland Province, north, roughly, of Kawhia and Tauranga, and on the eastern side of the main ranges from Cook Strait to East Cape. It is still dominant in the lower country about the Tasman and Golden Bays, and in Marlborough and North Canterbury. Type C is developed strongly in Westland and the south-west Fiord country. It is shown fairly well by Hokitika, but much more distinctly if the data for a number of West Coast stations be combined. It is dominant in the far South, in the mountains of Nelson, and in the portion of the North Island not yet referred to.

In this latter are?, however, types B and C combine in varying proportions. Most districts show the effect of the westerly winds in a relatively high rainfall in October, but this is least noticeable in the low country east of the main ranges. The areas where type C dominates are those with the heaviest rainfall. Type B is dominant in the interior and southern portions of Canterbury and the central and eastern portions of Otago, and is characteristic of the dry areas of the provinces mentioned. The summer rains of this type are of great importance to the farming communities in the interior of Canterbury and Otago. The regime of annual rainfall experienced had an important influence in determining the nature of the primitive vegetation in the various districts.


New Plymouth12.111.011.814.317.517.618.217.917.717.816.813.9189.6
Halfmoon Bay17.117.417.818.319.719.918.818.919.219.720.718.1229.0

Next to the amount and the annual variation of precipitation, the frequency with which it falls is its most important characteristic. In Table 2 the average number of days with rain in each month is given for some representative stations. A day with rain is one on which 0.005 in. or more is measured. Generally speaking, there is a fairly close relationship in New Zealand between the amount of rain and the number of rain days, but the latter is not directly proportional to the rainfall. There are considerable areas on the west coast of the South Island, for instance, which have ten or more times as much rain as the driest portions of the interior, but only about double the number of rain days. Marlborough seems to have a small number of wet days compared with its rainfall. To the south of New Zealand there is a rapid increase in cloudiness, showers fall with great frequency, and the number of rain days becomes high. This effect begins to be felt at Stewart Island, as can be seen from the data for Half-moon Bay. New Zealand is extremely fortunate in that even where the rainfall is very heavy, intervals between rains are almost everywhere sufficiently frequent and prolonged to ensure adequate drainage, while there is enough sunshine to dry the soil-surface. Otherwise, large areas in the west and south would be covered with peat.

Temperature.—Temperature is no less important in determining the living conditions of a country and the yield from its soil than rainfall. But it is much less variable, and in the Southern Hemisphere, especially, is largely determined by latitude. Its influence is, therefore, taken much more for granted. The specification of the temperature of a place is, however, not so simple a matter as might appear. Many different factors are involved in the determination of the precise temperatures experienced in any locality. The sea, for instance, responds very slowly to both daily and yearly changes in the amount of heat received from the sun, while on the land the response is rapid. Consequently, the nearer a station is to the sea the smaller are its daily and yearly fluctuations of temperature. It is to this effect that the principal difference between a continental and a marine climate is due. Although New Zealand is narrow, the high ranges shield the country to the cast of them to a considerable extent, so that there is a nearer approach to continental conditions than would otherwise be expected, particularly in the interior of Canterbury and Otago. Again, on plain country the air tends to stagnate, especially at night. At night-time the surface layer cools rapidly through radiation from the ground, while during the day it becomes heated by the sun. There is less stagnation in the warm layer of the daytime than in the cold layer of the night. Consequently, stations on level plains or plateaux tend to be subject to frost and to have a relatively low mean temperature. The effect is accentuated near the slopes of hills because the cold air flows away down the slopes to lower levels. The hills, therefore, gain freedom from frost at the expense of the plains. In windy situations, also, the susceptibility to frost is lowered owing to the prevention of stagnation. Apart from the effects due to air-drainage and windiness, the temperature decreases with altitude. In temperate latitudes the fall is about 9° F. per kilometre. It is unsound, therefore, to compare, for example, temperatures recorded at Thorndon, Wellington, which was only 12 ft. above sea-level, with those at the present meteorological station at Kelburn, which is at an altitude of 415 ft., without making allowance for this difference in altitude. Such a procedure would lead to the erroneous conclusion that the climate had become colder. If charts of mean temperature are to be prepared it is clear that they will be very complicated, especially in a mountainous country like New Zealand, owing to this effect of altitude. It is usual, therefore, to simplify matters by applying a correction at the rate of 9° F. per kilometre or approximately 2.7 F. per 1,000 ft. This has been done in Table 3. The Rotorua values, for example, have been increased by 2.5 F., the station being 925 ft. above sea-level. If the actual temperature is required, it can be found by reversing this process.

In New Zealand publications it has been the general practice to derive monthly mean temperatures from the means of the daily maximum and minimum. But, even on the average, the mean of the maximum and minimum differs slightly from the true mean for the day. The correction to the mean for the day has been determined, from the records of thermographs, with fair accuracy at Wellington and more roughly at several other places.

In table 3, therefore, the temperatures are reduced to sea-level and mean of day. For the remainder of the temperature tables the observed readings have been used without-correction. All are in Fahrenheit degrees.


New Plymouth62.962.961.257.854.451.449.750.

The stations given in the above table were chosen with a view to illustrating the effect of changing latitude, the difference between east and west coasts, especially in the South Island, and the contrast between coastal and inland conditions. Waipoua is in the Auckland Peninsula, north of Dargaville, and Ophir in Central Otago.


Mean daily maximum72.672.970.966.962.158.657.057.860.
Mean highest maximum78.672.976.472.267.364.062.562.865.468.672.075.779.7
Absolute highest max.81.585.079.077.471.
Mean daily minimum59.760.458.555.351.348.
Mean lowest minimum51.853.051.546.442.739.538.139.141.744.347.149.437.3
Absolute lowest min.
Days of frost in screen........................0.0
Days of ground frost..........

Table 5. TABLE 5.—TAIHAPE (2,157 FT.).

Mean daily maximum68.067.364.659.952.848.547.448.852.857.459.664.357.6
Mean highest maximum78.077.374.469.
Absolute highest max.87.381.078.75.569.863.261.061.867.073.474.282.087.3
Mean daily minimum50.049.848.244.940.737.636.436.639.
Mean lowest minimum39.539.538.234.631.929.228.028.730.032.034.437.026.4
Absolute lowest min.31.932.
Days of frost, in screen......
Days of ground frost0.


Mean daily maximum69.369.366.962.958.354.853.154.357.560.463.266.761.3
Mean highest maximum78.177.774.970.265.361.359.661.564.568.
Absolute highest max.
Mean daily minimum55.755.854.251.347.244.142.442.845.748.450.353.849.1
Mean lowest minimum46.446.744.141.237.434.533.333.436.238.440.944.732.3
Absolute lowest min.39.540.539.135.731.929.928.629.
Days of frost in screen........
Days of ground frost0.

Table 7. TABLE. 7—HOKITIKA (12 FT.).

Mean daily maximum66.466.564.761.256.853.352.653.656.458.760.663.859.5
Mean highest maximum73.572.571.367.763.759.558.659.562.364.767.070.975.9
Absolute highest max.79.082.484.574.071.563.565.067.167.669.
Mean daily minimum53.
Mean lowest minimum43.243.540.636.532.129.929.029.832.235.238.441.928.1
Absolute lowest min.
Days of frost in screen......
Days of ground frost0.


Mean daily maximum70.469.266.462.155.851.150.352.357.662.465.869.261.0
Mean highest maximum86.683.781.475.768.762.561.564.970.676.179.884.088.4
Absolute highest max.95.794.189.882.377.869.370.
Mean daily minimum52.852.549.745.039.936.035.136.340.544.047.150.844.3
Mean lowest minimum41.240.937.232.328.626.126.026.729.432.135.439.024.7
Absolute lowest min.34.334.230.425.621.321.522.723.025.526.030.833.021.3
Days of frost in screen....
Days of ground frost0.

Table 9. TABLE 9.—DUNEDIN (240 FT.).

Mean daily maximum66.565.963.158.953.349.347.950.355.159.161.664.558.0
Mean highest maximum81.180.577.371.864.459.357.461.566.873.075.378.084.3
Absolute highest max.
Mean daily minimum49.749.547.844.841.038.637.438.240.642.944.948.043.6
Mean lowest minimum41.341.539.136.733.831.230.531.233.034.837.040.029.4
Absolute lowest min.
Days of frost in screen........
Days of ground frost..

Table 10. TABLE 10.—GORE. (245 FT.).

Mean daily maximum69.068.966.166 153.747.747.151.756.860.963.166.459.3
Mean highest maximum84.984.380.273.864.958.457.
Absolute highest, max.93.091.589.
Mean daily maximum46.746.044.040.435.732.431.633.237.540.842.244.939.6
Mean lowest, minimum35.134.932.929.225.923.522.924.628.230.832.035.021.4
Absolute lowest mill.30.030
Days of frost in screen0.
Days of ground frost0.81.43.26

The accompanying tables (Nos. 4 to 10) relate to temperature extremes. The first line gives the average of the maximum temperatures as observed each day, the second the average of the highest temperatures observed in each month and the year, and the third the highest yet recorded. Corresponding information regarding minimum temperatures follows. Next-comes the average number of days on which the minimum temperature in the thermometer screen falls below 32° F. This gives some idea of the susceptibility to severe frosts, such as would affect fruit-trees. The last line gives the number of ground frosts. According to the British Convention, a ground frost is recorded when the grass minimum thermometer falls below 30.4 F., damage being unlikely at higher temperatures. In the preparation of these tables some of the older records have, for various reasons, been discarded.


Auckland219.4191 9179.5143 9131 8114.1120.9150.4149.7169.2191.9200.61,972.5
New Plymouth250.0230.7221 6164.9159.8132.0143.0178.2166.0174.3209.2238.72,275.0
Napier261.2212.0211.0189.0150.7140.4144.9180.6212.3228.8242.4262.52,451 4
Hokitika213.5189.7183.1138.9130.4114 0127.5152.5146.9163.9175.0200.81,942.2
Lincoln College213.0197.0170.9149.1136.9114.8115.3148.9174.6197.1211.8205.32,040.7
Timaru203.2181 3173.9132.7148.9130.3129.3147.4169.1174.5197.7169.71,958.0
Lake Tekapo267.3235.2238.6191.5174.7122.7140.7154.2180.3220.0227.0205.52,418.3
Alexandra230.8223.9217.0172.0130.7108.2118.9149 0174.3219.0198.8223.82,166.4
Dunedin187.9157.3144.6120.6104.488.998.4121 7144.2157.3104.7170.11,660.1
Gore225.7182.8168.4127.7117.2100.6115.8142.6160.3177.0206.0211 41,930.1

Sunshine—In Table II are listed for each month and the year the average number of hours of sunshine at all places from which a sufficiently long record is available. The greatest amounts are recorded at places protected from the prevailing winds by high mountain ranges. The excellence of New Zealand's climate, particularly for the growth of pasture, is undoubtedly due to the abundance of sunshine combined with a high rainfall and an absence of extreme temperatures.

Fog.—Fog does not play an important part in New Zealand weather. Most of the fogs recorded are shallow radiation fogs occurring only in the early morning. During the approach of cyclonic depressions, however, widespread and persistent fog is a frequent occurrence. Occasionally parts of the coast are affected by fog in calm weather. The landlocked harbours and estuaries of North Auckland, as illustrated by the record from Rangiahua on Hokianga Harbour, appear to be unusually susceptible.

Snows.—Snow is rare at sea-level, especially in the North Island. In the interior and at high altitudes it occurs more frequently. On the summits of the ranges in the whole length of the South Island and on the highest peaks in the North Island snow falls, on the average, on over thirty days per annum. In the interior of the South Island there is a considerable area of settled country which is subject to half that, number. Towards the coast, however, the number falls off rapidly. Data regarding snow lying are scanty. In the North Island any snow falling on the low levels almost invariably melts as it falls, but on the high plateaux it may lie, especially in the hollows, for from one to three weeks during the year. In the South Island it practically never lies at low levels on the north or west coasts, but on the east coast does so on a few days in some years. At altitudes between 500 ft. and l.000ft. in the interior of the South Island the average number of days appears to be between seven and fourteen. Railway traffic is interfered with by snow to an almost negligible extent.

Hail.—Hail experienced more frequently as the latitude increases and on the west coast than on the east, the rise in frequency in the extreme south-west and about Foveaux Strait being very marked. It occurs more often in spring than at other times of year. The majority of the hailstorms recorded, however, are harmless, the stones being quite small. Occasionally, severe hailstorms are experienced in New Zealand, the stones reaching a diameter of from 1/2 in. upwards. These are usually associated with thunderstorms, and are probably little less numerous on the east coast than the west and in the North Island as in the South.

Thunder.—Thunderstorms are more numerous in the North than in the South and on the west than on the cast side of the main ranges. They are very rare in eastern districts in winter.

Strong Winds.—The figures in Table 16 include a proportion of high winds (force 7 on the Beaufort scale) as well as gales (force 8 and over). The figures for Wellington show the effect of the concentration of the winds through Cook Strait.

Table 12. TABLE 11.—DAYS WITH FOG.

Lincoln College0.


New Plymouth......0.0..
Mount Somers0.1..


New Plymouth0.
Half-moon Bay0.


New Plymouth0.
G w a v a s (Tikokino, Hawke's Bay)


New Plymouth1.


January.—Very dry and cold conditions had been experienced during and until the end of 1930, but in January, 1931, good general rains fell, and a considerable improvement took place in the condition of the land. The month was a stormy one and temperatures were still somewhat below average. The rain was particularly heavy on the west coast of the South Island, the southern half having probably the wettest January since settlement commenced. Some flooding occurred. Parts of the eastern districts in both Islands had less than the average precipitation.

February.—This was another very cold and stormy month. In the strength and frequency of north-westerly winds it resembled one of the spring months. Rainfall was much below normal in eastern and northern portions of the North Island. In the South Island south from Nelson it was above normal, southern districts again having a very wet time. The growth of vegetation was retarded.

March was very dry, but the effect of the dry conditions was mitigated by cool temperatures and an absence of wind. In the Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay districts the situation was relieved by good rains.

April.—Though the weather was fine and mild during most of April, there were four stormy periods, two being of unusual severity. The first of these occurred on the 2nd and 3rd, and was accompanied by northerly gales, which were very strong about Cook Strait. In parts of the Tararua Mountains and northern Nelson rains of unprecedented amount were recorded. The highest known floods occurred in the Hutt and Otaki rivers. Extraordinary high tides occurred at Nelson. On the coast of Westland there was a remarkable accumulation of foam. In places it was heaped up to a height of 8 f t. This storm occurred, unfortunately, at the beginning of the Easter holidays. Much damage was done and several accidents were caused, two lives being lost. The second period of severe storm was between the 7th and the 12th. The southerly gale on the 11th was only slightly less severe than the northerly previously mentioned. The month was, in the mean, cool, but there was no very severe cold spell. The heavy rains connected with the storms produced a considerable improvement in the condition of pastures in most districts.

May.—Temperatures were again somewhat below normal. The rainfall was approximately normal in Westland and Stewart Island, hut elsewhere only about half the average.

June.—Rainfall and temperature remained much below normal. A number of extensive snowfalls occurred.

July.—Much boisterous weather was experienced, and there were further heavy and widespread falls of snow. That on the 19th to the 20th was in many places the heaviest for the past thirty to fifty years. For the third month in succession rainfall continued to be deficient in South Canterbury and North Otago. Elsewhere precipitation was above normal. Mean temperatures did not depart much from the average.

August.—Rainfall was below average in most of the North Island, Marlborough, and North Canterbury, but elsewhere mainly above. Temperatures were below normal and frosts were numerous. A severe north-west gale occurred on the 12th, damage being done in Canterbury.

September.—Temperatures were again low, and many districts had the coldest September on record. The weather was stormy, southerly winds predominating. Growth of pasture remained backward and there was considerable mortality amongst lambs. Most districts had more than the average rainfall. A widespread fall of snow occurred on the night of the 5th, being particularly heavy in the central portion of the North Island. Another severe northerly gale was experienced in Canterbury on the 8th, trees, fences, and telegraph-lines being damaged. A violent thunderstorm struck Reefton on the night of the 8th. Windows were cracked and the telephone and electric-light systems thrown into confusion.

October provided a marked contrast with the preceding months of the year. The weather was mainly fine, with a prevalence of warm northerly winds and bright sunshine. The 24th was an exception, a bitter cold southerly on that day bringing hail and snow showers to many parts of the South Island and the central portion of the North. In the severe frost which followed, much damage was done to orchards and tender vegetation. Rainfall during the month was almost everywhere below average. On the 10th, for the third time since the beginning of August, a north-westerly gale wrought considerable destruction on the Canterbury Plains. Heavy rain in the Alps caused floods in the Canterbury and West Coast rivers. On the 20th a northerly gale reached its greatest severity at Dunedin, where damage was done to buildings, fences, and gardens. The wind was the strongest experienced in the city for many years.

Summary of Meteorological Observations for 1931.

The observations were taken at 9 a.m.

Station.Temperatures in Shade.Hours of Sunshine.Rainfall.
Mean Daily Maximum.Mean Daily Minimum.Approx Mean Temperature.Extremes for 1931.Absolute Maximum.Absolute Minimum.Total Fall.Number of Days.
Maximum and Month.Minimum and Month.
* Some data are missing from these stations.
Waihi64.140 655.484.1Jan.25.0Aug.80.021 02,124.376.6157
Te Aroha66.946.056.486.0Jan.22.0Jun95.021.0..46.44146
New Plymouth61.548.555.073.7Feb.29.2June89.027.02,271.055.82183
Taihape56.441.849.177.0Dec.20.4June 87820.4..37.12176
Palmerston North*61.246.353.881.5Dec.27.0July, Aug.91 023.01,756.238.05179
Masterton63.742.753.287.2Jan.24.0Aug. Sept.95.422.42,206.230 70149
Nelson62.345.053.680.8Feb.28.2June92 025.02,710.036.35107
Hanmer Springs60.937.849.385.2Dec.9.2July97.09.22,097.342.05142
Balmoral Plantation61.7140.151.086.0Nov.12,0July......25.54109
Lake Coleridge60.540.250.480.0Feb.12.5July93.012.5..34.92127
Rudstone, Methven58.941.850.485.0Feb.25.0July......34.21128
Ashburton61.040.450.787.8Jan. Feb.19.8Aug.94 019.81,936.420.50116
The Hermitage55.534.344.980.2Jan.13.0Nov., Dec.....1,581.8200.70155
Lake Tekapo56.237 146.780.6Nov.13.4July....2,035.121.0192
Alexandra59.839.449 085.5Dee.16.5July....2,201.814.1494
Manorburn Dam51.733.242.476.5Dec.6.8June......22.14127
Invercargill 57 841.149.480.0Jan. Feb. Nov.20.0July90.019.01,445.042.37211

November was another fine and very warm month. Many places had the highest mean temperature recorded for November. Numerous thunderstorms occurred. On the 12th a particularly severe one, accompanied by deluges of rain, affected the Waimarino and Waipukurau districts. On the 24th to the 25th there was another isolated cold snap. Hail was widespread on the 24th and particularly severe at Leeston and Seafield in Canterbury. The frost of the following night caused much damage to orchards and vegetable crops in Canterbury and Otago. The rainfall was again below average.

December.—Fine, mild, and sunny weather continued throughout the greater part of the month. Heavy and general rains in the middle portion were of great benefit to crops and pastures. The rainfall in most eastern districts, however, still remained below normal. Thunderstorms were again frequent.

Year.—In the North Island rainfall was mainly above average in districts with a westerly aspect from the neighbourhood of Auckland southwards, but in the remainder it was very much below. Indeed, east of the main ranges from East Cape to Cook Strait the year was the driest recorded. Feed was very scarce in these districts, and stock in many eases in very poor condition. In the South Island, mainly owing to heavy rains in January and February, there was as great an excess of rain on the west coast as there had been a deficit in 1930. In some of the wettest country the normal was exceeded by as much as 50 in. East of the ranges, practically all the plain country had much less than the average. For most of these parts the driest year known is 1915, and so far as annual totals are concerned, 1931 was not so dry. In South Canterbury and North Otago, however, the cumulative effect of 1930 and 1931 was little less severe. Some wheat crops were entire failures, and in Canterbury, Marlborough, and parts of Otago pastures were generally in a very bad condition by the end of the year. Nevertheless, in all provinces there were areas where conditions were good, and in the country as a whole production was maintained at a high level.

Temperatures were below normal, but not nearly so much so as in 1930.

For 1931 the mean pressure in inches reduced to sea-level and standard gravity was: Auckland, 30.031; Rotorua, 29.984; Wellington, 29.952; Nelson,29.961; Hokitika, 29.082; Christchurch, 29.897; Dunedin, 29.881.


The. following article on the flora and vegetation of New Zealand is by Dr. L. Cockayne, C.M.O., Ph.D., F.R.S. (Honorary Botanist, State Forest Service):—

For various reasons the plant-life of New Zealand is of peculiar interest, especially its extreme isolation from other land-masses, its flora of diverse origin but with an astonishing number of endemic species and group after group of wild hybrids, the numerous and often peculiar life-forms of its members, its having developed unmolested by grazing and browsing mammals, and its vegetation, so diversified that only a continent extending into the tropics can claim an equality.

The Flora considering in the first place the Ferns, Fern-allies (lycopods, &c.)and Seed-plants (trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, grasses, &c.) consists of about 1,848 species—including under this term a good many well-marked varieties—of which 148 are ferns, 19 fern-allies, 20 conifers (only 1 with a cone in the usual sense), 426 monocotyledons (grasses, sedges, liliaceous plants, orchids, &c.), and 1,235 dicotyledons (mostly trees, shrubs, herbaceous and semi-woody plants), and they belong to 109 families (groups of related genera) and 382 genera (groups of related species). Nearly 79 per cent, of this flora is found wild in no other land (endemic), and the remaining 392 species are chiefly Australian (236), and the balance subantarctic South American (58), Cosmopolitan in a narrow sense (most also Australian), Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, and Polynesian; while a good many of the families and genera are Malayan, which tropical element found its way to New Zealand during a great extension of its area northwards in the early Tertiary period. The high endemism of the flora is not confined to the species, for there are 39 purely New Zealand genera, some of which are only very distantly related to genera elsewhere—e.g., Tupeia, Dactylanthus, Pachycladon, Ixerba, Carpodetus, Myosotidium, Teucridium, and Alseuosmia. The specially large families and genera, together with the number of species each contains, are as follows: Families—Compositae (daisy family), 258; Filices (ferns), 148; Cyperaceae (sedge family), 133; Gramineae (grass family), 131; Umbelliferae (carrot family), 89; Orchidaceae (orchids), 71; Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), 01; Rubiaccae (coprosma family), 55; Onagraceae (willowherb family), 45; Epacridaceae (Australian -heath family), 44; Leguminosae (pea family), 38; Boraginaceae (forget-me-not family), 33. Genera—Hebe (koromikos), 66 at a low estimate; Carex (sedges), 59; Celmisia (mountain-daisies), 56 at least; Coprosma (karamus), 48; Ranunculus (buttercups),47 at least; Epilobium (willowherbs), 41; Olearia (daisy-trees), 35; Senecio (groundsels, mostly ligneous), 35; Poa (poa grasses), 33; Myosotis (forget-menots), 32; and there are 10 other genera with 20 to 30 species, and 11 with from 13 to 19 species. It is not of necessity the large genera which dominate the landscape, for some of the smallest are of particular moment in this regard— e.g., Arundo (toetoe grass), 2 species; Desmoschoenus (pingao), 1 species, which clothes unstable sandhills in the three main islands and extends to the Chathams; Rhopalostylis (nikau-palm), 2 species; Cordyline (cabbage-trees), 4 species; Phormium (New Zealand flax), 2 species; Nothofagus (southern-beeches), 5 species; Corynocarpus (karaka), 1 species; and Leptospermum (manuka), 4 species.

Besides the species and their varieties, the flora contains, according to recent research, no less than 353 groups of hybrids (some with hundreds of distinct forms) between the species, together with many within the species themselves between their varieties; nor is this all, for there are a few well-marked hybrids between certain genera—e.g., Helichrysum by Ewartia and by Gnaphalium, Hebe by Veronica, Leucogenes by Raoulia (edelweiss X vegetable-sheep), and Nothopanax by Pseudopanax. How widespread in New Zealand is wild hybridism appears from the fact that hybrids are now known to occur in 44 families and 101 genera; and were it not that many species never come into contact there would be still more hybrids, for certain species which never meet in nature have spontaneously given rise to hybrid progenies when planted side by side in gardens. This new knowledge concerning natural hybridism is already making radical changes in the classification of New Zealand plants, and it may also have a profound bearing on plant classification in general and on theories of evolution.

The ferns, fern-allies, and seed-plants by no means make up the whole New Zealand flora, but in addition hundreds of species have been described of the less highly organized plants (the mosses, liverworts, algae, fungi, &c.) but they certainly do not nearly represent the total number of such.

Coming next to the primary biological groups of which the flora is composed, the following gives the name of each class and the number of species it contains: Trees (including 12 tree-ferns), 182; shrubs, 316; semi-woody plants (including 10 ferns with short trunks), 241; herbaceous plants (including 93 ferns which grow on the ground),664; grasslike plants, 255; rushlike plants, 49; climbing-plants (mostly ligneous, and including 7 ferns), 51; perching-plants (both ligneous and herbaceous, and including 26 ferns), 45; parasites (mostly ligneous), 17; water-plants (all herbaceous), 28. These biological classes are made up of many life-forms—i.e., the outward forms of plants, and the shape, structure, &c., of their organs—which enable them to occupy definite habitats. In no few instances a plant can modify its form as its habitat changes or if it moves to a different habitat from that to which it is accustomed. The New Zealand flora is particularly rich in such “plastic species,” as they are called. Further, the flora contains quite a number of life-forms rare or wanting in many other floras. Thus there are climbing-plants with extremely long, woody, ropelike stems; shrubs with stiff, wiry, interlaced twigs forming dense masses number about 51, and belong to flattened or “round” stems (mostly species of Carmichaelia); the cypress form, the leaves reduced to scales, as seen in various species of Hebe and Helichrysum, but a form to be expected in the podocarps; trees with leaves bunched together on long trunks, as in the liliaceous cabbage-trees (Cordyline) and certain species of the Australian-heath family (Dracophyllum); the tussock form, with some -10 species, belonging to 5 families and 19 genera.

Not the least interesting feature in this matter of life-forms is the presence in the flora of 200 or more seed-plants which for a longer or shorter period have a juvenile form quite distinct from that of the adult; while in about 165 species the plant remains for many years—it may exceed fifty—a juvenile, and in these eases such may blossom and produce seed, the tree juvenile below and adult above—two species, as it were, on the one plant. In some instances so different are juvenile and adult-that accomplished botanists have described them as different species. How widespread is the phenomenon stands out clearly from the fact that these 165 species belong to 30 families and 50 genera, and that 51 are trees, 82 shrubs, 19 woody climbing-plants, 10 herbaceous plants, and 3 water-plants; a few ferns exhibit the same peculiarity. Rome of the commonest trees come into the above category—e.g., the kahikatea (Podocarpus dacrydioides), the matai [P. spicatus), the kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa), the pokaka (Elacocarpus Hookerianus), the lancewood (Pseudopanax crassifolium), and others.

Taking the flora as a whole, a large proportion of the species are evergreen; conspicuous flowers are far from common; annuals and plants which die yearly to the ground are rare; water-plants are few in number; turf-making grasses are not abundant; and bulbous plants are almost negligible.

Altitude, on the one hand, and proximity to the coast, on the other, have a profound bearing on the distribution of the species. Thus about 140 species are confined to the coast-lino or its immediate vicinity, and 9 families and 35 genera containing 41 species are virtually coastal. Then there are about 560 species which are confined to the lowlands and lower hills, and there are no less than 24 families and 103 genera which are purely lowland. Finally, there is a plentiful high-mountain Flora, with about 510 species belonging to 38 families and 87 genera, which never descend to the lowlands, but as compared with the lowland flora the number of genera (only 16) confined to the high-mountain-hell is trifling.

Latitude has also a strong bearing on plant-distribution, and, apart from a gradual change, there are three critical parallels of latitude—36° S., 38° S., and 42° S. —near which (it may be somewhat to the north or south of the line) many species attain their southern limit. On the other hand, Cook Strait and Foveaux Strait are of but little moment as barriers to advance or retreat. Far greater is the influence of wet and dry local climates, which is most striking; when two such areas impinge on one another as in the case of the wet area which extends from the Tasman Sea to near the eastern base of the Main Divide, which is forest-clad to the timber-line, and the dry area extending thence to the east coast, which is clothed with tussock-grassland. In the dry area of Marlborough and the contiguous wet western area of north-western Nelson, there are 36 species confined to the dry area (locally endemic) and 39 to the wet area. So, too, dry Central Otago possesses 15 locally endemic species. Speaking of the distribution of the species in a wide sense, there is every transition, from those which extend continuously from the north of the North Island to Stewart Island to those found in only one limited area (e.g., Cassinia amoena, near the North Cape; Xeronema Callistemon, on the Poor Knights; Dracophyllum Townsoni, on the Paparoa Range), or those occurring only in two or three distant localities (e.g., Metrosideros Parkinsonii, in north-western Nelson and Great Barrier Island; Pittosporum patulum, near Lake Hawea and in north-western Nelson; Adiantum formonsum, near Dargaville and in the Manawatu Gorge and its immediate neighbourhood).

The physical features of New Zealand; its many types of climate, especially with regard to the annual rainfall and the number of rainy days; its varied altitude, ranging from sea-level to the snowfields of the Southern Alps; its many kinds of soils, particularly their water-holding capacity; the diverse frost-tolerating ability of the species; their aggressive powers—largely a matter of their life-forms and inherent plasticity—all these and other factors have led to a most varied vegetation made up of a host of plant communities, some of which appear out of place in the Temperate Zone. Thus between tide-marks in the northern rivers and estuaries there is a true mangrove community—an unexpected occurrence outside of the tropics; and even so far south as north-western Nelson groves of tall palm trees are a striking feature. But, more than all else of an unexpected character— though familiar enough to all New-Zealanders—is the lowland forest, which resembles in no whit the forests of temperate Europe, Asia, or America, but is a true tropical rain-forest. This tropical character is shown in its groups of tall tree ferns, which may exceed 40 ft. in height; in its wealth of ferns of all kinds; in the abundance of woody, ropelike climbing-plants and huge perching-plants far up in the forest canopy; in the several tiers of undergrowth, consisting of low trees and tall shrubs with smaller shrubs and ferns beneath, and the ground clothed with a deep carpet of filmy ferns, liverworts, and mosses, while the tree-trunks are similarly clad: in short, the forest exhibits prodigal luxuriance of growth, and Nature, as it were, runs riot. Rarely does one tall canopy tree dominate, but the uppermost story of the forest is constructed out of the crowns of various kinds of trees growing side by side, just as the undergrowth is composed of many species. But no forest is homogeneous in its structure, for differences in the topography of the area, in the water content of the soil, and in the relative amount of light in the interior of the forest, lead to various combinations of species. All the same, especially so far as the tall trees are concerned, there is an advance towards stability and uniformity, so that all the forests if not interfered with are progressing towards a “climax association,” as it is named, with (as a rule) the tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) dominant to the north of latitude 42, and the kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa) dominant southwards.

Taking the New Zealand forests of all kinds for the whole of the region, their species number 498 (ferns and their allies 121, conifers 19, monocotyledons 70, dicotyledons 288), and they belong to 70 families and 167 genera, the largest of which are: Families — Ferns, 114; Rubiaceae, 34; Compositae, 32 (but most are confined to subalpine scrub-forest); Cyperaceae, 25; Orchidaceae, 23; Pittosporaceae, 21; Myrtaceae, 18; Araliaceae, 14. Genera — Coprosma, 32; Pittosporum, 21; Hymenophyllum, 19; Blechnum, Uncinia, and Olearia, each 12; Metrosideros, 11. As for the biological groups of forest, they are as follows: Trees, 151 (but a good many are frequently shrubs also); shrubs, 84; herbaceous and semi-woody plants 56; grasslike and rushlike plants, 29; climbing-plants, 33; perching-plants, 17; parasites, 14; and ferns, 114.

The considerable number of species for the whole New Zealand community may easily lead to an exaggerated estimate of the number of species to be found in any ordinary piece of forest, even though of considerable extent. Thus extensive pieces of lowland forest to the north of latitude 42° may possess from 150 to 180 species, and to the south of this parallel from 140 to 100 species, while 125 species is a fairly high estimate for Stewart Island

Another class of forest, though usually possessing many rain-forest characteristics, is that where one or more species of southern-beach (Nothofagus—there, are 5 species and very many hybrids) dominate. Such forests extend—but not continuously— from somewhat south of latitude 37° almost to the shore of Foveaux Strait. Generally they are restricted to the mountains, but in places they descend to sea-level in southern Wellington, northern Marlborough and Nelson, and to the west of the coastal mountains of western Nelson and of the Southern Alps. Throughout the high mountains the southern-beech forests generally form the uppermost forest belt

Nothofagus forest differs from lowland rain-forest in possessing about one-half the number of species and in lacking the exuberant richness of the forest interior, due largely to its comparative poverty in small trees, diversity of shrubs, climbing plants, perching-plants, and ferns, as also to the forest-floor and tree-trunks being but scantily covered, or draped, with filmy ferns, mosses, and the like. A fundamental difference, and one of great economic importance, is that southern-beach forest regenerates into forest of the same class, while rain-forest proper slowly changes into forest dominated by trees of small commercial value, such replacing the valuable timber-trees (kauri, podocarps) when those die; also, all the southern-beeches, as compared with other tall New Zealand trees, are of far more rapid growth.

Where water lies hero and there in shallow pools and the soil is always saturated with moisture there is semi-swamp forest which is of a true rain-forest character, though not directly dependant on a heavy rainfall, its composition depending upon the ability of many rain-forest species to tolerate a constantly wot substratum. Its most marked characteristic is the overwhelming dominance of one tall tree, the kahikatea (Podocarpus dacrydioides), the tall mast-like trunks of which, standing closely side by side, and their absurdly small crowns, stamp the community as absolutely distinct in appearance from any other typo of forest; while in the North Island its physiognomy is made still more remarkable by the astonishing number of asteliads perched on its branches, and resembling gigantic birds' nests. To the north of latitude 42° the pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae) is a common lofty tree. The florula for semi-swamp forest, as a whole, consists of about 138 species, but of these only 4 species are confined almost exclusively to the community. The forest under consideration bids fair in a few years to become almost a thing of the past, since the dominant tree is being rapidly converted into timber for butter-boxes, and the ground occupied by the forest is usually of a high class for dairy-farms

Proximity to the sea leads to a class of forest distinct from the usual lowland type in its composition, in the much lower stature of its members, and in the extreme density of its roof, the last two characters induced by the frequent more or less salt-laden winds. The maritime climate favours the presence of trees which will not tolerate frost, so that a number of well-known trees and shrubs are confined, or nearly so, to coastal forest— e.g., the kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), the large-leaved milk-tree (Paratrophis opaca), the karo (Pittosporum crassifolium), the haekaro (P. umbellatum), the karaka (Corynocarpus laevigata), the akoake (Dodonaea viscosa), the pohutukawa (Metrosideroa tomentosa abut the name has recently been altered to excelsa, which by the “Rules of Botanical Nomenclature” is correct for the time being, notwithstanding that tomentosa has boon the sole name for nearly a hundred years !), and the ngaio (Myoporum laetum). Several of the above do not extend beyond latitude 38°, and the ngaio alone reaches Southland, so that coastal forest in the southern part of the South Island is made up of those ordinary lowland trees, &c., which can tolerate coastal conditions.

In addition to forest, the other great New Zealand plant-community dependent on climate is tussock-grassland. This community is of but little moment in the North Island except on the volcanic plateau and the highest mountains, but in the South Island it was the original plant-covering of most of the country to the east of the Divide of the Southern Alps, excepting northern Marlborough, northern Nelson, and parts of Southland. It extends from sea-level to the upper subalpine belt of the mountains, but is loss continuous at high than at low levels. It also occupies some of the lowland and montane river-valleys of north-western Nelson and Westland, and ascends to the subalpine western slopes of the mountains.

There are two distinct types of tussock-grassland—" “low” and “tall” the former distinguished by the dominance of the medium-sized tussocks of Poa caespitosa and Festuca novae-zelandiae (one or both), and the latter by the dominance of one or both of the much taller and more massive tussocks of red-tussock (Danthonia Raoulii var. rubra), or snow-grass (D. Raoulii var. flavescens), and the numerous hybrids between them. Taking lowland and montane low tussock-grass land together, and excluding tall tussock-grassland, since they occupy a far more extensive area, and leaving out of the estimate the 74 or so exotic species now firmly established, the number of species they contain for the whole area is 216 (ferns and fern allies 10, monocotyledons 66, dicotyledons 140), which belong to 38 families and 104 genera, the largest being: Families - Gramineae, 36; Compositae, 35; and Cyperaceae, Leguminosae, and Onagraceae, each 11. Genera Poa and Epilobium, each 11; Carmichaelia, 9; and Carex, Acaena, and Raoulia, each 7. As for the biological groups, they and the number of species to each are as follows: Trees, 2; shrubs, 31; tussocks, 13; other plants of the gras3 form, 43; herbaceous plants, 90; semi-woody plants, 30; and ferns, 7. About 85 of the species are drought-tolerating

Where water can accumulate and remain fairly permanent, yet not too deep to hinder land-plants rooting in the mud, there is swamp. Except forest, no class of vegetation has been so greatly altered by man, or even destroyed, so that really primitive swamps are almost unknown. The florula consists of about 74 species, which belong to 18 families and 37 genera. The following are specially common species: Raupo (Typha angustifolia), frequently dominant; New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), dominant in drained swamp; niggerheads (Carex secta, C. virgata); toetoe grass (Arundo conspicua); cabbage-tree (Cordyline australis); common koromiko (Hebe salicifolia); karamu (Coprosma robusta); common coprosma (C. propinqua); and many hybrids between the last two. When, as frequently happens, the swamp gradually dries up, the number of shrubs increases and an early stage of semi-swamp forest is produced.

At the present time, especially in the North Island and the north of the South Island, wide areas are occupied by bracken-fern (Pteridium esculentum) or by manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), for the most part caused by fire; yet as fire was a natural agency in primitive New Zealand in the vicinity of active volcanoes, there would be natural communities of the above character. Both communities if left alone would in time change into forest. Manuka shrubland is a common feature of the Auckland gumlands, where also, in hollows, bogs are abundant, which, as for lowland New Zealand in general, are distinguished by pale hummocks of bog-moss (Sphagnum), a small umbrella-fern (Gleichenia circinata), and a wiry rushlike plant, the wire-rush (Hypolaena lateriflora). On these bogs grow several kinds of sundew (Drosera) and bladderwort (Utricularia).

The vegetation of the high mountains is both of great scientific interest and full of rare beauty. It is composed of no less than 966 species, and it is certain that a good many more species will be discovered. How strongly of New Zealand origin is the flora is revealed by the fact that of the 514 purely high-mountain species all except 16 are endemic, and probably 5 of those are endemic also. The headquarters of the true high-mountain species is in the South Island, their total being 473, as compared with 105 for the North Island, a matter which should cause no surprise since the area for plants above the forest-line is far and away less than in the South Island, where also the average height of the mountains is much greater

Though the high mountains contain only 16 genera which do not descend to the lowlands, 8 of them are endemic. But there are 40 genera which, possessing but few truly lowland species, are well represented by purely high-mountain species, e.g. (to cite some of particular importance): Danthonia, Colobanthus, Ranunculus, Nasturtium, Geum, Acaena, Pimelea, Drapetes, Schizeilema, Aciphylla, Anisotome, Dracophyllum, Gentiana, Myosotis, Hebe, Veronica, Ourisia, Euphrasia, Plantago, Lobelia, Forstera, Olearia, Celmisia, Raoulia, Helichrysum, Abrotanella, and Senecio.

With but few exceptions the most beautiful flowers of New Zealand belong to the high-mountain flora, so that in due season many plant-communities are natural flower-gardens of extreme loveliness. There are the giant buttercups, white and yellow—but nearly all the flowers are of these colours—which may be seen by the acre; the lovely ourisias, with the flowers in whorls round the stem, tier above tier, as in some of the Asiatic primulas, or the glistening green leaves, as in O. caespitosa, may form mats on stony ground bearing multitudes of delicate blossoms; the eyebrights—true alpine gems—their flowers white with a yellow eye or purple throat, or yellow altogether; forget-me-nots, yellow, bronze, purplish, or white; the snow-groundsel, its large marguerite-like flowers produced in such profusion that the mountain-meadow glistens like a snowfield; the two kinds of edelweiss, far surpassing their Swiss elder sister in beauty, the flowers of the “everlasting” kind, their outer leaves flannelly and snow-white. But above all other plants of the mountains, not only for their beauty of flower, leaf, and form, but for their abundance in all situations, come the various species of Celmisia. “Go where you will"—to quote from “The Vegetation of New Zealand,” (ed. 2, p. 238)— "on subalpine and alpine herb-field and their silvery foliage strikes the eye, it may be in stately rosettes of dagger-like leaves, in circular mats trailing over the ground, or in dense cushions. Their aromatic fragrance fills the air; from early till late summer some of their white heads of blossom may be seen, while in due season, gregarious species clothe both wet herb-field and dry, stony slopes with sheets of white

The life-forms of the high-mountain plants are in great variety and frequently of striking appearance. Cushion-plants, rosette-plants, mat-forming plants, and stiff-stemmed shrubs are greatly in evidence. Hairiness, leathery texture, and surprising rigidity, perhaps accompanied by needle-like points, as in the giant spaniards (Aciphylla Colensoi, A. maxima, &c.), are common characteristics of leaves.

There are many plant-communities composed of combinations of tussock-grasses, herbaceous plants, semi-woody plants, dwarf or creeping shrubs, and cushion-plants which are sometimes dense enough, and sometimes so open that there is more stony ground than vegetation. The most surprising community is that of unstable stony debris—the “shingle-slips" of the shepherds—which covers the slopes of certain dry mountains for some thousands of feet, particularly in Marlborough and Canterbury. No loss than 33 species occupy this inhospitable station, 25 of which are confined thereto. So far apart do the species grow—frequently many yards— that they bear no relation to each other. Their life-forms are clearly in harmony with the peculiar environment. All have thick fleshy or leathery leaves, frequently of the grey colour of the stones. In 16 species the part above the ground is annual; the shoots nearly always lie close to the stones, but if buried they have the faculty of growing upwards again. One species, Cotula atrata, has a jet-black flower-head, with stamens like tiny golden pin-heads

Shrubland is common in the mountains, the most characteristic being the subalpine scrub, which on many mountains forms a dense belt above the timber-line. That typical of a wet climate consists of rigid or wiry-stemmed shrubs which grow into one another, and the main branches of many are parallel to the slope and project downwards. The scrub may be so dense that one must either crawl beneath it or walk on its treacherous roof. For the whole of the region the community consists of about 122 species, belonging to 28 families and 49 genera. The chief groups of plants which compose the scrub are shrubby composites and epacrids, wiry shrubs with densely entangled twigs (mainly species of Coprosma), species of Hebe, Phormium Colensoi, various podocarps, and giant spaniards. On river-terraces scrubs with species of Hebe dominant are frequent, and fringing stony river-beds there is often an open scrub of wild-irishman (Discaria toumatou)—one of the few spinous plants in the flora.

Rock-vegetation is always of interest, and this is particularly so in the high mountains. The number of species occurring on rocks is about 190 (families, 36; genera, 74). About 44 species are virtually confined to rocks, and such include a dwarf fern (Polypodium pumilum), certain rosette plants at present referred to the genus Nasturlium, one or two dwarf spaniards and a few forget-me-nots, hebes, celmisias, and raoulias

The floras of the following groups of islands, far distant from the mainland, are distinctly part of that of New Zealand. The Kermadecs contain 117 species of ferns, fern-allies, and seed-plants, 10 of which are endemic, while 89 belong also to New Zealand proper. The largest island (Sunday Island) is covered with forest in which a variety of Metrosideros collina, a near relative of the pohutukawa, is the principal tree. The Chatham Islands possess at least 257 species, of which 36 are endemic, though several of the latter are trivial varieties merely, while the remainder of the flora is, with one exception, found on the mainland. Forest, moor, and heath are the principal plant communities. The leading tree is the karaka, but by the Moriori called kopi. On the moors are great, thickets of a lovely purple-flowered shrub, Olearia semidentata. There are two remarkable endemic genera, Coxella and Myosotidium, the former belonging to the carrot family, and the latter a huge forget-me-not, now nearly extinct. The subantarctic islands (Snares, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes, Macquarie) have a dense vegetation made up of 193 species, no fewer than 60 of which are endemic, the remainder being found in New Zealand, but chiefly in the mountains. Forest is found only on the Snares and the Aucklands, with a species of Olearia and the southern-rata as the dominant trees respectively. Extremely dense scrubs occur on the Auckland and Campbell Islands, and moor sometimes with huge tussocks, is a characteristic feature of all the islands, thanks to the enormous peat deposits and the frequent rain. Several herbaceous plants of stately form (species of Pleurophyllum, Anisotome, Stilbocarpa, and Celmisia) and with flowers of extreme beauty—some of them purple in colour—occur in great profusion.

The Cook Islands, though a part of the Dominion, possess a Polynesian flora quite distinct from that of New Zealand, and are excluded form this notice, while, on the contrary, the flora of the Macquarie Islands (belonging to Tasmania) is a portion of that of New Zealand.

Besides the indigenous, an important introduced element, consisting of about 520 species, mostly European, has followed in the wake of settlement. These aliens are in more or less active competition with the true natives. There is a widespread but quite erroneous opinion that the latter are being eradicated in the struggle. This is not the case. Where the vegetation has never been disturbed by man there are no foreign plants; but where man, with his farming operations, stock, and burning, has brought about European conditions, then certainly the indigenous plants have frequently given way before artificial meadows and arable land, with their economic plants and accompanying weeds. But in many places associations not present in primitive New Zealand have appeared, owing to man's influence, composed principally, or altogether, of indigenous species. On the tussock-grassland invader and aboriginal have met, and though the original vegetation is changed there is no reason to consider the one class or the other as the conqueror. Finally, partly of exotic plants and partly of those indigenous to the soil, will occupy the land, and, save in the national parks and scenic reserves, but only if these and kept build up a vegetation different from that of primeval New Zealand.

The above brief sketch of the flora and vegetation is obviously most incomplete. Those wishing to dive deeper into the fascinating subject can consult the following books: “The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants,” by L. Cockayne, 1923; “Manual of the New Zealand Flora,” ed. 2, by T. F. Cheeseman, 1925; “New Zealand,” by R. M. Laing and E. W. Blackwell, ed. 3, 1927; “New Zealand Trees and Shrubs and how to identify them,” by H. H. Allan, 1928; “The Trees of New Zealand,” by L. Cockayne and E. Phillips Turner, 1928; “The Vegetation of New Zealand,” ed. 2, by L. Cockayne, 1928; “The New Zealand Nature Book,” Vol. 2, by W. Martin, 1929; “New Zealand Ferns,” by H. B. Dobbie, ed. 3, 1931. Also (but now out of print) “The Forest Flora of New Zealand,” by T. Kirk, 1889, must not be overlooked.


The fauna of New Zealand is briefly described in the following article by Mr. James Drummond, F.L.S., F.Z.S.: —

New Zealand's native fauna has attracted the attention of investigators in nearly all parts of the world. Its special interest lies in its manifold peculiarities, V in the incongruous characters possessed by some of its members, and in the ancient types found in different classes of its animals

Beginning with the mammalia, the Dominion is surprisingly inadequately represented. Its only land-mammals, except seals, are two bats. One of these, the long-tailed bat, belongs to a genus (Chalinolobus) which is found in the Australian and Ethiopian zoological regions, and to a species (morio) found in the south-east of Australia as well as in New Zealand; but the other, the short-tailed bat (Mystacops tuberculatus), belongs to a genus peculiar to this Dominion. At one time it was believed that the Maori dog (Canis familiaris, variety maorium, the “kuri" of the Maoris) and the Maori rat (Mus exulans, the Maoris' “kiore”) were indigenous to New Zealand, but it is now generally believed that these two animals were introduced by the Maoris when they made their notable migrations from their legendary Hawaiki. The dog was highly prized as a domestic pet, and the rat as an article of diet. Both could easily be taken across the sea in the large canoes used in those days. The dog, without doubt, is extinct. Statements by Captain Cook, J. R. and G. Forster, Sydney Parkinson (the artist), the Rev. W. Colenso, and early visitors to New Zealand show that the Maori dog was a very ordinary animal. It was small, with a pointed nose, pricked ears, and very small eyes. In colour it was white, black, brown, or parti-coloured, and it had long hair, short legs, a short bushy tail, and no loud bark, but only a whine. The Maoris lavished upon it an abundance of affection. When dead its flesh was used for food, its skin for clothing, and its hair for ornaments. Opinions differ in regard to the approximate date of its extinction, and investigations in this respect are made somewhat difficult by the fact that for some years “wild dogs,” as they were called—probably a cross between the Maori dog and dogs brought by Europeans—infested several districts in both the North Island and the South Island, and were confused with the Maori dog. It is probable that the pure Maori dog became extinct about 1885. The Maori rat, a forest-dweller, is not as plentiful as it was when Europeans first came to New Zealand, but it still lives in the forests.

The long-tailed species of bat was once fairly plentiful, especially in the forests, where it makes its home in hollow trees. Large numbers also at one time were found under old bridges across streams, notably at the River Avon, in Christchurch. It is not very rare now, and specimens sometimes are found in the forests and in caves. The short-tailed species is not extinct, but rare. Most bats are exceptionally well adapted for life in the air, feeding on flying insects, and even drinking on the wing. But the short-tailed species of New Zealand possesses peculiarities of structure which enable it to creep and crawl with ease on the branches and leaves of trees, and probably it seeks its food there as well as in the air. Few naturalists, however, have had opportunities to observe it, and little is known of its habits.

The sea-lion, the sea-elephant, the sea-leopard, and the fur-seal are found on islands within the Dominion's boundaries. In the early days of colonization sealing was a great industry, and yielded large profits to some of the adventurous men who took part in it.

Amongst the sea-mammals whales are the most important. At one time extensive whaling was carried on in New Zealand waters, three hundred vessels, chiefly from America, sometimes visiting the country in one year. The industry began about 1795, reached the height of its prosperity between 1830 and 1840, and then began to dwindle. In recent years there has been an effort to revive the industry, but it will never attain the position it held in former years. Porpoises are plentiful, and the dolphin (Delphinus delphis) also is found in these waters. Mention should be made here of “Pelorus Jack,” a solitary whale which for some years met vessels near Pelorus Sound, and which was protected by an Order in Council under the name of Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus). He was the only member of the species reported from New Zealand waters.

In contrast with the species of land-mammals, the members of the next class, Aves, were remarkably plentiful when settlement began. Bush and grass fires, cats, stoats, and weasels, and the ruthless use of the gun have reduced their numbers, but they still stand as probably the most interesting avifauna in the world. They include a comparatively large number of absolutely flightless birds. No living birds in New Zealand are wingless, but the kiwi (Apteryx), the weka (Gallirallus), the kakapo parrot (Strigops), and the takahe (Notornis hochsletteri)* cannot use their

* This bird is better known as Notornis mantelli. That name was first given by Sir Richard Owen to an extinct bird, represented by a fossil found at Waingongoro, in the North Island, by Mr. W. Mantell in 1847. When the first living specimen of the takahe was found in 1849 scientists concluded that it was identical with the fossil, and it was accordingly given the same name of Notornis mantelli; but when Dr. Meyer, of Dresden, examined the skeleton of the third specimen he found that it was different, from the fossil, and he changed the specific name from Mantelli to Hochstetteri, thus honouring Dr. Hochstetter, a naturalist who visited New Zealand in the early days. Messrs. G. M. Matthews and T. Iredale, in their “Reference List “of 1913, give Mantellornis hochstetteri as the name of this interesting rail.

wings for flight, while a duck belonging to the Auckland Islands (Nesonetta) is practically in the same plight. There are also several species of birds whose wings are so weak that they can make only short flights. Other notable birds are the kea (Nestor notabilis), which is accused of killing sheep on stations in the South Island; the tui (Prosthemadera novae-zealandiae), which affords one of the most beautiful sights in the New Zealand forests, and charms visitors with its silvery notes; the huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), the only species known in which there is a wide divergence in the shape of the bills in the two sexes, the male's being short and straight, while the female's is curved, pliant, and long; and the wry-billed plover (Anarhynchus frontalis), the only bird known to possess a bill turned to one side. Cormorants or shags (Phalacrocorax) and penguins (impennes) are exceptionally well represented in the avifauna. New Zealand, indeed, may be regarded as the headquarters of the penguins, as all the genera except one are found within the boundaries of this Dominion. The oldest fossil penguin known is from the Eocene and Oligocene rocks of New Zealand. New Zealand probably was the centre from which penguins were dispersed to other countries.

Several species of birds make notable migrations to New Zealand. The godwit (Vetola lapponica baueri) breeds in the tundras of Eastern Siberia and in Kamchatka and Western Alaska, and spends the summer months in New Zealand, arriving about October, and leaving in March or April. The knot (Canutus canutus) breeds in circumpolar regions and migrates to New Zealand; and two cuckoos—the shining cuckoo (Lamprococcyx lucidus) and the long-tailed cuckoo (Urodynamis taitensis)—come from Pacific islands in the spring, and leave for their northern homes about April. Both, like most members of the Cuculida? family, are parasitical, and impose upon small native birds the duty of hatching and rearing young cuckoos. The kiwi, already mentioned, belongs to the same subclass as the ostrich, the emu, and the cassowary, all struthious birds, and has several peculiarities besides its flightlessness. One of these is the position of its nostrils at the tip of its bill, instead of at. the base as in all other birds. Its plumage is peculiarly hair-like in appearance. It possesses a very generalized structure; as Sir Richard Owen once suggested, it seems to have borrowed its head from one group of birds, its legs from another, and its wings from a third. It was once believed to be almost extinct, but in recent years has been shown to be fairly plentiful in some districts where there is little settlement

The takahe (Notornis) is one of the world's very rare birds. Only four specimens have been found. Two of the skins are in the British Museum, one is in the Dresden Museum, and one in the Otago Museum, in Dunedin. The fourth specimen was caught by two guides (Messrs. D. and J. Ross) at Notornis Bay, Lake Te Anau, in 1898. There is reason to believe that the takahe still exists in the wild districts of the southern sounds

The interest of the living avifauna is surpassed by the interest of the extinct birds. These include the great flightless moa (Dinornis), a goose (Cnemiornis minor), a gigantic rail (Aptornis otidiformis), and an eagle (Harpagornis moorei). Reptilian life is restricted to about fifteen species of lizards, and to the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus). This is a lizard-like creature, the only surviving representative of the order Rhynchocephalia, otherwise extinct. The tuatara is found in no other country. Its nearest ally is Homoeosaurus, whose remains have been found in Jurassic rocks in Germany. The tuatara has been destroyed to a large extent by wild pigs, cats, and dogs, and is now seldom found except on a few islands off the coast of the mainland.

The amphibians are represented by two species of frogs. One, Liopelma hochstetteri, has been recorded from only a few districts in the Auckland Province. The other, Liopelma hamiltoni, has been recorded from only Stephen Island, a small island in Cook Strait, notable as one of the refuges of the tuatara.

About 250 species of fish have been found in New Zealand waters. Many of those are used for food. Several species, notably the mudfish (Neochanna apoda), which is sometimes discovered buried 4 ft. deep in clay in places where rivers have overflowed in flood, and in swampy places, are interesting. Some of the genera are peculiar to New Zealand, but some also occur in Australian and South American waters.

Amongst the invertebrates one of the peculiarities is the fact that the Dominion has few butterflies, although it is well supplied with moths. It has a red admiral butterfly (Vanessa), named after the European species, which it resembles, and a copper butterfly (Chrysophanus), which is very plentiful. In the forests there is that strange growth the “vegetable caterpillar.” The Dominion has native bees and ants, dragon-flies, sober-coloured beetles, and representatives of other orders of insects. The katipo spider (Lairodectes katipo), which lives mostly on or near the sea-beach, is well known locally. Amongst the mollusca there is a large and handsome land-snail (Paryphanta), and Amphibola, an air-breathing snail, peculiar to the Dominion, which lives in brackish water, mainly in estuaries. There are about twenty species of univalves and twelve of bivalves in the fresh-water shells, and about four hundred species in the marine shells, including the paper nautilus (Argonauta). Perhaps the most interesting of all the invertebrates is the Peripatus, an ancient type of creature which survives in New Zealand and in parts of Australia, Africa, South America, the West Indies, New Britain, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra. Zoologically, it belongs to the air-breathing division of the phylum Arthropoda, and has been placed in a special class, Prototracheata or Onychophora. It is about 3 in. long, has many feet, loves moisture, shuns light, and moves slowly. Two gonera have been found in New Zealand. One genus, Peripatoides, contains two species, novae-zealandiae and suteri, and the other, OÖperipatus, contains only one species, viridimaculatus. The Peripalus is viviparous. It is claimed that one New Zealand genus, OÖperipatus, is oviparous, but that has not been fully proved.* Professor A. Dendy, F.R.S., has made special investigations in regard to the New Zealand species.

With the arrival of Europeans the whole face of the fauna was changed. The first European animal introduced wits the pig, liberated by Captain Cook in Queen Charlotte Sound in 1773. With settlement, sheep, cattle, horses, and other domestic animals were brought, some for utility, some for pleasure, such as song-birds, and some for sport, such as deer, trout, pheasants, and quail. In the work of acclimatization several great and irretrievable blunders were made. The worst of these was the introduction of rabbits, stoats, and weasels.

* Professor Adam Sedgwick, F.R.S., late Professor of Zoology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, in the Encyclopedia Britannica.



THE history of New Zealand prior to the seventeenth century is shrouded in mythology and tradition. When the country was discovered by Europeans in 1642 it was found to be inhabited by a race of Polynesians called Maoris, who had discovered these islands many centuries previously. At what time the discovery of New Zealand was made by the Maoris, and from what place they came, are matters of tradition only, much having been lost in the obscurity enveloping the history of a people without letters. Nor is there anything of record respecting the origin of the Maori people themselves, beyond the general tradition of the Polynesian race, which seems to show a series of successive migrations from west to east, probably by way of Malaysia to the Pacific. Little more can now be gathered from their traditions than that they were immigrants, and that they found inhabitants of the east coast of the North Island belonging to the same race as themselves—the descendants of a prior migration whose history is lost. The tradition runs that, many generations ago, the Maoris dwelt in a country named Hawaiki, and that one of their chiefs, after a long voyage, reached the northern island of New Zealand. Returning to his home with a flattering description of the country he had discovered, this chief, it is said, persuaded a number of his kinsfolk and friends to set out with a fleet of double canoes for the new land. The names of most of the canoes are still remembered, and each tribe agrees in its account of the doings of the people of the principal canoes after their arrival in New Zealand; and from those traditional accounts the descent of the numerous tribes has been traced. The position of the legendary Hawaiki is unknown, but many places in the South Seas have been thus named in memory of the motherland. The Maoris speak a very pure dialect of the Polynesian language, the common tongue, with more or less variation, in all the eastern Pacific islands.


It was of the 11th December, 1642, that Abel Jansen Tasman, a Dutch navigator, discovered New Zealand. Tasman left Batavia of the 14th August, 1642, in the yacht “Heemskereq,” accompanied by the “Zeehaen” (or “Sea-hen”) fly-boat. After having visited Mauritius and discovered Tasmania, of steered eastward and sighted the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, described by him as “a high mountainous country.” Tasman finally departed without having set foot in the country.

There is of record of any visit to New Zealand after Tasman's departure until the time of Captain Cook, who sighted land of the 6th October, 1769, at Young Nick's Head, and of the 8th of that month cast anchor in Poverty Bay. After having coasted round the North Island and the South and Stewart Islands— which last ho mistook for part of the South Island —he took his departure from Cape Farewell on the 31st March, 1770. for Australia. He visited 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 (December, 1769), M. Marion du Fresne (1772), Captains Vancouver and Broughton (1791), Captain Raven (1792-93), Alejandro Malaspina and José de Bustamente y Guerra (1793), Lieutenant Hanson (1793)


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.

The next few years saw the establishment of whaling-stations at several points on the coast, and in 1814 the first missionaries—Messrs. Hall and Kendall—arrived in New Zealand. After a short stay they returned to New South Wales, and on the 19th November of that year again embarked in company with Mr. Samuel Marsden, chaplain to the New South Wales Government. He returned to Sydney on the 23rd March, 1815, leaving Messrs. Hall, Kendall, and King, who formed the first mission station at Rangihoua, Bay of Islands

In 1825 three separate attempts were made to found colonies in various parts of New Zealand, but none of those was successful, and for some years the only settlements were those round the principal whaling-stations. A number of Europeans gradually settled in different parts of the country, and many of these married Native women.

The first body of immigrants under a definite scheme of colonization arrived in Port Nicholson on the 22nd January, 1840, and founded the town of Wellington. During the few succeeding years the settlements of Nelson, Taranaki, Otago, and Canterbury were formed by immigrants sent out by associations in the United Kingdom

Auckland, where the seat of Government was established in 1840, was not specially colonized from the United Kingdom, but attracted population mainly from Australia and from other parts of New Zealand


As early as 1833 a British Resident (Mr. Busby) was appointed, with headquarters at Kororareka (now called Russell), on the Bay of Islands. Seven years later—namely, on the 29th January, 1840—Captain William Hobson, R.N., arrived at the Bay of Islands, empowered, with the consent of the Natives, 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 30th January, 1840, and on 6th February of the same year a compact called the Treaty of Waitangi* was entered into, whereby all rights and powers of sovereignty were coded to the Queen, all territorial rights being secured to the chiefs and their tribes. Originally signed by forty-six chiefs, the treaty (or copies of it) was taken to various parts of the country and signed by other chiefs, so that in a period of less than six months 512 signatures were affixed.

On 21st May, 1840, 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. On the treaty being signed in the South Island, formal proclamation of British sovereignty over that island in accordance with the consent of the Maoris was made at Cloudy Bay on 17th June 1840, by Major Bunbury.

New Zealand remained a dependency of New South Wales until the 3rd May, 1841. when it was created a separate colony by Royal Charter dated the 16th November, 1840.


The government of the colony was first vested in a Governor, who was responsible only to the Crown: there was an Executive Council, with advisory powers only, as well as a Legislative Council.

*The historic site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, together with 1,000 acres of the adjoining estate, was purchased and presented to the nation as a national monument by Their excellencies Lord and Lady Bledisloe in May, 1932.

An Act granting representative institutions to the colony was passed by the Imperial Parliament on the 30th June, 1852, and was published in New Zealand by Proclamation on the 17th January, 1853. Under it the constitution of a General Assembly was provided for, to consist of a Legislative Council and a House of Representatives.

The first session of the General Assembly was opened on the 27th May, 1854, but the members of the Executive were not responsible to Parliament. During the session of that year there were associated with the permanent members of the Executive Council certain members of the House of Representatives, who, however, held no portfolios. The first Ministers under a system of responsible government were appointed in the year 1856.

By Order in Council dated 9th September, 1907, and by Proclamation issued 10th September, 1907, the style and designation of the Colony of New Zealand was altered to “The Dominion of New Zealand,” the change taking effect from Thursday, the 26th September, 1907.

By Letters Patent dated 11th May, 1917, the designation of Governor and Commander-in-Chief which had hitherto been hold by the Royal representative in New Zealand was altered to “Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief.”


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 the 11th May, 1917, published in the New Zealand Gazette of the 24th April, 1919 (p. 1213). 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 exorcise of his powers and authorities in opposition to the opinion of the Council, reporting the matter to His 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 upon the minutes of the Council the grounds of any advice or opinion that he may give upon the question.

The present Executive Council consists of ten members in addition to the Governor -General. Two members, exclusive of His Excellency or the presiding member, constitute a quorum.

Since the 10-per-cent, reduction in 1931, and the 15-per-cent, reduction in 1932 (National Expenditure Adjustment Act, 1932), the Prime Minister receives £1,377 per annum, other Ministers with portfolios receiving £895 Is. per annum. House allowance of £153 per annum is paid in addition in eases where a Government residence is not provided.

The Civil List Act, 1920, provides for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive £5,000 per annum, and £2,500 per annum allowance. His Excellency has elected voluntarily to subject these amounts to an annual deduction of £2,250.


The Imperial Act under which the earliest appointments were made to the Legislative Council under a system of responsible government provided that the first appointees should be not less than ten in number. The number actually summoned for the first session (held at Auckland from 24th May, 1854), was sixteen, of whom only fourteen attended. The number increased irregularly for thirty years. In 1885 and 1886 it stood at fifty-three, but has not since reached that limit. The number on the roll at present is twenty-six.

An Act of the Imperial Parliament in 1868 provided that future appointments of Councillors should be made by the Governor (not by the Sovereign). Until 1891 members were appointed for life, but since that year appointments have boon made for seven years only, members, however, being eligible for reappointment. Prior to 1891 the Speaker was appointed by the Governor, but the Council now elects its own Speaker, who holds office for five years. The Chairman of Committees was formerly elected every session, but in 1928 the standing orders were amended to provide for a three years' term of office. Speaker and Chairman are both eligible for re-election.

Provision for an elective Legislative Council is contained in the Legislative Council Act, 1914, which is to be brought into operation at a date to be specified by Proclamation.

Before the year 1892 the honorarium of Councillors was understood to be for the session, not for the year, and formed the subject of a special vote every session, the amount varying in different sessions. By the Payment of Members Act, 1892, the honorarium was made annual, not sessional, and was fixed at £150 a year. The amount was raised in 1904 to £200, and in 1920 to £350, but was reduced in 1922 to £315, in 1931 to £283 10s., and in 1932 to £255 3s. The Speaker now receives £583 4s. per annum, and the Chairman of Committees £364 10s. Besides the honorarium, members are allowed travelling-expenses actually incurred in going to and from Parliament at the opening and closing of each session.

Subject to certain exemptions, members not attending the Council are liable to be fined.


The number of members constituting the House of Representatives is eighty— seventy-six Europeans and four Maoris. They are now 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. By the Maori Representation Act, 1867, which is still in force, as embodied in the Electoral Act, 1927, four Maori members were added, three for the North Island and one for the South.

After each population Census the Dominion is divided anew into seventy-six European electorates, according to population distribution, with an allowance for rural population. The “country quota” is computed on the basis that 28 per cent, is added to the rural population, which for electoral purposes means population other than that contained in a city or borough of over 2,000 inhabitants or in any area within five miles of the chief post offices at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, or Dunedin. The “country quota” first appeared in 1881, to the equivalent of an addition of 33 1/2 per cent, to the country population. It was reduced in 1887 to 18 per cent., but was increased in 1889 to the present 28 per cent

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 the exception that the term of the nineteenth Parliament was during the Great War extended to five years by special legislation, and that of the twenty-fourth Parliament to four years on account of the financial conditions arising out of the world-wide depression

Every registered elector of either sex who is free from the disqualifications mentioned in the Electoral Act, 1927, is eligible for membership. All contractors to the public service of New Zealand to whom any public money above the sum of £50 is payable, directly or indirectly, in any one financial year, as well as the public servants of the Dominion, are incapable of being elected as, or of sitting or voting as, members

The payment made to members of the House of Representatives is £364 10s. per annum, subject to certain deductions for absence not duo to sickness or other unavoidable cause. Travelling-expenses to and from Wellington at the opening and closing of each session are also allowed. The rate of payment for several years prior to 1920 was £300 per annum, but was increased in that year to £500, 10-percent. reductions, however, being made in 1922, 1931, and 1932.

The election of a Speaker is the first business of a now House after the members have been sworn. A Chairman of Committees is elected as soon after as is convenient. Both 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 £70S 15s. per annum, plus sessional allowance of £7S 15s. and free sessional quarters, and that of the Chairman of Committees £546 15s. per annum.

Twenty members, inclusive of the Speaker, constitute a quorum


The three cardinal principles of the franchise in New Zealand are (1) one man one vote, (2) female suffrage, and (3) adult suffrage.

There are, of course, slight exceptions to the last -mentioned, the following classes of persons not being entitled to register as electors or to vote:—

To be registered as an elector a person must have resided for one year in the Dominion, and for three months in the electoral district for which he claims to vote. A system of compulsory registration of electors was introduced at the end of 1924

The system of “one man one vote” has been in operation since 1889, and women's suffrage since 1893. The qualifications for registration are the same for both sexes.

  • An alien:

  • A mentally defective person:

  • A person convicted of an offence punishable by death or by imprisonment for one year or upwards within any part of His Majesty's dominions, or convicted in New Zealand as a public defaulter, or under the Police Offences Act, 1927, as an idle and disorderly person or as a rogue and vagabond, unless such offender has received a free pardon, or has undergone the sentence or punishment to which he was adjudged for such offence

To be registered as an elector a person must have resided for one year in the Dominion, and for three months in the electoral district for which he claims to vote. A system of compulsory registration of electors was introduced at the end of 1924

The system of “one man one vote” has been in operation since 1889, and women's suffrage since 1893. The qualifications for registration are the same for both sexes.


Side by side with the general government of the country, but subordinate to it there has existed a system of local government since the early years of New Zealand's annexation as a British colony. The history of local government divides naturally into two periods representing two distinct systems—viz., the provincial, which was in operation up to 1876, and the county, which superseded the provincial in that year.

The Provinces.

On the 23rd December, 1847, a Charter was signed dividing the colony into two provinces—New Ulster and New Munster—and this was proclaimed in New Zealand on the 10th March, 1848

Under the constitution of 1853 the Provinces of New Ulster and New Minister were abolished and the colony was divided into six provinces—Auckland, New Plymouth (later altered to Taranaki), Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago. Each province was to be presided over by an elective Superintendent, and to have an elective Provincial Council empowered to legislate, except on certain specified subjects. The franchise amounted practically to household suffrage. The Provincial Governments, afterwards increased to nine by the formation of Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, and Southland, later reduced to eight by the merging of Southland with Otago, and again increased to nine by the formation of Westland, remained as integral parts of the constitution of the colony until the 1st November, 1876, when they were abolished by an Act of the General Assembly, and re-created as provincial districts

Early Boroughs and Town Districts

Even before the division of New Zealand into the two provinces of Now Ulster and New Munster, local government had its inception, Wellington having been created a borough in 1842 under the authority of the Municipal Corporations Ordinance of that year. The Ordinance was disallowed by the Imperial Government, but was re-enacted, with necessary alterations, in 1844. Wellington, which lost its status on the original Ordinance being disallowed, did not become a borough again until 1870, Auckland (constituted in 1851) remaining the only borough in New Zealand for several years.

Wellington, which had been the first borough in the country, also became the first town district, with a form of government not differing greatly from that of a municipality. Gradually the more important towns adopted the status of boroughs, while the less important remained town districts. In Otago, however, between 1865 and 1875, several small towns were created boroughs under the authority, of an Ordinance of the Otago Provincial Council, nineteen of the thirty-six boroughs in existence at the date of the abolition of the provinces being in Otago.

The Road and Highway Districts.

Another form of local government which came into existence in the provincial days was that of the road districts, or, as they were called in certain parts of the country, highway districts. As the names imply, the road and highway districts were formed for the purpose of extending and maintaining roads. Each district was controlled by an elected Board, which had power to levy rates. The first Road Boards were formed in 1863, and by 1875 their number had risen to 314.

The Counties.

Among the instructions given Captain Hobson on his appointment as the first Governor of New Zealand was one directing that the colony was to be divided into counties, hundreds, and parishes. In accordance with this instruction, the boundaries of the County of Eden, in which Auckland—then the capital—is situated, were proclaimed in 1842, and some years later the county was divided into hundreds. Very little further was done towards giving effect to the instructions, and the first administrative county was Westland, separated from Canterbury Province in 1867, and granted a system of local government in the following year

It was not until the abolition of the provinces in 1876 that a scheme of division of the whole country into counties was introduced. The Counties Act, 1876, which, in conjunction with the Municipal Corporations Act of the same year, provided a comprehensive scheme of local government in lion of the provincial governments, divided New Zealand into sixty-three counties. With the exception of six, which were exempted from the operations of the Act, each county was placed under the control of an elected Chairman and Council, possessed of fairly full powers of local government—considerably loss, however, than those formerly enjoyed by the Provincial Councils. The Counties Act specially excluded boroughs from the counties within which they geographically lie, and a similar enabling provision has since been made in the case of town districts having a population of over 500.

Extension of Local Government

Since the abolition of the provinces and the passing of the Counties and Municipal Corporations Acts of 1876 there has been considerable extension of local government. Many of the road districts have merged with the counties within which they lie, while others have become boroughs or town districts. On the other hand, counties, boroughs, and town districts have increased in numbers, while several entirely new classes of local districts, formed for definite purposes—as, for instance, land drainage or electric-power supply—have come into existence. In most cases the Boards of those districts have borrowing and rating powers.

Much fuller information concerning the origin, development, constitution, functions, &c., of local governing bodies than can be given here will be found in the Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand. The reader is also referred to the section of this book dealing with Local Government.



His Excellency, the Right Honourable Lord Bledisloe, P.C., G.C.M.G., K.B.E., D.Sc.

Official Secretary—Sir Cecil Day, C.M.G., C.B.E.

Aides-de-Camp—Lieutenant J. C. Elworthy, R.N.; Captain J. W. Tweedie.

Honorary Aides-de-Camp—Naval: Captain C. Sinclair Thomson, R.N.; Commander

V. A. C. Crutchley, V.C., D.S.C., R.N. Military: Colonel (temp. Brigadier) J. H.

Whyte, D.S.O.; Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Duigan, D.S.O.; Colonel H. C. Hurst.

D.S.O., V.D.; Colonel W. H. Cunningham, D.S.O., V.D.; Lieutenant-Colonel

R. G. Milligan, D.S.O., V.D.: Colonel J. N. McCarroll, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.

Honorary Physician—Colonel J. L. Frazerhurst, V.D., M.D.

Honorary Surgeon—Colonel H. T. D. Acland, C.M.G., C.B.E., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

His Excellency assumed office on the 19th March, 1930. A complete list of successive vice-regal representatives since 1840 will be found in the 1931 issue (pp. 59-60) of the Year-Book.


Since the Establishment of Responsible Government in New Zealand in 1856.

Name of Ministry.Name of Premier.Assumed Office.Retired.
1. Bell-SewellHenry Sewell7 May, 185620 May, 1856.
2. FoxWilliam Fox20 May, 18562 June, 1856.
3. StaffordEdward William Stafford2 June, 185612 July, 1861
4. FoxWilliam Fox12 July, 18616 Aug., 1862
5. DomettAlfred Domett6 Aug., 186230 Oct., 1863
6. Whitaker-FoxFrederick Whitaker30 Oct., 186324 Nov., 1864
7. WeldFrederick Aloysius Weld24 Nov., 186416 Oct., 1865
8.Stafford Edward William Stafford16 Oct., 186528 June, 1869.
9. FoxWilliam Fox 28 June, 186910 Sep, 1872
10. StaffordEdward William Stafford 10 Sept 187211 Oct., 1872
11. WaterhouseGeorge Marsden Waterhouse11 Oct.,18723 Mar., 1873.
12. FoxWilliam Fox3 Mar., 18738 April, 1873
13. VogelJulius Vogel, C.M.G.8 April, 18736 July, 1875
14. PollenDaniel Pollen, M.L.C.6 July, 187515 Feb., 1876.
15. VogelSir Julius Vogel, K.C.M.G.15 Feb., 18761 Sept., 1876
16. AtkinsonHarry Albert Atkinson1 Sept., 187613 Sept., 1876
17. Atkinson (reconstituted)Harry Albert Atkinson13 Sept., 187615 Oct., 1877
18. GreySir George Grey, K.C.B.15 Oct., 18778 Oct., 1879
19. HallJohn Hall8 Oct., 187921 April, 1882
20. WhitakerFrederick Whitaker. M.L.C.21 April, 188225 Sept., 1883
21. AtkinsonHarry Albert Atkinson25 Sep., 188316 Aug., 1884
22. Stout-VogelRobert Stout16 Aug., 188428 Aug., 1884
23. AtkinsonHarry Albert Atkinson25 Aug., 18843 sep., 1884
24. Stout-VogelSir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G.3 Sep., 18848 Oct., 1897
25. AtkinsonSir Harry Albert Atkinson, K.C.M.G.8 Oct., 189724 Jan., 1891
26. BallanceJohn Ballance24 Jan., 18911 May, 1893.
27. SeddonRt. Hon. Richard John Seddon, P.C.1 May, 1893.21 June., 1906
28. Hall-JonesWilliam Hall-Jones21 June., 19066 Aug., 1906
29. WardRt. Hon. Sir Joseph George Ward, Bart., P.C., K.C.M.G.6 Aug.,190625 Mar., 1912

30. Mackenzie

Thomas Mackenzie28 Mar., 191210 July, 1912.
30. MasseyRt. Hon. William Ferguson Massey, P.C.10 July, 191212 Aug., 1915.
31. NationalRt. Hon. William Ferguson Massey, P.C.12 Aug., 191525 Aug., 1919.
32. MasseyRt. Hon. William Ferguson Massey, P.C.25 Aug., 191914 May, 1925.
33. BellHon. Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, G.C.M.G., K.C.14 May. 192530 May, 1925.
34. CoatesRt. Hon. Joseph Gordon Coates, P.C., M.C.30 May, 192510 Dec., 1928.
35. WardRt. Hon. Sir Joseph George Ward, Bart., P.C.G.C.M.G.10 Dec., 192828 May, 1930.
36. ForbesRt. Hon. George William Forbes, P.C.28 May, 193022 Sept., 1931.
37. CoalitionRt. Hon. George William Forbes, P.C.22 Sept., 1931..


(Assumed Office, 28th May, 1930; resigned, 22nd September, 1931.)


* To 22nd September, 1931, in each case, except in the two instances noted.

† Died 8th July, 1930.

‡ Succeeded by Mr. Veitch, 25th August, 1931.

Right Hon. George William Forbes, P.C.Prime Minister28 May, 1930.
Minister of Finance28 May, 1930.
Minister of External Affairs28 May, 1930.
Minister of Customs28 May, 1930.
Minister of Stamp Duties28 May, 1930.
Right Hon. Sir Joseph George Ward, Bart., P.C., G.C.M.G.Member of Executive Council without portfolio28 May, 1930.
Ethelbert Alfred RansomMinister of Lands28 May, 1930.
Commissioner of State Forests28 May, 1930.
Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata, Kt.Native Minister28 May, 1930.
Minister of Cook Islands28 May, 1930.
Harry AtmoreMinister of Education28 May, 1930.
William Andrew VeitchMinister of Railways28 May, 1930.
Minister of Transport25 Aug., 1931.
Sir Thomas Kay Sidey, Kt., M.L.C.Attorney-General28 May, 1930.
William Burgoyne TavernerMinister of Public Works28 May, 1930.
William Burgoyne TavernerMinister of Transport28 May, 1930.
Philip Aldborough de la PerrelleMinister of Internal Affairs28 May, 1930.
Minister of Industries and Commerce28 May, 1930.
John George CobbeMinister of Defence28 May, 1930.
Minister of Justice28 May, 1930.
James Bell DonaldPostmaster-General28 May, 1930.
Minister of Telegraphs28 May, 1930.
Minister of Marine28 May, 1930.
Arthur John StallworthyMinister of Health28 May, 1930.
Sydney George SmithMinister of Labour28 May, 1930.
Minister of Immigration28 May, 1930.
Alfred James MurdochMinister of Agriculture28 May, 1930.
Minister of Mines28 May, 1930.
Robert Masters, M.L.C.Member of Executive Council without portfolio20 Aug., 1930.


(Assumed Office. 22nd September, 1031.)

Resigned 8th January, 1932; succeeded by Mr. Macmillan.
Right Hon. George William Forbes, P.C.Prime Minister22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Railways22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of External Affairs22 Sept., 1931.
Right Hon. Joseph Gordon Coates, P.C., M.C.,Minister of Public Works22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Transport22 Sept., 1931.
Ethelbert Alfred RansomMinister of Lands22 Sept., 1931.
Commissioner of State Forests22 Sept., 1931.
William Downie StewartMinister of Finance22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Customs22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Stamp Duties22 Sept., 1931.
Attorney-General22 Sept., 1931.
Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata, Kt.Native Minister22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of the Cook Islands22 Sept., 1931.
James Alexander YoungMinister of Health22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Immigration22 Sept., 1931.
Robert Master, M.L.C.Minister of Education22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Industries and Commerce22 Sept., 1931.
David JonesMinister of Agriculture*22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Mines*22 Sept., 1931.
John George CobbeMinister of Defence22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Justice22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Marine22 Sept., 1931.
Adam HamiltonMinister of Labour22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Internal Affairs22 Sept., 1931.
Postmaster-General22 Sept., 1931.
Minister of Telegraphs22 Sept., 1931.
Charles Edward de la Barca MacmillanMinister of Agriculture13 Feb., 1932.
Minister of Mines13 Feb., 1932.


Rt. Hon. G. W. FORBES, P.C., Prime Minister, Minister of Railways, Minister of External Affairs, and Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research, Public Trust, Electoral, and High Commissioner's Departments.

Rt. Hon. J. G. COATES, P.C., M.C. Minister of Public Works. Minister of Transport. Minister of Employment, and Minister in Charge of Roads and Public Buildings.

Hon. E. A. RANSOM, Minister of Lands, Commissioner of State Forests, and Minister in Charge of Land for Settlements, Scenery Preservation, Discharged Soldiers' Settlement. and Valuation Departments.

Hon. W. D. STEWART, Minister of Finance. Minister of Customs, Minister of Stamp Duties, Attorney-General, and Minister in Charge of State Advances and Land and Income Tax Departments.

Hon. Sir Apirana Ngata, Kt., Native Minister, Minister for the Cook Islands, Minister in Charge of Native Trust, Government Life Insurance, State Fire Insurance, Legislative, Public Service Superannuation, Friendly Societies, and National Provident Fund Departments, and Member of the Executive Council representing the Native Race.

Hon. J. A. YOUNG, Minister of Health, Minister of Immigration, and Minister in Charge of Mental Hospitals and Printing and Stationery Departments.

Hon. R. MASTERS, M.L.C., Minister of Education and Minister of Industries and Commerce.

Hon. J. G. COBBE, Minister of Defence, Minister of Justice, Minister of Marine, and Minister in Charge of Pensions, Police, Prisons, Registrar-General's, and Inspection of Machinery Departments.

Hon. A. HAMILTON, Postmaster-General and Minister of Telegraphs, Minister of Labour, Minister of Internal Affairs, and Minister in Charge of Tourist and Health Resorts, Publicity, Census and Statistics, Audit, Museum, and Advertising Departments.

Hon. C. E. MACMILLAX, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Mines.

Clerk of the Executive Council—F. D. Thomson, C.M.G., B.A.


(For particulars of Parliaments and sessions prior to 1900, see pp. 59 and 60 of the 1930 number of the Year-Book.)

Parliament.Dates of Opening of Sessions.Dates of Prorogation.Dates of Dissolution.
Fourteenth22 June, 190022 Oct., 19005 Nov., 1902.
1 July, 19018 Nov., 19015 Nov., 1902.
1 July, 19024 Oct.,5 Nov., 1902.
Fifteenth29 June, 190325 Nov., 190315 Nov., 1905.
28 June, 19048 Nov., 190415 Nov., 1905.
27 June, 190531 Oct., 190515 Nov., 1905.
Sixteenth27 June, 19063 July, 190629 Oct., 1908.
21 Aug., 190629 Oct., 190629 Oct., 1908.
27 June, 190725 Nov., 190729 0ct., 1908.
Seventeenth10 June, 190917 June, 190920 Nov., 1911.
7 Oct., 190929 Dec., 190920 Nov., 1911.
28 June, 19105 Dec., 191020 Nov., 1911.
27 July, 191130 Oct., 191120 Nov., 1911.
Eighteenth15 Feb., 19121 Mar., 191220 Nov., 1914.
27 June, 19128 Nov., 191220 Nov., 1914.
26 June, 191316 Dec., 191320 Nov.,1914.
25 June, 19146 Nov., 191420 Nov., 1914.
Nineteenth24 June, 191515 Oct., 191527 Nov., 1919.
9 May, 19169 Aug., 191627 Nov., 1919
28 June, 19172 Nov., 191727 Nov., 1919.
9 April, 191817 April, 191827 Nov., 1919.
24 Oct., 191812 Dec., 191827 Nov., 1919.
28 Aug., 19197 Nov., 191927 Nov., 1919.
Twentieth24 June, 192012 Nov., 192015 Nov., 1922.
10 Mar., 192124 Mar., 192115 Nov., 1922.
22 Sept., 192113 Feb., 192215 Nov., 1922.
28 June, 19221 Nov. 192215 Nov., 1925.
Twenty-first14 June, 192330 Aug., 192314 Oct., 1925.
26 June, 19247 Nov., 192414 Oct., 1925.
25 June, 19253 Oct., 192514 Oct., 1925.
Twenty-second16 June, 192614 Sept., 192618 Oct., 1928.
23 June, 19277 Dec., 192718 Oct., 1928.
28 June, 192811 Oct., 192818 Oct., 1928.
Twenty-third4 Dec., 192819 Dec., 192812 Nov., 1931.
27 June., 192911 Nov., 192912 Nov., 1931.
26 June., 19305 Nov., 193012 Nov., 1931.
11 Mar., 19317 May., 193112 Nov., 1931.
25 June., 193111 Nov., 193112 Nov., 1931.
Twenty-fourth23 Feb., 193211 May, 1932..



Speaker—Hon. Sir W. C. F. CARNCROSS, Kt.

Chairman of Committees—Hon. E. H. CLARK.

Clerk of the Legislative Council—E. W. KANE, C.M.G.

Name.Provincial District.Date of Appointment.
Allen, Colonel the Hon. Sir James, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.Otago1 June, 1927.
Bell, Right Hon. Sir Francis Henry Dillon, P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.Wellington21 May, 1926.
Buddo, Hon. DavidCanterbury11 June, 1930.
Carncross, Hon. Sir Walter Charles Frederick, Kt.Taranaki17 March, 1931.
Carrington, Hon. Carey JohnAuckland17 June, 1926.
Clark, Hon. Edward HenryOtago25 June, 1927.
Collins, Colonel the Hon. William Edward, C.M.G.Wellington14 July, 1928.
Fagan, Hon. MarkWellington11 June, 1930.
Hall-Jones, Hon. Sir William, K.C.M.G.Wellington6 October, 1927.
Hanan, Hon. Josiah AlfredOtago17 June, 1926.
Isitt, Hon. Leonard MonkCanterbury28 October, 1925.
McCallum, Hon. RichardMarlborough11 June, 1930.
MacGregor, Hon. JohnOtago14 July, 1928.
Mclntyre, Hon. William HendersonNelson3 September, 1928.
Masters, Hon. RobertTaranaki11 June, 1930,
Mitchelson, Hon. Sir Edwin, K.C.M.G.Auckland25 June, 1927.
Moore, Hon. RichardCanterbury.14 July, 1928.
Parr, Hon. Sir Christopher James, K.C.M.G.Auckland9 October, 1931.
'Rhodes, Hon. Sir Robert Heaton, K.C.V.O.,Canterbury28 October, 1925.
K.B.E. Scott, Hon. RobertOtago25 June, 1927.
Sidey, Hon. Sir Thomas Kay, Kt.Otago10 December, 1928.
Smith, Colonel the Hon. George John, C.B.E.Canterbury25 June, 1927.
Snodgrass, Hon. William Wallace, M.B.E.Nelson3 September, 1928.
Stevenson, Hon. WilliamOtago11 June, 1930.
Trevethick, Hon. JonathanAuckland11 June, 1930.
Witty, Hon. GeorgeCanterbury28 October, 1925.



Speaker—Hon. Sir C. E. STATHAM, Kt.

Chairman of Committees—S. G. Smith.

Clerk of the House—T. D. H. HALL, LL.B.

Name.Electoral District.
* Vacant through death of Tuiti Makitgnara on 24th June. 1932. At the consequent by-election on 3rd August, Eruera Tirikatene was elected.
For European Electorates.
Ansell, Alfred EdwardChalmers.
Armstrong, Hubert ThomasChristchurch East.
Atmore, HarryNelson.
Barnard, William EdwardNapier.
Bitchener, JohnWaitaki.
Black, George Charles CecilMotueka.
Bodkin, William AlexanderCentral Otago.
Broadfoot, Walter JamesWaitomo.
Burnett, Thomas DavidTemuka.
Campbell, Hugh McLeanHawke's Bay.
Carr, Rev. Clyde LeonardTimaru.
Munro, James WrightDunedin North
Chapman, Charles HenryWellington North.
Murdoch, Alfred JamesMarsden.
Clinkard, Cecil HenryRotorua.
Nash, James AlfredPalmerston.
Coates, Right Hon.Kaipara.
Nash, WalterHutt.
Joseph Gordon, P.C., O'Brien, JamesWestland.
M.C. Parry, William EdwardAuckland
Cobbe, Hon. John George Oroua.Central.
Coleman, David WilliamGisborne.
Polson, William JohnStratford.
Connolly, JeremiahMid - Canterbury.
Ransom, Hon. Ethelbert AlfredPahiatua.
De la Perrelle, PhilipAwarua.
Reid, Daniel StewartRaglan.
Aldborough Richards, Arthur ShaptonRoskill.
Dickie, Harold GaitPatea.
Rushworth, Harold MontagueBay of
Endean, William Phillips Parnell.Islands.
Field, William HughesOtaki.
Samuel, Albert MoellerThames.
Forbes, Right Hon. GeorgeHurunui.
Savage, Michael JosephAuckland
William, P.C.West.
Fraser, PeterWellington Central.
Schramm, Frederick WilliamAuckland East.
Hamilton, Hon. AdamWallace.
Semple, RobertWellington
Hargest, James Invercargill.East.
Harris, AlexanderWaitemata.
Smith, Sydney GeorgeNew Plymouth.
Hawke, Richard WilsonKaiapoi.
Healy, Edward FrancisWairau.
Stallworthy, Arthur JohnEden.
Holland, HenryChristchurch North.
Statham, Hon. Sir Charles Ernest, Kt.Dunedin Central.
Holland, Henry Edmund Buller.Stewart, Hon. William Dunedin
Howard, Edwin JohnChristchurch South.
Stuart, AlexanderRangitikei.
Jones, FrederickDunedin
Sullivan, Daniel GilesAvon.
South.Sykes, George Robert Masterton.
Jordan, William JosephManukau.
Veitch, William AndrewWanganui.
Jull, Albert EdwardWaipawa.
Wilkinson, Charles AndersonEgmont.
Kyle, Herbert SetonRiccarton.
Stewart Williams, Kenneth StewartBay of Plenty.
Langstone, FrankWaimarino.
Lee, John AlexanderGrey Lynn.
Wright, Robert AlexanderWellington
Linklater, Joseph Manawatu.Suburbs.
Lye, FrederickWaikato.
Young, Hon. James AlexanderHamilton.
McCombs, JamesLyttelton.
McDougall, DavidMataura.
McKeen, RobertWellington South.
McLeod, Hon. AlexanderWairarapa. For Maori Electorates.
Donald Tau HenareNorthern
Macmillan, Hon. Charles Tauranga.Maori.
Edward de la BarcaNgata, Hon. Sir Apirana Eastern
Macpherson. John AndrewOamaru.
Turupa, Kt.Maori.
McSkimming, PeterClutha.
Taite te TomoWestern
Mason, Henry GreatheadAuckland Maori.
Massey, John Norman Franklin.Maori.*
Massey. Walter WilliamHauraki.


List of Departments of the New Zealand Government, with Titles and Names of Permanent Heads.

DepartmentPermanent Head.
AgricultureC. Director GeneralC. J. Reakes, C.B.E., M.R.C.V.S., D.V.Sc. Melb.
AuditController and Auditor GeneralG. F. C. Campbell, C.M.G.
Cook Islands Crown LawSecretaryS. J. Smith.
Crown LawSolicitor GeneralA. Fair, LL.B., K.C.
CustomsComptrollerG. Craig, C.M.G., LL.D.
DefenceCommandant, N.Z. Military ForcesMajor General W. L. H. Sinclair Burgess, C.B.,
 Under SecretaryH. Turner.
EducationDirectorT.B. Strong, M.A., B.Sc.
External AffairsSecretaryC. A. Berendsen, LL.M.
Friendly Societies and National ProvidentRegistrar and Deputy Superintendent11. Witheford.
Government InsuranceCommissionerA. E. Allison
HealthDirector GeneralM.H. Watt, M. IX, D.P.H.
ImmigrationUnder SecretaryH. D. Thomson.
Industries and Commerce, Tourist, and PublicitySecretary for Industries and Commerce, General Manager for TG.W. Clinkard, M. Com.
Census and StatisticsGovernment StatisticianJ.W. Butcher.
Internal AffairsUnder SecretaryM. Eraser, O.B.E.
Dominion MuseumDirectorW.R.B. Oliver, M.Sc.
Government Actuary'sGovernment ActuaryC. Gostelow, F.I.A. Lond.
JusticeUnder Secretary and Registrar General, Births, Deaths, and MarriagesI.P. Ward.
ElectoralChief Electoral OfficerG. G. Hodgkins.
LabourSecretary, and Commissioner of UnemploymentG.C. Godfrey.
Lands and Deeds and Stamp DutiesSecretary for Land and Deeds and Commissioner of Stamp DutiesJ. Murray.
Land and Income TaxCommissioner of Taxes 
Lands and SurveyUnder Secretary and Land Purchase ControllerW. Robertson
Law DraftingLaw DraftsmanJ. Christie, LL.M.
MarineSecretaryG.C. Godfrey.
Mental HospitalsInspector GeneralT.G. Gray, M.B., Bac. Surg.
MinesUnder SecretaryA.H. Kimbell.
Native.Under SecretaryR.N. Jones, C.B.E.
Native TrustNative TrusteeW.E. Rawson.
NavalFirst Naval MemberCommodore F. Burgos Watson, D.S.O., R.N.
PensionsCommissionerJ. H. Boyes.
PoliceCommissionerW.G. Wohlmann.
Post and TelegraphSecretaryG. McNamara, C.B.E.
Prime Minister'sPermanent HeadF.D. Thomson, C.M.G., B.A.
Printing and StationeryGovernment PrinterW. A. G. Skinner
PrisonsController GeneralB. L. Dallard.
Public Service SuperannuationSecretary(Vacant).
Public TrustPublic TrusteeJ. W. Macdonald,
Public WorksUnder Secretary and Engineer in chef 
RailwaysGeneral Manager 

Scientific and Industrial Research

SecretaryE. Marsden, D.Sc.
Dominion LaboratoryDominion AnalystW. Donovan, M.Sc. F.I.C.,
Dominion ObservatoryDominion Astronomer and SeismologistC. E. Adams, D.Sc F.R.A.S., A.I.A. (Lond.).
Geological SurveyDirectorJ. Henderson, M.A., D.Sc., B.E., A.O.S.M.
MeteorologicalDirectorE. Kidson, M.A., D.Sc.
State AdvancesSuperintendentE. O. Hales.
State Fire and Accident InsuranceGeneral ManagerJ. H. Jerram.
State Forest ServiceDirectorA. D. McGavock.
TransportCommissionerJ. S. Hunter.
TreasurySecretaryA. D. Park, C.M.G.
ValuationValuer-GeneralT. Brook.

By an Act passed during the year 1912 and intituled the Public Service Act, 1912, the Public Service of New Zealand was placed under the direct and sole control of a Commissioner and two Assistant Commissioners, who are appointed for a term of seven years, are responsible only to Parliament, and can be dismissed from office only for misbehaviour or incompetence.

The Act, which became operative on the 1st April, 1913, applies to all members of the Public Service with the exception of the Controller and Auditor General, officers of the Railways Department, members of the Police and Defence Forces, Judges and Magistrates, officers of the House, certain officers of the Legislative Departments, and persons paid only by fees or commission, as well as any officer to whom the Governor General in Council declares the Act shall not apply.

By the Post and Telegraph Department Act of 1918 the Post and Telegraph Department was exempted from the control of the Commissioner, with the exception that the Commissioner makes all appointments other than to positions carrying a salary of over 619 13s. per annum.

Public Service Commissioner: P.D.N. VERSCHAFFELT, C.M.G., LL.B

Assistant Public Service Commissioner: B.L.DALLARD.


High Commissioner for New Zealand Sir Thomas M. Wilford, K.C.M.G., K.C.

Secretary, and Loan and Stock Agent F.T. Sandford.

Publicity and Exhibition Officer H.T.B. Drew.

Trade and Produce Officer (Vacant).

Officer in Charge Immigration C.B. Burdekin.

Finance Officer, Accountant, and Loan and Stock Agent E. Toms.

Audit Officer Arnold Hore.

Customs Department Representative F.W. Lawrence.

Dairy Produce Officer W. Wright.

Offices New Zealand Government Offices, 415 Strand, London W.C.2. Code address Deputy, Westrand.


New Zealand Tourist and Trade Commissioner in the Commonwealth of Australia L. J. Schmitt, 14 Martin Place (G.P.O. Box 365F), Sydney, with branch office at 50 William Street, Melbourne, Code addresses Zealandia, Sydney; Aotearoa, Melbourne.

Honorary New Zealand Tourist Agent, Brisbane T. G. Dewar, King's Building, 79 Queen Street, Brisbane.

Honorary New Zealand Tourist Agents, Adelaide South Australian Intelligence and Tourist Bureau (P.O. Box 6640), Adelaide.

Honorary New Zealand Tourist Agents, Perth Western Australian Government Tourist Bureau, 62 Barrack Street, Perth. Code address Tourist.

Commissioner for New Zealand in Canada and United States J. W. Collins, Canada Permanent Building, 320 Bay Street, Toronto, 2. Code address Maoriland.

New Zealand Government Agent, Vancouver—W. A. James, 1017 Metropolitan Building, 837 Hastings Street West (P.O. Box 747), Vancouver. Code address Wajames.

Resident Agent for New Zealand, San Francisco— H. Stephenson Smith, 311 California Street, San Francisco. Code address Yerba.

Official Representative of Customs Department in Canada and United States W. J. Stevenson, 44 Whitehall Street, New York. Code address Betcustoms.

Honorary New Zealand Tourist Agent in India T. C. Buddie, New Zealand Insurance Co., Ltd., 26 Dalhousie Square West, Calcutta. Code address Newzico.

Honorary New Zealand Representative in India—R. L. B. Gall, 11 Clive Street, Calcutta.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent, Colombo—A. R. Hughes, Hong Kong Bank Buildings (P.O. Box 328), Colombo.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent, North China L. A. L. Moore, 171 Victoria Road, Tientsin. Code address Court.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent Shanghai S. Hutchison, Room 506, 23 Yuen Ming Yuen Road (P.O. Box 1568), Shanghai.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent, Johannesburg B. R. Avery, 8 Natal Bank Chambers, 90 Market Street, Market Square (P.O. Box 1378), Johannesburg.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent, Durban H. Middlebrook, 3 Natal Bank Buildings, West Street (P.O. Box 1822), Durban. Code Address Midstream.

Honorary New Zealand Government Agent, Honolulu H. C. Tennent, First National Bank Building (P.O. Box 44), Honolulu.

Honorary New Zealand Representative, Marseilles The Secretary, British Chamber of Commerce, 2 Rue Beauvau, Marseilles. Code Address Britcom.


United Kingdom.—H.M. Trade Commissioner: L. A. Paish, O.B.E., T. and G. Buildings, Grey Street (P.O. Box 369), Wellington.

Canada.—Trade Commissioner: C. M. Croft, Yorkshire House, Shortland Street, Auckland.

United States of America.—Trade Commissioner: J.B. Foster, Dominion Buildings, Wakefield Street, Wellington.



Argentine Republic.—Argentine Republic. Vice Consuls: F.S. Battley, Auckland; E.S. Baldwin, Wellington; J.A. Johnstone, Dunedin.

Belgium.—Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): Armand Nihotte, Wellington.

Consuls: A.M. Ferguson, Auckland; Sir J.J. Kinsey, Christchurch; G.L. Denniston, Dunedin. Vice Consuls: Sir C.R.J. Ward, Bart., Christchurch;

R.A. Anderson, C.M.G., Invercargill.

Brazil.—Consul: George Robertson, Wellington.

Chile.—Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: R. Dundas Smith, Sydney

Consuls: E.A. Craig, Auckland; Thomas C. Ross, Dunedin.

China.—Consuls: Ou Tsin-Shuing, Wellington. Vice Consuls: Yue H. Jackson,

Wellington; Cheng Fu Pan, Western Samoa.

Czecho-Slovakia.—Consul General (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): Dr. It. Kuraz,

Sydney. Honorary Consul: E.J. Hyams, Wellington. Honorary Vice Consul:

C.P. Agar, Christchurch.

Denmark.—Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: Georg Lyngbye Host, Sydney.

Consul for South Island: H.D. Acland, Christchurch. Honorary Consul:

Stronach Paterson, Wellington. Vice Consuls: S.P. Anderson, Auckland; W.

Perry, Hokitika.

Ecuador.—Consul: William Birss, Auckland.

Finland.—Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): Harald Tanner, Sydney.

Vice Consuls (honorary): Robert Burns, Auckland; Vaino Sarelius, Christchurch.

France.—Consul for New Zealand and Western Samoa: E.M.V.M Joubert, Auckland.

Consular Agents: George Humphreys, Christchurch; O. It. Bendall, Wellington;

S.E.D. Neill, Dunedin.

Germany.—Consul General (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): Dr. Hans Busing

Sydney. Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand and Dependencies, also.

Western and American Samoa): W. Penseler, Wellington.

Greece.—Honorary Consul for New Zealand: J.F. Dyer, Wellington.

Honduras.—Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: Frederic Walsh, Sydney.

Italy.—Consul General for Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and New Guinea: Commendatore Nob. A. Grossardi, Melbourne. Consul: Signor Giovanni Formichella, Wellington. Consular Agents: Joseph Wallace, Christchurch; J.A. Roberts, Dunedin; Geraldo G. Perotti, Greymouth.

Japan.—Consul General (with jurisdiction over New Zealand and Dependencies, excluding Western Samoa), S. Ohta (acting), Sydney. Honorary Consuls: A.B. Roberton, Auckland; N.S. Falla. Wellington.

Latvia.—Consul-General (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): C.L. Seya, London.

Hon. Consul: N.E. Heath, Auckland.

Mexico.—Hon. Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand and Western Samoa): Don Carlos Zalapa, Sydney.

Netherlands.—Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: P.Staal. Sydney.

Vice Consuls: George Ritchie, Dunedin; F. Bauer (acting), Auckland; N. Francis, Christchurch.

Norway.— Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: H.H.T. Fay, Sydney. Consul (with jurisdiction over Western Samoa also): A.W. Newton, Wellington. Vice Consuls: Robert Millar, Auckland; V.E. Hamilton, Christchurch (honorary); M.E. Wiig, Invercargill; J.H. Enright, Westport; W.F. Edmond, Dunedin (honorary).

Paraguay.—Consul: A.E. Kernot, Auckland.

Peru.—Consul General for Australia and New Zealand: J.M. Paxton, Sydney. Consul: G.H. Baker, Auckland.

Poland.—Consul General (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): Hon. George Earp, Sydney.

Portugal.—Consul: David L. Nathan, Auckland. Hon. Vice Consul: Alfred Nathan, Auckland. Vice Consuls: A.D.S. Duncan, Wellington; C.W. Rattray, Dunedin.

Spain.—Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand and Dependencies): Sir Stephen Morell (acting), Melbourne. Hon. Vice Consul: A.K.S. Mackenzie, Wellington.

Sweden.—Consul General for Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji: E.H. Lindquist, Sydney. Consul: J.T. Martin, Wellington. Vico Consuls: J.T.F. Mitchell, Auckland; W. Machin, Christchurch; J.S. Itoss, C.M.G., Dunedin.

Switzerland.—Consul (with jurisdiction over New Zealand): M.Stahel, Sydney. Gerant of the Consulate: J.A.C. Allum, Auckland.

United States of America.—Consul General: Calvin M. Hitch, Wellington. Consuls: B. Gotlieb, Wellington: W.F. Boyle, Auckland. Vice Consuls: Geo.D. Reuther, L.A. Bachelder (honorary), Auckland; L.W. Johnson, Wellington: Q.F. Roberts, Apia (in charge). Consular Agents: H.P. Bridge, Christchurch; H. Reeves, Dunedin.

Yugoslavia.—Hon. Consul: John Totich, Dargaville



IN common with almost all countries, the chief instrument in compiling population data in New Zealand is the census, which in this country is taken quinquennially. The minutiæ of the distribution of population, together with analyses of various population characteristics, compiled from census data will be found in the census publications listed at the front of this volume. Owing to the high standard of education of the population, and to the political, geographical, and social conditions prevailing in the Dominion, the data compiled as a result of the census are remarkably complete and reliable.

The financial stringency resulting from the severe decline in the prices of primary products caused by the world wide economic depression led to the first interruption in the sequence of New Zealand censuses. By the Census Postponement Act, 1930, the census due to be taken in 1931 and proclaimed for 21st April of that year was postponed until 1936.

The basis adopted for the census and indeed, practically universally throughout population statistics in New Zealand is that of the population de fait, all persons being counted as at the place of enumeration, irrespective of habitual residence, legal domicile, and so forth.

Intercensal figures of total population are based on the customary equation:

Population = Population (census) + Births and immigration - Deaths and emigration.

The comparative shortness of the interval between the census enumerations, combined with New Zealand's insular position and the high standard of her registration system, has hitherto prevented serious intercensal errors in statements of population of New Zealand as a whole. This remark applies to Europeans only, as the same standard of accuracy cannot be claimed for Maori registrations. A point of minor importance which may be noted is that births and deaths registered during a year are considered as actually occurring during that year.

The fact that all migration to and from the Dominion must be waterborne over lengthy distances, and that it centres in a few ports, facilitates the compilation of accurate statistics of external migration. Records of passenger traffic between the North and South Islands are also maintained. Population statistics of lessor internal divisions and of towns are based upon a variety of data collected annually.

Residents of the Cook Islands, Niue, Western Samoa, and the Tokelau Group are not included in the population statistics quoted throughout this section, except in the first table on the next page and in the paragraphs devoted to these islands at the end of the section. A similar course was followed formerly in regard to Maoris, but figures are now given inclusive of Maoris where possible, in accordance with a decision of Cabinet.

For the 1926 census all half-caste European Maoris were included with the Native population in lieu of the previous practice of treating as Europeans such half castes as were living in European fashion. Numbers so treated were as follows: 1921, 4,230; 1916,3,221; 1911,2,879; 1906,2,578; 1901,2,407.

Separate statistics of the Maori population are given towards the end of the section.


The population of the Dominion of New Zealand and its dependencies and the mandated territory of Western Samoa at the 1st April, 1932, exceeded one and a half millions. The Ross Dependency is uninhabited.

Population (exclusive of Maoris) of New Zealand proper742,258712,9091,455,167
Maori population of New Zealand proper36,10733,29969,466
Population (inclusive of Maoris) of New Zealand proper778,425746,2081,524,633
Population of Cook Islands and Niue7,7827,46515,247
Population of Tokelau Islands (August, 1931)5285201,048
Population of the mandated territory of Western Samoa23,93622,21446,150
Totals 1st April, 1932810,071776,4071,587,078


The outstanding note of the history of population movement in New Zealand is that of unbroken growth. That it has not been invariably regular is well attested by the accompanying table setting forth the increase at successive census enumerations from the first general census onwards.

Date of Enumeration.Population (excluding Maoris).Numerical Increase.Percentage Increase.Average Annual Percentage Increase.
* Based on population excluding half-castes living as Europeans, who are included in population totals in 1921, but not in 1926.
December, 185126,707......
December 185859,41332,706122.4612.14
December, 186199,02139,60866.6718.70
December, 1864172,15873,13773.8620.54
December, 1867218,66846,51027.028.15
February, 1871256,39337,72517.255.11
March, 1874299,51443,12116.825.32
March, 1878414,412114,89838.368.43
April, 1881489,93375,52118.225.58
March, 1886578,48288,54918.073.39
April, 1891626,65848,1768.331.61
April, 1896703,36076,70212.242.33
March, 1901772,71969,3599.861.91
April, 1906888,578115,85914.992.79
April, 19111,008,468119,89013.492.60
October, 19161,099,44990,9819.021.57
April, 19211,218,913119,46410.872.32
April, 19261,344,469129,792*10.692.05

The European population now looks in retrospect down a vista of well over one hundred years. At the opening of the nineteenth century there existed a more or less fluctuating population of perhaps one hundred; by 1839 it had swelled to a total of about a thousand whalers, sealers, traders, missionaries, adventurers, and settlers. Activities of the colonizing companies and societies in the “forties brought rapid changes and swiftly rising numbers, to be enhanced in the sixties” by the gold rushes of the period.

The most significant period is possibly that of the “seventies,” marked by a vigorous developmental policy of public works and assisted immigration. The record year 1874, which saw a rise in population of 46,000 (including 32,000 assisted immigrants), was, and still is, the high water mark of population gains. Both 1874 and 1875 showed a ratio of growth far in advance of any level subsequently attained.

In the late “eighties” and early “nineties” came the blight of economic depression and comparative stagnation in population. In 1888, 1890, and 1891 emigrants exceeded immigrants which were the only occasions in the history of the country until 1931, when a small excess of departures was recorded.

In the middle “nineties” rising world prices and the now frozen meat trade brought a return of prosperity and moderate, but steady, increase of population. Development of secondary industries and the remarkable expansion of dairying in recent years provided a substantial foundation for increasing numbers.

The average annual population increment during the ton post war years, 1919-28. exceeded 30,000. In 1928 the population gain fell to 16,071, but showed slight rises to 17,442 in 1929, and 19,325 in 1930, with a fall to 14,508 in 1931. Apart from war years, which were affected by movements of troops, these are the lowest absolute increases since 1900, and the lowest relative increases, with the exception of 1885, ever recorded. Contributing causes are the continued fall in the birthrate, which has now reached a level below half that of fifty years ago, and the shrinkage of the normal excess of overseas arrivals over departures.

The final criterion of the Dominion's growth in respect of population is supplied by a comparison of the rates of increase of other portions of the British Empire and of various foreign countries.

Country.Population (Latest Census).Intercensal Increase per cent. in Decennial Periods approximating to.
* Excluding Maoris †Europeans only; statements of increase are for Province of cape of Good Hope only. ‡Decrease.
New Zealand *1,344,469192619.8420.8730.5123.3125.8791.09
Great Britain44,748,00019314.704.7410.3612.0311.1713.95
Union of South Africa†1,827,166193112.688.496.4457.79111.82
United States122,775,046193016.1414.9421.0220.7325.5030.08

Up to the “seventies” New Zealand was dependent on migration for the greater portion of her increase of population, but since then natural increase i.e., excess of births over deaths has been the principal factor.

Over the whole period 1861-1931 migration accounted for 36 per cent, of the total increase, excess of births over deaths accounting for 64 pet cent. From 1901 to 1931 the former is responsible for 30 per cent, and the latter for 70 per cent, of the increase of population.

A table is appended showing for each five yearly period from 1861 the excess of births over deaths and of immigration over emigration. Maoris are not included.

Period.Excess of Births over Deaths.Excess of Arrivals over Departures.Total Increase.
Males.Females.Both Sexes.Males.Females.Both Sexes.Males.Females.Both Sexes.

* Decrease.

† Departure and return of troops of Expeditionary Force not included in migration figures.

Totals, 1861-1931425,959471,493897,452304,074203,954508,028730,033675,4471,405,480

The table shows clearly the irregularity of the migration increase and the comparative steadiness of the natural increase. The most fruitful quinquennium in respect of population gained through migration was that of the gold rush period nearly seventy years ago. With a stable birth rate the natural increase would show mounting numbers, whereas actually the peak occurred in 1911-15 and the shrinking birth rate has reduced numbers accruing from this source.


The following table is interesting as showing the early excess of males and the gradual equalization of the sexes in New Zealand. The figures quoted are exclusive of Maoris.


The preponderance of males in the early years of New Zealand was doubtless due to the fact that the difficulties of pioneering and the remoteness of the country from Europe were such as to deter female immigration to a greater extent than male. This was accentuated by the character of the early industries. Gold mining and coal mining, for instance, would attract large numbers of men, but few women. The effect of this early preponderance of males no doubt still exists, but in an ever diminishing degree, its gradual elimination being effected by the passing of the earlier settlers. In recent years there has been a considerable approach towards equality in the increase of males and females by migration, and in some years the female increase from this source has exceeded the male.

Of the two sources from which the Dominion's population has been recruited viz., migration and natural increase the effect of the former has hitherto been to give in the aggregate a considerable preponderance of males, and of the latter to give a regular preponderance of females. In the period 1861 1931 the gain of males by migration totalled 100,120 more than that of females. This excess was only partly offset numerically by a female surplus of 45,534 in the figures of natural increase, but the net excess of 54,586 males is not nearly sufficient to maintain the former high ratio of males to females in the population. The surplus of males at present, exclusive of the Native population, is some 29,000. The effect of the natural increase of population is in the direction of eliminating this surplus at the rate of about 700 per annum.


As already noted, the intercensal estimates of Dominion population prepared from the records of vital statistics and of migration are, by virtue of the favourable position of the Dominion in this respect, remarkably accurate. Indeed, as regards the statistics of total population the term “estimate” is scarcely correct, for the system in use should give, and to a great extent does give, the actual figures. With the exception of the years of the Great War, when the movement of troops was not ascertained exactly, the census totals invariably showed the quarterly returns of population to be highly accurate. There is always a difference in date between the census enumeration and the nearest quarterly statement, for no two of the eighteen general census enumerations in the history of the Dominion have been taken on the same day of the year, and this in itself usually accounts for the greater part of what disparity actually is shown

The population at the end of each of the last ten years is quoted in the appended table, together with the movement in each year and the mean population for the year:—

Calendar Year.Estimated Population (Excluding Maoris) at End of Year.Increase during Year.Mean Population for Year.
Males.Females.Total.Numerical.Per Cent.
*See letterpress following
1926697,113668,3041,365,41729,054 *2.171,352,927

The actual increase of population (excluding Maoris) during the calendar year 1931 was 14,508, as compared with 19,325 in 1930. The increase for 1926 was 29,054, although from the figures shown for population at 31st December, 1925 and 1926, the increase would appear to have been much less. The population at 31st December 1925, however, was the official estimate for that date, arrived at, incidentally, on the old basis of including with the European population half castes living as Europeans.

As the year ended 31st March is for most of the administrative functions of the Government the period most in use, similar figures are given for March years:—

Year ended 31st March,Estimated Population (Excluding Maoris) at End of Year.Increase during Year.Mean Population for Year.
Males.Females.Total.Numerical.Per Cent.
*See letterpress above
1927701,774671,9721,373,74629,382 *2.181,357,777

Of the total estimated population of 1,455,167, excluding Maoris, at 31st March, 1932, adults numbered 896,698 (males, 456,745; females, 439,953).

The figures given in the two preceding tables show the population exclusive of Maoris. The following table shows the population inclusive of Maoris at 31st December and at 31st March of the last ten years with the means for the various twelve monthly periods:—

Estimated Population (including Maoris) at End of Year.Mean Population for Year.
Years ended 31st December.
Years ended 31st March.


Records of external migration have been kept in New Zealand since 1860. Prior to the 1st April, 1921, the statistics were compiled from returns furnished monthly by Collectors of Customs, but since that date they have been compiled from individual statements obtained from each person entering or leaving the Dominion, and much detailed and important information is consequently now available.

Including crews of vessels, 64,105 persons from overseas arrived in New Zealand during the year 1931, which, compared with 1930, shows a decrease of 16,710. During the same period 04,176 persons departed. This figure, compared with the corresponding one for 1930, shows a decrease of 11,892.

Migration in 1931, therefore, showed an excess of departures of 71 compared with a surplus of arrivals of 4,747 in 1930. Only in three years previously in the history of New Zealand have a year's departures exceeded the arrivals, this occurring during the economic upheaval of the late “eighties” and early “nineties,” the years being' 1888, 1890, and 1891.

The numbers of arrivals and departures during the last ten years are given in the table following. Crews of vessels have not been taken into account.


The monthly figures for 1930 and 1931 are as follows, the excess of arrivals or departures for each month being also shown:—

Month.Arrivals.Departures.Excess of Arrivals.Excess of Departures.

In general, arrivals exceed departures in the spring and summer months, while the contrary holds for the autumn and winter periods. Excluding crews of vessels, the arrivals for the first and last quarters of 1931 formed 65 per cent, of the total arrivals, and the six months ended June accounted for 63 per cent, of the total departures, for the year. Figures for the corresponding periods in 1930 were 61 per cent, and 66 per cent.


During the calendar year 1931, 20,225 persons, excluding members of crews of vessels, arrived in the Dominion. Of these, 3,236 were immigrants intending permanent residence in the country, as compared with 6,917 of a similar class in 1930. The remainder of the arrivals, 16,989 in number, were classified as shown below. Corresponding figures for the four preceding years are also given.

Immigrants intending permanent residence11,3276,3396,3436,9173,236
New Zealand residents returning from abroad14,27115,49715,10814,3629,366
Persons on commercial business1,9731,8711,8721,6811,226
Persons visiting the Dominion in connection with entertainments, sports, &c.782931741295369
Others (officials, &c., of other countries)430243296236442
Persons in transit557946468507441
Not stated2315418778

The New Zealand Government temporarily suspended from early in 1927 the major portion of its scheme of granting assisted passages to migrants from the British Isles, and this is largely responsible for the decreases shown in regard to immigrants. The number of assisted immigrants for 1931 is 489 as against 1,405 in 1930 and 10,766 in 1926: while the numbers of those who migrated to New Zealand without State assistance amounted to 2,747, 5,512, and 7,10 2 for the years 1931, 1930, and 1926 respectively.

The departures recorded during 1931 numbered 21,634, as compared with 28,321 in 1930. Of these, 2,692 were shown to be New Zealand residents departing permanently, 8,437 New Zealand residents departing temporarily, and 10,441 visitors to the Dominion departing. The figures which follow show the different classes of emigrants for each of the last five years:—

New Zealand residents departing permanently4,1453,9543,0932,4492,692
New Zealand residents departing temporarily16,65916,07514,61412,5408,437
Visitors to the Dominion departing15,41414,98913,89313,27310,441
Persons regarding whom no information is available3017435964


Of the total arrivals recorded during the year 1931, 9.8 per cent, were under fifteen years of age. Among the immigrants intending permanent residence, however, the proportion was much higher viz., 18.8 per cent. The corresponding percentages for all departures and for New Zealand residents departing permanently were 9.9 and 19.5 respectively. The higher percentages under fifteen years of age in the case of permanent settlers and emigrants are, of course, due to the fact that this class of person brings or takes his family, if any, with him, whereas the remainder of persons coming to and going from the Dominion consisting for the most part of tourists and persons on business, travel almost exclusively without at least the younger members of their families. The higher percentage of persons of forty five years and over amongst the departures would appear to confirm to a certain extent the general impression that many immigrants return to their native land later in life.

Origin and Destination

Of the 3,236 new immigrants during 1931 intending to settle in the Dominion, the vast majority, 3,036, or 93.8 per cent., came from British countries, mainly from the British Isles, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Fiji, and India. The majority of immigrants from foreign countries came from Yugoslavia, the United States of America, China, and Italy.

The following table shows for each of the last five years the principal countries whence arrived new immigrants who intended permanent residence in the Dominion:—

Country of Last Permanent Residence.1927.1928.1929.1930.1931.
British Isles8,7034,0633,6332,8431,190
Union of South Africa6752402120
Other of British countries168110187225133
United States of America11682968865
Other foreign countries and unspecified1101026514967

With the exception of 205 persons (of whom 63 departed for the United States,54 for China, and 64 for European countries), the whole of the New Zealand residents who permanently left the Dominion During 1931 went to British South Africa, 52; Fiji 34; Canada 27; other British countries, 103.


During the year 1931 some 139 persons (males 85, females 54) of foreign nationality, out of the total of 3,236 arrived as new immigrants intending permanent residence in the Dominion. The chief nationalities represented among the alien immigrants for the last five years were as follows:—

Country of Nationality.1927.1928.1929.1930.1931.
United States of America403038304
Other countries6876548157

Yugoslavia in 1927 accounted for approximately 40 per cent. of the immigrants of foreign nationality, but the numbers have dwindled considerably since then, although in 1931 they represented 20 per cent, of the foreign arrivals.

The sex constitution of foreign nationals has altered considerably of recent years. Although females among alien immigrants have always been relatively fewer than among immigrants of British nationality, the proportion of females in the former case rose rapidly from 15 per cent, in 1925 to 43 per cent, in 1929 with a decline to 39 per cent, in 1931, while that of females to total British immigrants has maintained a steady level, the percentage in 1931 being 47.

The number of foreign nationals among New Zealand residents departing permanently during 1931 was 128 (108 males and 20 females), or 4.8 per cent, of the total.


Although race aliens comprise comparatively small proportions of the total arrivals and departures, they are by no means unimportant. The principal race aliens with whom New Zealand is concerned are Chinese and Indians, and these are shown separately from other race aliens. The definition of the term “race alien,”as used in connection with these statistics, is “a person of other than European race.”

The following table shows the permanent increase in the Dominion's race alien population through migration for the years 1930 and 1931:—

Immigrants intending permanent residence73431723161938
New Zealand residents departing permanently35718604431562
Permanent increase of race aliens in New Zealand through migration28 *27131241 *13424 *

It should be noted that the figures quoted above include half castes. There has been a substantial decrease in the number of Chinese immigrants during the last few years, and this, coupled with increases in the number departing permanently, makes an actual reduction in the Chinese population through migration during the last five years. The permanent increase in the number of Indian immigrants remains at a fairly stationary figure.

The total arrivals and departures of race aliens during each of the last ton years are as follows:—


At the census of 1881, the year in which taxation was first imposed on Chinese landing in New Zealand, the Chinese population numbered 5,004 persons, which fell to 4,542 in 1886, and further to 3,711 in 1896. During the period 1881-96 the poll tax was £10 per head, and this seemed sufficient for the purpose of preventing a large influx of Chinese. During the years 1894 and 1895, however, the arrivals shown by the Customs returns were found to be somewhat greater than the departures, and in 1896 an Act was passed raising the poll tax on Chinese immigrants to £100 per head, and limiting the number of Chinese passengers that may be carried by vessels to New Zealand to one for every 200 tons burthen. According to the census of 1901, the Chinese population was 2,857; in 1906 it was 2,570; in 1911, 2,630;in 1916, 2,147; in 1921, 3,266; and in 1926, 3,374. At the 31st March, 1932, the approximate numbers of the principal alien races present in New Zealand were,: Chinese, 2,719; Indians, 1,144; and Syrians, 987.


The general scheme of Governmental assistance to immigrants is based on nomination by a person who is already domiciled in New Zealand, and who under takes to find employment for his nominee and guarantees that such nominee will reside at least five years in New Zealand. Further details will be found in the 1931 or preceding issues of the Year-Book.

Since about May, 1927, the system of assisted immigration has been temporarily suspended except in regard to (1) single women under forty years of age, (2) juveniles, and (3) wives, &c., of immigrants who had arrived previously.

Various systems of assisted immigration have been in force since 1871, with the exception of the period 1892 to 1903 (inclusive). The numbers of assisted immigrants during each of the last ten years are as follows:—


The total to 31st December. 1931 is 226 142 of which number all have from the United Kingdom with the exception of 3,909 from the Continent of Europe spread over the five years 1874 to 1878 (inclusive).


Permission to Enter New Zealand.

With certain specified exceptions, no person over the age of fifteen years may land in New Zealand unless in possession of a passport or some other document satisfactorily establishing his or her nationality and identity. Exemption from this requirement (which is additional to the requirements of the Immigration Restriction and Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Acts) may be granted by the Minister of internal Affairs.

In the case of a person coming from a foreign country the passport must, with certain exceptions, have been issued or viséd by the British Ambassador or a British Consul in that country, and in the case of a person coming from any part of the British dominions the issue or visée must have been by some public official duly authorized in that behalf.

Certain exceptions are made with respect to persons coming to New Zealand from the Cook Islands and Western Samoa. In their case the only requirement is the possession of a permit to visit New Zealand granted by the Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands or the Administrator of Samoa, as the case may be. The regulations, further, do not apply to a British subject arriving in New Zealand as the master or a member of the crow of the vessel in which he arrives, or to a British subject arriving from the Commonwealth of Australia.

Departure From New Zealand

With the exception of British subjects travelling to the Commonwealth of Australia, the Cook Islands, or Western Samoa, all persons travelling to places beyond the seas are required to be in possession of a passport or similar document to facilitate landing thereat. British passports are issued, under the direction of His Excellency the Governor General, by the Department of Internal Affairs. They are valid for five years and may be renewed for any number of years not exceeding five. Subject to the Immigration Regulations in force in the various countries of the Empire, they are valid for travelling anywhere within the British Empire, including territories under British protection or mandate, but not Palestine or Mesopotamia unless specially endorsed for those countries.


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. It is administered by the Customs department.

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

  1. Persons not of British birth and parentage, unless in possession of permits issued by the Customs Department. (Note.—A person is not deemed to be of British birth and parentage 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 His 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 Dominion.

  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.

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 a period not exceeding six months, but may be extended if the proper authorities consider that the circumstances warrant such action. A deposit of £10 is required in respect of such temporary permits, and is returned on the departure of the visitor if the conditions of the temporary permit are complied with. The Collector of Customs may also require, if he so decides, a deed to be entered into by some person or persona resident in New Zealand approved by him 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.

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

Chinese entering New Zealand to become permanent residents are required, in addition to being in possession of the permit indicated in clause (1) above, to pay 100 poll-tax.

Under the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Amendment Act, 1931, restrictions upon the landing in New Zealand of persons of British birth and parentage may be imposed, on account of any economic or financial conditions affecting trade and industry in New Zealand, or any other conditions which render it expedient to impose such restrictions. The Act ceases to be in force after 31st December, 1933.

Restricted Immigrants.

When persons arrive in New Zealand who are lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind, or infirm, 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 come to New Zealand may be called on to enter into a bond for £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.


The British Nationality and Status of Aliens (in New Zealand) Act, 1928, which was reserved for Royal assent, came into force on the 1st July, 1929. This Act made important alterations in the naturalization law of New Zealand, and made provision for the adoption of Part II of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914 (Imperial). A fairly detailed account of its effects will be found on pp. 92-95 of the 1931 Year Book.

During the year 1931 letters of naturalization in New Zealand were granted to 84 persons of the undermentioned birthplaces, as compared with 73 in the previous year. In addition, 42 children were included in the certificates of their parents, and certificates under the new legislation were issued to six males and one female previously naturalized in New Zealand. These were Russia, Netherlands, Austria, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Western Samoa one male each and New Zealand one female. Three children also were covered in respect of Western Samoa.

Country of Birth.Males.Females.Total.Children *
*Children included in certificate of parent; additional to preceding figures
United States1..13
Western Samoa1..1..

In the last ten years 1,976 subjects or citizens of other nations obtained letters of naturalization in New Zealand. The following table exhibits the principal countries involved. For the last seven years concerned the basis is the country of birth, for the remaining three the previous nationality.

United States65
Western Samoa31
Other countries64


North and South Islands.

In 1858 the North Island had a larger population than the South, this position being reversed at the succeeding enumerations until 1901, in which year the North Island was found to have slightly the larger total, a position which it has since considerably improved upon. The Maori War which broke out in 1860 retarded settlement in the North, while a large area of land reserved for the Maoris was for many years a serious hindrance to the development of this portion of the Dominion. The South Island was practically free from Maori troubles, and settlement was more rapid, though much of the land was disposed of in large areas. The discovery of gold in Otago in 1861 and on the West Coast in 1864 attracted to these localities considerable numbers of miners.

Census Year.Population (Excluding Maoris).Proportions Per Cent.
North Island.South Island. *Total.North Island.South Island. *
*Including Stewart Island and Chatham Islands.

A feature of recent years has been the steady trend of population to the North Island, although the tide was reversed in 1931. The natural increase of population (i.e., excess of over deaths) for the South Island in 1931 was 5,199, and the total increase 5,800. A net “gain” of 601 is therefore disclosed. For the North Island the natural increase was 9,376. yet the total increase was only 8,708, disclosing a net “drift” of 668.

Provincial Districts.

The populations, inclusive of Maoris, of the various provincial districts, as disclosed by the censuses of 1901, 1911, 1921, and 1926, with the estimate for the current year, are as follows:—

Provincial District.Census Population.Estimated Population as at 1st April, 1932.
*Includes certain Maori wives of Europeans, provincial district not specified.
Hawke's Bay39,60453,09863,62870,35375,900
Otago portion125,782132,881137,062149,921154,200
Southland portion48,01659,34962,43965,52969,200
Totals815,862 *1,058,312 *1,271,6641,408,1391,524,633

Urban and Rural Population.

On 20th April, 1926, somewhat over one third (38.5 per cent.) of the population of the Dominion (excluding Maoris) was included in the four principal urban areas Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and over one half (51.6 percent.) in these and in the ten secondary urban areas. The urban areas are not homogeneous local governing bodies, but were formed for statistical purposes, with a view to obviating difficulties formerly experienced through alterations of boundaries of cities and boroughs. Each urban area contains, in addition to the central city or borough and any suburban borough, town, or road districts, a considerable non-municipalized area adjacent to and contingent on the centre. The boundaries, which were designed to remain unaltered for a long period, thus allowing of definite comparisons being made over a series of years, were fixed with a view to providing for probable expansion.

For population purposes dependent town districts have their figures included in the totals of the counties within which they lie, while independent town districts are excluded, as is also in the case boroughs. Under the old method of computing urban and rural population, however, both classes of town districts are included in the county totals, as in the following table showing the urban and rural population at each census since 1881:—

Census Year.Countries.Boroughs.Percentage.

Urban Drift.

It is not altogether correct to regard the county population as rural and the borough population as urban. It is perhaps preferable to consider the question in the light of the following figures, in the computation of which the urban population is considered as that living in cities, boroughs, or town districts of over 1,000 inhabitants in 1881, 1,200 in 1886, 1,300 in 1891, 1,450 in 1896, 1,600 in 1901, 1,800 in 1906, 2,050 in 1911, 2,250 in 1916, and 2,500 in 1921 and 1926. Here the basic town has been given a rate of increase approximately equivalent to that of the country as a whole, it being assumed that a town of 2,500 bears much the same relationship at the present day as one of 1,000 inhabitants did in 1881. The results are as under:—

Census.Rural Population: Per Cent.Urban Population: Per Cent.

The increasing proportion of urban population in recent years is plainly manifest. It is noteworthy that the “urban drift,” either non existent or quiescent up to 1906 in that year commenced a swift rise, which is rapidly gaming in momentum.

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 as in the case of the Australian States e.g., Victoria, whose capital city, Melbourne, contains over 50 per cent, of the total population of the State the more highly urbanized portion of the community localized in four widely separated centres. These four centres have always existed more or less on the same plane, a fact which has played no small part in the development of the country.

Urban and rural communities are not evenly distributed. The South Island, for example, contains proportionately more rural population than does the North Island. Of the Northern provincial districts Taranaki is the only one in which rural population predominates. New Zealand is not alone in experiencing the modern tendency towards urban aggregation: it is, in fact, occurring in almost all countries.

Current Population Estimates.

Estimates of population for the administrative or geographical units of the Dominion fall into a different category from those previously given for the Dominion as a whole or for the North and South Islands. Figures given for all lesser districts are literally estimates.

The distinction acquires special significance this year. Never before has a period of six years elapsed since a census was taken; and, probably, never before has such a widespread depression (with its inevitable reactions on population)

Care has been taken with the resources available, and it is believed the results are sufficiently near the truth to usefully serve the many administrative, commercial, and statistical purposes to which they are put but, nevertheless, the possibility of occasional serious variations from fact must not be overlooked

Urban Areas.

The population of each of the fourteen urban area (cities boroughs plus their suburbs) as estimated annually since 1st April 1927 is as follows:—

Urban Area.1st April, 19271st April, 19281st April, 1929.1st April, 1930.1st April, 1931.1st April, 1932.
Palmerston North20,54020,94021,28021,92022,80023,200
New Plymouth16,79017,35017,46017,74018,20018,650

The population of each county, borough, and town district as at 1st April, 1932, is given in the schedules which follow.

(Note—The column headed “Administrative” does not include boroughs or town districts independent of county control, but includes dependent town districts. The heading “Geographic” includes all cities, boroughs, or town districts geographically situated in a county.)

CountyPopulation (including Maoris)
North Island—
Bay of Islands7,6908,550
Great Barrier400400
Hauraki Plains4,4004,400
Hawke's Bay15,47045,940
Waimate West3,0103,730
Wairarapa South3,3105,230
South Island—
Mount Herbert540540
Chatham Islands620020
Stewart Island060000
Grand total591,0201,517,240
BoroughPopulation (including Maoris).
North Island—
New Lynn3,290
Auckland (City)100,300
Mount Eden20,100
Mount Albert20,750
One Tree Hill8,050
Te Awamutu1,870
Te Kuiti2,530
Te Aroha2,510
New Plymouth10,250
Wanganui (City)25,000
Palmerston North (City)21,350
Upper Hutt3,700
Lower Hutt14,250
Wellington (City)112,700
South Island—
Nelson (City)10,950
Christchurch (City)90,700
Fort Chalmers2,570
West Harbour2,100
Dunedin (City)69,000
St. Kilda8,250
Green Island2,400
Invercargill (City)20,750
South Invercargill1,070
Grand total888,420
Town districtPopulation (including Maoris).
Parent county shown in parentheses.
(a)Town Districts not forming Paris of Counties.
North Island—
Glen Eden1,320
Te Puke1,030
Havelock North1,100
South Island—
Pleasant Point580
Grand total37,200
(b) Town Districts forming Parts of Counties.*
North Island—
Kohukohu (Hokianga)540
Rawene (Hokianga)430
Russell (Bay of Islands)400
Kawakawa (Bay of Islands)400
Onerahi (Whangarei)530
Mercer (Franklin)340
Raglan (Raglan)360
Te Kauwhata (Waikato)480
Ohaupo (Waipa)240
Kihikihi (Waipa)320
Kawhia (Kawhia)230
Turua (Hauraki Plains)280
Mt. Maunganui (Tauranga)440
Patutahi (Cook)290
Te Karaka (Waikohu)400
Norsewood (Dannevirke)180
Ormondville (Dannevirke)290
Ohura (Ohura)420
Kaponga (Eltham)410
Normanby (Hawera)360
Rongotea (Manawatu)280
South Island—
Havelock (Marlborough)230
Takaka (Takaka)430
South bridge (Ellesmere)430
Outram (Taieri)340
Clinton (Clutha)370
Edendale (Southland)470
Grand total9,890


New Zealand has many townships with considerable population, but without local self government as boroughs or town districts. Details will be found in Volume I of the 1926 Census Results.


Adjacent to the main Islands are many smaller islands, some of which are of considerable area and are under cultivation; others are but islets used as sites for light houses, while others again are barren and unfitted for human habitation. Some of these islands are included within the boundaries of counties, and their populations are included in the county figures. The following adjacent islands not attached to any county were inhabited at the census of 1926:—

Island.Population (including Maoris)
Little Barrier123
Great Mercury3..3


The total area of the Dominion of New Zealand is approximately 104,015 square miles. Omitting the annexed islands and certain uninhabited outlying islands, the area of the land mass remaining is 103,415 square miles. This calculation, it should be explained, includes all inland waters.

Using the latter figure as a base, the density of population in 1932 may be quoted as 14.07 persons to the square mile, or, if Maoris be included, 14.74 persons to the square mile.

A truer statement of average density can be ascertained by subtracting from the total area that occupied by rivers, lakes, roads, State forests, higher portions of mountain ranges, and c. The remaining area, amounting to about 84,500 square miles, which may be considered as the utmost total inhabitable or usable land, carries a population of 17.22 (or, including Maoris. 18.04) persons to the square mile.

The various cities, boroughs, and town districts in New Zealand occupy a total of approximately 508 square miles. Considering their population as “urban,” the urban population (1932) had a density of 1,841 persons per square mile, and the rural population a density of 6 persons per square mile.

Attention may be drawn to the necessity for the exercise of discretion in the use of data concerning density of population, particularly in comparing one country with another. Areas may be calculated in many ways, while area itself may have little relationship to potentiality of use. In the case of urban population, it is impossible to obtain the aggregate area of sites actually in occupation by business promises, residences, c. Many boroughs contain within their boundaries large reserves which, with farming and other unbuilt-on land, tend to disguise the actual relation of population to area.


A record of early statistics of Maoris is given in Vol. XIV of the 1926 Census Results. The first official general census 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, and even some later enumerations hardly claim to be more than approximations which approach the truth as nearly as possible.

Available statistical evidence points to a decline in the numbers of the Native race since the advent of Europeans, but this decline was commonly exaggerated by early writers. Of later years an unmistakable increase has been noted. This gain, however, has been accompanied by a very considerable dilution of blood. The census record is as follows:—

* Includes half-castes, ride introduction to section.
1932 (estimate, 1st April)69,466*

The estimated number of Maoris at 1st April, 1932, was 69,460, of which 66,432 were in the North Island. Auckland Provincial District contains the bulk (49,900), particularly in the Auckland Peninsula and Poverty Bay regions. Hawke's Bay contains some 5,300; Taranaki, 4,200; and Wellington, 7,032. In the South Island Maoris do not attain any numerical significance. During 1931 32 the Maori population increased by 1,272.

During the last few years the natural increase ratio of the Maori population has exceeded that of the European. Heavy fluctuations, however, occur in the Native data, and the completeness of registration is not yet beyond suspicion.

The (arithmetic) mean age of Maoris in 1926 was males, 23.88; females, 22.95 years. The Maori population is a younger one than the European, and possesses higher ratios at all ages up to twenty five years.

The 1926 Census Results, of which Volume XIV is devoted to a more comprehensive statistical survey of the characteristics of the Maori population than has hitherto been possible, show that a total of 69,780 persons possessed some degree of Maori blood. Of these, 45,429 were classed as of full Maori blood, this term including all persons ranging from over seven eighths Maori blood to unmixed native descent. As noted in the Census Results, the degree of miscegenation is probably understated, and the number of Maoris of pure Maori descent is unlikely to greatly exceed 50 per cent, of the total. The 1926 census analysis is as follows:—

Counted in the Maori population—
Full Maori45,429
Maori-European, n.o.d303
Counted in the non-Maori population—


During the year 1901 the boundaries of the Dominion were extended to include the Cook Group and certain other of the South Pacific islands. No record of the population of these islands was then obtainable, but at each subsequent census a record of various particulars was obtained. In April, 1932, the population was estimated at 15,247 of which Europeans comprised over 300. The movement of population is in the direction of a gradual increase. The figures for each census from 1906 onwards are as follows:—

Census YearMalesFemalesTotal

The population of the various islands in 1926 was as follows, non-Native population being mentioned first: Aitutaki (14, 1,417): Atiu (9, 924); Mangaia (8, 1,241); Manihiki (3, 413); Manuae and Te Au-o-tu (2, 21); Mauko (15, 496); Mitiaro (2,236); Palmerston (0, 97); Penrhyn (5, 390); Pukapuka (16, 510); Rakahanga (2, 325); Rarotonga (202, 3,682); shipping at Rarotonga (3, 49); Niue (32, 3,763).


At 1st April, 1932, the population of the mandated territory of Western Samoa was estimated at 46,150, made up as follows:—

European and half-caste population1,4381,1092,547
Native Samoan population21,61021,09642,736
Chinese labourers (and families)7388746
Melanesia n and Polynesian1201121

The population at the census of 1926 (40,229) was 3,886 in excess of that disclosed by the census of 1921 (36,343). A full comparison with enumerations prior to 1921 is not possible, owing to indentured-contract labour not having been included in these. A census taken in July, 1917, showed the European population to then number 1,927, and the native Samoans 35,404. The latter are now steadily increasing in number.


The sources of the data quoted herein comprise official publications, bulletins issued by the League of Nations, International Institute of Statistics, and the Statesman's Year-Book. So far as can be ascertained with some pretension to comparative accuracy—the various estimates of the population of the Chinese Empire, for instance, vary to the extent of considerably over 100 millions—the world population is now nearly 2,000 millions. The inhabitants of the Dominion therefore comprise about one thirteen-hundredth part of the population of the world. Details for continents are:—

North America134,000,000167,000,000
South America56,000,00081,000,000

As a useful indication of the comparative size of various countries, the following index of population has been prepared:—

Country.Population (000 omitted).Year.Index of Population (New Zealand= 1).CountryPopulation (000 omitted)YearIndex of Population (New Zealand= 1).
England and Wales39,948193120France41,835193127
Northern Ireland1,24019310.8Greece619304
Irish Free State2,94019302Hungary8,68419316
India (including Native States)352,9871931232Italy41,220193127
Union of South8,01419305Lithuania2,36719312
Union of South Africa8,01419305Netherlands7,92019315
New South Wales2,51819322Rumania18.025193012
Victoria1,80119321Russia (soviet union)161,0061931106
South Australia58519320.4Switzerland4.06619303
Western Australia42219320.3Spain22,940193115
New Zealand1,52519321Yugoslavia13,93119319
Czecho-Slovakia14,726193010United States123,113193081




REGISTRATION of births in New Zealand dates as far back as 1848, consequent upon the passing, in 1847, of a Registration Ordinance which made provision for a record of births and deaths being kept by the State. Under this Ordinance many registrations were effected, some of births as far back as 1840. Compulsory registration did not, however, come into force until 1855.

The earlier Registration Acts and their amendments provided for very little information being given in the case of births, the register containing merely date and place of birth, name and sex of child, names of father and mother, and occupation of father. In 1875, however, a more comprehensive Registration Act was passed, under which information was recorded as to ages and birthplaces of parents, and in 1912 the sexes and ages of previous issue of the marriage wore added to the items required to be shown in the birth entry.

The law as to registration of births is now embodied in the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1924, a consolidation of the then existing legislation. The provisions generally as to registration are that a birth may be registered within sixty two days without fee. After sixty-two days and within six months a birth is registrable only after solemn declaration made before the Registrar by the parent or some person present at birth, and on payment of a late fee of 5s., which may, however, be remitted at the discretion of the Registrar-General. When six months have elapsed a birth may be registered with a Registrar of Births within one month after conviction of one of the responsible parties for neglect, but an information for such neglect must be laid within two years of date of birth. Power is given by the Act of 1924 for the Registrar-General to register an unregistered birth which occurred in New Zealand, irrespective of the time that may have elapsed, a fee of 5s. being payable and satisfactory evidence on oath and such other proof as the Registrar-General may deem necessary being required.

There is also provision in the Births and Deaths Registration Act for the re-registration of the births of adopted children, with particulars of the adopting parents in place of these of the natural parents. Registration of still-births, previously not provided for, was made compulsory from the 1st March, 1913.

Although sixty-two days are allowed for the registration of a birth, it is compulsory to notify the birth to the Registrar within a much shorter interval-viz., forty-eight hours if in a city or borough, and twenty-one days in every other case.

Registration of 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 GO of the Births and Deaths Registration Act,1924), 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 the 1st March, 1913. The number of Registrars of Maori Births and Deaths in the Dominion is over 200, most of those being in the North Island, where the great majority of the Maori population is located. Every Native settlement of any size is within easy reach of one of these Registrars. Maori registrations are entered in a separate register, and the figures of births given in the following pages do not include those of Maoris, which are dealt with towards the end of this subsection.

Numbers and Rates.

The number of births registered in 1931 (26,622) is 175 less than the total for 1930 and 1,313 less than the figure for 1913, in spite of an increase of over 375,000 in population during the eighteen years. The rate per 1,000 of mean population (18.42) is the lowest ever recorded in the Dominion, being 0.38 per 1,000 lower than in 1930, which represented the previous lowest level.

The numbers and rates of births in each of the last twenty years are as follows:—

YearNumberRate per 1,000.

There is a noticeable fall in the rate in the later years of the period covered by the table, as compared with the earlier. This fall, however, is small when compared with the tremendous decline between the “seventies” and “nineties” disclosed by the following diagram, which shows also the course of the rates of deaths, natural increase, and marriages from 1855 to 1931

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 between 15 and 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 in each census Year from 1878 to 1926.

YearNumber of Women 15 and under 45Number of Births.Birth-rate per 1,000 Women 15 and under 45.

The legitimate rate pre 1,000 married women between the ages of 15 and 45 is seen to have fallen by over 50 per cent. between 1878 and 1926, while an even greater fall is shown for the total rate on the basis of all women of the ages mentioned. The greater fall in the latter rate than in the former is due to the fact that among women of the child-bearing ages the proportion of married women is considerably lower nowadays than in the earlier years covered.

Women formerly married at younger ages in general than they do at present, and 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. For recent years statistics are available from which to calculate the birth-rate for women of different ages, and by applying the 1926 rate for each quinquennial age-group to the numbers of women in the corresponding groups in earlier years it is possible to ascertain the total births that would have been recorded in these years on the basis of the rates ruling in 1926. From a comparison of the resultant figures with the numbers of births actually recorded in the respective years weighted index numbers can be compiled, taking the year 1926 as base. Index numbers are given below, together with the corresponding unweighted index numbers and those representing the crude rates.


(Base: 1926 = 1000.)

(Base: 1926 = 1000.)
Year.Crude RateLegitimate Rate on Basis of Married Women 15 and under 45.Total Rate on Basis of all Women 15 and under 45.


The decline of the birth-rate in New Zealand has been partially compensated for by a decrease in the death-rate. Nevertheless, the rate of natural increase of population has fallen from 31.19 per 1,000 of mean population in 1870 to 10.08 in 1931. The following table shows the fall in all three rates:—

PeriodAnnual Rates per 1,000 living.
BirthsDeathsNatural Increase

In spite of the fact that the birth-rate in New Zealand is now low compared with most other countries, yet so low is the Dominion's death-rate that New Zealand still ranks midway among the nations as regards the rate of natural increase.

Country.Quinquennium.Annual Rates per 1,000.
Births.Natural Increase.
* Registration area.
Costa Rica1926-3042.522.5
South Africa1926-3026.116.4
Philippine Islands1926-3034.816.1
New Zealand1927-3119.210.7
United States*1925-2920.08.1
British Guiana1926-3032.27.0
Northern Ireland1926-3021.26.5
Straits Settlement1926-3036.56.5
Irish Free State1926-3020.15.7
England $ Wales1927-3116.34.1


The Australian birth-rate has been consistently higher than that of New Zealand for very many years, but in 1931 the position was reversed. The rates of the two countries have shown practically the same movement. New Zealand, however, reaching in 1899, and Australia not till four years later, the temporary limit of the rapid fall which had been steadily in progress since the “seventies.” In each country the check in the decline of the birth-rate was succeeded by a moderate but steady rise for ten years, followed by a fall commencing in New Zealand in 1909 and in Australia in 1913, an interval of four years again separating the movements of the two countries. The rates for the last ten years are as follows:—

New South Wales25.6724.6824.1124.0122.8922.6922.6021.3920.9519.02
South Australia23.7122.6021.8821.0620.5520.1219.7618.4017.1915.56
Western Australia23.9422.5523.0922.2322.1422.0321.7922.0021.9820.32
New Zealand23.1721.9421.5721.1721.0520.2919.5619.0118.8018.42


An examination of the figures shows that, with the exception of one year, 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 l ow 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. The period preceding 1870 exhibits violent fluctuations in the proportion of males, which tend to disappear as the total of births grows larger. The extreme range since 1870 has been from 1,016 male per 1,000 female births in 1878 to 1,081 in 1923.

Year.Number of Births ofMale Births per 1,000 Female Births.

The gradual increase in the proportion of males born is illustrated by taking the average ratios of successive decennial periods. The apparent cessation in the increase, as shown by the figures for the period 1916-25 as compared with the preceding decennium, is due to the low masculinity recorded in the last two war years, when (it may be remarked in passing) the proportion of first births to total births was abnormally low.

PeriodMale Births to 1,000 Female Births.

It would appear that the proportion of males is somewhat higher for first births than for the general average of all children. Of 82,081 legitimate first births registered during the ten years 1922-31 (excluding plural births), 42,207 were of males and 39,874 of females, the proportion of males per 1,000 females being 1,059. The high proportion does not appear to be due to the youth of the mothers, there being a lower rate in coses where the mother was under twenty-five than where the mother was between twenty-five and thirty-five

The figures for various age-groups for the ten years in conjunction are as follows

Age of Mother, in Years.Male.FemalesMales per 1,000 Females.
Under 203,4443,3361,032
20 and under 2516,67415,7111,061
25 and under 3013,49312,8641,049
30 and under 355,8745,3911,090
35 and under 402,1272,0151,056
40 and over5955571,070

In the ten years covered there were 699 plural first births, and in 228 cases the children wore both males, in 243 both females, and in the remaining 228 of opposite sex. Two cases of triplets (one case two females and one male and the other two males and one female) were recorded as first births during the period.

Further light on the question of sexes of children may be thrown by some figures extracted from the records of births registered in the ten years 1922-31 in cases where the child was shown to be the fourth-born of a family in which the three previously born children were still living. In New Zealand the birth entries give particulars of numbers and sexes of previous issue of the parents, with the ages of the living issue, and the following interesting statement showing the sex-nativity order up to the fourth child has been compiled. Families in which plural births occurred among the first four children have been excluded.

First-born.Second-bornThird-born.Fourth-bornNumber of Cases.

Of the 20,591 families covered, in 10,651 the first child was a male and in 9,940 a female, the number of males per 1,000 females being thus 1,072. The proportion is reduced for subsequent births, being apparently lowest in the case of third-horn infants. The figures are as follows: —

Child.Males.Females.Males per 1,000 Females.

The fact that there is a higher masculinity rate among first-born children than among later issue serves to explain the increasing masculinity of births in successive decennia referred to previously, when it is remembered that the average number of children to a family has fallen heavily during the period, and the proportion of firstborn children correspondingly increased.

The sex-proportions of illegitimate births are generally supposed to be more nearly equal than those of legitimate births. However, although little reliance can be placed on the figures for New Zealand by reason of the small numbers represented, it may be stated that the average for the period 1922-31 was 1,055 males per 1,000 females-a rate slightly below that for all births (1,059) for the same period.


Counting only cases where both children were born alive, there were 288 cases of twin births (570 children) registered in 1931. There was also one case of triplets. The number of accouchements resulting in living births was 26,332, and on the average one mother in every 91 gave birth to twins (or triplets)

When still-births are taken into account, however, the total number of accouchements for the year 1331 is increased to 27,098, and the number of cases of multiple births to 332. On this basis the proportion of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets is increased to one in 82.

The number of cases of multiple births and the proportion per 1,000 of the total cases of births, in cases of living births only, during the last ten years were

Year.Total Births.Total Cases.Cases of Twins.Cases of Triplets.Multiple Cases per 1,000 of Total Cases.

The following table shows the sexes in individual cases of twin births for the same decade: —

Year.Total Cases.Both Males.Both Females.Opposite Sexes.

During the ten years 1922-31 there were nineteen cases of triplets. In three cases all three children were males, in seven eases all were females, in five cases there were two males and one female, and in four cases two of the three children were females.


Information as to the relative ages of parents of legitimate living children whose births were registered in 1931 is shown in the following table:—

Age of Mother, in Years.Age of Father, in Years.
Under 21.21and under 25.25 and under 30.30 and under 35.35 and under 40.40 and under 45.45 and under 50.50 and under 55.55 and under 65.65 and over.Total.
* Including Thirty-six cases where plural births would have been registered had not one child been still-born.
Single Births.
Under 211487645091482497....11,610
21 and under 25521,3072,63288923574318625,236
25 and under 3043513,2092,626938303119371527,604
30 and under 35..326002,2231,624732271832315,589
35 and under 40..2653641,2009975071654733,350
40 and under 45....8211264783901745171,255
45 and over......12114626171104
Multiple Births.
Under 212221............7
21 and under 25282471..........42
25 and under 30..528311331......81
30 and under 35....930257911..82
35 and under 40......51118923..48
40 and under 45....1..4734....19
Grand totals2082,4717,0876,3464,2032,6391,3935001631725,027*


Information as to the previous issue of the parents, which is 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 connection with (1) age of mother, and (2) duration of marriage. The former table is here summarized.

Age of Mother.Number of Previous Issue.Total. and under 10.10 and under 15.15 and over.
* This number represents 24,748 single cases and 270 multiple cases.
Under 211,259315367..........1,617
21 and under 252,9551,4636181864763....5,278
25 and under 302,6402,3741,378772325123712..7,685
30 and under 351,0961,3721,16380753433535212..5,671
35 and under 403905356065174282955567013,398
40 and under 458910313616416315435710251,273
45 and over8585101033233105

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 1931 registrations, who are also taken into account in the computation of the averages.

Age of Mother, in Years.Total Mothers.Total Issue.Average Issue.

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 1931) born 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. The averages for the last five years were as follows: 1927, 2.90; 1928, 2.88; 1929, 2.84; 1930, 2.78; and 1931, 2.77. This falling trend in the average issue of mothers giving birth to children in each successive year is an indication of the growing tendency towards small families.


Of a total of 126,938 legitimate births registered during the five years 1927-31, no fewer than 41,732, or 33 per cent., were of first-born children, and of these 20,325, or 49 per cent., were born within twelve months, and 31,687, or 76 per cent., within two years after the marriage of the parents., In the remaining 24 per cent, of cases where there was any issue to the marriage, two years elapsed before the birth of the first child.

The percentage of first births to total births and the proportions occurring within the first and second years after marriage have shown remarkably little variation in recent years. The figures for each of the hist five years arc: —

Year.Total Legitimate Cases.Total Legitimate First Cases.Proportion of First Cases to Total Cases.First Cases within One Year after Marriage.First Cases within First Cases within Two Year after Marriage.
Number.Proportion to Total First Cases.Number.Proportion to Total First Cases.
   Per Cent. Per Cent. Per Cent.
Totals for five years126,93841,73232.8820,32548.7031,68775.93

During the five years there were 9,333 registrations of legitimate births within seven months after marriage. Also 6,720 cases of illegitimate births were registered, and if these latter are all regarded as first-births (which is not entirely the case) a total of 16,053 extra-marital conceptions is recorded, which represents 33 per cent, of the total of legitimate first births, plus illegitimate births. The figures for each of the last five years are

Year.Total Legitimate First Cases. (a)Illegitimate Cases. (b)Legitimate Cases within Seven Months after Marriage. (c)Proportion of (c) to (a).Proportion of (b) + (c) to Total of (a) +(b).
    Per Cent.Per Cent.
Totals for five years41,7326,7209,33322.3633.13


The births of 1,315 children (658 males, 657 females) registered in 1931 were illegitimate. The numbers for each of the last ten years, with the percentages they bear to the total births registered, are as follows: —

Year.Number.percentage to Total Births.Year.Number.Percentage to Total Births

It is only natural to expect that, as the birth-rate falls, the proportion of illegitimate to total births will tend to increase. Probably a better criterion is afforded by the following table, which shows the proportion of illegitimate births per 1,000 unmarried women i.e., spinsters, widows, and divorced women at the reproductive ages in each census year since 1891.

Year.Unmarried Women aged 15-45 Years.Illegitimate Births.Illegitimate-birth Kate per 1,000 Unmarried Women.

Included in the total of 1,315 illegitimate births in 1931 were 10 eases of twins, the number of accouchements being thus 1,305, including 1 case registered with the Registrar-General. From the following table it will be seen that of the 1,305 mothers 452, or 35 per cent., wore under twenty-one years of age.


The rates of illegitimacy in Australia and New Zealand are quoted. The average rate for New Zealand for the ten years 1921-30 (4.79 per 100 of all births) is somewhat higher than that of the Commonwealth (4.66 per 100), and the New Zealand rate has been the higher during each of the last seven years.

Proportion of Illegitimate Births in every 100 Births.

Year.Queensland.Now South Wales.Victoria.South Australia.Western Australia.Tasmania.Commonwealth.New Zealand.

The Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act, 1930, directs the omission of the word “illegitimate” from the register when the birth of an illegitimate 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.

An important Act was passed in 1894 and re-enacted in 1908, intituled the Legitimation Act. Under this Act any child born out of wedlock whose parents afterwards intermarry is deemed to be legitimized by such marriage on the birth being registered in the manner prescribed by the Act. For legitimation purposes a Registrar must register a birth when called upon to do so by any person claiming to be the father of an illegitimate child; but such person is required to make a solemn declaration that he is the father, and must also produce evidence of marriage between himself and the mother of the child.

Prior to the passing, on the 6th February, 1922, of the Legitimation Amendment Act, 1921-22, legitimation could be effected only if at the time of the birth of the child there existed no legal impediment to the intermarriage of the father and mother, but the legal-impediment proviso was repealed by that amendment.

The amendment of 1921-22 also provides for legitimation by the mother in the event of the death of the father after the intermarriage of the parents. In such a case the application for legitimation is heard by a Magistrate, and upon his certifying that it has been proved to his satisfaction that the husband of the applicant was the father of the child, the child is registered as the lawful issue of the applicant and her husband.

The number of legitimations in each of the last ten years, and the total since the Act of 1894 came into force, are:

Year.Number of Children legitimized.
Previously registered.Not previously registered.Total.
Totals to 19314,3252,2976,622


The Births and Deaths Registration Act contains provision for the registration of adopted children. The Clerk 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. If the child's birth has been registered in New Zealand a note of the adoption order is made on it, and a new entry is made in the prescribed form in the register of births, particulars of the adopting parents being substituted for those of the natural parents.

During the year 1931 the registration of 329 adopted children (150 males and 179 females) was effected, as compared with 385 in 1930, 402 in 1929, 409 in 1928, and 421 in 1927.


The registration of still-births was made compulsory in New Zealand as from the 1st March, 1913. 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 registrations of still-births during each of the last ten years are as follows: —

Year.Male.Female.Not stated.Total.Male Stillbirths per 1,000 Female Still-births.Percentage of Still-births to
Living Births.All Births.

It is a well-known fact that masculinity is in general much higher among still-births than among living births, though an exception to the rule occurred in 1928, when actually a lower rate of masculinity was recorded for still-births than for living births. The figures for the ten years covered by the above table show the rate for still-births to have been 1,240 males per 1,000 females. The rate for individual years has ranged between 1,726 (in 1914) and 1,022 (in 1928).

Tabulation of the relative ages of the parents of the still-born children in 1931 does not appear to disclose any significant features. The median age of the mothers was 30, as compared with 28 in the case of living births. The percentage of illegitimates among still-born infants (5.32) was higher than among infants born alive (4.94).

Of the living legitimate births registered in 1931, 34 per cent, were first births, while of legitimate still-births no less than 41 per cent, were first births. It would thus appear that there is a considerably greater probability of still-births occurring at the first accouchement than at the average of subsequent accouchements.

The following table, based on the figures for the five years 1927-31, indicates that this is so, and further demonstrates the effect of the increasing age of the mother in the causation of still-births. While for women between 20 and 25 the proportion of still-births to living births was under 25 per cent, for all births and a little higher for first births, for women over forty it was over 6 per cent, for all births and over 12 per cent, for first births.

Age of Mother, in Years.All Births.First Births.Percentage of Still to Living.
Living.Still.Living.Still.All Births.First Births.
Under 204,3721083,7171032.472.77
20 and under 2526,40466216,9614612.252.72
25 3038,3151,06513,2465582.784.21
30 35 29,3619005,3633153.075.87
35 4018,0467641,9051684.238.82
40 and over7,440473540666.3612.22

The next table shows the percentage of still-births to living births according to nativity order of legitimate births registered in the five years 1927-31. The column for mothers of all ages shows a fairly definite gradation, the second child having the best chance of being born alive, and the probability of a still-birth increasing thereafter.

Legitimate Births,1927-31.—Percentage of Still To Living.

Nativity Order.Living Births.Still -births.Percentage of Still to Living.
Mothers of All Ages.Mothers aged 35 -40.Mothers of All Ages.Mothers aged 35 -40Mothers of Mothers of All Ages.Mothers aged 35 -40

The column for mothers aged 35 to 40 indicates that continued child-bearing after the first two or three accouchements has some small effect on the still-birth probability. There can be no doubt, how ever that age of the mother is the principle factor in the case of accouchements subsequent to the first. This being so it is of some significance that even when no allowance is made for the younger age-constitution in general of mother of first-born child as a greater probability of being still born that have subsequent children.


The number of births of Maoris registered with Registrars of Maori Births and Deaths during 1931 was 2,221 (1,134 males, 1,087 females). The births of forty-seven males and forty-four females were registered under the main Act, and the total of 2,312 represents a rate of 34 per 1,000 of Maori population, a rate 83 per cent, higher than the general birth-rate for the year. Registrations in each of the five years 1927-31 were as follows:—

Year.Number of Births.Rate per 1,000 Mean Population.


Regulations under the Cook Islands Act, 1915, providing for compulsory registration of births and deaths in the Cook Islands and Niue from the 1st July, 1916, were gazetted on the 29th June, 1916.

In the case of a birth a month is allowed in which to furnish the following particulars to a Registrar: The place and date of birth; the Christian name and sex of the child; the names and residence of both father and mother, and also (if Natives) whether of full blood, or quarter-, half-, or three-quarter-caste.

Duplicates of all entries are kept by the Registrars of the High Court at Rarotonga and Niue respectively. A fine not exceeding £5 is imposed on person supplying false information. No fees are payable for registration.

The following are the birth-registrations during 1931 or 1931-32:—

IslandNumber of Births.
Palmerston (no return)


Regulations providing for the registration of births and deaths of Samoans Western Samoa were brought into force on the 1st January, 1923.

Within seven days after the birth of any Samoan child the following particulars must be furnished to the Registrar of the village and also to the Registrar of the district in which the child was born: The place and date of birth; the Christian of first name and the sex of the child; and the names and residence of birth father and mother. The father and the mother are jointly responsible for the registration of birth.

Duplicate entries are taken and are kept on record by the secretory of the native Affairs at Apia. A fine not to exceed £5, is imposed on persons not complying with the, regulations and fine not exceeding 20 for the persons who knowingly furnish false particulars. No fees are payable for registration.

Registrations for each of the four years 1923-26 reveal every high birth-rate for the Samoan people, the rate not falling below 50 per 1000 of population during that period. Unfortunately the registration requirements appear to have been ignored in a high proportion of cases during the last four are five years, the figures are which are of little value except as a reflex of the political situation in the territory. Numbers and rates of registration of Samoan births in each year since 1923 are: —

Year.Number of Native Samoan Births registered.Rate per 1,000 of Native Samoan Population.

During the year 1931, 49 children were born to Europeans and half-castes.



MARRIAGE may be solemnized in New Zealand only on the authority of a Registrar's certificate, 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. Marriage by an officiating minister can be solemnized only between 8 o'clock in the forenoon 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. Prior to the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act,1920, the limits in all cases were 8 a.m. and -4 p.m.

Notice of intended marriage must be given to a Registrar of Marriages by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, and one of the parties must have resided for three full days in the district within which the marriage is to be solemnized. In the case of a person under twenty-one, not being a widow or widower, the consent of parent or guardian is necessary before the Registrar's certificate can be issued. A schedule to the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1926, sets out the person or persons whose consent is required in various circumstances. In cases where double consent is required, section 8 provides for dispensing with the consent of one party if this cannot be obtained by reason of absence, inaccessibility, or disability. In similar cases where the consent of only one person is necessary, consent may be given by a Judge of the Supreme Court. Consent of the Court may also be given in cases of refusal by any person whose consent is required.

If a declaration is made in any case that there is no parent or lawful guardian resident in the Dominion, then a certificate may be issued by the Registrar (without the necessity of Court proceedings) after the expiration of fourteen days following the date on which the notice of intended marriage was given.

The system of notice and certificate has obtained in New Zealand since 1855.By this system it is ensured not only that marriages are in order, but that no legally solemnized marriage escapes registration. Officiating ministers and Registrars are required to send to the Registrar-General returns of all marriages solemnized, and as the returns come in they are checked off with the entries in the Registrar's lists of notices received and certificates issued. In case of the non-arrival of a marriage return corresponding to any entry in the list of notices, inquiries are made as to whether solemnization has been effected.

The marriage of a man with his deceased wife's sister was legalized in New Zealand in the year 1881, and the marriage of a woman with her deceased husband's brother in 1901. Marriage with a deceased wife's niece or a deceased husband's nephew was gendered valid in 1929.

An important provision is contained in section 7 of the Marriage Amendment Act, 1920, which reads as follows:

  1. Every person commits an offence against this Act, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one hundred pounds, who

    1. Alleges expressly or by implication, that any persons lawfully married are not truly and sufficiently married; or

    2. Alleges expressly or by implication, that the issue of any lawful in this section means making any verbal statement, or publishing or issuing any printed or written statement, or in any manner authorizing the making of any verbal statement, or in any manner authorizing or being party to the publication or issue of any printed or written statement.

  2. A person shall not be deemed to make an allegation contrary to the provisions of this section by reason only of using in the solemnization of a marriage a form of marriage service which at the commencement of this Act was in use by the religious denomination to which such person belongs, or by reason only of the printing or issue of any book containing a copy of a form of marriage service in use at the commencement of this Act by any religious denomination.


The movement of the marriage-rate since 1855 is shown by the diagram on p. 79. The numbers and rates of marriages during each of the last twenty years are here given: —

Year.Number.Rate per of 1,000 Population.Year.Number.Rate per 1,000 of Population.

The rapid fall in the marriage-rate after 1915 was compensated for, to a large extent, by the high figures for 1919, 1920, and 1921. The number of marriages celebrated in 1920 still easily holds the record, while the rate for that year is the highest experienced since 1804. The low rate for 1931 and the decrease of 1,258 in number as compared with the previous year is indicative of the effect of the period of financial stringency and depression.


In a country like New Zealand, where the age-constitution of the population has altered considerably, the crude marriage-rate based on the total population does not disclose the true position over a period of years. Even if only the unmarried (including widowed and divorced) population over twenty in the case of men and over fifteen in the case of women be taken into account, the rates so ascertained would still not be entirely satisfactory for comparative purposes, owing to differences in sex and ago constitution, divergences between rates for different age-groups, and variations in the proportions of marriageable persons in the community. A better plan is to ascertain the rate among unmarried females in each age-group and to standardize the results on the basis of the distribution of the unmarried female population in a basic year.

This has been done for each census year from 1881 to 1926, the year 1911 being taken as the standard. The course of the standardized rates as shown in the following table varies materially from that of the crude rates:—

Year.Marriage-rate per 1,000.Index Numbers of Marriage-rates taking 1911 as base = 100.
Total Population.Unmarried Female Population 15 and over.Total Population.Unmarried Female Population 15 and over.

The index numbers of the three classes of rates over the series of years enable the effect of standardization to be shown at a glance. Comparing, for instance, the years 1881 and 1911, it is seen that whereas the crude rate per 1,000 of total population was nearly one-fourth less in 1881 than in 1911, the crude rate when only' the unmarried female population of fifteen or over is considered was one-fourth greater, and the standardized rate more than one-third greater. Similar though less noticeable results are recorded for years subsequent to 1881

The standardized rate for 1926 is slightly less than that recorded for 1921, although the figure is considerably higher than for any other census year subsequent to 1881.


Prior to 1929, the Commonwealth marriage-rate was in excess of the New Zealand rate, but a reversal of this position has taken place in the last three years.

Year.Queensland.New South Wales.Victoria.South Australia.Western Australia.Tasmania.Commonwealth.New Zealand.

A comparison of the latest available rates in various countries is given in the next table. Of the thirty-nine countries shown, New Zealand occupies a position about midway. The New Zealand marriage-rate differs but little from that of England and Wales, although it is higher than that of Scotland, and markedly of the United States of America, which has also a high ratio of divorces (in 1930,17.0 per 100 marriages, compared with 5 6 in New Zealand).

Country.Quinquennium.Average Yearly Rate.Country.Quinquennium.Average Yearly Kate.
United States1925-2910.32Switzerland1926-307.49
South Africa1926-309.28Canada1926-307.45
Estonia1926-307.83Northern Ireland1926-305.87
England and Wales1927-317.83 1Ceylon1926-305.54
Denmark1926-307.77Irish Free State1926-304.60
New Zealand1927-317.51   


Normally the quarter ending in June is apparently considered the most propitious for the solemnization of marriage. Annual averages for the decade 1922-31 give marriages as follows: March quarter, 2,434; June quarter, 2,935; September quarter, 2,2S6; December quarter, 2,731

The Easter and Christmas seasons are apparently regarded as the most suitable times of the year for entering the matrimonial state, and, judging by the quarterly figures for an average year, Easter would appear to predominate slightly.

The marriages contracted in each month of the five years were as follows:—


Wednesday claims two-fifths of the total marriages, the 1931 proportions per cent, of the total marriages for the various days of the week being Sunday,0 5; Monday, 12-3; Tuesday, 14-4; Wednesday, 34-9; Thursday, 15-3;Friday, 5-0; Saturday, 17-6.


The total number of persons married during the year 1931 was 19,634, of whom 17,882 were single, 1,063 widowed, and 689 divorced. The figures for each of the last ten years, but showing the sexes separately, are given in the table following:—

Year.Single.Widowed.Divorced.Total Persons married.

The figures reveal an increasing tendency in the number of divorced persons remarrying, while, on the other band, those for widowed persons have declined over the period. The position is more easily seen by studying the percentages given in the next table:—

 Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.

During the period 1922-31 the number of divorced persons remarrying increased from 29 per 1,000 persons married to 35, a considerable advance, and corresponding approximately to the largely increased number of divorces granted since 1918. The fall in the number of widowed persons remarrying from 69 per 1,000 persons married the direct outcome of the war and, to a certain extent, of the influenza epidemic.

The relative conjugal condition of bridegrooms and brides for each of the last ten years is next given: —

Year.Marriages between Bachelors andMarriages between Widowers andMarriages between Divorced Men and
Spinsters.Widows.Divorced Women.Spinsters.Widows.Divorced Women.Spinsters.Widows.Divorced Women.

Taking the whole period covered by the foregoing table, it is found that, while 2,944 divorced men remarried, the corresponding number for women was 3,317. In the case of widowed persons, however, in spite of the fact that the number of widows caused by the war and the epidemic must greatly have exceeded the widowers caused by the latter, only 5,234 widows remarried, as compared with 7,038 widowers. It would appear that in the case of divorced persons women are more likely to remarry than men, while in the case of widowers and widows the converse holds.

Included amongst widows in 1931 were fourteen women, and amongst the widowers seven men, who elected to go through the form of marriage with other persons under the protection of the provisions of section 224, subsection (5), of the Crimes Act, which reads: “No one commits bigamy by going through a form of marriage if he or she has been continually absent from his or her wife or husband for seven years then last past, and is not proved to have known that his wife or her husband was alive at any time during those seven years.”

During the last ten years the numbers of persons married under the protection of the above subsection was 197, comprising 64 men and 133 women.


Of the 19,634 persons married in 1931 2,318, or 12 per cent., were under twenty one years of age; 6,556, or 33 per cent., were returned as twenty-one and under twenty-five; 5,804, or 30 per cent., as twenty-five and under thirty; 3,161, or 16 percent., as thirty and under forty; and 1,795, or 9 per cent., as forty years of age or over.

A table is given showing relative ages of bridegrooms and brides in groups of years: —

Age of Bridegroom, In Years.Age of Bride, In YearsTotal Bridegrooms.
Under 21.21 and Under 25.25 and Under 30.30 and Under 35.35 and Under 40.40 and Under 45.45 and Under over.
Under 2123699113......349
21 and under 259601,4423273484..2,775
25 and under 305901,6171,11118129713,536
30 and under 35141449516226731061,421
35 and under 40289917015477336567
40 and under 4510507687666928386
45 and over42557102133147315783
Total brides1,9693,7812,2687873862703569,817

There have been some considerable changes in the proportions of men and women marrying at the various age-periods. To give an idea of the extent to which these figures have varied during the last three decades, a table is given showing the proportions of men and women married at each age-period to every 100 marriages in quinquennia from 1900 to 1929, and for the years 1930 and 1931: —

Period.Under 21.21 and under 25.25 and under 30.30 and under 35.35 and under 40.40 and under 45.45 and over.Total.

A perusal of the above table reveals the fact that greater proportions of marriages are now being celebrated at both the younger and the older age-groups.

For many years the average age at marriage for both males and females, more particularly the latter, showed a tendency to increase. However, after reaching its maximum in the three years 1917, 1918, and 1919, the average age has since decreased considerably, in spite of the effect of the increase in the proportion of widowed and divorced persons among the brides and grooms. The decrease is especially noticeable in the last five years, when an abnormal number of persons married under the age of twenty-live. The figures for each of the last ten years are given.


The average ages of bachelors and spinsters at marriage are considerably lower than those shown in the preceding table, which cover all parties and are naturally affected by the inclusion of remarriages of widowed and divorced persons. The average ages of grooms and brides of the various conditions in each of the last five years were: —


The foregoing figures give the average age 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. For several years prior to 1918 age 26 held pride of place for bridegrooms and age 21 for brides. The latter has continued right through to 1931without alteration, but in the case of bridegrooms the most popular age is now 25. The median age for all bridegrooms in 1931 was 27 bachelors 26 while for all brides the figure was 23spinsters 23 also.


Of every 1,000 men married in 1931, 36 were under twenty-one years of age, while 201 in every 1,000 brides were under twenty-one.

In 236 marriages in 1931 both parties were given as under twenty-one years of age, in 1,733 marriages the bride was returned as a minor and the bridegroom as an adult, and in 113 marriages the bridegroom was a minor and the bride an adult

Year.Age in Years.Total. per 100 Marriages.


Of the 9,817 marriages registered in 1931, Church of England clergymen officiated at 2,535, Presbyterians at 2,524, Methodists at 941, and Roman Catholics at 1,053, while 2,221 marriages were celebrated before Registrars

The following table shows the proportions of marriages by ministers of the principal denominations in the last nine years: —

Denomination.Percentage of Marriages.
Church of England28.3327.6827.2627.5327.6827.0327.1826.9325.82
Roman Catholic10.9310.7911.3311.6811.1911.4511.3411.0610.73
Other denominations4.974.964.635.075.575.264.845.165.53
Before Registrars19.2719.7320.6919.7319.0619.5819.3220.4922.62

The foregoing figures must not be taken as an exact indication of the religions of the parties married, as it does not necessarily follow that one or both of the parties are members of the Church whose officiating minister performed the ceremony, and persons married before Registrars may belong, in greater or lesser proportion, to any of the denominations.


The number of names on the list of officiating ministers under the Marriage Act is (June, 1932) 1,986, and the denominations to which they belong are shown here under: —

Church of England476
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand412
Roman Catholic Church335
Methodist Church of New Zealand283
Salvation Army104
Church of Christ44
Congregational Independents32
Seventh-day Adventists12
Latter-day Saints10
Lutheran Church2
Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Conference5
Hebrew Congregations5
Catholic Apostolic Church3
Liberal Catholic Church6
Assemblies of God12
United Evangelical Church3
Spiritualist Church of New Zealand5
Ratana Church of New Zealand104
Ringatu Church25
Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah5

The Ringatu Church, the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah, and the Ratana Church of New Zealand are Maori denominations


In cases where both parties to a marriage are of the Native race there is no necessity under the Marriage Act to comply with the revisions of that Act, though the parties are at liberty to take advantage there of. Considerable inconvenience, however, was found to exist on account of the non-registration of Maori marriages, and a section was inserted in the Native Land Act, 1909, whereby it was laid down that Maori marriages must be celebrated either under the provisions of the Marriage Act or in the presence of a registered officiating minister, but without complying with the other requirements of the Marriage Act. Ministers solemnizing the latter class of marriages must send returns to the Registrar-General.

Returns of 437 marriages in which both parties were of the Native race were received during the year 1931. Of these 79 were in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Act. The figures for each of the last ten years are as follows: —

Year.Under Native Land Act.Under Marriage Act.Total.

Maori marriages are not included in the numbers shown elsewhere in this subsection, nor are they taken into account in the computation of marriage-rates.


The following are the figures of marriages solemnized in the Cook Islands during 1931 or 1931-32: —

Island.Number of Marriages.

The remaining islands of the group either had no marriages or did not furnish returns.


During the twelve months ended 31st December, 1931, 172 marriages were registered in the mandated territory of Western Samoa. Of these, 26 were between members of the European (or half-caste) population, the balance of the marriages being between native Samoans.

The following figures, taken from successive annual reports on the mandated territory, indicate wide variations either in actual marriages or in registrations, the 1925 total for Samoans representing a rate of 22 per 1,000 of Samoan population and that for 192S a rate of only 2-6 per 1,000.



COMPULSORY registration of deaths was instituted in New Zealand in 1855. As in the case of births, a system of non-compulsory registration had obtained since 1818.

Until the year 1870 the only-information provided for in the death-registration entry was the date, place, and cause of death, and the name, sex, age, and occupation of deceased. The Registration of Births and Deaths Act. 1875, required information to be recorded as regards parentage, conjugal condition, and issue of deceased. Particulars as to burial had also to be entered, as well as more detailed information regarding cause of death. Subsequent amendments to the Act have made it requisite to give additional information concerning issue, and, in the case of married males, age of widow.

Every death occurring in New Zealand is requited to be registered within three days after the day of the death if in a city or borough, or seven days in any other case. There is a penalty up to 10 for neglect, the undertaker in charge of the funeral being solely responsible for registration. Prior to 1913 the undertaker was primarily looked to for registration, but, in addition, the occupier of the house and every other person present at the death were also responsible parties.

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. It is not necessary to effect a death-registration entry in the case of a still-born child, though an entry must be made in the register of births.

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, a Coroner's order to bury the body, or a Registrar's certificate of registration of the death, renders himself liable to a fine of 10.


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:—

Year.Number.Rate per 1,000.

The death-rate for 1931 was remarkably low, especially in view of the fact that an exceptionally severe earthquake, with a high mortality and a recrudescence of influenza, were experienced during the year.

The fall in the birth-rate (resulting in fewer infants at risk relatively to total population) combined with the fall in the rate of infant mortality, is largely responsible for the position disclosed by the crude death-rate figures. As will be seen farther on, however, there has been an actual fall in the already low standardized rate, which is not affected by the fall in the birth-rate, though it is very materially affected by the decline in the rate of infant mortality.

Male and Female Death-Rates

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

Year.Deaths per 1,000 of Population.Males Deaths to every 100 Female Deaths.Male Rate expressed as Index Number of Female Rate (=100).


An examination of the total number of deaths registered in each quarter of the years 1922-31 gives the following annual averages: March quarter. 2,532; June quarter, 2,734; September quarter, 3,456; and December quarter, 2,787.

High figures in September quarter of each of the years 1923, 1926, and 1929 were due in the main to slight epidemics of influenza.

A classification according to month of death shows that in 1931 the most deaths occurred during September, July, and February, with totals of 1,243, 1064, and 1,060 respectively. Excluding December (a proportion of deaths occurring in that month not being registered till January), April had the least number of deaths (831), followed by November and March, with 920 and 929 respectively.

The least number of deaths on any one day, again excluding December, was 16, this number occurring on the 27th April. With the exception of 263 on the 3rd February, the day of the Hawke's Bay earthquake, the greatest number (59) occurred on the 30th September.


The deaths occurring during 1931 are tabulated below: —

* Includes 12 earthquake deaths (sex unknown).
Under 1 month371233604
1-3 months622486
3-6 months322759
6-12 months6146107
1-2 years6047107
2-3 years402868
3-4 years282553
4-5 years222648
5-10 years9784181
10-15 years8642128
15-20 years136115251
20-25 years172122294
25-30 years158166324
30-35 years154180334
35-40 years199186385
40-45 years233189422
45-50 years338285623
50-55 years466310776
55-60 years512362874
60-65 years5704561,026
65-70 years6064821,088
70-75 years6535381,191
75-80 years7305441,274
80-85 years467417884
85-90 years272292564
90-95 years116110226
95-100 years173451
101 years123
103 years..11
108 years..11

Some remarkable changes in the age-distribution of persons dying have occurred daring the last fifty years. The total deaths in 1931 were more than twice as numerous as in 1881, but the number of deaths under one year in 1931 was little more than half of the corresponding number recorded in 1881. This is an eloquent tribute to the efficacy of the steps taken to preserve infant life (a subject which is dealt with later on in tins subsection), as during the fifty years the annual number of births increased by 42 per cent.

Turning now to deaths at ages 80 and over, a remarkable difference between the earlier and later years covered by the figures is apparent. In 1881, deaths in this group numbered only 85 or just over 1 1/2 per cent, of the total of 5,491, while in 1931, 1,730 deaths of persons over 80 years of age were recorded, this number representing just over 14 per cent, of the total deaths in that year. In 1911 the corresponding percentage was only 6 1/2. The figures are a reflex of the changes in the age-constitution of the population, combined with the great improvement in the death-rate at the earlier ages.

Furthermore, in 1931 the number of deaths in individual age-groups shows a gradual increase for every consecutive group from " 10 and under 15 " to " 80 and over,” where the maximum is recorded. The experience of 1881, on the other hand, is very different, the number showing u continuous decline after the " 40-45 "age-group till the minimum is attained at the final age-group.

The following table indicates the changes that have occurred over a period of fifty years:

Ages, in Years.Number of Deaths.Percentage to Total.
Under 11,7311,6671,4631,48485631.5225.5819.1615.567.11
1 and under 570952641349627612.918.075.415.202.29
5 and under 102302401672021814.193.682.192.121.50
10 and under 151611601381361282.932.451.811.431.06
15 and under 201592232611952512.893.423.422.052.08
20 and under 251992953402852943.624.534.452.992.44
25 and under 302342152873923244.263.303.764.112.69
30 and under 352352182614093344.283.343.424.292.77
35 and under 402762762743793855.034.233.593.983.20
40 and under 453112432713684225.663.733.553.863.50
45 and under 502692963173686234.904.544.153.865.17
50 and under 552193963774417763.996.084.944.636.44
55 and under 601723624244738743.135.555.554.967.25
60 and under 651673465465581,0263.045.317.155.858.52
65 and under 701293106327851,0882.354.768.288.239.03
70 and under 751073005638681,1911.954.607.79.109.89
75 and under 80872214058191,2741.583.395.318.5910.58
80 and over852174958761,7301.553.336.499.1914.36

The next table shows that the fall in the death-rate during recent years has been common to all ages, and to both sexes.

The table is further of interest as showing that the female rate for the various age-groups is almost invariably lower than the male rate. The rapid increase in the death-rate at successive age-groups is well exemplified.

Year.Under 1.1 and Under 5.5 and under 15.15 and under 25.25 and under 35.35 and under 45.45 and under 55.55 and under 65.65 and under 75.75 and under 85.85 and over.
Both Sexes.

The average (arithmetic mean) age at death of persons of either sex in each of the ten years 1922-31 was as follows:



The following figures showing the expectation of life at various ages are based on the experience of the two years 1921-22, and are as computed by Mr. L. S. Polden, A.I.A.


The expectation of life at age 0 has been as follows at successive periods

Period.Males. Years.Females. Years.


From the following table it will be seen that New Zealand has the lowest death rate in the world, Australia ranking second in this respect.

Country.Quinquennium.Average Rate per 1,000.
*Registration area.
New Zealand1927-318.5
Union of South Africa1926-309.7
United States*1925-2911.9
England and Wales1927-3112.2
Irish Free State1926-3014.4
Northern Ireland1926-3014.7
Costa Rice1926-3020.0
British Guiana1926-3025.2
Straits Settlements1926-3030.0


For the purpose of ascertaining the true movement of the death-rate in New-Zealand, a system of standardization was introduced some years ago. the age-and sex-constitution of the population as disclosed at the census of 1911 being taken as the basis. The population and deaths of each year are divided, each sex separately, into live-yearly groups of ages (with one group only for ages 80 and over), and the rates for the various age-groups ascertained and weighted according to the proportion which the respective groups bore to the total population at the census of 1911. The following table gives both crude and standardized rates for each fifth year from 1875 onwards, and for the year 1931.

Year.Crude Rates.Standardized Rates.

For purposes of international comparisons, a standard population, based on the age-distribution of the population of 19 European countries at their censuses nearest to the year 1900, has been compiled by the International Institute of Statistics, and is used in the following table of New Zealand rates.

Year.Crude Rate.International Standardized Rate.
Males.Females.Both Sexes.Males.Females.Both Sexes.
Without Distinction between Sexes.With Distinction between Sexes.

An interesting point brought out by the use of the new standard in New Zealand is that the male standardized rate is actually lower than the corresponding crude rate, thus indicating that the age-constitution of the male population of the Dominion is now less favourable to low death rates.


The table following shows the number of living issue left by married men whose deaths were registered during the ten years 1922-31, the information being given according to age of father and of issue.

Taking all deaths of married men or widowers, whether leaving issue or not, it is found that the average living issue is 3-70, as compared with 3-97 for the period 1912-21.

Average numbers of issue left by married men or widowers during the decade 1922-31 were: Fathers aged under 30, 1.11; aged 30-39, 1-99; 40-49, 2-70;50-59, 3-14; 60-69, 3 03; 70-79, 4-44; 80 or over, 4.62. Averages are universally lower than in the preceding decade.

Age of Issue, in Years.Number of Issue left by Fathers, aged—
Under 30.30 and under 40.40 and under 50.50 and under 60.60 and under 70.70 and under 80.80 and over.Totals.
5 and under101061,7822,7801,5443837086,673
10 and under 1558233,2872,8511,039253398,297
15 and under 2141203,1085,3233,1921,02517512,947
21 and over121,0919,42025,36742,13234,415112,428
Married men who died—
Leaving issue4331,8463,6425,2247,0868,5156,56733,313
Without leaving issue1924457551,0611,2101,2849335,880

In 1931 among men who left any under age 16 the average number of such issue was 2.12.issue. The average for all married men or widowers who died during the year was, however, only 0-57.

Of 967 cases where issue under 16 years of age was left by married men or widowers during 1931, a widow was also left in 914 cases, the aggregate children under 16 in those 914 cases being 1,952, and the average per widow 214. By the deaths of their fathers, children under 16 to the number of 85 were left without either parent, and for 10 children there was no information as to whether the mother was alive or dead.


Of the 39,193 married men or widowers whose deaths were registered during the ton years 1922-31, 10,063 were shown to have been widowers, and 28,529 to have loft widows; while in the remaining 601 cases there was no information on the point. Of the married men leaving widows, 24,534 had living issue also at time of death, and 4,008 had no living issue. In 8,467 cases widowers left issue, and in 1,596 cases no issue. In 325 of the 601 cases where no information was given as to whether a widow was left there was living issue, in 220 eases no living issue, and in 56 cases no information as to issue was given.


New Zealand has the lowest rate of infant mortality in the world, a fact attributable partly to such matters as climate, virility of the race, comparative absence of large industrial undertakings, and c., and partly to legislative and educative measures, the latter both by the State and by various organizations

The following table, giving infant mortality rates in various countries for the latest available quinquennial period, clearly shows the favourable position occupied by New Zealand:

Country.Quinquennium.Deaths under One Year per 1,000 Births.
* Registration area.
New Zealand1927-3135
England and Wales1926-3067
South Africa1926-3068
United States*1926-3068
Irish Free State1926-3070
Northern Ireland1926-3078
British Guiana1926-30158
British India1926-30177

Not has New Zealand had for many years the lowest rate of infant mortality in the world, but the rate for the Dominion has shown steady and rapid improvement, more particularly during the last twenty years. Much of the success achieved has been due to the activities of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children. Founded at Dunedin in 1907 this society has since extended its Plunket system throughout New Zealand, and its methods are being adopted to an ever-increasing extent in other countries

The deaths of infants under one year of age for each of the last ten years are shown in the following table:

Year.Number.Rate per 1,000 Births.

Since 1924 the infant mortality rate in New Zealand has exhibited a rapid decline, and the unprecedentedly low level of 32.15 per 1,000 live births was recorded for 1931. A temporary cessation in recorded progress took place in 1930, but the downward movement was resumed in 1931. Just as in 1930, the temporary rise in the infant-mortality rate was due to the upward movement of the female rate, so in 1931, the decided improvement may be assigned to the substantial reversal of the previous trend in the female rate. The male rate was maintained on approximately the same level as in 1930

The pronounced fall in New Zealand's infant mortality rate during the last two decades has not been accompanied by an increase in the death-late of children between the ages of one and ten years. There has, on the contrary, been a substantial fall, as is shown by the following figures. The numbers and rates given refer to annual averages for the quinquennia mentioned.

Quinquennium1 and under 5.5 and under 10.
Numbers of Deaths.Rate.*Numbers of Deaths.Rate.*
* Per 10,000 children at ages shown.

The increase in 1914-18 as compared with 1909-13 is due to the fact that during the latter period New Zealand experienced several minor epidemics, principally of diphtheria. The influenza epidemic in 1918 also somewhat affected the rate.

Since1921 a distinction has been made between legitimate and illegitimate children in the New Zealand statistics of infant mortality. The proportion of illegitimate infants among those dying within the first year of life has been found to be greater in some years substantially so than the proportion of illegitimate births to total births, in spite of the fact that legitimations and adoptions would tend to reduce the number who would be termed illegitimate in the death entries. The year 1930 constitutes an exception.

Year.Total Deaths under One Year.Deaths of Illegitimate Infants under One Year.Proportion of Illegitimates in Total Deaths under One Year.Proportion of Illegitimates in Total Births.
   Per Cent.Per Cent.

Except for the year 1930, the excess of the male over the female rate of infant mortality holds for each of the four divisions of the first year of life shown in the next table. The discrepancy is, however, somewhat greater in the first half of the year than in the second.

Year.Male Deaths per 1,00 Male Births.Female Deaths per 1,000 Female Births.
Under 1 Month.1 and under 3 Months.3 and under 6 Months.6 and under 12 Months.Under 1 Month.1 and under 3 Months.3 and under 6 Months.6 and under 12 Months.
192830.464.623.984.1920 052.672.523.35

Even when the effect of the male excess among infants born is eliminated, the number of male deaths per 100 female deaths in the first month of life during the ten years 1922-31 is found to be 134; between one and three months, 145; between three and six months, 126; between six and twelve months, 117; and for the whole of the first year, 137.

The rates for the two sexes in conjunction are now given for each of the last five years.

Year.Under 1 Month.1 and under 3 Months.3 and under 6 Months.6 and under 12 Months.Total under 1 Year.

If the deaths under one year of age are divided into two groups viz., those occurring during the first month of life and those during the remainder of the twelve months it will be found that the decrease disclosed for recent years when compared with earlier is almost entirely confined to the latter class; the explanation being that with premature birth, congenital debility, and other causes of death due to pre-natal influences (which are responsible for the great majority of deaths during the first month), it has not hitherto been found possible to effect the great improvements which have been brought about in regard to complaints arising from post-natal causes.

The next table shows that, whereas in the quinquennium 1920-30 the death-rate under one month of age was 17 per cent, lower than in the quinquennium 1881-85, the rate for children who have survived the first month of life was only one-fifth as high as in the " eighties.” In other words, where the Dominion formerly lost between the ages of one month and one year sixty children out of every thousand it now loses only twelve.

Period.Deaths per 1,000 Births.Deaths between 1 and 12 Months per 1,000 Children who survive 1 Month.
Under 1 Year.Under 1 Month.Between 1 and 12 Months.

The decrease by more than half in the general rate, and four-fifths in the rate between one and twelve months, and the comparatively stationary position of the rate under one month, are well indicated in the accompanying diagram.

As stated above, the death-rate for infants under the age of one month has shown little improvement in recent years, while a heavy reduction has taken place in the mortality-rate after the first month of life. It would appear, therefore, that on the one hand the diseases that can be combated openly, such as epidemic diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases due to faulty nourishment, and c. (i.e., diseases of the digestive system), have shown a definite response to the strenuous campaigns launched against them; while, on the other hand, many infants are evidently non-viable at birth. This point is accentuated by the following table, which shows the rates for further divisions of the first month of life.

Deaths Under 1 Month per 1,000 Live Births.

Year.Under 1 day.1 Day and under 2 days.2 Days and under 1 weekTotal under 1 week.1 week and under 2 weeks.2 weeks and under 3 weeks.3 weeks and under 1 month.Total under 1 Month.

The rate for under one month has shown a considerable improvement during the period covered, and, indeed, all the divisions of the first month of life record a decrease.

Nearly one-third (190) of the 604 deaths under one month in 1931 occurred within twenty-four hours of birth, and four-fifths (471) within one week. The following table gives, for each of the last five years, detailed information as to the number of deaths at various periods of the first year of life:

Year.Under 1 Day.1 Day and under 2 Days.2 Days and under 1 Week.1 Week and under 2 Weeks.2 Weeks and under 3 Weeks.3 Weeks and under 1 Month.1 Month and under 2 Months.2 Months and under 3 Months.3 Months and under 6 Months.6 Months and under 9 Months.9 Months and under 12 Months.Total.
Both Sexes.

Some remarkable changes are disclosed by the next table, which gives the infant mortality rates for various groups of causes in quinquennial groups over a period of sixty years. If a comparison be made between the averages of the first and last periods covered 1872-70 and 1927-31 it is found that the general infant mortality rate shows a decline of 68 per cent., while even greater decreases are recorded for tuberculosis (95 per cent.), convulsions (95 per cent.), gastric and intestinal diseases (93 per cent.), epidemic diseases (89 per cent.), and respiratory diseases (71 per cent.). The rate for diseases of any infancy shows a decrease of only 22 per cent, in 1927-31 as compared with 1872-76. but of 26 per cent, as compared with 1917-21, and the figures indicate that some measure of success his already attended the steps taken in recent years to cope with ante-natal conditions.

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 most striking features of the figures for the years 1927-31 in the table are the continuation of the upward trend in the death-rate for malformations, and a further drop in the rate from diseases peculiar to early infancy.

Period.Epidemic Diseases.Tuberculosis.Infantile convulsions.Respiratory Diseases.Gastric and Intestinal Diseases.Malformations.Early Infancy.Other Causes.Totals.

Two out of every three deaths of infants under one year of age are due to causes coming within the groups “Early Infancy” and “Malformations,” and premature birth alone is responsible for approximately one-third of the total infant mortality.

In accordance with international practice, New Zealand's infant mortality rate represents the number of deaths of infants actually born alive expressed as a proportion per 1,000 live births. This method, however, takes no account of still-births. Reference has been made in an earlier paragraph to the effect on the infant mortality rate of efforts made towards the reduction of those ante-natal influences which generally cause death to ensue during the early weeks of the first year of life. The fact that still-births are also the result of such ante-natal influences should not be lost sight of, and for this and other reasons it is of interest to compute rates for infant mortality and still-births in conjunction, as in the following table. In the computation of the rates for numbers inclusive of still-births, the latter are taken into account in both births and deaths.

Year.Exclusive of still-births.Inclusive of still-births.

The still-birth rate in New Zealand shows a rising tendency, but this is not sufficient to reverse the trend of the declining infant-mortality rate when still-births are taken into consideration with this latter figure. Indeed, the unusually large decrease in both the number of infant deaths and of still-births for 1931 has had the effect of reducing the combined rate or " total infant-mortality " rate to an unprecedentedly low level. Whereas, however, the rate computed on the usual method indicates a decrease of 33 per cent, during the period covered by the table, the inclusion of still-births reduces the improvement to 21 per cent.


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 and used by the principal European and American countries and the Commonwealth of Australia.

A comparison of the causes of deaths in 1931, arranged according to an abridged classification, and the proportion per 10,000 of population of each sex, are given in the following table. The classification adopted is in accordance with the Fourth Revision (1929) of the International List of Causes of Death.

ClassNumber of Deaths.Proportion per 10,000 of Mean Population.
*Includes 12 earthquake deaths (sex unknown).
I. Infectious and parasitic diseases5764991,0757.827.057.44
I I. Cancer and other tumours8097791,58810.9811.0010.99
I I I. Rheumatic diseases, diseases of nutrition and of endocrine glands, and other general diseases1292313601.753.262.49
IV. Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs07531200.910.750.83
V. Chronic poisonings and intoxications122140.100.030.10
IV. Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs07531200.910.750.83
V. Chronic poisonings and intoxications122140.100.030.10
VI. Diseases of the nervous system and of organs of special sense4115139245.587.250.39
VII. Diseases of the circulatory system1,8011,4513,25224.4420.5022.51
VIII. Diseases of the respiratory system5203819017.065386.24
IX. Diseases of the digestive system3312485794.493.504.01
X. Diseases of the genito-urinary system4453167616.044.465.27
XI. Pregnancy, labour, and the puerperal state..127..1271.790.88
XII. Diseases of the skin and cellular tissue1519340.200.270.23
XIII. Diseases of the bones and of organs of locomotion2214300.300.200.25
XIV. Congenital malformations80041441.080.911.00
XV. Early infancy3041754794.122.473.31
XVI. Senility2232034263.022.872.95
XVII. Violence or accident882*2831,165*11.974.008.06
XVIII. Causes not determined4418620.600.250.43

Class VII, diseases of the circulatory system, the principal of which diseases of the heart—rank easily first among individual causes of death in New Zealand, is the most important as regards numerical strength. Next in order comes Class II (cancer and other tumours), followed in 1931 by Classes XVII, I, and VI. Classes V, XII, and XIII are responsible for very few deaths.

The next table shows the number of deaths from certain principal causes for the five years 1927-31, and the proportion per 10,000 of the population:—

Cause.Numbers of Deaths.Proportion per 10,000 of Mean Population.
Typhoid fever111622780.
Scarlet fever16552716110.120.400.190.110.08
Infantile paralysis7177550.050.120 050.040.03
Tuberculosis of respiratory system5335695245295013.884.093.723.713.47
Other forms of tuberculosis1351301181201160.980.930.840.840.80
Anæmia, chlorosis78674938500.570.480.350.270.35
Exophthalmic goiter57515551540.410.370.390.360.37
Meningitis (all forms)63405970410.460.290.420.490.28
Apoplexy, cerebral hæmorrhage7716436346596345.614.624.514.624.39
Convulsions of children under 5 years of age26151313140.
Diseases of the heart2,1502,3152,5332,8972,81715.6416.6518.0020.3319.50
Diseases of the arteries1793944284324201.302.833.043.032.91
Diarrhœa and enteritis911108277740.670.790.580.540.51
Hernia, intestinal obstruction10910010795840.790.720.760.670.58
Cirrhosis of liver47513644430.340.370.260.310.30
Simple peritonitis46264535260.340.190.320.250.18
Nephritis, Bright's disease4094555375675792.983.273.823.984.01
Diseases and accidents of puerperal state1371341291361271.000.960.920.960.88
Congenital debility112575953320.810.410.420.370.22
Premature birth3303242783072912.402.331.982.152.01
Injury at birth56838262780.410.600.580.440.54
Other diseases of early infancy88788190770.640.560.580.630.53
Violence (1) suicide1992022211932261.451.451.571.351.56
Violence (2) accident6567447257739264.775.355.155.426.41
Violence (3) homicide2210911130.
Other causes1,5921,4711,5091,3621,32911.5810.5810.719.559.19

Detailed information concerning the various causes of death is given in the " Annual Report on Vital Statistics.” The statistics for tuberculosis, cancer, puerperal causes, and violence—causes which are of special interest and significance—are discussed in the following pages.


Tuberculosis of the respiratory system takes sixth place in point of the number of deaths resulting therefrom during 1931, ranking after heart-disease, cancer, accidents, cerebral hemorrhage and apoplexy, and nephritis, in that order. The remarkably low level of 3.47 per 10,000 was reached in 1931, the lowest ratio yet attained in this country.

A graph on the succeeding page illustrates the decline in the tuberculosis death-rate since 1875.

Of the 501 persons who died from tuberculosis of the respiratory system in 1931. 362, or 72 per cent., were known to have been born in the Dominion. In 10 cases-the country of birth was not known or not stated, and in the remaining 129 cases the deceased person had been born outside New Zealand. One of the last-mentioned had been in New Zealand less than two years, and 5 less than five years.

In addition to the 501 deaths from tuberculosis of the respiratory system during 1931, there were 116 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis, including

Tuberculosis of meninges and central nervous system 52

Tuberculosis of intestines and peritoneum 15

Tuberculosis of vertebral column 13

Tuberculosis of genito-urinary system 13

Disseminated tuberculosis 18

Tuberculosis claims its victims at comparatively early age. Of those dying from this cause in 1931, persons under the age of twenty years formed 13 per cent., and those under forty-five years 70 per cent.

Ages, in Years.Males.Females.Total.
Under 512820
5 and under 109514
10 and under 15459
15 and under 20132336
20 and under 25334578
25 and under 30325789
30 and under 35343266
35 and under 40333770
40 and under 45351651
45 and under 50272249
55 and under 6028836
60 and under 6524630
65 and under 707916
70 and under 7510212
75 and under 804..4
80 and over......

The average annual death-rate from tubercular diseases in most of the principal countries of the world during the latest available period of five years is next shown.

Country.Period.Death-rates (per 10,000)
* Registration area.
Salvador1926-303 .6
New Zealand1927-314.7
Union of South Africa1925-295.1
United States*1925-298.2
England and Wales1926-309.4
British Guiana1926-3010.0
Northern Ireland1926-3013.7
Irish Free State1926-3013.8


Cancer is annually responsible for more deaths in New Zealand than can be assigned to any cause other than diseases of the heart. The increasing prevalence of cancer is causing no little concern in the Dominion, as indeed it is throughout the civilized world.

The following diagram illustrates, on the one hand, the increase in the cancer death-rate, and, on the other, the decrease in the rate of deaths from tuberculosis:—

In 1931 there were 1,493 deaths from cancer in the Dominion, a proportion of 10.33 per 10,000 of population. The standardized cancer death-rate for 1931 shows a reduction of 0.02 while the crude death-rate shows an increase of 0.14 per 10,000.

YEAR.NUMBER.CRUDE death-rate.Standardized death-rate.*
* On Basis of Age Distribution in 1911.

The following table shows the proportion of deaths from cancer to the 10,000-of mean population in some of the principal countries of the world. The rates are an annual average of the latest available period of five years. Of the countries covered by the table, thirteen had higher and twenty lower rates than New Zealand.

Country.Period.Death-rate per 10,000 of population.
*Registration area.
British Guiana1926-302.4
Union of S. Africa1925-297.4
United States*1925-299.5
New Zealand1927-3110.1
Irish Free State1926-3010.7
Northern Ireland1926-3011.7
England and Wales1926-3014.1

The international table shows very clearly the comparative immunity from cancer enjoyed by the coloured races, and the much smaller liability of Southern than Northern Europeans to the disease.

The following summary shows the types of cancer returned in the death entries for the year 1931:—

Melanotic sarcoma1..1
Spindle-celled sarcoma2..2
Scirrhous cancer..33
Rodent ulcer6814
Malignant tumour235
Malignant papilloma6..6
Malignant disease..11
Malignant growth213

The parts of the body most commonly affected in New Zealand are the stomach and liver. Among females the genital and mammary organs rank high as the seat of the disease. Full details of location are published in the “Annual Report on Vital Statistics.”

Ninety-one per cent, of the deaths from cancer during 1931 were at ages 45 years and upwards, and 62 per cent. at ages 60 years and upwards. Females predominate generally at the younger, and males at the older ages.

Ages, in Year.Males.Females.Total.
Under 52..2
5 and under 10415
10 and under 153..3
15 and under 20145
20 and under 25336
25 and under 303611
30 and under 3551924
35 and under 40122234
40 and under 45153146
45 and under 504753100
50 and under 558283165
55 and under 607981160
60 and under 6510893201
65 and under 7012182203
70 and under 759797194
75 and under 8010773180
80 and under8173154

Exhaustive statistical inquiry covering the period from 1872 to date has shown that in New Zealand death from cancer is, on the average, now occurring later in life than formerly. It would seem that this is the case even if allowance be made for the fact that the age-constitution of the Dominion is increasing—i.e., that the average citizen of New Zealand is now older than the average citizen of ten, twenty, or fifty years ago.


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.

During the 44-year period from 1872 to 1915 the death-rate from puerperal causes exceeded 5 per 1,000 live births on only 14 occasions, but after 1915 did not fall below this figure until 1925. The rate for 1920 (when the proportion of first births was high) was the third highest on record, having been exceeded only in 1884 and 1885, but the highest rate since 1920 1ms been 5.14 per 1,000 recorded in 1922. The rate for each of the last twenty years is as follows:—

Year.Proportion per 1,000 Live Births.

Commencing with 1916, special inquiry has been made in all eases where a woman of child-bearing age has been returned as having died of such causes as septicaemia, peritonitis, nephritis, &c. (without qualification), with the result that in each year several of such cases are found to be puerperal, and are now so classed. During 1928 the system of investigating possible puerperal cases was still further extended, and this would tend to maintain the death-rate from these causes on the high level attained in 1927. The reduction of the rate in 1931 to a figure comparable with the low rate for 1925 indicates perhaps a relatively greater achievement than the unqualified figures suggest.

The rate of deaths from puerperal causes is frequently, though not quite accurately, referred to as "the maternal death-rate.” It should be noted, however, that the class provided for puerperal causes in the international classification covers all deaths from accidents and diseases of pregnancy and parturition, and is not limited to deaths resulting from accouchements of normal women after more or less normal pregnancies. If it were possible to exclude certain types of puerperal cases a true maternal death-rate would result—considerably lower than that shown for all puerperal accidents and diseases. Full distinction cannot, however, be made, but it may be mentioned that the 127 deaths from puerperal causes during 1931 included 36 from abortion or miscarriage, of which 29) became septic cases. Including these 29 deaths from septic abortion or miscarriage, there were 47 deaths from puerperal septicemia in 1931.

The next table shows the deaths from puerperal causes during each of the last five years, classified in the divisions into which such causes are divided in the international classification. An important feature of the table is the marked increase in the number of deaths from septic abortion in recent years, whereas deaths from puerperal septicemia, exclusive of septic abortions, show a definite fall. In 1927 only 14 deaths were recorded from septic abortion, but in 1930 the total reached 30, while in 1931 it was still as high as 29. Puerperal septicemia is a notifiable disease in New Zealand, and the figures for 1930 show that the case-fatality rate for puerperal fever (excluding abortion) was 17-2 per cent., and for septic abortion 18-5 per cent. The corresponding figures for 19.31 were 11-3 per cent, and 21-7 per cent, respectively. The death-rate for all puerperal septicemia cases (including septic abortions) was 1-77 per 1,000 live births in 1931 us against 2-13 per 1,000 in 1930, a reduction of 17 per cent. Over the whole period puerperal septicemia, including septic abortion, was responsible for 42 per cent, of the total deaths from puerperal causes.

Group.Number of Deaths.Rate per 1,000 Live Birth.
Abortion with septic conditions14141930290.50 0.520.711.121.09
Abortion without septic conditions specified347670.
Ectopic gestation354460.
Other accidents of pregnancy....5........0.19....
Puerperal hemorrhage171561160 .610 .550 .230 .410 .23
Puerperal septicemia56423027182 .011.551.121.010.68
Puerperal albuminuria and eclampsia18242728320.640.881.011.051.20
Other toxemias of pregnancy9167860.320.590.260.300.23
Puerperal phlegmasia alba dolens, embolus, sudden death691415110.210.330.520.560.41
Other accidents of childbirth823440.
Other conditions of the puerperal state337380.

A table showing the rate per 1,000 births of deaths from puerperal septicemia (including soptic abortion) and other puerperal causes separately in some of the principal countries of the world is given in the following table. New Zealand now occupies a much more favourable position in the international comparison than was the case a few years ago.

Country.PeriodDeath-rate per 1,000 Births from
Puerperal Septicaemia.Other Puerperal Causes.All Puerperal Causes.
* Registration area.
England and Wales1926-301.742.544.28
Irish Free State1926-301.533.154.68
New Zealand1927-312.062.844.90
South Africa1925-292.282.765.04
Northern Ireland1926-301.603.575.17
United States*1925-292.784.687.46
British Guiana1926-302.3511.3113.66


Deaths from violence, apart from suicide, claim approximately 6 per cent, of the total deaths. The number and rate of the various forms of violent deaths in 1916,1921, 1926, and 1931 are given in the next table.

Causes of Death.Number of Deaths.Rate per 1,000,000 of Mean Population.
* The number and rate under this heading is accentuated by the inclusion of 249 deaths caused by the earthquake of 3rd February, 1931.
Accidental causes—
Burns and scalds2839313425322323
Died under anaesthetic, asphyxia, &c.29102011268158
In mines and quarries2561712235138
Injuries by animals12106311852
Fractures (causes not specified)3241241629341812

The number of deaths recorded from all accidental causes m 1931 was 926, corresponding to a rate of 6-41 per 10,000 of population. The substantial increase in the number of accidental deaths is largely accounted for by the earthquake of 3rd February, no fewer than 249 deaths being registered as due there to. Excluding these as abnormal, the total of accidental deaths recorded for 1931 was 677, a figure 94 above that for 1916, while the death-rate works out at 4-69. This is remarkable when it is seen that the death-rate from crushing (excluding earthquake deaths in 1931), which includes accidents arising from the use of railways, motor-cars, and other vehicles, rose during the same period from 132 to 184 per 1,000,000 living. There is no doubt that the rise in the rate of deaths from this class is due to the increasing congestion of the public streets and the increased use of motor-cars and other motor-vehicles. On (the other hand, noticeable decreases are shown for drowning, burns and scalds, injuries by animals, and fractures (causes not specified). Part of the large increase between 1910 and 1931 in the death-rate from accidental falls is due to fuller information being obtained in a proportion of cases formerly classified under the heading of " fractures (causes not specified).”

In view of the steady rise in the number of deaths attributable to transport accidents, it is advisable to reduce the figures and rates to their respective headings. In classifying deaths under these, various subheadings 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.

In the following table the number and rate of deaths from traumatism by railways, tramways, and motor-vehicles during each of the last ten years are given.

Year.Deaths from Traumatism byRate per Million of Population.

Deaths from motor-vehicle accidents record an appreciable increase in recent years. It is unusual, therefore, but nevertheless extremely gratifying, to find a substantial decrease in the number of such deaths registered during 1931, the total of 159 being 61, or 28 per cent., fewer than in 1930. These figures are exclusive of such accidents where persons have been killed in collisions between motor-vehicles and trains or trams. For 1931 there were 11 deaths from such accidents, bringing the total number of cases in which death occurred where a motor-vehicle was an agent up to 170. The corresponding figure for 1930 was 246. Thus the total reduction for 1931 in the number of deaths in which a motor-vehicle was involved was 76. Probably the diminished use of vehicles for economic reasons was an important factor.


The suicidal deaths in 1931 were 226—males 196, females 30—the death-rate per 10,000 of mean population being 1,56.

Year.Number of Suicidal Deaths.Rate per 10,000 of Population.
Males.Females.Both Sexes.Males.Females.Both Sexes.

The rate for 1931 is appreciably higher than that for 1930, and also that for the average of the live preceding years—1.48 per 10,000.

A comparison of the average annual rates for the latest quinquennial periods available for the undermentioned countries is as follows:—

Country.Quinquennium.Rate per 10,000 of Population.
* Registration area.
Irish Free State1926-300.33
British Guiana1926-300.34
Northern Ireland1926-300.54
South Africa1925-291.12
England and Wales1926-301.23
United States*1925-291.32
New Zealand1927-311.48

New Zealand compares favourably with most of the foreign countries shown in the above table, but somewhat unfavourably with other British countries.


The statistical necessity of assigning every death to one cause only has the effect of obscuring the total incidence of many relatively unimportant diseases as a cause of death. From information compiled relating to associated causes of death, however, it is possible to measure the part played by the principal of such causes during the year 1931.

The various diseases of the heart, for instance, not only claim the greatest toll of deaths as assigned causes, but also play the largest part as contributory causes of death. In 1931, in no fewer than 675 deaths assigned to other causes, some disease of the heart was also specified, bringing the total of cases where diseases of the heart contributed towards the death up to 3,492.

Cerebral hemorrhage ranks next in order as a contributory cause, claiming 346 cases, chiefly, of course, in conjunction with the other principal degenerative diseases, such as heart-disease, arterio-sclerosis, chronic nephritis, &c.

Broncho-pneumonia comes next, with 203 contributory cases, as against 180 eases as an assigned cause. This disease is found in frequent association with the principal epidemic diseases. Pneumonia also ranks high as a contributory cause, with 149 cases, principally in association with influenza.

Intestinal obstruction was assigned as a cause of death in only 53 cases during 1931, but appeared in conjunction with other causes in as many as 132 instances, making a total incidence of 185 deaths. The various diseases of the alimentary canal, particularly cancer, were the principal assigned causes with which intestinal obstruction was associated.

Peritonitis plays a very small part as a primary cause of death, but owing to its extremely fatal nature as a complication of other diseases principally of the digestive system, and particularly appendicitis, it looms fairly large as a contributory cause. In 1931 only 20 deaths wore assigned to peritonitis, but in as many as 160 cases this disease was specified as a terminating cause.


Deaths of Maoris are not included in the statistics quoted throughout this subsection, their omission being due to the fact that a considerably lower standard of accuracy and completeness of data exists in the case of Maori registrations than in the general death records. Registrations of Maori deaths during each of the last five years have been as follows:—

Year.Numbers.Rates per 1,000 of Maori Population.

The average annual rate over the period was over 15 per 1,000, as compared with less than 9 per 1,000 in the case of the non-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 indeed higher than the male in 1928 and 1931. Over the average of the five years the male rate among Maoris was only 2 1/2 per cent, higher than the female, as compared with a corresponding percentage excess of 18 among the non-Maori population.

Until recently, the only statistics available concerning Maori deaths were merely numbers of deaths according to sex. A tabulation was, however, made in 1925 for the five years 1920-24 on the basis of age and cause of death, and summarized statistics were prepared and published in the 1920 and 1927 numbers of the Year-Book. A similar tabulation has now been compiled for years 1925-31 and the summarized statistics are given below. The ages of Maoris whose deaths were registered during the seven years are as follows:—

Age, in Years.Males.FemalesTotal.
Under 17586441,401
1 and under 5416416832
5 and under 10176169345
10 and under 15152174326
15 and under 20242238480
20 and under 25159180339
25 and under 30159147306
30 and under 3597101198
35 and under 40109116225
40 and under 45110104214
45 and under 50113100213
50 and under 5512689215
55 and under 6014181222
60 and under 65140100240
65 and under 70159110269
70 and under 75152107259
75 and under 8011083193
80 and under 8510887195
85 and under 90534194
90 and under 95393776
95 and under 100122941
100 and over263460

With the exception of diphtheria and scarlet fever (only 5 deaths of Maoris from this disease being recorded during the last ten years), epidemic and infectious diseases generally exact a much heavier toll proportionately among Maoris than among the general population, the most note worthy example being tuberculosis, particularly of the respiratory system. 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 diarrhœal diseases and stomach complaints.

On the other hand, there is a much lower mortality 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 hemorrhage. 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 infants may be partly responsible. The proportion between European and Maori deaths from malformations and the group "early infancy" taken in conjunction (the pre-natal causes) works out at 14 to 1, which indicates a much higher rate for Maoris from these diseases as a whole than for Europeans.

A summary is here given showing deaths from the principal causes and groups of causes.

Causes of Death.Number of Deaths.Date per 10,000 of Mean Population.
Typhoid fever25332012143.885.073.031.782.04
Pulmonary tuberculosis20520119319122231.8530.9029.2528.3832.40
Other forms of tuberculosis35383938295.755.845.915.654.23
Cerebral hæmorrhage1013106141.552.001.520.891.90
Convulsions (under five years)1515815232.332.311.212.233.36
Diarrhœa and enteritis44362637256.845.533.945.503.65
Cold, cough, chest trouble, &c.10953141.551.380.760.451.46
Stomach trouble, internal trouble, &c.342....0.470.620.30....
Ill-defined or not specified20293715573.114.465.612.238.32
Other causes16122814618517624.6735.0522.1327.4926.42

Attention has frequently been drawn to the unsatisfactory state of the Maori records of births and deaths, and particularly as regards causes of Maori deaths. In this connection it should he mentioned that considerable improvement has been effected in recent years, although the Maori registrations are as yet by no means up to the standard of the European. In illustration of the improvement so far obtained it may be cited that in the quinquennium 1920-24 there were no fewer than 485 deaths attributed to ill-defined or not stated causes, and such indefinite causes as cold, cough, chest trouble, stomach and internal trouble, &c. This was equivalent to an average annual death-rate of 18-57 per 10,000 of Maori population during the period. The corresponding figures for the succeeding quinquennium 1925-29 were improved to 189 and 0-11 per 10,000 respectively.

From 1925 onwards information has been obtained as to whether the cause of death has been certified by a medical practitioner or Coroner's inquest. As a further indication of the improvements achieved in the specifying of the causes of deaths of Maoris, it may be said that in 1925. out of a total of 867 de