Table of Contents


IN presenting the 1945 edition of the New Zealand Official Year-Book (the fifty-third number of the volume) I am obliged to express regret that the hoped-for improvement in date of publication has not been found practicable. Continued shortage of staff and pressure of work in the Census and Statistics Department and the Government Printing Office, combined with delays in obtaining necessary material, are the responsible factors.

My grateful thanks are due to Mr. J. Gilchrist, Acting Chief Compiler, for the manner in which he has carried out the editorial duties under very severe handicaps. I thank also other officers of the Census and Statistics Department, and officers of other Departments, who have assisted by revising material for inclusion in the Year-Book.


Government Statistician.

Census and Statistics Department, Wellington C. 1, New Zealand, 19th October, 1945.


[Following are certain important statistical data for later periods than are included in the body of the Year-Book. The page numbers relate to the appropriate pages in this Year-Book containing more complete information in respect of earlier periods.]

POPULATION (pp. 13–31):—  
Population (inclusive of Maoris but exclusive of Cook and other Pacific Islands)—
       As at 31st December,
MIGRATION (pp. 18–20):—Twelve Months ended 31st March,
Passenger arrivals*3,7477,207
Passenger departures*3,6406,189
VITAL STATISTICS, excluding Maoris (pp. 31–81).—Twelve Months ended 31st December
Infant deaths9511,012
Births (per 1,000 mean population)19.7021.59
Deaths (per 1,000 mean population)10.049.87
Marriages (per 1,000 mean population)7.538.43
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)31.3730.12
AGRICULTURE (pp. 212–254):—  
Areas sown (p. 230)—1943–44. Acres.1944–45. Acres.
Live-stock (pp. 240–252):—  
Dairy cows in milk1,647,9201,678,943
Total cattle4,439,2584,590,926
Sheep and lambs33,200,29833,974,612
Wool-production (p. 244) (greasy basis) (million lb.)330.0372.0
Butterfat-production (pp. 247–248) (million lb.)387.8430.0
TRADE (pp. 684–737):—1944.1945.
Commodity exports—££
Twelve months ended 30th June73,235,27486,922,973
Commodity imports  
Twelve months ended 30th June97,779,76767,734,502
Excess of exports—  
Twelve months ended 30th June24,544,49319,188,471

* Excluding through passengers.

† Includes defence materials and equipment, also lend-lease supplies.

‡ Excess of imports.


Twelve Months ended 31st December,
  £ £
Butter (cwt.)1,985,18714,392,7592,306,79818,553,480
Cheese (cwt.)2,009,9479,125,9581,554,0537,443,632
Frozen beef (cwt.)382,052876,73159,531137,853
Frozen lamb (cwt.)3,209,07211,119,5842,723,7859,643,671
Frozen mutton (cwt.)439,939740,5871,087,3631,825,710
Meat, dehydrated (cwt.)35,535547,07815,843218,953
Meat, canned (cwt.)331,5731,809,09581,657545,945
Sausage casings (lb.)4,333,2981,087,7534,263,4061,027,517
Milk, dried (lb.)19,169,318490,81617,485,231496,960
Calf-skins and cattle - hides (number)1,361,1301,129,1741,193,098899,560
Rabbit-skins (number)12,290,284903,24113,886,065974,909
Sheep-skins (number)14,776,6252,264,08015,231,7602,386,648
Wool (bale)622,18213,483,544582,27212,711,407
Seeds, grass and clover (cwt.)90,720665,113158,4181,453,090
Tallow (ton)43,9551,071,23226,624608,263


Twelve months ended 31st December,
Raisins and sultanas418,751478,085
Tobacco (unmanufactured)669,577619,745
Cotton, linen, silk, and artificial silk piece-goods6,831,9927,310,304
Woollen piece-goods831,6391,302,697
Sewing silks and cottons352,308410,729
Bags, sacks, and woolpacks858,1421,331,487
Paints, colours, and varnishes344,179307,857
Metal cordage303,592309,535
Iron wire (other than fencing)842,399235,824
Agricultural implements and machinery410,554356,749
Electrical machinery (including wireless apparatus)2,758,8854,687,522
Other paper661,452579,092
Books, papers, and music, printed575,074677,536
Plain table-cloths, towels, sheets, and drapery, n.e.i.305,062716,585
Railway and tramway plant214,675593,471
Tools and implements, artificers&342,537518,202


Production Year.
Number of establishmentsNo.6,1276,202
Persons engagedNo.114,590117,864
Salaries and wages paid£32,256,07134,433,075
Cost of materials used£107,447,799112,883,932
Other expenses of manufacture£13,331,97314,516,235
Value of output£165,936,284175,686,689
Added value£58,488,48562,802,757


Industry.Production Year.
* Excluding establishments exclusively engaged in malting
Meat freezing and preserving works—
Total persons engagedNo.10,13710,186
Salaries and wages paid£3,839,2613,818,619
Value of output£29,662,48329,356,630
Added value£6,522,4426,225,468
Ham and bacon curing works—
Total persons engagedNo.576710
Salaries and wages paid£201,728254,319
Value of output£2,243,4102,810,406
Added value£453,440486,780
Butter, cheese, and condensed-milk factories—
Total persons engagedNo.3,9833,900
Salaries and wages paid£1,205,7681,188,746
Value of output£29,489,63028,494,686
Added value£2,719,3202,775,645
Total persons engagedNo.765756
Salaries and wages paid£245,354255,451
Value of output£2,957,7473,058,993
Added value£568,735610,276
Biscuit, confectionery, and sugar-boiling works—
Total persons engagedNo.3,1112,812
Salaries and wages paid£713,626672,858
Value of output£3,635,8283,569,314
Added value£1,665,6411,611,723
Breweries and malthouses*
Total persons engagedNo.1,0941,211
Salaries and wages paid£402,080475,514
Value of output (including beer duty)£5,297,6166,425,322
Added value£1,158,4751,433,133
Total persons engagedNo.7,5747,806
Salaries and wages paid£2,448,3422,605,540
Value of output£6,610,3456,935,702
Added value£3,963,7194,153,104
Industry.Production Year.
* Including operations of motor-assembly works.
Total persons engaged No.1,6681,704
Salaries and wages paid £563,316591,392
Total revenue £1,758,7271,860,234
Quantity of gas sold cub. ft. (000)4,149,7464,390,293
Lime and cement works—
Total persons engaged No.1,2761,355
Salaries and wages paid £435,239479,132
Value of output £1,414,6331,586,355
Added value £1,111,2981,247,745
Engineering, iron and brass works—
Total persons engaged No.7,3458,409
Salaries and wages paid £2,546,8702,872,829
Value of output £6,698,6377,735,790
Added value £3,993,7564,807,065
Paint and varnish works—
Total persons engaged No.392445
Salaries and wages paid £122,184141,556
Value of output £1,052,0381,385,026
Added value £351,289388,581
Coachbuilding and motor and cycle engineering works*
Total persons engaged No.5,8646,190
Salaries and wages paid £1,573,1131,753,733
Value of output £4,366,0814,871,704
Added value £2,619,6132,860,117
Total persons engaged No.869949
Salaries and wages paid £288,379321,484
Value of output £1,454,3031,535,822
Added value £488,806482,401
Chemical fertilizer works—
Total persons engaged No.808781
Salaries and wages paid £258,285262,399
Value of output £1,586,4801,553,287
Added value £695,822723,432
Boot and shoe factories—
Total persons engaged No.4,5134,518
Salaries and wages paid £997,1331,071,463
Value of output £3,308,6813,528,535
Added value £1,451,9441,520,865
Total persons engaged No.4,0454,050
Salaries and wages paid £981,905991,196
Value of output £2,892,9062,840,126
Added value £1,814,8571,762,924
Knitted goods and hosiery factories—
Total persons engaged No.2,1052,182
Salaries and wages paid £432,090474,296
Value of output £1,849,8552,059,102
Added value £814,207907,871
Clothing factories—
Total persons engaged No.13,82813,279
Salaries and wages paid £2,403,9202,460,981
Value of output £6,794,8457,478,680
Added value £3,439,0283,670,359
Industry.Production Year.
Tinware and sheet-metal works—
Total persons engaged No.2,3102,361
Salaries and wages paid £687,315706,729
Value of output £2,914,4582,919,055
Added value £1,187,8691,172,490
Agricultural and dairying machinery and implement works—
Total persons engaged No.1,3761,460
Salaries and wages paid £397,565430,577
Value of output £1,115,7881,345,388
Added value £651,402730,773
Electrical engineering works—
Total persons engaged No.1,3531,395
Salaries and wages paid £339,429389,810
Value of output £1,130,8371,426,409
Added value £566,791692,057
Printing and publishing works—
Total persons engaged No.6,2786,095
Salaries and wages paid £1,771,7541,789,145
Value of output £4,877,1325,408,695
Added value £3,281,9843,521,069
Furniture and cabinet making factories—
Total persons engaged No.2,5472,810
Salaries and wages paid £640,455739,626
Value of output £1,898,6902,223,356
Added value £943,7021,096,601
PRODUCTION AND INCOME:—1942–43. £(m.)1943–44. £(m.)
Value of production (pp. 626–628)169.8174.2
Aggregate private income (pp. 502–503)264.4292.3
 1942–43. £(m.)1944–45. £(m.)
Aggregate salary and wage payments175.9176.5

TRANSPORT (pp. 156–191):—

Railway (pp. 161–168)—Twelve Months ended March,

* Including road motor and other subsidiary services.

† As at 31st March.

Net ton-miles run Number832,594,000814,905,000
Passenger journeys Number38,611,26732,994,529
Railway operation £13,464,97912,448,307
Total* £15,325,30614,459,750
Railway operation £11,365,91711,696,895
Total* £12,757,33613,260,277
Road (pp. 176–186)—
Motor-vehicles licensed292,137301,154
CIVIL AVIATION (pp. 187–191):—
Internal services—
Miles flown855,110993,707
Passengers carried38,14552,424
Overseas services—
Miles flown229,140427,460
Passengers carried2,9245,803
CONSOLIDATED FUND (pp. 325–328):—
Receipts £48,828,27454,247,798
Payments £46,595,69453,033,079


Prices index numbers (pp. 504–522):—Month of June,
Wholesale—All-groups (1926–30 = 1000)15651583
Export—All-groups (1909–13 = 1000)16691846
Share prices—
Industrial (1938 = 1000)12631276
All-groups (1938 = 1000)12931345
 Twelve Months ended 31st March,
Mortgages registered (pp. 464–468) £15,645,82718,106,486
Mortgages discharged (pp. 464–469) £20,030,31321,013,533
Land transfers registered (pp. 200–202) £38,145,15832,458,908

Social security benefits (pp. 363–377):—

Age—Month of June,
Annual value £8,545,8718,742,757
Annual value £985,8191,019,631
Annual value £1,077,2331,071,224
Annual value £1,088,8022,075,934
Universal superannuation—
Annual value £1,014,8201,232,280
War pensions (pp. 376–383):—
1914–18 war—
Annual value £1,887,0301,988,659
Present war—
Annual value £1,357,8981,540,141
Boer war—
Annual value £2,9263,472
Banking (pp. 410–430):—
Trading banks—
Debits, weekly average (excluding Government) (p. 416) £23,756,39927,434,886
Ratio of advances to deposits (p. 414) Per cent.38.9041.01
Reserve Bank—25th June.
Net reserve ratio (p. 412) Per cent.37.2968.58
Gold (p. 412) £2,801,8782,801,878
Exchange (p. 412) £31,597,13262,417,173
Net note circulation (pp. 417–418) £32,321,71934,493,761
Net overseas funds of banks (p. 418) £41,037,85277,565,588
 31st March.
Radio-receiving licenses (p. 607)375,412379,189
Industrial disputes (pp. 580–586)—Twelve Months ended 31st December,
Number of disputes69149
Number of firms affected114263
Number of workers involved10,91529,766
Total duration Days122281
Working-days lost14,68752,602
Approximate loss in wages £20,17973,957


Title.Latest No.Month of Issue.Price per Copy.Postage (extra).
* £1 1s. per annum (post free).
   s. d.d.
New Zealand Official Year-Book1945Dec., 19457 66
Annual Statistical Reports—    
Population and Buildings1943–44June, 19452 61
Vital Statistics1942June, 19455 03
Justice1942July, 19452 61
Trade and Shipping (Part I)1942Nov., 194510 03
Trade and Shipping (Part II)1941Sept., 19443 62
Agricultural and Pastoral Production1943–44May, 19452 61
Factory Production1942–43July, 19453 62
Insurance1942May, 19452 01
Miscellaneous (Prices, Wage-rates and Hours of Labour, Unemployment, Industrial Accidents, Tramways, Cinematograph Theatres, Banking, Building Societies, Bankruptcy, Statistical Summary)1942Aug., 19455 03
Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand (published annually)1941–42Nov., 19447 65
Pocket Compendium of New Zealand Statistics1945Jan., 19451 01
Monthly Abstract of Statistics....2 6*1
Volumes of 1936 Census Results—
Increase and Location of Population1936Sept., 19374 62
Dependencies1936Sept., 19371 61
Maori Census1936April, 19403 01
Ages and Marital Status1936April, 19404 02
Orphan Children and Dependent Children1936June, 19402 61
Religious Professions1936June, 19402 61
Birthplaces1936July, 19452 61
Duration of Residence of Overseas-born1936July, 19452 61
Race1936Aug., 19452 61
Unemployment1936Aug., 19454 01
Incomes1936Sept., 19457 62
Poultry1936Sept., 19371 61
War Service1936June, 19381 61
Census of Libraries1936May, 19401 61
Life Tables1936Dec., 19441 61
(Other volumes to follow)

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



Consisting of two large and several smaller islands, the Dominion of New Zealand lies in the South Pacific Ocean some 1,200 miles to the eastward of Australia. With South America some 6,000 miles distant to the east and the Antarctic Continent 1,600 miles distant to the south, the Islands are, for their size, among the world's most isolated. For statistical purposes, the following classification of the administrative area is the most convenient:—

(a) Islands forming the Dominion proper (total area, 103,416 square miles):—

 Square Miles.
North Island and adjacent islets44,281
South Island and adjacent islets58,093
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 included with the South Island. It should be noted also that statistics for “the Dominion” and for “New Zealand”refer to the above group of islands, unless it is expressly stated that the outlying islands, group (b), and/or the annexed islands, group (c), are included.

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

 Square Miles.
Three Kings Islands3
Auckland Islands234
Campbell Island44
Antipodes Islands24
Bounty Islands
Snares Islands1
Solander Island

None of the outlying islands is regularly inhabited.

(c) Islands (total area, 212 square miles) annexed to New Zealand:—

    Kermadec Islands, annexed in 1887 (area, 13 square miles).

    Cook and other Pacific Islands, annexed in 1901:—

     Cook Islands (area, 84 square miles)—

Mangaia.Mauke (or Parry).
Mitiaro.Manuae (or Hervey Islands).

     Islands outside the Cook Group (area, 115 square miles)—

Niue (or Savage)Rakahanga (or Reirson).
Palmerston (or Avarau)Pukapuka (or Danger).
Penrhyn (or Tongareva)Suwarrow (or Anchorage).
Manihiki (or Humphrey)Nassau.

The total area of the foregoing groups is 103,935 square miles. Elsewhere in this issue (viz., in the section on land tenure, settlement, &c.) the aggregate area of the Dominion appears as 66,390,657 acres—i.e., 103,735 square miles. The latter area does not include the Cook and other Pacific Islands annexed in 1901.

As well as exercising jurisdiction over the areas already mentioned, the Dominion also administers the Union Islands, the Ross Dependency, and Western Samoa (which is held on a mandate from the League of Nations). Jointly with the Imperial Government and the Government of Australia, New Zealand is responsible for the mandate over the Island of Nauru. The administrative appointments for the island are made by the Australian Government, but New Zealand appoints a representative to the British Phosphates Commission, which controls the working of the phosphate deposits.*

The Island Territories Act, 1943, provides for the appointment of a member of the Executive Council as Minister of Island Territories. This Minister is charged with the administration of the government of any territory out of New Zealand which may at any time be a dependency or mandated territory of the Dominion, or otherwise be under the jurisdiction of the Government or Parliament of the Dominion.

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

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 1847, 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 Imperial Order in Council of the 30th July, 1923, the coasts of the Ross Sea (in the Antarctic regions), with the adjacent islands and territories, were declared a British settlement within the meaning of the British Settlements Act, 1887. This region was named the Ross Dependency and placed under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand. The dependency is uninhabited.

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, a total area of only four square miles) were excluded from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, and placed under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand. In accordance with a provision of the second of these Orders in Council, the Governor-General's authority and power in connection with the administration of the islands were, by New Zealand Order in Council of the 8th March, 1926, delegated to the Administrator of Western Samoa.

* The island of Nauru was occupied by the Japanese in August, 1942.



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

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


The mountainous nature of New Zealand is one of its most striking physical characteristics. In the North Island the higher mountains occupy approximately one-tenth of the surface; but, with the exception of the four volcanic peaks of Egmont (8,260 ft.), Ruapehu (9,175 ft.), Ngauruhoe (7,515 ft.), and Tongariro (6,458 ft.), they do not exceed an altitude of 6,000 ft. Of these four volcanoes only the first-named can be classed as extinct. Other volcanoes include Mount Tarawera and White Island, each of which has, upon one occasion within historical times, erupted with disastrous consequences. Closely connected with the volcanic system are the multitudinous hot springs and geysers.

The South Island is much more mountainous than the North, but shows fewer manifestations of recent volcanic activity. Along almost the entire length of the Island runs the massive chain known as the Southern Alps, which attains its greatest height in Mount Cook (12,349 ft.), while no fewer than seventeen peaks exceed 10,000 ft.

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

In the 1931 issue of the Year-Book was given a list, not claimed as exhaustive, of 223 named peaks of 7,500 ft. or more in altitude, while the 1942 and intervening issues of the Year-Book have contained a list of the more important mountains, together with details of height in each case.


In keeping with the dimensions of her mountain system, New Zealand possesses, in the South Island, a glacial system of some magnitude. Of the glaciers the largest is the Tasman, which, with others of comparable size, rises in the more elevated area surrounding Mount Cook. Flowing down the eastern slope of the range, this glacier has a length of 18 miles and a width of 1¼ miles. In common with other glaciers on the eastern slope, of which the more important are the Murchison (11 miles), the Mueller (8 miles), the Godley (8 miles), and the Hooker (7¼ miles), its rate of flow is slow, while its terminal face is at an altitude of somewhat over 2,000 ft. On the western slope of the range, owing to the greater snow precipitation, the glaciers are more numerous and descend to lower levels, while the steeper slope gives them a more rapid rate of flow. The two largest of these are the Fox and the Franz Josef, with lengths of 9¾ miles and 8½ miles respectively, and terminal faces at altitudes of 670 ft. and 690 ft.

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


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

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

In the 1932 Year-Book appears an account of the rivers of New Zealand, while the 1942 issue contains a list of the more important, with details of their length and, in some cases, the approximate rate of discharge. The six principal rivers are the Waikato (220 miles), Wanganui (140 miles), Manawatu (100 miles), Buller (105 miles), Waitaki (135 miles), and Clutha (210 miles). The three first-named are in the North Island and the remainder in the South Island.

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

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


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

An article on the lakes of New Zealand will be found in the 1932 Year-Book, while the 1942 issue contains particulars of the more important lakes.


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


An article on earthquakes in New Zealand appeared in the 1943 and earlier issues of the Year-Book. The information given below has been supplied by Mr. R. C. Hayes, Acting-Director of the Dominion Observatory.

Seismicity and Earthquake Distribution.

A comparison between the records of destructive earthquakes in New Zealand and those in other seismic countries shows that the seismicity of New Zealand, on the whole, is surprisingly high. However, this is due to the occurrence of a large number of earthquakes of the semi-destructive type (R.-F. 8) with comparatively few major destructive shocks (R.-F. 9, 10).

During the period 1835–1934 sixty-nine destructive earthquakes are known to have occurred in New Zealand, forty-nine of which were of the semi-destructive type (not exceeding intensity R.-F. 8). Of the remainder, fourteen were of intensity 9, and six of intensity 10.

The total number of earthquakes of all intensities, and the maximum intensity, reported felt in New Zealand in each of the years 1922 to 1943 were as follows:—

Year.Number of Earthquakes reported felt.Maximum Intensity of Heaviest Shock.
R.-F. Scale.M.-M* Scale.
* Modified Mercalli Scale of 1931, which is now used for recording earthquake effects in New Zealand.

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

Earthquakes in 1943.

The year 1943 was notable for unusual seismic activity in the South Island, especially in the south-western part of the Island. Two shocks reached minor destructive intensity (VII on the Modified Mercalli Scale = 8 on the Rossi-Forel Scale). One of these occurred on 8th May in the Lake Wanaka region, and the other on 23rd August in the Arthur Pass region. The shock on 8th May was apparently the most pronounced felt in Dunedin for many years.

Following on the heavy seismic disturbances which occurred in the latter half of 1942, slight or moderate activity continued in the Wairarapa region, with occasional rather strong shocks in the early part of the year.

Regional Distribution.

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

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

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

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

  4. Areas north of Auckland.

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

Region.Average Number of Earthquakes per Year (1921–1940).Average Number of Destructive Shocks per Decade (1835–1940).Relative Seismicity based on Destructive Shocks.
Minor Shocks (R.-F. 8).Major Shocks (R.-F. 9, 10).

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

Deaths due to Earthquakes.

During the period 1848–1943 the number of deaths recorded in New Zealand as due directly or indirectly to earthquakes was 284. Of these, 255 were due to the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 3rd February, 1931.


An article on the climate of New Zealand, supplied by Dr. M. A. F. Barnett, M.Sc., Ph.D., F.Inst.P., Director of Meteorological Services, was included in the 1942 and earlier editions of the Year-Book, but considerations of space preclude its repetition in this issue.

The following table, however, suffices to give some indication of the chief climatological elements, average values being given for a selection of stations throughout the country based on records over a varying number of years. The temperature figures shown relate to the whole year and also to January and July, which are, for most places, the warmest and coldest months respectively.


Station.Altitude of Station.Average Annual Rainfall.*Average Number of Rain-days.Average Bright Sunshines.Temperatures in Shade, Degrees Fahrenheit.
Mean Daily Maximum.Mean Daily Minimum.

* Normals relate to present site.

† Temperature records for less than 10 years.

 Ft.In. Hours.      
Te Paki, Te Hapua20057.031692,13872.257.965.550.944.751.7
Hamilton East13140.591592,08075.056.466.352.137.345.1
Onepoto, lake Waikare moana2,11074.80183..67.045.957.552.330.545.1
New Plymouth10060.281872,24769.754.962.855.442.749.4
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North11039.801691,93070.552.
Hanmer Springs1,22545.041341,87371.547.562.047.929.039.2
lake Coleridge1,22031.45109..70.048.461.449.230.440.9
Milford Sound20251.45187..63.747.250.819.733.142.0

A Brief Review of 1943.

The chief feature of the year 1943 was a dry autumn followed by wet and dull conditions in the late winter and spring, which delayed the coming season. There was then a rapid development due to a favourable November and December, but by the end of the year droughty conditions were adversely affecting most farming interests.

Over the whole year mean temperatures were mostly below normal, the deficiencies being over 1° F. at places near the western foothills of the main ranges. In the far north and in a belt extending from northern Nelson across the Rangitikei district to the Bay of Plenty temperatures were, however, slightly above normal. At many places the duration of bright sunshine was better than average. From Auckland City northwards and also at Westport the annual total exceeded the average by over 200 hours. Sunshine was poorer than usual in most inland districts of the South Island, as well as at Nelson City, in the Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, and locally in the Waikato.

For the country as a whole rainfall was rather light. North of a line from Awakino to Whakatane the year's total was slightly deficient, as was also the case in central and southern Hawke's Bay, including the back country. Elsewhere in the North Island there was surplus rainfall, the excesses being appreciable between Wairoa and East Cape, and less marked in northern Taranaki. In the South Island the majority of stations from Marlborough Sounds to Palmerston recorded small excesses, but slight deficiencies occurred locally north of Christchurch and in the neighbourhood of Timaru. Westland and the Southern Alps received appreciably less precipitation than usually.

Seasonal Notes.—January was dry, with some cloudy humid spells. All crops were satisfactory, but the dryness caused a decline in dairy production. In February rainfall was heavy, with little settled weather. For most of New Zealand March was dry, sunny, and cool. Harvesting was interrupted in the south, while the prolonged dry spell in the Auckland Provincial District further adversely affected the dairy industry. April, like March, was dry, with fine, clear conditions. The duration of sunshine was above average almost generally. Dry, cold weather was experienced during May, and in many places in the south it was the coldest May on record. Conditions were favourable for agricultural work, but after the cold spell at the close of the month all growth ceased. June had frequent and heavy rains, some records being broken. Stock were wintering well, but sheep losses were reported during a severe snowstorm in Canterbury near the end of the month. July was cold though sunny, and with mainly light winds. Frosts therefore were numerous, but autumn-sown crops made steady progress. Due to the frequency of winds from a southerly quarter, August was also cold, and record low temperatures were reported at widely scattered places. Thus the season was considerably delayed, and the wet conditions adversely affected stock. Scattered snow on the 25th killed some early lambs. September was persistently unsettled. Except in the far south, rain was heavy and frequent, and few wetter Septembers have been experienced. On the whole the month was dull and most unpleasant, and after a poor August it proved most severe on young stock. Although October showed some improvement, the weather was still rather unsettled, with frequent but not excessive rain. November was a dry month with several fair spells, giving favourable farming conditions in most districts. The rapid promotion of pasture and garden growth compensated for the late spring. The weather was dry, warm, and settled during December, excellent for harvesting and shearing, but with insufficient rain for many crops.

Summary of Meteorological Observations.—The observations from which the following summary was compiled for the year 1943 were taken at 09.30 hrs., N.Z. civil time—i.e., 9 a.m. New Zealand mean time.

Station.Temperatures in Shade, Degrees Fahrenheit.Hours of Bright Sunshine.Rainfall.
Mean Daily Maximum.Mean Daily Minimum.Approx Mean Temperature.Extremes for 1943.Previous Extremes.Total Fall (Inches)Number of Wet Days.
Maximum and Month.Minimum and Month.Absolute Max.Absolute Min.
Te Paki, Te Hapua66.,370.262.55163
Hamilton East65.,949.042.94161
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana57.
New Plymouth61.749.055.474.0Feb.32.3June89.027.02,393.764.95177
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North61.047.154.479.5Feb.29.0Aug.87.021.21,890.239.25181
Hanmer Springs60.538.349.487.8Feb.12.0July97.08.21,880.047.18128
Lake Coleridge59.889.949.984.5Feb.13.4July93.011.5..33.54128
Milford Sound60.741.849.375.1Nov.28.0July79.023.1..231.42202

For 1943 the mean sea-level pressure at 09.30 hrs. N.Z.C.T., in millibars, was: Auckland, 1,014.5; Wellington, 1,013.0; Nelson, 1,012.9; Hokitika, 1,013.0; Christchurch, 1,011.3; Dunedin, 1,011.0.


Those desiring information on the flora and plant covering of New Zealand are referred to the article by Dr. W. R. B. Oliver, D.Sc., F.R.S.N.Z., which appeared in the 1940 and previous issues of the Year-Book, while a brief reference to the geographical distribution of the forest trees is made in the section of this Year-Book dealing with Forestry (Section 18). For more detailed information the following works may also be consulted: “Plants of New Zealand,”by R. M. Laing and E. W. Blackwell, ed. 4, 1940; “Manual of the New Zealand Flora,”by T. F. Cheeseman, ed. 2, 1925; “The Trees of New Zealand,”by L. Cockayne and E. Phillips-Turner, 1928; “The Forest Flora of New Zealand,”by T. Kirk, 1889; “New Zealand Trees and Shrubs and how to Identify Them,”by H. H. Allan, 1928; “New Zealand Ferns,”by H. B. Dobbie, ed. 3, 1931; “New Zealand Plants and their Story,”by L. Cockayne, ed. 3, 1927; “The Vegetation of New Zealand,”by L. Cockayne, ed. 2, 1928; “The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants,”by L. Cockayne, 1923; “The New Zealand Nature Book,”Vol. 2, by W. Martin, ed. 2, 1944; and numerous articles published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand.


A brief article on the fauna of New Zealand, originally prepared by the late Mr. James Drummond, F.L.S., F.Z.S., and revised by him in 1935, is contained in the 1940 and earlier editions of the Year-Book.



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 11th May, 1917, published in the New Zealand Gazette of 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 exercise 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 in the minutes of the Council the grounds of any advice or opinion that he may give upon the question.

At present (March, 1945), the Executive Council consists of thirteen members in addition to the Governor-General, and also in addition to the two members of the War Cabinet who are not members of the Government Cabinet, and one member of the Legislative Council holding a special war portfolio. Two members, exclusive of His Excellency or the presiding member, constitute a quorum.

Under the Civil List Act, 1920, His Excellency the Governor-General receives an honorarium of £5,000 per annum, an allowance of £2,000 per annum for the salaries and expenses of his establishment (exclusive of the Official Secretary), and an allowance of £500 per annum for travelling-expenses.

The Civil List Act fixed the number of paid Ministers (exclusive of the Prime Minister) at ten, but an amendment in 1936 increased the number to eleven, with a proviso that the total amount paid in any one year was not to exceed the aggregate amount specified in the principal Act. Part V of the Finance Act (No. 3), 1944—which expires on the 31st March next following the termination of the present war—further increased the number to twelve, each of whom is to receive the rate specified in the principal Act, as reduced by the Public Expenditure Adjustment Act, 1921–22. The Prime Minister's salary is now at the rate of £1,800 per annum and that of other Ministers £1,170 per annum, in addition to which Ministers who do not occupy a Ministerial residence receive an allowance in lieu thereof at the rate of £200 per annum.

In addition to the number of paid Ministers as provided by the Civil List Act and its amendments, the Finance Act, 1940, authorized the payment, to every member of the War Cabinet who does not hold any of the Ministerial offices, of a salary at the rate of £1,170 per annum, plus a house allowance of £200 per annum. There are two such appointments current (March, 1945).

Authority is also given in the Civil List Act for the appointment of either one or two Maoris or half-castes as members of the Executive Council representing the Native race. One such appointment is at present extant, the salary attaching thereto being £990 per annum, plus house allowance of £200 per annum.

The Civil List Amendment Act, 1936, made provision for the appointment of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries, an innovation in executive control in New Zealand. The rate of salary attachable to such a position, formerly £600, was increased to £800 by Part V of the Finance Act (No. 3), 1944, plus house allowance of £200 per annum. At the present time (March, 1945) two such appointments are current.

The present Government, shortly after assuming office, instituted a scheme whereby the services of all parliamentary representatives of the Government party might be co-opted to assist Ministers in bringing the Government's policy into effect. As part of this plan, Ministers shared a portion of their authorized salaries with other Government parliamentary representatives.


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 of members at present (March, 1945) is thirty-four.

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 been 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 may be brought into operation at a date to be specified by Proclamation.

The qualifications for membership of the Legislative Council are the same as for the House of Representatives (see post), with the proviso that a person may not at the same time be a member of both Houses. Prior to 1941 women were not eligible for appointment to the Legislative Council, but this restriction was removed by section 40 of the Statutes Amendment Act, 1941. Up to the present, no women members have been appointed.

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. There have been several alterations since that date and the rate, prior to the passing of the Finance Act (No. 3), 1944, had for several years been £315 per annum. The Act in question raised the honorarium to £375. This Act also increased the honorarium of the Speaker from £720 to £800, and that of the Chairman of Committees from £450 to £500 per annum. The Speaker also receives free sessional quarters. Besides the honorarium, members receive certain concessions in regard to travelling-expenses actually incurred in going to and from Parliament, and also privileges in respect of postages, &c.

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 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. In the allocation of electorates an addition is made to rural populations so that the number of rural electorates, in proportion to their population, is higher than urban electorates. The “country quota,” as this allowance is called, 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, Christ-church, or Dunedin. The “country quota” first appeared in 1881, to the equivalent of an addition of 33⅓ 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 a few exceptions. The term of the nineteenth Parliament was during the 1914–18 War extended to five years by special legislation, and that of the twenty-fourth (1931–35) and subsequent Parliaments to four years under the Electoral Amendment Act, 1934. By the Electoral Amendment Act, 1937, the three-year term was restored, but on account of war conditions the term of the twenty-sixth Parliament was extended to four years by the Prolongation of Parliament Act, 1941. The Prolongation of Parliament Act, 1942, extended the term still further to one year from the termination of the war, but with a proviso for a motion to be moved in the House of Representatives each year after the year 1942 either approving the continuation of the House or fixing an earlier date for its expiry. During the 1943 session a motion in favour of dissolution was carried, and Parliament was dissolved on 30th August, 1943.

Under the Electoral Act, 1927, every registered elector of either sex, but no other person, is qualified to be a parliamentary candidate. It is provided, however, that a person shall not be so elected who is disqualified as an elector under any of the provisions of the Act (see under “Franchise” post); or is an undischarged bankrupt; or is a member of the Legislative Council; or is a contractor to the public service of New Zealand to whom any public money above the sum of £50 is payable, directly or indirectly (but not as a member of a registered company or incorporated body), in any one financial year. Though women's suffrage has been operative since 1893, women were not eligible as parliamentary candidates until the passing of the Women's Parliamentary Rights Act, 1919, the provisions of which are now embodied in the Electoral Act, 1927. Under the Electoral Act public servants were prohibited from being elected, but this prohibition was removed by the Political Disabilities Removal Act, 1936, which provided that if elected they immediately cease to be public servants.

The payment made to members of the House of Representatives was increased' from £450 to £500 per annum by Part V of the Finance Act (No. 3), 1944, which also made provision for an allowance at the rate of £250 per annum to provide for expenses incurred in connection with parliamentary duties. As stated earlier, Part V of the 1944 Act is to remain in operation only until the 31st March following the termination of the present war. Payment to members is subject to certain deductions for absence not due to sickness or other unavoidable cause. In addition to the honorarium, members are entitled to certain privileges in respect of railway and other forms of travel, &c.

The election of a Speaker is the first business of a new House after the members have been sworn. A Chairman of Committees is elected as soon afterwards as is convenient. 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 was raised from £900 to £1,000 per annum by Part V of the Finance Act (No. 3), 1944, in addition to which he receives a sessional allowance of £100 and free sessional quarters. The Act referred to increased the honorarium of the Chairman of Committees from £675 to £750, and also provided for an allowance of £150 per annum to cover expenses incurred in connection with his parliamentary and official duties.

Twenty members, inclusive of the Speaker, constitute a quorum.


Since the abolition of plural voting in 1889 and the introduction of women's suffrage in 1893 every person twenty-one years of age or over has had the right to exercise a vote in the election of members for the House of Representatives. 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, but for Maori electors a Proclamation is necessary before registration becomes operative. Up to the present this Proclamation has not been made.

There are, of course, slight exceptions to the foregoing, for, if a person is classified as one of the following, he or she is not entitled to register as an elector or to vote:—

  • 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.

The Electoral Emergency Regulations 1943 prescribed the following additional classes of persons who were not entitled to be registered as electors or to vote:—

  • A person who has been committed to military defaulters' detention and has not been discharged therefrom:

  • A person who has been taken into custody under the Aliens Emergency Regulations 1940 and has not been released therefrom.

Maoris are qualified to vote only at elections of the four members representing the Maori race. A Maori half-caste may register on the roll of a European' electoral district; and, if so, may not then vote at an election of Maori members.

By the Electoral Amendment Act, 1937, which made provision for a secret ballot in Maori elections, Maori electors were granted the same privileges, in the exercise of their vote, as European electors.

For the system of local-government administration a modified form of franchise exists, a ratepaying qualification being necessary for the exercising of votes on financial issues. Further reference to this aspect of franchise will be found in Section 25 of this Year-Book.



POPULATION censuses were taken during 1936 in New Zealand and in all its inhabited dependencies. For New Zealand proper the census related to the night of Tuesday, 24th March, 1936, and recorded a total of 1,573,810, inclusive of 82,326 Maoris. The annexed Kermadec Islands had a population of 2. For the Cook Islands and Niue Island the effective date of the census was 30th April, 1936, and the population was 16,350 (Cook Islands, 12,246; Niue Island, 4,104). The Tokelau (Union) Islands, where a census was taken by the Western Samoan Administration for 4th November, 1936, had a population of 1,170. The same date was selected by the Administration for its census of the mandated territory of Western Samoa, the population being recorded as 55,946. All the outlying islands (vide page 1) were uninhabited, as was also the Ross Dependency situated in Antarctic regions. The total population of New Zealand and its island territories at the 1936 censuses was 1,647,278.

Further 1936 census figures will be found later in this section or in other portions of this volume, but for details it will be necessary to refer to the census volumes published separately. The following summary gives, where available, figures more recent than those of the census.

New Zealand proper (exclusive of Maoris)31st Dec., 19447(52,583812,8401,575,423
Maoris31st Dec., 194451,02149,849100,870
Totals, New Zealand proper31st Dec., 1944813,604862,6891,676,293
Kermadec Islands1st April, 194420..20
Cook Islands and NiueCensus, 19368,3677,98316,350
Tokelau Islands(Oct.), 19446667131,379
Mandated Territory of Western Samoa31st Dec, 194433,98232,46566,447


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

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

Intercensal figures of total population are based on the customary equation:— Population = Population (census) + Births and immigration — Deaths and emigration.

The first interruption in the sequence of New Zealand censuses was caused by the abandonment, for reasons of financial stringency resulting from the world-wide economic depression, of the census proclaimed for 21st April, 1931. Owing to the outbreak of war and its subsequent effect on population no census was taken in 1941, the necessary legislative sanction being provided by section 36 of the Finance Act, 1940. The section authorized the census due in 1941 to be taken in any year not earlier than 1941 nor later than 1945.

The comparative shortness of the interval between the census enumerations in normal times, combined with New Zealand's insular position and the completeness of her registration system, prevents serious intercensal errors in statements of the total population of New Zealand.

The distance of the Dominion from other countries, combined with the fact that overseas migration centres in a few ports or air-ports, facilitates the compilation of accurate statistics of external migration. Records of passenger traffic by sea and air between the North and South Islands are also maintained.

Population figures for war years are exclusive of New Zealand soldiers, &c., overseas, and of members of forces of overseas countries who may be in New Zealand. New Zealand troops within the Dominion, whether intended for overseas service or for home defence, are counted in the population totals.

Residents of the Kermadec Islands, 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. Separate statistics of the Maori population are given towards the end of this section.


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, and by the long-term comparison shown in a later section of this Year-Book entitled “Statistical Summary.”

Date of Census.Population (excluding Maoris).Numerical Increase.Percentage Increase.Average Annual Percentage Increase.
* See letterpress.
December, 185126,707......
December, 1858..59,41332,706122.461244
December, 1861*97,90438,49164.7918.26
December, 1864171,00973,10574.6720.74
December, 1867217,43646,42727.158.20
February, 1871254,92837,49217.245.11
March, 1874297,65442,72616.765.29
March, 1878412,465114,81138.578.49
April, 1881487,88975,42418.295.60
March, 1886576,52488,63518.173.41
April, 1891624,45547,9318.311.60
April, 1896701,09476,63912.272.33
March, 1901770,30469,2109.871.91
April, 1906885,995115,69115.022.79
April, 19111,005,585119,59013.502.60
October, 19161,096,22890,6439.011.57
April, 19211,214,677118,44910.812.31
April, 19261,344,469129,79210.692.05
March, 19361,491,484147,01510.931.05

NOTE.—the census due to be taken in 1931 was abandoned owing to financial stringency; the census due in 1941 was postponed, and the enumeration will take place in the spring of 1945.

Commencing with 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, and as Maoris those half-castes who were living in Native fashion. The figures in the preceding table have been corrected from 1861 onwards, to accord with the present practice. Lack of data prevents adjustment for years prior to 1861. The increase from 1858 to 1861 is, therefore, very slightly understated.

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 economic depression and, consequently, comparative stagnation in population. In the three years 1888, 1890, and 1891, emigrants exceeded immigrants, these being the only such occasions in the history of the country, until the recent depression years, when departures exceeded arrivals in the five years 1931–35. A small decrease was also recorded in 1943.

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.

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, nor, prior to 1921, are crews of vessels. Figures for years later than 1920 have not been adjusted consequent upon the censuses. While there thus exist discrepancies with total population increases given elsewhere, such discrepancies do not invalidate the use of the table.

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.


†Members of Armed Forces, &c., are not included in migration figures.

1880–9030,78133,54464,325−4,911*− 3,791**25,87020,75355,823
1931–3530,71533,23763,052−5,256*−4,602*−9,918*25,4 5928,57554,034
Totals, 1801–1944516,220570,0381,086,864308,349205,501513,940824,575776,2291,600,804

Trend of Population.

While the population of New Zealand has been growing, the rate of increase has declined substantially, the lowest point being reached in 1935. The next four years showed steady improvement until 1939, when the percentage increase recorded was the highest since 1927. Since the outbreak of war, however, the check on migration and the movement of members of the Armed Forces, &c. have introduced abnormal features.

Immigration now contributes relatively small increments to the population; indeed, in the five depression years 1931–35 there was a net exodus from New Zealand of 9,918. With the passing of the depression the net inward flow resumed, but, largely owing to war conditions, the excess of arrivals for the nine years 1936–44 was only 15,662.

In recent years natural increase (excess of births over deaths) reached a critical position. The natural increase rate (per 1,000 of mean population) reached a low point of 7.89 in 1936. It is obvious that this meant that the population was still increasing at a moderate rate, but owing to the time-lag it was less obvious to many that a rate as low as this meant, in the near future, a stationary or, more probably, a declining population. In other words, the population was failing to reproduce itself in sufficient numbers for growth and even for the maintenance of a stationary population.

One method of measuring the status of a population is that of the net reproduction index, which is based on female children born and probably surviving. Gross and net reproduction rates in recent years are:—

Year.Gross Rate.Net Rate.

Though economic factors are not the only, and possibly not even the most important, cause of the decline in the birth-rate, the immediate cause of the low level reached in 1935 was almost certainly the economic depression from 1931 onwards. As economic conditions recovered there was some improvement in the birth-rate (though accompanied by higher death-rates), and the net reproduction index returned to a level indicating a modest margin of growth, although decreases have been recorded for the last two years. This index is not and cannot be, an exact measure, but it does afford a close and fairly reliable approximation in normal circumstances. In its use it is necessary to remember, inter alia, that the probability of survival of the children born is calculated on past mortality experience in more or less normal conditions; no allowance is made for wars, major epidemics, or other factors which may result in abnormal losses of population.

The foregoing observations necessarily omit any forecast of the trend of external migration; also they do not take into account the Maori section of the population, which is increasing fairly rapidly.


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.

Census Year.Males.Females.Females to 1,000 Hales.

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.

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.


As already noted, the intercensal statements of total Dominion population, prepared from the records of vital statistics and of external migration, have been by virtue of the favourable position of the Dominion in this respect relatively accurate, and the 1936 census results afforded a further demonstration of this. The same degree of accuracy does not persist, however, for Maori and European elements. Results for the censuses of 1921 and 1926 suggested that numbers of Maori-European children of at least half Maori blood have been counted in birth statistics as Europeans. In consequence, the Maori population had been slightly understated, and the European population overstated to a corresponding degree. The 1936 census results afforded further support to this view. Accordingly the statements of population at intercensal dates, 1921–36, were revised.

Year ended 31st March,Population (excluding Maoris) at End of Year.Increase during Year.Mean Population for Year.
Males.Females.Totals.Numerical.Per Cent.
* Minus sign (−) signifies a decrease.

As population figures for the calendar year are in demand for numerous purposes, figures are given also for years ending 31st December.

Year ended 31st December,Population (excluding Maoris) at End of Year.Increase during Year.Mean Population for Year.
Males.Females.Totals.Numerical.Per Cent.
* Minus sign (—) signifies a decrease.
1944762,583812,8401,575,42331,6372.05l,55!i, 312

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

Population (including Maoris) at End of Year.Mean Population tor Year.
Years ended 31st March
Years ended 30th June
Years ended 31st December


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

Commencing with the year 1933–34, the year ending 31st March has been adopted as a standard for the statistical expression of external migration in place of the calendar year formerly in use. The principal reason for the change was to avoid the partition of a season's migration movement into two statistical years as was inevitable with the calendar year ending in the middle of the summer flow of tourists and immigrants.

Including crews of vessels, 37,592 persons from overseas arrived in New Zealand during the year ended 31st March, 1944, which, compared with 1942–43, shows a decrease of 5,504. During the same period 36,947 persons departed. This figure, compared with the corresponding one for 1942–43, shows a decrease of 7,170.

Wartime restrictions on migration, diversion of ships, and use of passenger-liners as troop-carriers and hospital ships have inevitably led to a considerable decrease in the migration figures, which during the last three years have reached their lowest ebb for over eighty years.

In addition to the figures just quoted there were also 1,812 “through” passengers who called at a port of New Zealand en route to their destination.

The excess of total arrivals over total departures for 1943–44 was 645, compared with an excess of departures of 1,021 during 1942–43.

The numbers of arrivals and departures during the last eleven years are given in the table following. Crews of vessels, “through” passengers, tourists on cruising liners, and members of the Armed Forces, &c. (1939–40 to 1943–44), have not been taken into account in this table.

Year ended 31at March,Arrivals.Departures.Excess of Arrivals over Departures.
* Excess of departures over arrivals.

Classes of Arrivals and Departures.

The following table gives an analysis of all classes of arrivals during the last five years, including “through” passengers, tourists on cruising liners, and crews.

* Includes only cases where persons were definitely stated to be evacuees for the duration of the war. Figures are probably understated.
Immigrants intending permanent residence7,3152,2261,062857748
Permanent residents returning14,0934,9322,7178911,171
Evacuees from United Kingdom..559*7*....
Tourists on cruising liners559....  
On business1,316897512283349
Theatrical, entertaining, &c.5621204543
Others, officials, &c.336249120139150
In transit836962840329352
Not stated84591....
Through passengers11,8855,8584,3668451,812

The succeeding table gives a similar analysis of departures.

Permanent residents departing—     
Not stated16916721....
Temporary residents departing11,9016,4773,5021,3361,387
Tourists on cruising liners559........
Through passengers11,8855,8584,3568451,812


The following table gives the age-distribution of immigrants and emigrants for the twelve months ended 31st March, 1944.

Age, In Years.Permanent Arrivals.Permanent Departures.Excess of Departures-over Arrivals.
60 and over27356254116170108


The general scheme of Governmental assistance to immigrants has been restricted in varying degrees since May, 1927.

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 eleven years were as follows:—

Year ended 31st March,Number.

The total to 31st March, 1944, was 226,274, of which number all came 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 of sixteen years of age or over may land in New Zealand unless in possession of a passport or some other document satisfactorily establishing nationality and identity. Exemption (which is additional to the requirements of the Immigration Restriction and Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Acts) may be granted by the Minister of Internal Affairs. With certain exceptions, all aliens require a visa.

For persons from the Cook Islands, Niue, and Western Samoa the only requirement is a permit to visit New Zealand granted by the Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands or Niue or by the Administrator of Western Samoa, as the case may be. The regulations, further, do not apply to a British subject who is the master or a member of the crew of the vessel in which he arrives, or to a British subject arriving from Australia.

Departure from New Zealand.

All persons sixteen years of age or over travelling overseas require a permit from the Minister or Under-Secretary of Internal Affairs.

British subjects travelling between New Zealand and Australia do not require passports, but permits are necessary.


Detailed information under this head will be found on pp. 41–45 of the 1942 number of the Year-Book.


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 issue of the Year-Book.

The British Nationality and Status of Aliens (in New Zealand) Amendment Act, 1934–35, brings the New Zealand law into conformity with the law of the United Kingdom relative to the nationality of married women (see p. 70 of 1940 Year-Book). In addition, a woman who has lost her British nationality by reason of her marriage to an alien has the right, while she remains in New Zealand, to-claim the same privileges as if she had remained a British subject. The legislation does not seek to alter the fact that such a woman has in law ceased to be a British subject; it merely says that upon making the prescribed declaration she is, while she remains in New Zealand, entitled to all the rights and privileges and is subject to all the duties and obligations of a natural-born British subject.

The British Nationality and Status of Aliens (in New Zealand) Amendment Act, 1943, brings the nationality laws of New Zealand into conformity with the United Kingdom law in the matter of declarations of alienage and in the British nationality of persons born abroad. The Act also makes provision for naturalization to be granted to aliens serving with the Armed Forces during the period of the present war, notwithstanding that the provisions of the principal Act may not have been complied with. Provision is also made in the Act for the recognition in New Zealand of any certificates which may be granted under similar provisions in the United Kingdom or in any other British Dominion.

During 1943, 34 women took advantage of section 3 of the 1934–35 Act and made the necessary declaration. The nationalities of the husbands were as follows: Norwegian, 6; Austrian, 5; Dutch and Swiss, 4 each; Yugoslav, 3; Chinese, Finnish. Italian, and Polish, 2 each; Danish, Greek, Syrian, and United States of America, 1 each.


In 1858 the North Island had a larger population than the South, but this position was reversed at the succeeding enumeration and the South Island had the larger population (exclusive of Maoris) at each census from 1861 to 1896. In 1901 the North Island was found to have slightly the larger total and since then has steadily increased its lead. The 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, by Europeans, 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.Totals.North Island.South Island.
* Includes Maori half-castes (total, 4,236), living as Europeans.
1886248,909327,615576,52443 1756.83

At 31st December, 1944, the North Island population was estimated as 1,110,514, inclusive of 97,336 Maoris; and the South Island population as 565,779, inclusive of 3,534 Maoris.

The natural increase of European population (i.e., excess of births over deaths) for the South Island during the 1926–36 intercensal period was 47,181, but the total net increase was only 39,889. For the North Island the natural increase was 92,130, and the total net increase 107,126. Allowing for the fortuitous presence in the South Island in 1926 of 2,000 or 3,000 North Island residents visiting the Dunedin Exhibition the margin is reduced, but the existence of a northward drift of population is still evident.

Internal Migration.

Particulars of passenger movement between the North and South Islands are available and are of use in the compilation of population statements. During the year ended 31st March, 1944, the North Island showed a gain of 345 from the South Island, compared with 5,093 in 1942–43.

Provincial Districts.

The approximate areas and the populations, inclusive of Maoris, of the various provincial districts are as follows:—

Provincial District.Area (Square Miles).Census Population.Estimated Population as at. 1st April, 1941.
* Including 196 Maori wives of Europeans, provincial district not specified.
Hawke's Bay4,26039,60465,08070,35376,96879,100
Otago portion14,050125,782137,062149,921151,213149,300
Southland portion11,17048,01662,43965,52972,85672,500

The foregoing table illustrates the wide disparities in the size of the provincial districts, whether measured by area or by population. The growth of population during the interval between 1926 and 1936 is given below both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the 1926 totals. The figures include Maoris.

 Numbers.Per Cent.
Hawke's Bay6,6159.40

Urban and Rural Population.

On 24th March, 1936, 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 (51.7 per cent.) in these or in the ten secondary urban areas. In the following table urban population means the population in cities and boroughs, while rural population covers counties, all town districts, and extra-county islands. The continuance of urban drift is noticeable, but with a marked slackening in pace.

Census.Population.Per Cent.
* Figures exclude military and Internment camps.
Excluding Maoris—      
Including Maoris—      

Another conception of urban and rural population is presented in the next table, which covers the last seven censuses. Maoris are omitted, as data are not available over the whole period. The great bulk of Maoris inhabit rural communities. In the case of the larger centres there are numerous suburban boroughs and town districts; consequently, as regards the fourteen urban areas the centre has been taken as including all cities, boroughs, and town districts within the territory of the present urban area. In other instances the “centre” is a borough or town district.

Centres of1901.1906.1911.1916.1921.1926.1936.
5,000- 9,99936,83460,45051,32644,83823,30632,07348,292
25,000 and over214,098254,138302,943340,271401,710472,603531,588
Totals, urban330,861416,577509,071588,744690,607794,167887,060
Grand totals (excluding migratory)768,948884,1061,003,4501,087,2021,213,0821,337,3841,480,812
Per Cent.
25,000 and over27.8528.7430.1932.1283.1035.8336.75
Totals, urban43.8147.1250.7354.1556.9059.3859.66
Grand totals (excluding migratory)100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00

The comparison is not an exact one, but is sufficiently accurate to indicate the general trend of urbanization. For instance, it is noticeable that in 1901 29 per cent. of the population were in towns of 10,000 population or over; by 1936 the proportion had become 47 per cent.

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 one-half of the total population of the State—the more highly urbanized portion of the community is 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. An interesting feature is the wide gap which has long existed between the four major centres and the next largest towns.

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


Urban areas afford the best basis of comparison of population-growth in the case of the largest towns, since their boundaries are stable and, of greater significance, they include the suburbs as well as the central city or borough. The following table excludes Maoris—data being lacking in earlier years—but their numbers are too small to exercise any significant effect.

Urban Area.1911.1916.1921.1926.1936.
New Plymouth8,6009,79512,64515,93118,194
Palmerston North11,90014,00616,88519,70923,953


It has been the practice, in years in which a census is not taken, to compile estimates of population for provincial districts, urban areas, counties, cities, boroughs, and town districts, these relating to 1st April. Owing to various factors arising out of the war, it has now been found impossible to compile accurate estimates, and authority has been granted, by the Population Estimates Emergency Regulations 1942, to discontinue these until after the next census.

The latest estimates, which relate to 1st April, 1941, are now given, and these have been adjusted to 1st April, 1944, where necessary, for any alterations to population and area in cases where boundaries have been changed.

Urban Areas.

The population of each of the fourteen urban areas (cities or boroughs, plus their suburbs), as estimated for 1st April, 1941, was as follows:—

Urban Area.—Estimated Population (including Maoris), 1st April, 1941

Urban Area.Population (including Maoris.
* Excludes a small area which, though part of the borough, is not within the urban area.
Auckland City106,800
Birkenhead Borough3,450
Northcote Borough2,380
Takapuna Borough7,610
Devonport Borough9,900
New Lynn Borough3,670
Mount Albert Borough20,900
Mount Eden Borough19,200
Newmarket Borough2,970
Ellerslie Borough2,770
One Tree Hill Borough8,920
Onehunga Borough11,500
Otahuhu Borough6,020
Remainder of urban area17,610
Wellington City120,700
Lower Hutt City22,600
Petone Borough11,050
Eastbourne Borough2,370
Johnsonville Town District1,980
Remainder of urban area1,800
Christchurch City101,200
Riccarton Borough5,870
Sumner Borough3,290
Lyttelton Borough*3,060
Remainder of urban area22,080
Dunedin City65,200
Port Chalmers Borough2,020
West Harbour Borough1,780
St. Kilda Borough7,650
Green Island Borough*2,330
Remainder of urban area3,220
Hamilton Borough17,950
Remainder of urban area2,950
Gisborne Borough13,900
Remainder of urban area2,300
Napier Borough16,650
Taradale Town District1,510
Remainder of urban area1,240
Hastings Borough13,650
Havelock North Town District1,210
Remainder of urban area4,140
New Plymouth 
New Plymouth Borough17,550
Remainder of urban area1,850
Wanganui City23,400
Remainder of urban area2,600
Palmerston North 
Palmerston North City23,600
Remainder of urban area1,900
Nelson City11,400
Tahunanui Town District890
Remainder of urban area1,510
Timaru Borough17,800
Remainder of urban area1,400
Invercargill City22,600
South Invercargill Borough1,160
Remainder of urban area2,640

Counties.—Estimated Population (including Maoris) and Area, 1st April, 1941

(NOTE.—“Administrative Counties” do not include boroughs or town districts independent of county control, but include dependent town districts.)

Administrative County.Population (including Maoris).Approximate Area, in Square Miles.
North Island—  
Bay of Islands10,740820
Great Barrier Island410110
Hauraki Plains5,010233
Hawke's Bay15,2501,673
Waimate West2,77083
Wairarapa South2,950440
South Island—  
Mount Herbert4,44066
Chatham Islands700372
Stewart Island490670
Grand totals647,260102,844

Boroughs.—Estimated Population (including Maoris) and Area, 1st April, 1941

Borough.Population (Including Maoris).Approximate Area, In Acres.
North Island—  
New Lynn3,6701,392
Auckland (City)106,80018,253
Mount Albert20,9002,430
Mount Eden19,2001,476
One Tree Hill8,9202,430
To Awamutu2,5701,162
Te Kuiti2,6201,668
Te Aroha2,4502,783
New Plymouth17,5504,132
Wanganui (City)23,4005,726
Palmerston N. (City)23,6004,851
Upper Hutt4,3902,165
Lower Hutt (City)22,6005,460
Wellington (City)120,70016,289
Grey town1,1801,927
Nelson (City)11,4004,966
Christchurch (City)101,20012,351
Port Chalmers2,020500
West Harbour1,7802,020
Dunedin (City)65,20015,227
St. Kilda7,650462
Green Island2,340875
Invercargill (City)22,6005,914
South Invercargill1,1602,257
Grand totals940,070273,923

Town Districts.—Estimated Population (including Maoris) and Area, 1st April, 1941

Town District.Population (Including Maoris).Approximate Area, in I Acres.

* Parent county shown in parentheses.

† Merged into county, 22nd June, 1944.

North Island—  
Glen Eden1,3301,267
Mount Maunganui690935
Havelock North1,210835
Pleasant Point540730
Grand totals28,74032,784
Kohukohu (Hokianga)3601,020
Rawene (Hokianga)330280
Russell (Bay of Islands)3601,066
Kawakawa (Bay of Islands)530280
Onerahi (Whangarei)410990
Mercer (Franklin)2901,000
Te Kauwhata (Waikato)3701,290
Ohaupo (Waipa)2701,283
Kihikihi (Waipa)340523
Kawhia (Kawhia)240470
Te Karaka (Wai-kohu)350700
Patutahi (Cook)2701,275
Ormondville (Danne-virke)2601,255
Kaponga (Eltham)400558
Normanby (Hawera)350260
South Island—  
Havelock (Marlborough)250210
Takaka (Takaka)460585
Southbridge (Ellesmere)390531
Outram (Taieri)370886
Clinton (Clutha)420930
Edendale (Southland)410696
Grand totals7,43016,088


The following table shows the estimated age distribution of the population at 31st December, 1943. The figures are based on the 1936 Census data and brought up to date from statistics of births, ages of persons dying, and ages of persons arriving in or departing from New Zealand.

Age-group.Excluding Maoris.Maoris.
Under 579,49575,941155,4369,6229,08318,705
80 and over6,5507,50014,050100100200
Total under 14190,400182,600373,00021,97521,17543,150
Total under 16216,300207,600423,90024,45023,62548,075
Total under 21282,000272,700554,70029,77528,70058,475
Totals 21 and over459,045530,041989,08620,02219,75839,780
Total population741,045802,7411,543,78640,79748,45898,255


The total area of the Dominion of New Zealand is approximately 103,935 square miles. Omitting the annexed islands and certain uninhabited outlying islands, the area of the land-mass remaining is 103,416 square miles. This calculation, it should be explained, includes all inland waters—viz., lakes, rivers, harbours, estuaries, &c. It should be noted also that there is a great deal of high mountainous country in New Zealand, particularly in the South Island, while there are also great areas of broken, swampy, or hilly country which is either incapable of effective use or which can be used profitably only for pastoral purposes, afforestation, or the like.

The density of population in 1944 may be quoted as 16.27 persons to the square mile. This figure would be higher if members of the Armed Forces serving overseas were included in the population.

The area and population of individual towns and counties will be found in preceding tables in this section. At the 1936 census density of population in the various provincial districts was:—

 Persons per Square Mile.
Hawke's Bay18.07

Attention must 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 premises, 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. III of the 1936 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.

Available statistical evidence points to a decline in the numbers of the Native race following the advent of Europeans, but this decline was commonly exaggerated by early writers. Of later years an unmistakable and now fairly rapid increase has been noted. This gain, however, has been accompanied by a very considerable dilution of blood.

The Maori population recorded at the census of 24th March, 1936, was 82,326, which is an increase of 18,656 on the 1926 total. The percentage increase was 29.30, equivalent to an average annual increase of 2.60 per cent. These percentages, it will be noted, are considerably higher than the corresponding figures for the non-Maori population—viz., 10.93 per cent. and 1–05 per cent. For the year 1943–44 the net increase of the Maori population was 2,402, or 2.49 per cent., as compared with an increase of 7,404 (0.48 per cent.) for the non-Maori population. Movements of troops tend to invalidate this comparison; the natural increase ratios for the year 1943–44 afford a better illustration. These are:—

Natural-increase rate10.9629.59

The census record of Maori population is as follows:—


Of the 100,870 Maoris at 31st December, 1944, 97,336 were in the North Island. Auckland Provincial District contains the bulk of the Maoris, particularly in the Auckland Peninsula and Poverty Bay regions. In the South Island Maoris do not attain any numerical significance.

The records of the 1926 and 1936 censuses permit of a statement of the total numbers wholly or partly of Maori blood.

Counted in the Maori population— 
Full Maori45,42955,915
Three-quarter caste6,63211,397
Degree not specified303123
Counted in the non-Maori population—
Maori-European quarter-caste6,05311,508
Maori-American Indian..3
Cook Island Maori..103

In 1936 there were recorded in New Zealand some 94,156 persons wholly or partly of Maori origin. Of these, some 59 per cent. were recorded as of unmixed Maori descent. There is some reason to believe that the degree of miscegenation is understated, and it is unlikely that the proportion of pure Maori descent is more than 50 per cent.




Registration of births in New Zealand dates from 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. Registration of still-births, previously not provided for, was made compulsory from the 1st March, 1913.

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 a statutory declaration, of the particulars required to be registered, has been made before the Registrar by the parent or some person present at birth and on payment of a fee of 5s. When six months have elapsed, and a conviction for neglect to register has been entered against the persons responsible, a birth may be registered with a Registrar of Births within one month after conviction, and in this case no fee is payable. An information for such neglect must be laid within two years of date of birth.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, 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.

Satisfactory evidence on oath, and such other proof as the Registrar-General may deem necessary, are required, together with the payment of a fee of 5s. This provision does not, however, relieve any person from liability to prosecution for failure to register in the proper manner.

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.

Particulars now required to be registered are: Date and place of birth; name and sex of child; names, ages, and birthplaces of parents; occupation of father; maiden name of mother; date and place of parents' marriage; and ages and sex of previous issue (distinguishing living and dead) of the marriage. The father of an illegitimate child is not required to give information, nor is his name entered in the register unless at the joint request of the mother and himself, or unless he subsequently marries the mother (see pp. 40–41). A child born out of New Zealand but arriving before attaining the age of eighteen months may be registered within six months of arrival.

Birth statistics are compiled from the records of the Registrar-General. The births covered by a year's statistics are those registered during the year irrespective of the year of birth. The figures do not include still-births, except in the special classification on page 42.

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 60 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 250, most of these 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 at the end of this subsection.


The numbers and rates of births (children born alive) for each of the last twenty years were as follows:—

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

The year 1936 witnessed the first yearly increase in the number of births since-1930, and also an actual increase in the birth-rate after a continuous downward movement during the previous fifteen years. From 1936 until 1941 a further continuous rise in both the number of births registered and the birth-rate was recorded. This followed the rapid rise in the marriage-rate, which began in 1933 and continued until 1940. With the advent of the war both the marriage-rate and the birth-rate during the following years have been affected by varying influences.

In 1941 the number of births registered reached a total substantially in excess of that recorded in any other year in the history of the Dominion, while the birth-rate was the highest since 1922. In the two following years, however, the numbers declined by 1,526 and 3,263 respectively. The birth-rate also fell appreciably, but did not descend to the pre-war level.

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

The “crude” rates do not permit of allowance being made for variations in the proportion of women of the child-bearing ages, and it is advisable and of interest to supplement the table of “crude” rates with a computation of the legitimate birth-rate per 1,000 married women of 15 and under 45 years of age, or the total birth-rate per 1,000 of all women of these ages. The following table gives both rates for New Zealand in each census year from 1878 to 1936.

Year.Number of Women 15 and under 45.Number of Births.Birth-rate per 1,000 Women 15 and under 45.
* Per thousand married women.

The legitimate rate per 1,000 married women between the ages of 15 and 45 is seen to have fallen by 60 per cent. between 1878 and 1936, while an oven 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 smaller than in the earlier years covered.

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.


The decline of the birth-rate in New Zealand has been accompanied until recent years by a decrease in the death-rate. Nevertheless, the nominal rate of natural increase of population has fallen from 31.19 per 1,000 of mean population in 1870 to 9.66 in 1943. Acceptance of this figure without consideration of the effect of the changing age-constitution will give an erroneous view of the present margin of increase and of the probable trend of population growth in the future (see section on Population).

Period.Annual Rates per 1,000 Population.
Births.Deaths.Natural Increase.

The movements that have taken place since 1875 are well illustrated in the accompanying diagram, which shows the rates at five-yearly intervals and for the latest year.


With the exception of one year (1860), there has always been a preponderance of males in the number of children born in New Zealand. The proportions are usually shown by stating the number of births of male children to every 1,000 female births. This number has been as high as 1,113 (in 1859), and as low as 991 (in 1860), but little significance can be attached to any figures prior to 1870, on account of the comparatively small number of births. The period preceding 1870 exhibited violent fluctuations in the proportion of males, which showed a tendency to disappear as the total of births grew larger. There has been a considerable increase in the masculinity rate during the last four years, particularly in 1943, the average for the period 1940–43 being 1,060, as compared with 1,039 for the preceding four years. 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 of
Males.Females.Male Births per 1,000 Female Births.

The masculinity rate from 1856 to 1943 is expressed in the following table in average ratios for successive decennial periods.

Period.Male Births per 1,000 Female Births.
1936–1943 (eight years)1,050

Further information as to the proportions of sexes of children may be obtained from some figures extracted from the records of births registered in the ten years 1932–41 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 the following statement showing the sex-nativity order up to the fourth child, families in which plural births occurred among the first four children have been excluded.

First-born.Second-born.Third-born.Fourth-born.Number of Cases.

Of the 16,799 families covered, in 8,639 cases the first child was a male and in 8,160 a female, the number of males per 1,000 females being thus 1,059. The proportion is less for subsequent births. The figures are as follows:—

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

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 1934–43 was 1,057 males per 1,000 females.


The number of cases of multiple births and the proportion per 1,000 of the total (living births only) during the last five years were:—

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

Counting only cases where both children were born alive, there were 332 cases of twin births (664 children) registered in 1943. There were also three cases of triplets.

The number of accouchements resulting in living births was 29,973, and on the average one mother in every 89 gave birth to twins (or triplets).

When still-births are taken into account, the total number of accouchements for the year 1943 is increased to 30,733, and number of cases of multiple births to 390. On this basis the proportion of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets is increased to one in 79.

The following table shows the sexes in individual oases of twin births for the years 1938–41 and 1943. The detailed statistics for this and certain other tabulations were not compiled for the year 1942.

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

During the ten years 1934–43 there were twenty cases of triplets. In seven cases all three children were males, in six cases all were females, in five cases there were two males and one female, and in two cases two of the three children were females. Of quadruplets born in 1935, three of the children were females.


Information as to the relative ages of parents of legitimate living children whose births were registered in 1943 is shown in the following table.

Age of Mother, In Years.Age of Father, In Years.
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 50.50 and under 55.55 and under 65.65 and over.Totals.

* Including thirty-eight cases where plural births would have been registered had not one child been still-born and two cases (triplets) where two children were still-born.

† Including three cases of triplets.

Single Births
Under 21188721348872318621..1,394
21 and under 25951,5772,7391,0572839621115..5,884
25 and under 3063903,5543,6481,27534894352029,372
30 and under 35..376562,7912,230799220785666,873
35 and under 40..1614641,4731,0203351205873,539
40 and under 45....5331494262671106471,061
45 and over........215252112176
Multiple Births
Under 21223..............7
21 and under 252101883..........41
25 and under 30..24747193........118
30 and under 35..1194020551....91
35 and under 40....372712621..58
40 and under 45........231......6
45 and over......................
Grand totals2932,7417,4538,1825,5062,7459803802172328,520


Information as to the previous issue of the existing marriage, required in connection with the registration of births in New Zealand, is useful not only for record purposes, but also as providing valuable data for statistical purposes. Tables are given in the annual Report on Vital Statistics containing detailed information as to number of previous issue in conjunction with (1) age of mother and (2) duration of marriage. The table under the first heading for the year 1943 is here summarized.

Age of Mother.Number of Previous Issue.Totals.
0.l. and under 10.10 and under 15.15 and over.
* This number represents 28,199 single cases and 321 multiple cases.
Under 211,116235482..........1,401
21 and under 253,3691,6137121794444....5,925
25 and under 302,8983,2702,006834308113601..9,490
30 and under 351,2891,8791,7799725002602787..6,964
35 and under 404116698596213952393633913,597
40 and under 45126128155184139971855121,067
45 and over74412107229176

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 1943 registrations, who are also taken into account in the computation of the averages.

Ago of Mother, in Years.Total Mothers.Total Issue.Average Issue.
Under 211,4011,7451.25
45 and over764576.01

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 1943) born up to the present time to those mothers of legitimate children whose births were registered during the year. They do not purport to represent, nor do they represent, the average issue of all women of the ages shown. Furthermore, they include issue born to the existing marriages only. The averages for the five years 1938–41 and 1943 were as follows: 1938,2.41; 1939,2.33; 1940,2.30; 1941,2.29; and 1943, 2.56. In 1915, the earliest year for which reliable comparative figures are available, the average issue was 3.11. This falling trend in the average issue of women giving births to children is a measure of the tendency towards smaller families. The 1943 average, for the first time since these figures were compiled, reverses the trend, and is a reflection of the sharp decline in the proportion of first births referred to on the next page.


Of a total of 146,293 accouchements resulting in legitimate births during the five years 1938–41 and 1943, the issue of no fewer than 57,525, or 39 per cent., were first-born children. In 21,665, or 38 per cent., of these cases the birth occurred within twelve months, and in 39,932, or 69 per cent., within two years after the marriage of the parents. In the remaining 31 per cent. of cases where there was any issue to the marriage, two years or more had elapsed before the birth of the first child.

In view of the abnormal conditions operating during the last few years, and particularly as a result of the heavy increase in the number of marriages during each of the six years 1935 to 1940, it is not surprising to find the proportion of first births for these years showing a definite increase. In fact, the proportion of first births to total births from 1936 to 1941 was phenomenal, and in each year up to 1940 established a new record.

Following a steady decline in the annual number of marriages celebrated since 1940, a substantial reversal of the trend in the proportion of first births was to be expected. It is necessary to go back as far as 1928 to find a lower proportion than that recorded for 1943.

The proportion of first births occurring within one year of the marriage of the parents was lower in the last five years than for many years past. The figures for each of the years 1938–41 and for 1943 are:—

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 Two Years after Marriage.
Number.Proportion to Total First Cases.Number.Proportion to Total First Cases.
   Per Cent. Per Cent. Per Cent.
Totals for five years146,29357,52639.3221,66537.6639,93269.42

During the five years there were 8,074 cases of legitimate births within seven months after marriage, a period which may be regarded as a minimum in a consideration of extra-marital conception; also 6,278 cases of illegitimate births were registered, and if these latter are all regarded as first births (which is not entirely the case), the following position is shown:—

Year.Total Legitimate First Cases. ((a))Illegitimate Cases. ((b))Legitimate Cases within Seven Months after Marriage. ((c))Proportion of ((c)) to (a). (d)Proportion of (b) + (c) to Total of (a) + (b). (e)
    Per Cent.Per Cent.
Totals for five years57,5256,2788,07414.0422.49

After several years of a continuous and substantial decrease in the proportion of extra-maritally conceived cases, the figure for 1943 shows a considerable move upwards. The proportion is still comparatively low, however, as ten years ago the figure was 32.40 per cent.

Apart from the tendency to restrict the size of families (already commented upon), it would appear that postponement of the birth of the first child is becoming a feature of modern times. Statistics of first births over a number of years indicate that the proportion occurring within one year after marriage is rapidly declining. Possibly due to factors arising out of the war, this tendency has become accelerated in recent years, and a particularly heavy fall was recorded in 1943. The following table illustrates this point.

Duration of Marriage, In Years.Proportion per Cent, of Total First Births.
Under 1 year52.9550.0646.2534.42
1 and under 2 years28.6226.6426.7930.47
2 and under 3 years9.0210.4310.2414.20
3 and under 4 years3.435.516.169.40
4 and under 5 years1.883.033.964.09
5 and under 10 years3.263.365.496.06
10 years and over0.840.971.111.36

For the years covered by the foregoing table the average duration of marriage before the birth of the first child was—1914, 1.63 years; 1924, 1.76 years; 1934, 1.85 years; and 1943, 2.14 years.

An item of interest extracted from the 1943 birth statistics is a table of first births occurring to mothers in different age-groups, expressed as a proportion per cent. of the total first births. A comparison has also been computed on the same basis for the years 1914, 1924, and 1934.


Age of Mother.First Births, Proportion per Cent, at each Age-group to Total First Births.
Under 206.737.558.906.13
20 and under 2535.8938.1640.3942.53
25 and under 3035.0132.5932.7931.45
30 and under 3515.6114.6813.1013.99
35 and under 405.525.333.794.46
40 and under 451.161.590.991.37
45 and over0.

The figures of average ages of mothers at the birth of their first children are as follows for the above years: 1914, 26.55; 1924, 26.39; 1934, 25.90; and 1943, 26.10.


The births of 1,467 children (770 males, 697 females) registered in 1943 were illegitimate. The numbers for each of the years 1933–43, with the percentages they bear to total births registered, were as follows:—

Year.Number.Percentage of Total Births.

War influences, resulting in unusual movements of the population and the influx of servicemen to the more heavily populated centres, no doubt are responsible for the rise in the illegitimate birth-rate in 1943 to a level not exceeded since 1932.

The long-term trend in the rate of illegitimate births is indicated by the movement in the proportion of illegitimate births per 1,000 unmarried women—i.e., spinsters, widows, and divorced women—at the reproductive ages. The figures for each census year from 1891 to 1936 are as follows:—

Census Year.Unmarried Women 15 and under 45 Years of Age.Illegitimate Births.Illegitimate-birth Rate per 1,000 Unmarried Women.

Included in the total of 1,467 illegitimate births in 1943 were fourteen cases of twins, the number of accouchements being thus 1,453. From the following table it will be seen that of the 1,453 mothers 460, or 32 per cent., were under twenty-one years of age.


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 intermarried was deemed to be legitimized by such marriage on the birth being registered in the manner prescribed by the Act. For legitimation purposes a Registrar was required to register a birth when called upon to do so by any person claiming to be the father of an illegitimate child; but such person was required to make a solemn declaration that he was the father, and was also required to produce evidence of marriage between himself and the mother of the child.

Prior to the passing 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 provided 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 was heard by a Magistrate, and upon his certifying that it had been proved to his satisfaction that the husband of the applicant was the father of the child, the child was registered as the lawful issue of the applicant and her husband.

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

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

The number of legitimations registered in each of the last eleven years, and the total since the Act of 1894 came into force, are shown in the following table. The effect of the Legitimation Act of 1939 is evident in the figures for 1940.

 Number of Children legitimized.
Year.Previously registered.Not previously registered.Total.
Totals from 1894 to 19438,3683,22911,597


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. An entry is mode in the prescribed form in the register of births, particulars of the adopting parents being given in lieu of those of the natural parents. If the child's birth has previously been registered in New Zealand a note of the adoption order is made on the original entry. An amendment to the Infants Act in 1939 extended the age at which a child might be legally adopted from under fifteen years to under twenty-one years.

During the year 1943 the registration of 577 adopted children (279 males and 298 females) was effected, as compared with 773 in 1942, 561 in 1941, 632 in 1940, and 530 in 1939. Statistics of adoptions effected are available in New Zealand only since 1919. These indicate that the annual number of adoptions follows closely the economic condition of the country. The record total of adoptions was that of 773 recorded for 1942, the next highest being 632 in 1940. The lowest total (329) occurred in 1931. When the figures of adoptions are expressed as a proportion per 1,000 births registered in each year, the figure for 1942 holds the record with a proportion of 23, closely followed by 1938 with 21, and 1921 with 20. Possibly various factors arising out of the war had a bearing on the high totals recorded for 1940 and 1942, but undoubtedly some of the increase was due to the extension of age provisions mentioned in the preceding paragraph.


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 years 1933–1943 were as follows:—

Year.Males.Females.Totals.Male Still-births per 1,000 Female Still-births.Percentage of Still-births to
Living Births.All Births.

Masculinity is in general much higher among still-births than among living-births, the rate for still-births in 1943 being 1,226 males per 1,000 females as compared with 1,079 for living births.

The percentage of illegitimates among still-born infants was 7.10, and among infants born alive 4.84.

Of the living legitimate births registered in 1943, 32 per cent. were first births, while of legitimate still-births 38 per cent. were first births. Statistics over many years indicate that there is a considerably greater probability of still-births occurring to mothers having their first accouchement than those having subsequent accouchements.


The number of births of Maoris registered with Registrars of Maori Births and Deaths during 1943 was 4,326 (2,200 males, 2,126 females). In addition, 114 births (67 males and 47 females) recorded as of Maori race were registered under the main Act, making a total of 4,440 Maori births for the year. This number represents an increase of 110 as compared with the previous year, although the rate per 1,000 of Maori population fell from 45.84 to 45.78. The Maori birth-rate in 1943 was more than twice the non-Maori birth-rate (19.70 per 1,000). Registrations in each of the last five years were as follows:—

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

There is reason to believe that the number of Maori births is somewhat understated, and that both number and rate are actually higher than shown above. For population purposes, half-castes and persons between half and full blood rank as Maoris; but it is not always possible to ensure that this practice is followed in the registration of births (and of deaths).


MARRIAGE may be celebrated 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 may be celebrated only between 8 o'clock in the morning and 8 o'clock in the evening. Marriage before a Registrar can be celebrated at any time during the hours the office of the Registrar is open for the transaction of public business. 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 celebrated. In the case of a person under twenty-one years of age, 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 operated in New Zealand since 1855. Officiating ministers and Registrars are required to send to the Registrar-General returns of all marriages celebrated, and as the returns come in they are checked off with the entries in the Registrars' lists of notices received 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 the marriage has taken place.

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 rendered valid in 1929.

An amendment to the Marriage Act in 1933 prohibited the marriage of persons under the age of sixteen years, and also made provision enabling women to become officiating ministers for the purposes of the Marriage Act.

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


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

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

The low rates for 1931 and 1932 are indicative of the effect of the period of financial stringency and depression. The partial recovery in 1933 probably reflects an acceptance of, or an adjustment to, the changed conditions. Following an improving trend in economic conditions the marriage-rate then showed a continuous increase, culminating in a record high rate in 1940, when the figure attained was 11.28 per 1,000 of population. The number of marriages during 1940 also created a new record for the Dominion. Saturation point in the marriage-rate was apparently reached in that year, as in every year since 1940 there have been appreciable decreases, the total fall from 1940 to 1943 being 5,869. The marriage-rate in 1943 was only 7.53 per 1,000 of population, and it is necessary to go back to the depression years to find a figure below this rate.

Changes in the available marriageable population, together with other factors arising out of the war, have affected the marriage-rate in recent years. From the time of arrival of American forces in New Zealand in 1942 up to the end of the year 1943, a total of 754 marriages between American servicemen and New Zealand women was celebrated in the Dominion.


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 as between various periods, owing to differences in sex and age 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 1936, 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. (Base: 1911 - 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 seen 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 and over is considered, was one-fourth greater, and the standardized rate more than one-third greater.

The standardized rate for 1936 is considerably higher than that recorded for any other census year subsequent to 1881.

Owing to staff difficulties arising out of the war situation, no detailed marriage statistics have been compiled since 1940. The statistics and information contained in the following pages relate in most cases to 1940 and previous years.


The total number of persons married during the year 1940 was 34,896, of whom 32,088 were single, 1,356 widowed, and 1,452 divorced. The figures for each of the five years 1936–40, showing the sexes separately, are given in the table following.

Year.Single.Widowed.Divorced.Total Persona married.

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

 Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cont.Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.

During the ten years 1931–40 the number of divorced persons remarrying increased from 31 per 1,000 persons married to 42, an appreciable advance. On the other hand, the number of widowed persons remarrying fell from 53 per 1,000 persons married to 39 per 1,000 over the same period.

The relative conjugal condition of bridegrooms and brides for each of the five years 1936–40 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 3,054 divorced men remarried, the corresponding number for women was 3,268. In the case of widowed persons, however, in spite of the fact that widows greatly exceed widowers in the population, only 2,567 widows remarried, as compared with 3,971 widowers.

Included amongst the widows in 1940 were twenty-three women, and amongst the widowers eleven 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.”


Of the 34,896 persons married in 1940, 4,046, or 12 per cent., were under twenty-one years of age; 11,847, or 34 per cent., were returned as twenty-one and under twenty-five; 10,417, or 30 per cent., as twenty-five and under thirty; 6,052, or 17 per cent., as thirty and under forty; and 2,534, or 8 per cent., as forty years of age or over. The following table relates to the year 1940.

Age of Bridegroom, in Years.Age of Bride, in Years.Total 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 over.
Under 213961442631....570
21 and under 251,7492,6706886384..5,182
25 and under 301,0472,8361,94234057846,234
30 and under 352167479895161242682,626
35 and under 404519734432921674181,222
40 and under 4514391231291186943535
45 and over932711371641914751,079
Total brides3,4766,6654,1831,51768737254817,448

There have been some considerable changes in the proportions of persons marrying at the various age-periods. To illustrate the extent to which these figures have varied since the beginning of the century, 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 1940.

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.Totals.

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. The 1935–39 figures, however, illustrate the postponement of a number of marriages in the earlier years of the depression, resulting in a proportion of marriages falling in later groups than would normally have been the case, while the 1940 figures are probably affected by the war situation inducing earlier marriages in a number of cases.

For many years the average age (arithmetic mean) at marriage for both males and females, more particularly the latter, showed a tendency to increase. However, after reaching its maximum in the three years 1917, 1918, and 1919, the average age recorded a slight but fairly constant decline during the next decade, since when it has fluctuated within narrow limits. The figures for each of the years 1930–40 are as follows:—


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


The foregoing figures give the average ages at marriage, but these do not correspond with the modal or popular age, if the age at which the most marriages are celebrated may be so termed. 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 1940 without alteration, but in the case of bridegrooms the most popular age has varied, and for 1940 was 24.

Marriages of Minors.—Of every 1,000 men married in 1940, 33 were under twenty-one years of age, while 199 in every 1,000 brides were under twenty-one.

In 396 marriages in 1940 both parties were given as under twenty-one years of age, in 3,080 marriages the bride was returned as a minor and the bridegroom as an adult, and in 174 marriages the bridegroom was a minor and the bride an adult.

The proportion of minors among persons marrying declined continuously from 1932 to 1936, probably a result of the depression. Each year subsequent to 1936 recorded an increase in the actual numbers of minors marrying, particularly in 1939 and 1940, but it was only in the latter year that the increase was sufficient to have any appreciable effect on the proportion. The following table illustrates the increase that has taken place during the five years 1936–40.

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


Of the 17,448 marriages registered in 1940, Church of England clergymen officiated at 4,787, Presbyterians at 4,554, Methodists at 1,776, and Roman Catholics at 2,134, while 2,968 marriages were celebrated before Registrars.

The following table shows the proportions of marriages by ministers of the principal denominations in each of the years 1931–40.

Denomination.Percentage of Marriages.
Church of England25.8225.5425.4725.5226.0726.1026.5226.9327.1627.45
Roman Catholic10.7310.8111.0611.5011.4011.6511.7411.5812.6012.23
Other denominations5.535.846.287.928.397.617.
Before Registrars22.6220.9119.9417.9816.9217.1516.8717.1217.3817.01

The foregoing figures must not be taken as an exact indication of the religious professions of the parties married, as it does not necessarily follow that both (or even one) of the parties are members of the Church whose officiating minister performed the ceremony, and persons married before Registrars may belong, in greater or lesser proportion, to any or none of the denominations. Of the population (exclusive of Maoris) at the general census of 1936 who stated their religious profession, 42.7 per cent. were adherents of the Church of England, 26.2 per cent. Presbyterian, 13.9 per cent. Roman Catholic, 8.6 per cent. Methodist, and 8.6 per cent. other denominations.


The number of names on the list of officiating ministers under the Marriage Act is (January, 1945) 2,433, and the denominations to which they belong are shown hereunder.

Church of England490
Presbyterian Church of Now Zealand444
Roman Catholic Church459
Methodist Church of New Zealand318
Salvation Army131
Associated Churches of Christ36
Congregational Independent33
Seventh-day Adventist50
Latter-day Saints30
Lutheran Church1
Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Conference5
Apostolic Church11
Commonwealth Covenant15
Evangelistic Church of Christ8
Churches of Christ6
Hebrew Congregations4
Liberal Catholic Church10
Assemblies of God10
Spiritualist Churches of New Zealand11
Ratana Church of New Zealand133
Ringatu Church39
Te Maramatanga Christian Society7

The Ringatu Church, the Te Maramatanga Christian Society, 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 provisions of that Act, though the parties are at liberty to take advantage thereof. 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, and re-enacted in 1931, 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 either class of marriages must send returns to the Registrar-General.

A marriage between a Maori and a European must be celebrated under the provisions of the Marriage Act, and does not rank as a Maori marriage.

Returns of 442 marriages in which both parties were of the Native race were received during the year 1943. The figures for each of the last five years are as follows:—

Year.Under Native Land Act.Under Marriage Act.Totals.

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 provisions as to dissolution of marriage are contained in the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act, 1928, which consolidated and amended the then existing legislation on the subject.

A brief historical account of divorce legislation is given in the 1931 issue of the Year-Book; the present position is outlined in the following résumé.

Any married person, domiciled in New Zealand for two or more years at the time of filing the petition, may obtain a divorce on one or more of the following grounds:—

  1. Adultery since the celebration of the marriage.

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

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

  4. Sentence to imprisonment for seven years or more for attempting to murder, or for wounding or doing actual bodily harm to, petitioner or child.

  5. Murder of child of petitioner or respondent.

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

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

  8. Failure to comply with a decree of Court for restitution of conjugal rights.

  9. Parties have separated under an agreement, written or verbal, which has been in full force for not less than three years.

  10. Parties have been separated by a decree of judicial separation or a separation order which has been in force for three years. (An amendment in 1930 removed the restriction imposed by the principal Act—which permitted only New Zealand decrees or orders—and extended the provision to cover similar decrees or orders made in any country.)

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

A deserted wife whose husband was domiciled in New Zealand at the time of desertion is considered, for the purpose of the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act, 1928, as retaining her New Zealand domicile. Where a wife petitions on grounds (i) and (j), her Now Zealand domicile is retained if her husband was domiciled in the Dominion at the date of the agreement, decree, or order.

The amending Act of 1930 establishes a New Zealand domicile for a wife petitioning for divorce where she has been living apart from her husband for three years, if she has been living in New Zealand for three years preceding the petition, and has the intention of residing in Now Zealand permanently.

Figures showing the operations of the Supreme Court in its divorce jurisdiction during recent years are as follows:—

Year.Dissolution or Nullity of Marriage.Judicial Separation.Restitution of Conjugal Rights.
Petitions filed.Decrees Nisi.Decrees Absolute.Petitions filed.Decrees for Separation.Petitions filed.Decrees for Restitution.

The substantial increase in the number of divorce petitions filed and decrees granted during 1943 no doubt reflects the disturbing influence of wartime factors upon the social life of the community. This is still further reflected in the greatly increased numbers of petitions and decrees for restitution of conjugal rights.

The next table gives the grounds (dissolution or nullity cases) of petition-Decrees may relate to petitions filed prior to 1943.

Grounds.Petitions filed during Year.Decrees Nisi granted.Decrees Absolute granted.
Husbands' Petitions.Wives' Petitions.Husbands' Petitions.Wives' Petitions.Husbands' Petitions.Wives' Petitions.
Drunkenness, with cruelty, failure to maintain, &c.17..5..4
Non-compliance with order for restitution of conjugal rights12537104377831
Separation for not less than three years341446289428245313

The figures shown for decrees nisi include cases where both nisi and absolute decrees were granted during the year, while those for decrees absolute cover all such granted during the year whether the antecedent decree nisi was granted in 1943 or in a previous year.

The principal grounds on which petitions were filed during 1943 showed the following increases as compared with 1942: Adultery, 165 (70.5 per cent.); desertion, 65 (34.6 per cent.); non-compliance with order for restitution of conjugal rights, 76 (88.4 per cent.); and separation for not less than three years, 149 (23.4 per cent.).

In 528 of the 1,641 cases where petitions for dissolution were filed during 1943 there was no living issue of the marriage. The number of living issue was 1 in 470 cases, 2 in 300 cases, 3 in 184 cases, and 4 or more in 156 cases. In 3 cases the number of issue was not stated.

The table which follows shows the duration of marriage in all oases for which petitions for dissolution were filed in the five years 1939 to 1943.

Duration of Marriage, In Years.Husbands' Petitions.Wives' Petitions.
Under 51008778911946366735684
 5 and under 10156157131161220181173135181211
10 and under 15119134117114184171147125125169
15 and under 20917196881221179780104122
20 and under 30897810710211688929891121
30 and over34554033593432352836
Not stated......32........1

The number of children affected by the divorce petitions of their parents during each of the last five years was as follows: 1939, 1,775; 1940, 1,867; 1941, 1,753; 1942, 1,732; and 1943, 2,439.


COMPULSORY registration of deaths was instituted in New Zealand in 1855. As in the case of births, a system of non-compulsory registration had operated since 1848.

Until the year 1876 the only particulars provided for in the death-registration entry were 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 required 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 responsible 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 of 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.

Prior to 1937 it was incumbent upon a medical practitioner to give the certificate of cause of death to the person required to supply information for the purpose of registering the death (the undertaker or other person in charge of the burial). By section 11 of the Statutes Amendment Act, 1936, however, the medical practitioner is now required to deliver the certificate forthwith direct to the Registrar of the district in which the death occurred. It is also the duty of the medical practitioner, on signing a certificate of cause of death, to give written notice of the signing to the undertaker or other person having charge of the burial.

In the new form of medical certificate introduced by this amendment, provision is made for an additional statement to be filled in by the medical practitioner in any case where, in his opinion, the death has occurred in any circumstances of suspicion. The practitioner is required to report such case forthwith to the Coroner, and an indication that this has been done must be made in the space provided on the certificate.

Section 3 of the Statutes Amendment Act, 1944, makes provision for the correction of the register of deaths in cases where it is subsequently determined, as a result of a post-mortem examination or by any other means, that the causes of death as stated in the certificate are found to be materially incorrect.


Under the Registration of Deaths Emergency Regulations 1941, which superseded 1940 regulations of similar title, the Registrar-General is required to compile a War Deaths Register of all persons of New Zealand domicile who have died while out of New Zealand on service in some capacity in connection with the war. Members of the New Zealand Naval Forces are excluded from these regulations, special provision having previously been made in their case.

The Registrar-General is also required to compile a Provisional War Deaths Register, to contain the names of those persons of New Zealand domicile who are officially reported to be missing and believed killed while on war service out of New Zealand, but whose deaths have not been proved to the satisfaction of the Registrar-General.

Where the death of any person in respect of whom an entry has been made in the Provisional War Deaths Register is registered (whether in the War Deaths Register or otherwise), or where such person has subsequently been proved to be alive, a note to this effect is required to be made in the appropriate entry in the Provisional War Deaths Register.

Deaths registered in either the War Deaths Register or the Provisional War Deaths Register are not taken into account in arriving at the number and rate of deaths for New Zealand. Deaths of New Zealand soldiers, &c., which occur in New Zealand are included. Deaths of visiting overseas servicemen and of prisoners of war in New Zealand are, however, excluded.


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.

New Zealand has been noted for many years for its favourable death-rate. In the early history of the country the high proportion of immigrants to total population contributed very materially towards the establishment of a comparatively low death-rate. The effect of immigration in causing a high ratio of persons in the early adult ages—at which ages mortality experience is most favourable—more than counterbalanced the effect on the death-rate of the hazards inherent in the pioneering activities typical of the economy of the country in those days. The influence of immigration on vital statistics has, however, waned very considerably in the later decades.

The favourable climate of the country has always been an important factor contributing to a relatively low death-rate, while the high efficiency of health services has assisted considerably towards maintaining the Dominion's enviable record in respect of its death-rate. The progress of the health service has been reflected, inter alia, in a relatively low incidence of serious outbreaks of the more important epidemic diseases (which were much more prevalent in the early years of colonization), and in a greatly lowered infant mortality rate.

As observed in the subsection on Births, the general trend of the birth-rate in New Zealand has been downwards for several decades. The initial effect of a falling birth rate on the mortality experience of a population is to lower the death-rate, the age constitution becoming more favourable towards a low death-rate, since there are fewer infants and a relatively higher ratio of persons of the younger adult ages. That this has been a very material factor contributing to New Zealand's low death-rate is obvious; for a death-rate of 7.99 per 1,000—the low point which was reached in 1933—would connote an expectation of life of almost 125 years if it applied to a population of stable age-distribution. The increase in the crude death-rate in recent years has accompanied an upward movement in the birth-rate. It is, however, mainly due to the fact that, through an increasing proportion of people at the higher ages, the age constitution of the population has passed the optimum distribution from the viewpoint of maintaining a very low level of death-rates. This trend may be expected to continue, since the present death-rate is still lower than could be regarded as possible in a population stable in respect of age constitution.

A factor contributing to the increase in the death-rates during the war period, particularly the male rates, has been the absence overseas of considerable numbers of men of early adult years, which, as stated earlier, are the age-groups at which mortality experience is most favourable.

The death-rates of males and females for each of the years 1933–43 are shown separately in the next table.

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


An examination of the total number of deaths registered in each quarter of the decade 1934–43 gives the following averages: March quarter, 3,047; June quarter, 3,490; September quarter, 4,111; and December quarter, 3,490.

A classification according to month of death shows that in 1943 the months during which the greatest number of deaths occurred were August, July, and September, with totals of 1,525, 1,462, and 1,423 respectively. Excluding December, a proportion of deaths occurring in that month not being registered till January, February had the least number of deaths (1,011), followed by March and April, with 1,104 and 1,135 respectively.

The lowest number of deaths on any one day, again excluding December, was 23, this number occurring on the 1st February and also on the 29th April. The greatest number (71) occurred on the 21st August.


The deaths registered during the year 1943 are tabulated below according to age.

Under 1 month370275645
 1–2 months563894
 3–5 months5748105
 6–11 months6839107
 1 year7355128
 2 years503585
 3 years322052
 4 years201737
 5–9 years6845113
10–14 years6836104
15–19 years8663149
20–24 years14982231
25–29 years151120271
30–34 years135121256
35–39 years146159305
40–44 years178177355
45–49 years268250518
50–54 years390310700
55–59 years6535031,156
60–64 years9186631,581
65–69 years1,1798552,034
70–74 years1,1269332,059
75–79 years9399051,844
80–84 years6826871,369
85–89 years395414809
90–94 years128148276
95–99 years204060
 100 years..22
 101 years1..1
 103 years1..1

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

Ages, In Years.Number of Deaths.Percentage to Total.
Under 11,6001,7701,6531,22595123.6620.7516.3410.646.16
 1 and under 577157644639530211.406.754.413.431.96
 5 and under 102832191862371134.172.571.842.060.73
10 and under 151911511341571042.811.771.321.360.67
15 and under 202492412052301493.672.832.022.000.96
20 and under 253023712883162314.464.352.852.751.50
25 and under 302803503623232714.134.103.582.811.76
30 and under 352233144474002563.293.684.423.481.66
35 and under 402563344534703053.783.924.484.081.97
40 and under 452313254204933553.413.814.154.282.30
45 and under 502833004345385184.183.624.294.673.35
50 and under 553673764526557005.424.414.475.694.53
55 and under 603284005156731,1564.854.695.095.857.48
60 and under 653995515787461,5815.906.465.716.4810.23
65 and under 702616797258892,0343.877.967.167.7213.17
70 and under 752796008881,0702,0594.147.048.779.2913.33
75 and under 802094369041,0871,8443.095.118.939.4411.94
80 and over2484961,0291,6072,5183.675.8210.1713.9716.30

During the earlier period covered by the next table the fall in the death-rate was common to all ages and to both sexes. In comparison with 1931, however, the 1943 figures reveal increases in the rates for some of the groups, particularly those of later life. The female rate for the various age-groups is almost invariably lower than the male rate. The rapid increase in the death-rate (per 1,000 of population) at successive age-groups is well exemplified.

Year.Under l.*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.
* Per 1,000 live-births in this case.
Both Sexes

The average (arithmetic mean) age at death of persons of either sex in each of the years 1933–43 was as follows:—



An Appendix to the 1936 Census statistics contains life tables constructed from the census data and the mortality experience of the quinquennium 1934–38. The following table shows the (complete) expectation of life for various ages.


Expectation of life at age 0 is apparently still increasing in New Zealand. A brief comparison is quoted.

Period.Males. Years.Females. Years.


Except where specifically stated, all death-rates quoted throughout this section are crude rates—i.e., those ascertained by applying the mean population for the year to the total deaths registered during the year.

In New Zealand the age and sex constitutions of the people have changed very materially within a comparatively short span of years, so that death-rates for recent years relate to a differently constituted population than do death-rates for earlier years. This factor has had a marked influence on the risks—and causes—of dying. In order to eliminate the effect of changing age constitution from other causes influencing the death-rate, the device of standardization is resorted to. The principle of this method is to compute death-rates on the assumption that the sex and age composition of the population has not varied. A “standard” population is selected, and the mortality experience of any particular year is weighted according to the age-distribution of that standard population.

The standardized death-rates thus calculated for each of a number of countries, or for a number of years for the same country, may then be regarded as indexes of the relative mortalities free from the distortion which might arise through differences in their respective sex or age constitutions.

A system of standardization of death-rates was introduced some years ago in New Zealand, the age and sex constitution of the population as disclosed at the Census of 1911 being taken as the basis. The following table gives both recorded and standardized death-rates per 1,000 of population (on the 1911 standard population) for each fifth year from 1875 to 1940 and for the year 1943.

Year.Recorded Rates.Standardized Rates.

Standardized death-rates are computed for New Zealand for a number of causes, and details covering a ten-yearly period are included in the annual Report on Vital Statistics. The standard population used is that of England and Wales at the census of 1901, in order that the death-rates so calculated may be comparable with those published for those countries.


The table following shows the number of living issue left by married men or widowers whose deaths were registered during the ten years 1931–40, the latest period for which statistics are available, the information being given according to age of father and of issue.

Number of Issue left by Fathers, aged#8212;
Under 30.80 and under 40.40 and under 50.50 and under 60.60 and under 70.70 and under 80.80 and ever.Totals.
Age of issue, in years—        
 Under 54751,2931,00546513029..3,397
 5 and under 10921,4552,0601,37536872115,433
 10 and under 1537572,8573,1421,111206418,117
 15 and under 2111382,8336,2823,81786717614,114
 21 and over131,11512,99132,82244,88038,736130,548
Married men or widowers who died—        
 Leaving issue3421,5743,2227,02310,02110,7377,94540,864
 Without leaving issue2203997371,4341,9601,8459997,594

During the period under review 40,864 fathers left issue to the number of 161,614, an average of 3.95. For the preceding decennial period, 1921–30, the average issue left was 4.40. Taking all deaths of married men or widowers, whether leaving issue or not, it is found that the average living issue was 3.34, as compared with 3.74 for the period 1921–30.

The following table shows the average living issue of deceased married men or widowers in various age-groups in successive periods.

Age-group.Total Number of Issue left.Average Number of Issue left.
Under 302869256795721.
30 and under 402,0796,8334,6243,6462.102.381.991.85
40 and under 504,13811,50611,9959,8743.302.002.752.49
50 and under 607,72716,85719,14724,2564.403.743.172.87
60 and under 7013,83728,43929,86038,2484.984.433.703.19
70 and under 8015,41140,81242,62946,0544.624.854.513.66
80 and over7,68924,91334,32138,9645.194.574.644.36

The average number of children left by the death of married men or widowers has, as might naturally be expected, declined during the last two or three decades. It is of interest, however, to observe that the average issue left by married men or widowers under the age of thirty has declined least of all. The explanation probably lies in the fact that the proportion of childless marriages has not shown much variation in recent years, and that the majority of married men who died before reaching age thirty would not—even in the earlier periods covered—have been married long enough to leave more than one child. The remaining averages shed further light on the declining birth-rate and the dwindling in the average size of families in modern times.

Of the 877 cases where issue under 16 years of age was left by married men or widowers during 1940, a widow was also left in 838 cases, the aggregate number of children under 16 in these 838 cases being 1,650, and the average per widow 1.97. By the deaths of their fathers, children under 16 to the number of 66 were left without either parent, and for 3 children there was no information as to whether the mother was alive or dead.

The foregoing figures all refer to children partially or completely orphaned in the case of families where only the father died during the year (or decade). Similar information is also available for families of which the mother died during the year. Altogether 4,885 married women or widows died during 1940, leaving a total issue of 15,806, or an average living issue of 3.24. Considering only those mothers who left issue, the average issue left was 3.84.

During 1940 1,650 children under 16 years of age were left fatherless, but with their mother alive at the time of the father's death; 1,130 were left without a mother, but with their father living: thus a total of 2,780 were left with only one parent. By the death of their father 66 children, and by the death of their mother 49 children, were left without either parent, making a total of 115 true orphans under 16 years of age during 1940. In this total, of course, there might possibly be a few cases where both the father and the mother died during 1940, and in any such cases the number of children left would be duplicated, as they would be included in the figures of issue left upon the death of each parent.

The 115 children under 16 years of age left as true orphans during 1940 belonged to 64 families, the average per family affected being 1.80. The average number of children under 16 years of age left fatherless per family was 1.69; and the average number left motherless was 1.96. These averages, of course, relate only to those families in which there were any children under 16 years of age.

Widows and Orphans.

Of 48,458 married men or widowers whose deaths were registered during the ten years 1931–40, 12,452 were shown to have been widowers and 35,400 to have left widows, while in the remaining 606 cases there was no information on the point. Of the married men leaving widows, 30,098 had living issue also at time of death, and 5,302 had no living issue. In 10,513 cases widowers left issue, and in 1,939 cases no issue. In 253 of the 606 cases where no information was given as to whether a widow was left, there was living issue, and in 353 cases there was no living issue.


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 densely settled areas, &c., and partly to legislative and educative measures—the latter conducted by the State as well as by various organizations. A great deal of the success achieved in this direction has been due to the activities of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children. Founded in 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.

Particulars of deaths of infants under one year of age for each of the years 1933–43 are shown in the following table.

Year.Number.Rate per 1,000 Live Births.

For several years prior to 1938 the infant mortality rate had remained remarkably constant, but in that year a sharp rise occurred. Successive new low records were established in 1940, 1941, and 1942, but the rate again rose fairly sharply in 1943.

Normally 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.

Year.Male Deaths per 1,000 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 Months.6 and under 12 Months.

Even when the effect of the male excess among infants born is eliminated by comparing the respective rates for the two sexes, the number of male deaths per 100 female deaths in the first month of life during the five years 1939–43 is found to be 129; between one and three months, 143; between three and six months, 133; between six and twelve months, 150; and for the first year as a whole, 133.

The rates per 1,000 births 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.Totals under 1 Year.

Infants who die in the first year of life may be grouped roughly into two main classes—viz., those dying within one month of birth and those surviving the first month of life but dying before the first anniversary of their birth. Deaths among the first class are due principally to causes operating before the actual birth of the infant. The second group, generally speaking, covers infants who have succumbed to causes arising from post-natal influences, such as the various epidemic diseases, faulty feeding, diseases of the respiratory system, &c. The first group naturally presents the greater problem to the infant-welfare worker, while the history of the comparatively rapid decline of the infant-mortality rate in New Zealand is largely an illustration of the effective measures adopted towards combating the post-natal causes of death in infancy.

The next table shows that, whereas in the period 1941–43 the death-rate for children under one month of age was 33 per cent. lower than in the quinquennium 1881–85, the rate for children who had survived the first month of life was only approximately one-sixth as high as in the “eighties.” In other words, where the Dominion formerly lost between the ages of one month and one year more than sixty children out of every thousand it lost in 1941–43 only ten. A remarkable feature of the three-yearly period 1941–43, however, has been the very appreciable decline in the rate for infants under one month, while for infants who survived the first month of life the rate recorded a definite increase.

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.
1941–1943 (three years)29.9520.009.9510.14

The accompanying diagram further illustrates the reduction in the infant-mortality rate that has taken place during the last sixty years. It is of interest to note that the latest period shown (1941–43) recorded the lowest figures for children dying within one month of birth.

It would appear that on the one hand the diseases that can be combated openly, such as epidemic diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases due to faulty nourishment, &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. Four out of every five deaths during the first month of life occur within the first week, and two out of every five on the first day. The following table shows the infant death-rate for subdivisions of the first month.

Year.Under 1 Day.1 Day and under 2 Days.2 Days and under 1 Week.Totals under 1 Week.1 Week and under 2 Weeks.2 Weeks and under 3 Weeks.3 Weeks and under 1 Month.Totals under 1 Month.

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.Totals.
Both Sexes

Some remarkable changes are disclosed by the next table, which gives the infant mortality rates for various groups of causes in quinquennial periods commencing with the years 1872–76. If a comparison be made between the averages of the first and last five-yearly periods given—1872–76 and 1937–41—it is found that the general infant mortality rate shows a decline of 71 per cent., while even greater decreases are recorded for tuberculosis (96 per cent.), convulsions (98 per cent.), gastric and intestinal diseases (95 per cent.), epidemic diseases (90 per cent.), and respiratory diseases (76 per cent.). The rate for diseases of early infancy shows a decrease of only 30 per cent. in 1937–41 as compared with 1872–76, but of 33 per cent. as compared with 1917–21, and the figures indicate that some measure of success has 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 recent years are the increased death-rate for malformations and the drop in the rate for diseases peculiar to early infancy. The following table shows quinquennial average death-rates of infants under one year of age, per 1,000 live births.

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 usually 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 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 per 1,000 total births for neo-natal mortality (deaths of infants under one month of age) 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.Still-births.Neo-natal Deaths.Neo-natal Deaths plus Still-births.

Recent years have shown a definite trend towards improvement in the combined rate.

The pronounced fall in New Zealand's infant mortality rate during the last three decades has not been accompanied by an increase in the death-rate of children between the ages of one and ten years. There has, on the contrary, been a substantial improvement in the death-rate at these ages.


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.

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 later on in this subsection. Meningococcus meningitis, which assumed epidemic proportions towards the end of 1941, is also given brief mention.

The following table shows the numbers of deaths and the death-rates per 10,000 of mean population from certain principal causes, following the abridged international list, of causes of death (Fifth Revision. 1938).

Cause of Death.Numbers.Rates per 10,000.
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever467830.
Scarlet fever212120.
Tuberculosis of the respiratory system5225014914924753.393.
Other forms of tuberculosis9190106115970.590.640.690.750.63
Other infective and parasitic diseases1131131432031820.730.730.931.311.18
Cancer and other malignant tumours1,8151,8582,0282,0292,13111.7912.0213.1813.1313.85
Non-malignant tumours and tumours of unspecified nature78586064600.510.350.390.420.39
Chronic rheumatism and gout22272942230.
Diabetes mellitus3443003423523322.241.982.222.282.16
Avitaminoses, other general diseases, diseases of the blood, and chronic poisoning2742222492642521.781.441.621.701.64
Meningitis, and diseases of the spinal cord969286107870.620.590.560.690.57
Intracranial lesions of vascular origin1,2321,3071,3771,5301,5078.018.458.959.009.79
Other diseases of the nervous system and organs of special sense1651672072332191.071.081.351.511.42
Diseases of the heart4,2834,5654,8545,6255,18227.8029.5231.5536.4133.68
Other diseases of the circulatory system2312182272392311.521.411.481.551.50
Pneumonia and bronchopneumonia6235245325014744.023.393.463.633.08
Other diseases of the respiratory system2181812322502251.441.171.511.621.46
Diarrhoea and enteritis69778378890.450.500.540.500.58
Diseases of the liver and biliary passages1261201251351410.820.780.810.870.92
Other diseases of the digestive system3453183703602762.242.062.402.831.79
Other diseases of the genito-urinary system2132282372712331.381.471.541.751.51
Puerperal infection36365646320.230.230.360.300.21
Other diseases of the puerperal state69606239350.450.390.400.250.23
Diseases of the skin and cellular tissue, and of the bones and organs of locomotion57675161670.370.430.330.390.44
Congenital debility, malformations, premature birth, and other diseases of early Infancy7148137697087164.645.265.004.584.65
Automobile accidents2311991751381331.501.281.140.890.86
Other accidental deaths4645055345756493.023.273.473.724.22
Cause of death not specified or ill-defined1771313100.


Meningococcus meningitis is not nearly as common in New Zealand as a cause of death as it is in many other countries, which frequently experience severe epidemics of the disease. This type of meningitis has, however, recently made its appearance in the Dominion in epidemic form. The average number of deaths from meningococcus meningitis recorded for the ten years 1931 to 1940 was only 6.6. Towards the end of 1941, however, it became obvious that the Dominion was experiencing an epidemic of the disease, and the deaths for that year reached a total of 25. In 1942 the epidemic continued to increase in severity, and the total deaths recorded were 112. Deaths in 1943 numbered 72, but there was evidence that the epidemic was on the wane. In addition, 8 deaths of Maoris wore recorded in 1942 and 20 in 1943.


The death-rate from tuberculosis of the respiratory system has been decreasing gradually during recent years, with occasional upward fluctuations. The rate for 1943, 3.09 per 10,000 of population, was slightly below the average of the preceding five years.

In addition to the 475 deaths from tuberculosis of the respiratory system. during 1943, there were 97 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis, comprising—

Tuberculosis of meninges and central nervous system41
Tuberculosis of intestines and peritoneum14
Tuberculosis of vertebral column11
Tuberculosis of bones and joints4
Tuberculosis of genito-urinary system8
Tuberculosis of the lymphatic system3
Tuberculosis of other organs2
Disseminated tuberculosis14

Tuberculosis claims its victims at a comparatively early age. Of those dying from this cause in 1943, persons under the age of 45 years formed 56 per cent.


Age, in Years.Males.Females.Totals.
Under 5131629
 5 and under 108311
10 and under 15347
15 and under 2082230
20 and under 25132740
25 and under 30303262
30 and under 35233255
35 and under 40261945
40 and under 45212243
45 and under 50341448
50 and under 55221436
55 and under 60401252
60 and under 6526834
65 and under 70321244
70 and under 7512416
75 and under 809413
80 and over527


Cancer is annually responsible for more deaths in New Zealand than. can be assigned to any cause other than diseases of the heart.

One factor contributing towards the recorded increase in deaths from cancer is the increasing proportion of persons reaching the ages where cancer largely claims its victims. This position has been brought about principally by the gradual amelioration of the one-time scourges of certain epidemic diseases which exacted a heavy toll of human life at the earlier ages.

Tuberculosis may, perhaps, be classified in the group mentioned, as the progressive decline in the death-rate from tuberculosis for very many years is practically uniform with the rise in the cancer death-rate. This is illustrated by the following figures of average death-rates from tuberculosis and cancer for decennial periods.

Period.Average Death-rates per Tuberculosis.10,000 of Population. Cancer.
1940–43 (4 years)3.8513.05

The relative movements in the death-rates from cancer and tuberculosis are further illustrated in the following diagram, which shows the rates at five-yearly intervals since 1876 and for 1943.

In 1943 there were 2,131 deaths from cancer in the Dominion, a proportion of 13.85 per 10,000 of population. The recorded cancer death-rate for 1943 shows an increase of 0.72, and the standardized death-rate an increase of 0.36, per 10,000 as compared with the previous year.

Year.Number of Deaths from Cancer.Recorded Death-rate.Standardized Death-rate.*
* On basis of age distribution in 1911.

The following summary shows the types of cancer returned in the death entries for the year 1943.

Scirrhus carcinoma21618
Melanotic sarcoma235
Rodent ulcer5510
Malignant glioma9817
Malignant teratoma2..2
Malignant melanoma9514
Malignant ulcer213
Malignant tumour92130
Malignant papilloma617
Malignant disease6511
Cancer (undefined)92029

Full details of the location of the disease are published annually in the Report on Vital Statistics. A summary of deaths from cancer during 1943 is as follows:—

Seat of Disease.Numbers.Rates per 10,000 of Population.
Buccal cavity and pharynx5317700.720.210.45
Digestive organs and peritoneum5974781,0758.075.986.99
Respiratory system115301451.550.380.94
Other female genital organs..6868..0.850.44
Male genital organs135..1351.82..0.88
Urinary organs5528830.740.350.54
Other or unspecified organs59511100.810.640.71

The standardized figures for recent years suggest that cancer, while undoubtedly increasing in numerical incidence, is not doing so out of proportion to the population exposed to the cancer risk. Improvement in diagnosis has been responsible for some of the numerical increase in the recorded deaths from cancer, though this factor has now become more stabilized.

Age, in Years.Males.Females.Totals.
Under 5549
–5 and under 10415
10 and under 159312
15 and under 20325
20 and under 25729
25 and under 305712
30 and under 3581119
35 and under 40133144
40 and under 45184563
45 and under 50326597
50 and under 556483147
55 and under 60111132243
60 and under 65157132289
65 and under 70206167373
70 and under 75175152327
75 and under 80141106247
80 and over111119230

Ninety-two per cent. of the deaths from cancer during 1943 were at ages 45 years and upwards, and 55 per cent. at ages 65 years and upwards.


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 1872–1915 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 was 5.14 per 1,000 recorded in 1922. The rate for 1943 is the lowest ever recorded in New Zealand. That a new low level appears to have been reached is evidenced by the average death-rate for the latest five years (1939–43), when the remarkably low figure of 2.93 was recorded. 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 cases where a woman of child-bearing age has been returned as having died of such causes as septicæmia, 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. In 1928 the system of investigating possible puerperal cases was still further extended.

The number of women who lost their lives through some cause connected with pregnancy or childbirth fell from 118 in 1941 to 85 in 1942, and to 67 in 1943. The relatively low level to which the death-rate from puerperal causes has fallen in recent years is all the more remarkable in view of the abnormal proportion of first births in the total of births upon which the death-rate for these years is based. It is a well-established fact that puerperal mortality is higher in first confinements than in subsequent confinements.

The rate of deaths from puerperal causes is frequently, though inaccurately, 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 be made, but it may be mentioned that the 67 deaths from puerperal causes during 1943 included 20 from abortion, of which 15 became septic cases. Including these 15 deaths from septic abortion there were 23 deaths from puerperal septicæmia in 1943.

Septic abortion claims a comparatively high total of deaths in New Zealand. The highest total over reached in one year in this country was 42, recorded in 1934.

The Fifth (1938) Revision of the International List of Causes of Death, used for the first time in New Zealand in the mortality and morbidity statistics for the year 1940, contains some revolutionary changes in the classification of causes relating to pregnancy and the puerperal state.

The most important change is represented in the attempt to differentiate in all the principal groups of causes between deaths occurring during the course of pregnancy and those occurring during or subsequent to parturition. Paucity of data in many cases makes it difficult to classify correctly in this manner, but with the assistance of the Department of Health in the matter of eliciting further information from the medical practitioners concerned, reasonably accurate classification has been made in the statistics from 1940 onwards.

Another important change was that associated with the classification of puerperal infection. Under the generic title of puerperal infection are now included puerperal pyelitis and pyelonephritis, general or local puerperal infection, puerperal thrombophlebitis, and puerperal embolism and sudden death. Greater distinction is also provided for in cases of abortion, both septic and non-septic.

These revolutionary changes in the classification of diseases of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium render the statistics of the last years difficult to compare with those of previous years. In the following summary, however, the 1939 figures have been adjusted to conform as far as possible with the new classification.

Group.Number of Deaths.Rate per 1,000 Live Births.
Post-abortive infection20142427150.690.430.680.800.49
Abortion without mention of infection284350.
Ectopic gestation135250.
Hæmorrhage of pregnancy2..3130.07..
Toxæmias of pregnancy17171612120.600.520.450.360.40
Other diseases and accidents of pregnancy..2....1..0.06....0.03
Hæmorrhage of childbirth161014950.550.310.410.270.16
Infection during childbirth25223219170.870.670.910.560.57
Puerperal toxæmins71310720.240.400.280.210.07
Other accidents of childbirth1569320.520.
Other and unspecified conditions of childbirth..112....

Full details of puerperal deaths classified according to the Fifth Revision of the International List are contained in the Report on Vital Statistics for 1940 and subsequent years.


Deaths from external causes, apart from suicide, claim approximately 3 per cent. of the total deaths. Deaths from external causes in each of four years at quinquennial intervals are given in the next table.

Cause of Death.Number of Deaths.Rate per Million of Mean Population.
Accidental causes—        
 Burns and scalds3322262424151716
 Anæsthesia, asphyxia, &c.24771417559
 In mines and quarries16141714129119
 Fractures (causes not specified)15125711835

The number of deaths recorded from all accidental causes in 1943 was 779, corresponding to a rate of 5.06 per 10,000 of population. By comparison with 1928, there is an increase of 35 in the number of deaths, but the death-rate has decreased by 0.29 per 10,000 of population.

In classifying deaths attributable to transport accidents under the various subheadings shown in the following table, the rule of assignment is that in fatalities due to collisions of railway-trains and electric tram-cars with motor-vehicles the death is assigned to the railway-train or electric tram-car as being the heavier and more powerful vehicle. In the case of collisions between motor-vehicles and horse-drawn vehicles the death is assigned to the motor-vehicle.

The number and rate of deaths resulting from railway, tramway, motor-vehicle, and aircraft accidents during each of the last eleven years are as follows:—

Year.Deaths duo to Accident.Rate per 10,000 of Population.

As might be expected under present conditions, deaths arising out of aircraft accidents have greatly increased in recent years. The figures include Air Force accidents in New Zealand as well as civilian casualties. The sharp increase in 1943 in deaths due to railway accidents is accounted for by the train accident at Hyde referred to in the Railways section of this volume.

Deaths from motor-vehicle accidents recorded an appreciable increase up to 1930, but this trend was reversed during the depression years, largely due to a great reduction in the number of motor-vehicles on the roads during that period. With the advent of more prosperous times, the toll of the motor-vehicle again mounted, although, fortunately, not in proportion to the tremendous increase in motor-vehicular traffic on the highways of the Dominion. The 1938 total was the highest ever recorded in New Zealand. An appreciable drop, however, has been experienced since 1938 on account of there being less traffic on the roads owing to wartime restrictions in the use of petrol and rubber tires.

The figures given for deaths from motor-vehicle accidents (which do not include deaths of Maoris) are exclusive of accidents where persons have been killed in collisions between motor-vehicles and trains or trams, these, as stated above, being assigned to the heavier vehicle. For 1943 there were 20 deaths from such accidents, bringing the total number of deaths in cases where a motor-vehicle was involved up to 133. The corresponding figure for 1942 was 138. Further data regarding accidents will be found elsewhere in this volume (see Index). A later section is devoted wholly to statistics of industrial accidents.


Suicidal deaths in 1943 numbered 132–males 90, females 42—the death-rate per 10,000 of mean population being 0.86.

Year.Number of Suicidal Deaths.Rate per 10,000 of Population.

The following table presents, for annual averages of various quinquennia, the suicide-rate per 10,000 of mean population.

Annual Average duringMales.Females.Both Sexes.
1940–43 (4 yearn1.440.560.99


Deaths of Maoris are not included in the statistics quoted in preceding pages of this subsection. Registrations of Maori deaths during each of the last five years have been as follows:—

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

The rates for the two sexes are much more nearly equal for Maoris than for the rest of the population, the female rate being indeed higher than the male in some years.

Apart from mere numbers by sex, statistics of Maori deaths are not available prior to 1920. Annual tabulations are now made on the bases of age and cause of death, and the detailed statistics may be found in the annual Report on Vital Statistics. The ages of Maoris whose deaths were registered during the year 1943 were as follows:—

Age, in Years.Males.Females.Totals.
Under 1220179399
 1 and under 5100115215
 5 and under 10373976
10 and under 15342963
15 and under 20384280
20 and under 25304979
25 and under 30253156
30 and under 35162238
35 and under 40363065
40 and under 45252045
45 and under 50332457
50 and under 55262349
55 and under 60492978
60 and under 65424284
65 and under 70393473
70 and under 75312758
75 and under 80322355
80 and under 85221537
85 and under 908917
90 and under 9591322
95 and under 1004812
100 and over268

With the exception of diphtheria and scarlet fever, epidemic and infectious diseases generally exact a much heavier toll proportionately among Maoris than among the non-Maori population, the most noteworthy examples being tuberculosis, particularly of the respiratory system, and typhoid fever. Other diseases of the respiratory system also show much higher rates for Maoris than for Europeans, and the same state of affairs is disclosed for diarrhœal diseases and stomach complaints.

On the other hand, there is a much lower mortality rate among Maoris from certain diseases which rank high as causes of death among the non-Maori 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 hæmorrhage. Malformations show lower rates for Maoris than for Europeans, but the indefinite nature of the data in the registration entries covering the deaths of many Maori infants may be partly responsible. The figures of deaths from malformations and the group “early infancy” taken in conjunction indicate a much higher rate for Maoris from these causes as a whole than for the non-Maori population.

A summary is here given showing Maori deaths from the principal causes and groups of causes.

Cause of Death.Number of Deaths.Rate per 10,000 of Mean Maori Population.
Typhoid fever161271091.791.320–761.060.93
Pulmonary tuberculosis30029030131726733.6731.8732.6033.5627.53
Other forms of tuberculosis9286105999110.339.45ll.3710.489.38
Cerebral hæmorrhage28392418413.144.292.601.914.23
Convulsions (under five years)1613129111.791.981.300.951.13
Heart diseases13818720623523315.4920.5522.3124.8824.02
Diarrhœa and enteritis68586854657.636.377.375.726.70
Ill-defined or not specified37355117614.153.855.521.806.29
Other causes35128231828428239.4030.9834.4430.0629.08

From 1925 onwards information has been obtained as to whether the cause of death has been certified by a medical practitioner or a Coroner's inquest. As an 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 deaths, 446 or 51 per cent. were definitely shown to have been certified, while in 1943 the number so certified was 1,353 out of 1,675 registrations, equivalent to 81 per cent.

As regards infant mortality, the Maori rate is much higher than the non-Maori, principally owing to the ravages of epidemic diseases tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and diarrhœal diseases. The infant mortality rate for the first year of life was, for the five years 1939–43, 103 per 1,000 births in the case of Maoris, as compared with 30 per 1,000 among non-Maori infants, and this in spite of the fact that for the first month of life the Maori rate is on the average slightly lower. It is during the succeeding eleven months that the toll of infant life is so much heavier among the Maoris.

The numbers and rates per 1,000 live births for the last eleven years are given in the next table.

Number of Deaths under One Year.Rate per 1,000 Maori Births.Number of Deaths under One Year.Rate per 1,000 Non-Maori Births.

The next table shows for the year 1943 the principal causes of deaths of Maori infants under 1 year, classified according to age.

Cause of Death.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.Totals.
Infantile convulsions..........1211319
Diarrhœa and enteritis........22441011639
Congenital malformations1251....2..3..216
Congenital debility, &c.......1..1311....7
Injury at birth7..21..............10
Premature birth127732..2..1....34
Other causes peculiar to early infancy44321............14
Other defined causes......12..351511845
Unspecified or ill-defined13........3..22..11


DEATH-RATES are of great value as indicating the relative healthiness of different countries or of different years. The statistics of causes of registered deaths are of further use as showing the incidence of fatal diseases or accidents, and as indicating in a general way the relative rise or fall in the incidence of diseases over a series of years. For instance, the fall in the incidence of tuberculosis and the increase in cancer (discussed in Subsection C of this section) can be readily traced from the records of deaths attributed to these causes in different years.

In comparisons of healthiness based on death-rates, however, the effect of the advance of medical science in recent years is not taken into account. It is common knowledge that many diseases regarded a few decades ago as incurable now show a fair percentage of recoveries. Similarly, the death-rates in epidemics are in general much lower now than formerly, owing partly to the steps taken to prevent the spread of the disease, partly to the necessity of early notification in most countries, and partly to increased medical knowledge. Again, many diseases seldom or never result fatally.

Of recent years much attention has been devoted in different countries to the possibility of obtaining reliable statistics of morbidity. In New Zealand certain diseases are notifiable, but beyond this and the statistics of industrial accidents, given in Section 41, practically the only record other than that of fatality is the information ascertainable from the returns of patients treated in public hospitals. Information regarding benefits granted under the Social Security Act is given in Section 24, and the sickness experience of friendly societies' members is mentioned briefly in Section 29. In the absence of full statistics of sickness information from the sources mentioned is of considerable value.


Notifications of notifiable diseases during 1943 are shown for each month of the year in the following table.

Scarlet fever373459515349661231331462182271,196
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever1271046691623672
Pulmonary tuberculosis1431461371051501291751711651401281601,749
Other tuberculosis17171715171381716263814215
Meningococcus meningitis362929243548475752362318434
Acute poliomyelitis..10385922723151444178
Pneumonic influenza........l3............4
Puerperal fever—             
Following abortion818171211671212101818149
Ophthalmia neonatorum1111..211..1..110
Lethargic encephalitis11......1........1..4
Food poisoning18321131..223131481
Bacillary dysentery102313765221511166108314
Amœbic dysentery......1....1..........2
Undulant fever31311122224123
Lead poisoning1......1l11..3..19

The foregoing figures are exclusive of notifications of diseases of Maoris, figures for whom are far from complete. The following were the notifications of principal diseases among Maoris during 1943: Diphtheria, 15; typhoid and paratyphoid fever, 27; pulmonary tuberculosis, 518; other tuberculosis, 60; meningococcus meningitis, 65; lethargic encephalitis, 12; trachoma, 42; bacillary dysentery, 37; other, 28: total, 804.

The relative immunity of the Maori to scarlet fever is shown by the fact that in 1943 only 1 case of scarlet fever was reported in the Maori population, as compared with 1,196 in the non-Maori population.

A quinquennial summary of notifications (exclusive of Maori notifications) of certain principal diseases is now given.

Scarlet fever4803573384571,196
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever6159566672
Pulmonary tuberculosis9891,0931,1971,4181,749
Meningococcus meningitis2219163852434
Acute poliomyelitis4922430178
Puerperal fever and septic abortion251255224218208

There was a definite falling off in the incidence of meningococcus meningitis during 1943 (approximately 50 per cent.), although the total number of notifications was still comparatively high. While this disease is commonly experienced in some countries in epidemic form, New Zealand is fortunate in that seldom do the yearly notifications approach the 100 mark. The latest epidemic first made itself felt about August, 1941, in which month 19 notifications of the disease were received. For the year 1941 the total reached 163, as compared with an average of 18 for the preceding five years. The peak of the epidemic appears to have been reached in August, 1942, when 169 notifications were recorded. After that month the incidence remained comparatively high, but with a falling tendency.

The year 1943 witnessed another outbreak of scarlet fever, the most severe epidemic since 1936, when the total number of notifications of this disease was 1,152, as compared with the 1943 figure of 1,196. It would appear probable that the peak of the 1943 epidemic had not been reached by the end of the year, as the monthly rise in notifications continued without interruption from July to December. The last big epidemic of scarlet fever occurred in 1928 (6,123 cases) and 1929 (4,844 cases).

Diphtheria also showed a considerable increase in notifications in 1943, when the total recorded was 830, compared with 542 in 1942. The last major epidemic of this disease occurred in 1917 (5,458 cases) and 1918 (5,539 cases).

In each of the last four years, particularly in 1942 and 1943, there has been a marked increase in the number of notifications of pulmonary tuberculosis. Certain factors, however, would appear to show that this movement does not necessarily indicate an increase in the incidence of the disease. A significant feature is an increase in the notification of males of the age-groups from which the members of the Armed Forces-are drawn. X-ray examinations of the chest are carried out as part of the routine-medical examination of all recruits, and the presence of the disease, hitherto unsuspected in many cases, would be detected in this way. A reorganization of tuberculosis work. in connection with the medical inspection of schools may also be a contributing-factor. Contact supervision previously done in the schools is now carried out in the homes. School medical officers arrange X-ray examinations of all household contacts and such other measures as may be necessary for full diagnosis and treatment of incipient disease in contacts, while much valuable work has been carried out in this. connection by district health nurses. Also, as part of its programme of case-finding, the Health Department has encouraged Hospital Boards to establish miniature radiographic machines. Group X-ray examination of certain sections of the community has been undertaken, but an insufficiency of radiologists and equipment has. limited its scope. Efforts in this connection have therefore been concentrated upon family contacts and other groups exposed to infection, such as nurses in public hospitals, dental nurses, training-college entrants, school-teachers, medical students, and laboratory workers. A limited number of factory workers have also been examined.

The following figures reflect the work performed by the district-nursing service and school medical officers in this connection during 1943:—

New tuberculous homes brought tinder control2,050
Total number of homes under control6,865
Number of new contacts examined and brought under control4,611
Total number of contacts under supervision to be brought up for revision18,094
Number of Mantoux tests1,822
Number of positive reactors474
Number of contacts X-rayed5,522
Number, of cases found among contacts as active from Mantoux testing and X-ray examination377

The number of cases of tuberculosis (inclusive of Maoris) known to the Department of Health at the end of 1943 was 6,772, of which 6,096 were pulmonary and 567 non-pulmonary. The form was not stated in the remaining 109 cases and was presumed to be mixed.

Information as to case-fatality in regard to the first three diseases mentioned in the table on the preceding page is now given for each of the last eleven years.

Year.Scarlet Fever.DiphtheriaTyphoid and Paratyphoid Fever.
Cases notifiedDeaths.Case-fatality.Cases notified.Deaths.Case-fatality.Cases notified.Deaths.Case-fatality.
   Per Cent.  Per Cent.  Per Cent.

In diseases of this nature, comparatively wide year to year fluctuations in the numbers affected are inevitable. In general, however, all three show reductions in incidence during the period covered by the table.


The public hospitals to which the following statistics relate include all hospitals under the control of the various Hospital Boards; several hospitals which are also old people's homes; five special infectious diseases hospitals; the various tuberculosis institutions and special sanatoria; and such public maternity hospitals as also have provision for emergency general cases. Special military hospitals, and additions made to hospitals to accommodate military patients only, are also included. All St. Helens Hospitals, private hospitals, and solely maternity hospitals, are excluded. Outpatients are not covered by the statistics, which, however, relate to all in-patients—whether European or Maori. Inmates of old people's homes or infirmaries controlled by the Hospital Boards, for whom hospital benefits under the Social Security Act are payable for treatment received in such homes, are included in the statistics of patients treated.

During the year 1943 the total admissions to public hospitals in New Zealand numbered 152,379. There were 7,739 patients in hospital at the beginning of the year, the total cases dealt with during the year thus being 160,118, equal to 979 per 10,000 of mean population, including Maoris. In other words, the equivalent of one person out of every ten in the Dominion received some-degree of treatment in public hospitals in 1943, although, of course, the total of cases mentioned includes an unknown number of multiple admissions of the same persons.

The following table shows for each of the last eleven years the total number of patients treated, and the proportion of population.

Year.Total Patients treated.Rate per 10,000 of Mean Population.

From 1932 to 1942 there was a continuous and substantial increase in the number of patients treated, with the one exception of 1937, when a small decrease of 200 was recorded. In 1938 the epidemic of measles with its accompaniments of ear troubles and respiratory diseases (chiefly broncho-pneumonia and pneumonia) accounted for nearly 6,000 of the 9,000 increase of that year. The further gain of 5,000 in 1939 cannot be attributed specifically to any disease or group of diseases, and it seems probable that some of this increase may have had its origin in the introduction of the hospital benefit under the social security scheme. This benefit, particulars of which may be found in Section 24, came into operation on 1st July, 1939.

The tremendous increases during the next three years can probably be attributed partly to the same cause, but the great majority of these increases are due to the admissions of Armed Services personnel, particularly in 1942, when the numbers of persons under arms in New Zealand was greatly increased consequent upon the entry of Japan into the war. In general, all military personnel ill over forty-eight hours are transferred to hospital, and outbreaks of such minor epidemic diseases as measles, chicken-pox, mumps, &c., commonly associated with military camps, would result in a great number of persons entering hospital who in normal times would be treated in their own homes. The great bulk of such cases were transferred to emergency wards. of public hospitals adjacent to the camps.

The figures would also include a substantial number of patients who entered hospital for remedial treatment to enable them to be passed fit for military service. Members of the Services returned from overseas who have been admitted to public hospitals for further treatment are also included. The decrease in the total for 1943 no doubt reflects the beginning of the decline in the numbers of mobilized forces in New Zealand.

Information is not available as to the number of members of the Armed Forces who were treated in public hospitals in 1940, but in 1941 the number of such patients discharged from or dying in these hospitals was 13,660, and in 1942, 44,435. Seventy-two females were included in the 1941 total and 523 in that for 1942. The figures of military patients treated during 1943 are not available.

Condition on Discharge.

Of the 160,118 persons treated as in-patients in public hospitals in 1943, 89,849 were discharged as recovered, 46,928 as relieved, and 6,970 as unrelieved. Deaths in hospital numbered 7,372, and 8,999 patients were still in hospital at the end of the year.

The numbers of admissions, discharges, and deaths for each of the last five years were:—

Year.Admissions.Discharges.Deaths.Total Discharges and Deaths.

The following percentage analysis of total cases dealt with during each of the five years is of interest.

Year.Discharged asDied.Remaining at End of Year.

Sexes of Patients.

For many years males considerably outnumbered females among hospital patients. In 1932, for the first time, and in each of the three following years, females were in the majority. From 1935 onwards, however, the proportion of males again showed a tendency to increase. This excess of male patients became especially pronounced in the figures for 1940 and subsequent years, reflecting the large number of military patients admitted to hospital during these years. The death-rate is invariably higher among male than among female patients, chiefly due to a higher average incidence of serious types of diseases and of accident cases among male patients. The large number of military personnel admitted to hospital for comparatively minor complaints, however, has resulted in a greatly decreased male death-rate during the last four years, and in 1942 the female death-rate exceeded that for males. The decline of the numbers of men in the Armed Forces stationed in New Zealand in 1943 would result in the proportion of minor cases treated in hospital falling considerably. This factor, combined with a greater number of seriously wounded men returning from overseas, probably accounts for the increase of the male case-fatality rate as compared with 1942.

Year.Discharges and Deaths.Deaths.Death-rate per 1,000 Cases.
Males.Females.Males per 100 Females.Males.Females.Males per 100 Females.Males.Females.

Ages of Patients.

The ages of patients who were discharged from or who died in public hospitals during 1943 were as shown in the following summary. The proportions of the population at each group which the discharges and deaths represented are also given.

Ages of Patients, in Years.Males.Females.Total.Proportion per Cent, of Total Population.
Under 59,0376,64215,67910.317.899.12
 5 and under 106,6645,16611,8309.947.938.95
10 and under 154,9783,6338,6117.155.426.30
15 and under 2517,34815,28332,63114.5510.9512.61
25 and under 3513,56614,43628,00213.4410.7211.88
35 and under 459,6188,31717,9358.997.378.16
45 and under 556,4255,30311,7287.175.546.33
55 and under 656,4304,93911,3697.746.096.92
65 and over7,9005,24913,14912.187.9110.02
Totals (including unspecified)82,10069,019151,11910.418.159.24

In normal years there is a pronounced excess of females over males in the age-groups 25–34 and 35–44. This is attributable to the fact that these two age-groups contain the majority of the very large numbers of women admitted to public hospitals for normal confinement or for treatment of diseases and accidents of pregnancy, labour, and the puerperal state. This disproportion disappeared in 1942, owing to the influence of the numbers of military patients referred to earlier, and the ratio was still far from normal in 1943. In 1939 the number of male patients in the 25–34 age-group was 7,854 and the proportion per cent. of the total male population of those ages 5.78, as compared with 13,566 and 13.44 per cent. respectively in 1943. The corresponding figures for female patients in 1939 were 11,442 and 8.85 per cent., and in 1943, 14,436 and 10.72 per cent.

Summary of Diseases, &c.

As explained in the preceding subsection, the international classification of diseases and causes of death is used in New Zealand. The following table covers all patients discharged from or dying in public hospitals during the year 1942, which is the latest year for which such figures are available at present.

Class.Discharges.Deaths.Total Discharges and Deaths.
I.1nfectious and parasitic diseases29,0724,96495052837028,6287,256
II.Cancer and other tumours1,5431,6026945464002,1292,656
III.Rheumatic diseases, diseases of nutrition and of endocrine glands, and other general diseases2,2212,655363951732,7832,724
IV.Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs130310535142307279
V.Chronic poisonings and intoxications15492214..23833
VI.Diseases of the nervous system and of organs of special sense4,1553,3681,1644084135,6323,876
VII.Diseases of the circulatory system2,6933,2443811,0345964,9782,970
VIII.Diseases of the respiratory system8,7402,6772364452458,2954,054
IX.Diseases of the digestive system24,4635,70468231320219,13012,234
X.Diseases of the genito-urinary system5,8293,157458277904,2305,581
XI.Pregnancy, labour, and puerperal state9,679752268..71..10,770
XII.Diseases of the skin and cellular tissue5,6271,67911621135,1472,309
XIII.Diseases of the bones and of the organs of movement1,7431,66421222142,733922
XIV.Congenital malformations218370923728417328
XV.Diseases of early infancy29847146855246236
XVII.Violence or accident10,7615,88338025911513,4403,958
XVIII.Ill-defined diseases2,9371,189609..12,6702,066
Totals 110,26939,4956,9294,1872,886101,27962,487

Principal Diseases.

A summary is now given of the principal diseases treated in public hospitals during the year 1942. All figures given (including deaths) are inclusive of Maoris.

It should be noted that the disease or condition for the treatment of which a patient is admitted to hospital is not necessarily that which would rank as the cause of death in the death statistics. Cystitis, for instance, ranks comparatively high in hospital cases as the condition immediately affecting the patient, but is frequently only the consequence of some more important disease, which would take precedence over cystitis in the statistics of causes of death. Generally speaking, the hospital returns show only the immediate or final disease or condition for which the patient is treated, and classification for statistical purposes is generally made regardless of the primary cause of that disease or condition. In the death statistics, on the other hand, the primary cause of decease is of paramount importance. In the hospital statistics a case admitted on account of the fracture of any bone is treated and classified as “fracture.” Should the patient die, however, the death would be classified in the mortality statistics according to the cause of the fracture—e.g., motor-car accident, accidental fall, &c.


Diseases.Total Deaths registered in the Dominion.Total Cases in Public Hospitals.Deaths In Public Hospitals.
Number.Proportion of Total Deaths in Dominion.Proportion of Total Cases in Public Hospitals.
* See letterpress ante.
    Per Cent.Per Cent.
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever181021688.8915.69
Meningococcus meningitis12090510275.4211.27
Scarlet fever13531100.000.28
Acute poliomyelitis573240.002.74
German measles13,7971100.000.03
Pulmonary tuberculosis8092,81036945.6113.13
Tuberculous meningitis104987774.0478.57
Other forms of tuberculosis1108077366.369.05
Venereal diseases1311,1065945.045.33
Septicæmia (non-puerperal)191,093736.840.64
Non-malignant tumours681,8404363.242.34
Exophthalmic goitre816673441.985.10
Leukæmia and aleukæmia65984670.7746.94
Diseases of the spinal cord71951419.7214.74
Cerebral hæmorrhage, apoplexy1,53198559138.6060.00
Diseases of the heart5,8004,0471,51725.8937.48
Diseases of the arteries1903108544.7427.42
Ulcer of the stomach and duodenum1771,7429553.675.45
Diarrhœa and enteritis1322,1666650.003.05
Hernia, intestinal obstruction1312,94212293.134.15
Diseases of the liver (excluding hydatids)581002746.5527.00
Diseases of the gall-bladder and biliary passages791,6494455.702.67
Urinary calculi307301550.002.05
Diseases of the bladder1287524*2.74
Diseases of the prostate14578810572.4113.32
Diseases of the female genital organs183,6881689.000.43
Septic abortion321722784.3815.70
Puerperal septicæmia221181045.458.47
Other puerperal diseases and accidents (including normal childbirth)8310,4803440.960.32
Diseases of the skin327,45634*0.46
Congenital malformations2047456531.868.72
Diseases of early infancy59348212320.7425.52
External causes98217,39837438.092.15
Other diseases1,48348,94179853.811.63

Armed Forces: Patients treated.

In an endeavour to obtain some measure of the influence on the hospital population statistics of the admission of Armed Services personnel, figures have been extracted for 1941 and 1942 of the numbers of such patients discharged from or dying in the public hospitals of the Dominion during those years, according to disease treated and the age of the patient. The figures for 1942 are given in the following table, while those for 1941 were published in the 1944 edition of the Year-Book.

Diseases.Under 25.25 and under 35.35 and under 45.45 and under 55.55 and over.Totals.*Military Patients Per Cent. of Total Patients treated.
* Includes 523 females; also 21 Japanese prisoners, the ages of whom were not specified.
I.1nfectious and parasitic diseases12,9306,5762,0836006222,26262.04
II.Cancer and other tumours8271332852194.58
III.Rheumatic diseases, diseases of nutrition and of endocrine glands, and other general diseases3573811926191,00118.18
VI.Diseases of the nervous system70757825066261,02717.11
VII.Diseases of the circulatory system32841319494261,05513.27
VIII.Diseases of the respiratory system1,308950376148462,82822.90
IX.Diseases of the digestive system3,6671,926702329436,06721.26
X.Diseases of the genitourinary system3462821086088048.19
XII.Diseases of the skin and cellular tissue1,2366202137292,15028.84
XIII.Diseases of the bones and organs of movement40332011346389424.46
XVII.Violence or accident2,0901,302417132213,97722.86
XVIII.Ill-defined diseases37930511041784217.78
Other diseases, not included above4032251111090.82
Percentage at each Age-group
I.1nfectious and parasitic diseases58.1129.549.362.690.28100.00..
II.Cancer and other tumours37.4432.4215.0712.792.28100.00..
III.Rheumatic diseases, diseases of nutrition and of endocrine glands, and other general diseases35.6038.0619.196.090.90100.00..
VI.Diseases of the nervous system43.4535.5315.364.061.60100.00..
VII.Diseases of the circulatory system31.0939.1518.398.912.46100.00..
VIII.Diseases of the respiratory system46.2533.5913.305.231.63100.00..
IX.Diseases of the digestive system55.0028.8910.534.930.65100.00..
X.Diseases of the genitourinary system43.0335.0713.437.471.00100.00..
XII.Diseases of the skin and cellular tissue57.4928.849.913.340.42100.00..
XIII.Diseases of the bones and organs of movement45.0836.8112.045.140.33100.00..
XVII.Violence or accident52.5532.7410.483.320.53100.00..
XVII.Ill-defined diseases45.0136.2213.074.870.83100.00..
Other diseases, not included above36.7029.3622.9310.090.92100.00..

The total of 44,435 Armed Forces personnel treated in hospital in 1942 represents 27 per cent. of the total hospital population for that year. Of the total military patients treated, 43,912 were males, this figure being 43 per cent. of the total male patients treated in hospital during the year. It should be noted that the figures include members of the services returned from overseas who have been admitted to public hospitals for further treatment.



THE law relating to public health in New Zealand is contained in the Health Act, 1920, and its amending Act of 1940. A full account of the 1920 Act was given in the 1927 issue of the Year-Book.

For the administration of the Act there is established a Department of Health, with a Director-General of Health as chief administrative officer. The Department comprises Divisions of Public Hygiene, Hospitals, Nursing, School Hygiene, Maternal Welfare, Tuberculosis, and Dental Hygiene, each of which is under the supervision of a Director.

For purposes of local administration the country is divided into health districts, each of which is under the charge of a Medical Officer of Health, who must he a medical practitioner with special qualifications in public health. These officers are entrusted with wide powers, and act as advisers of the local governing bodies in matters pertaining to public health.

In addition to being charged with the administration of the Health Act, the Department controls the registration of medical practitioners, dentists, nurses, midwives and maternity nurses, psychiatric nurses, opticians, masseurs, and plumbers. It supervises the sale of food and drugs (including poisons and “dangerous” drugs), and protects the public against exploitation by fraud in connection with alleged remedies. The Department also administers the law covering the control of cemeteries and crematoria, and has certain responsibilities in connection with the administration of the Pharmacy Act, reference to which is made at a later stage of this section.

A further function of the Department is the administration of that part of the Social Security Act, 1938, which deals with medical, hospital, and other related benefits. This matter is treated in detail in Section 24.

The Director-General of Health is Chairman of the Medical Research Council setup in 1938. The functions of the Council are —

  1. To correlate, as far as may be practicable, medical research work in New Zealand.

  2. To recommend what researches and investigations should be undertaken.

  3. To appoint separate ad hoc committees to take charge of each investigation.

  4. To recommend what amount of money should be allocated for medical research each year, and to suggest an apportionment of the amount to separate investigations.

The dental inspection and treatment and the medical inspection of school-children are carried out by special divisions of the Department.


The system of notification of certain diseases has been in force in New Zealand for many years, and the list of notifiable diseases has undergone several alterations. The list at present is as follows:—

A. Notifiable infectious diseases mentioned in Part I of First Schedule of Health Act, 1920:—

  • Anthrax.

  • Cerebro-spinal fever (cerebro-spinal meningitis).

  • Cholera.

  • Dengue.

  • Diphtheria.

  • Erysipelas.

  • Enteric fever (typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever).

  • Leprosy.

  • Plague (bubonic or pneumonic).

  • Puerperal fever (puerperal septicæmia and puerperal sapræmia).

  • Scarlet fever (scarlatina).

  • Smallpox (variola, including varioloid, alastrim, amaas, Cuban itch, and Philippine itch).

  • Typhus.

  • Yellow fever.

B. Infectious diseases declared notifiable by Gazette notice:—

  • Dysentery (amæbic and bacillary).

  • Encephalitis lethargica.

  • Fulminant influenza.

  • Pneumonic influenza.

  • Septicæmia influenza.

  • Ophthalmia neonatorum.

  • Acute poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis).

  • Trachoma (granular conjunctivitis, granular ophthalmia, granular eyelids).

  • Undulant fever.

  • Septicæmia consequent on abortion or miscarriage.

  • Puerperal fever, involving any form of puerperal sepsis other than or in addition to puerperal septicæmia and puerperal sapræmia.

  • Any form of sepsis or sapræmia following abortion or miscarriage.

C. Notifiable diseases, other than infectious, mentioned in the Second Schedule to the Act:—

  • Actinomycosis.

  • Ankylostomiasis (hookworm disease).

  • Bilharziosis (endemic hæmaturia, Egyptian hæmaturia).

  • Phosphorus poisoning.

  • Beriberi.

  • Hydatids.

  • Food poisoning (botulismus, ptomaine poisoning).

  • Chronic lead poisoning.

  • Tetanus.

D. Notifiable diseases, other than infectious, declared by Gazette notice:—

  • Eclampsia.

  • Malaria.

  • Tuberculosis (all forms).


In November, 1924, syphilis, gonorrhoea, and soft chancre were declared to be infectious diseases within the meaning of the Health Act, 1920, and in July of the following year provision was made for the compulsory notification of these diseases in certain circumstances, and for the treatment of those affected by venereal disease in a communicable form. In the Health Amendment Act, 1940, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and soft chancre were added to the list of other infectious diseases included in Part II of the First Schedule to the Act, thus strengthening the position in regard to the control of these diseases.

In December, 1941, amended regulations in connection with the more stringent control of venereal disease came into force, revoking the Social Hygiene Regulations 1925. Under the present regulations it is incumbent upon a medical practitioner, or a medical officer of a hospital, who has been treating any person suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, to notify the Medical Officer of Health if such person fails for two weeks after the date fixed in that behalf by the medical practitioner or medical officer to attend for further treatment, or fails on two or more successive occasions to attend for treatment as directed by the medical practitioner or medical officer, unless he is known in the meantime to have placed himself under treatment by another medical practitioner.

If the Medical Officer of Health has reason to believe (either from a notification as provided for above or otherwise) that a person is suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, he may require such person to submit himself for examination to some medical practitioner and to supply a medical certificate, in the form specified, as to the state of his health in relation to venereal disease. If a medical certificate is not supplied within the time specified, or if the certificate does not definitely disclose whether or not the person to whom it relates is suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, the Medical Officer of Health may require the person to submit himself for examination to a medical practitioner nominated by the Medical Officer of Health, and to obtain a certificate from such medical practitioner.

In cases where a certificate is not obtainable, or where the certificate shows the person to be suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, or where a notice has been received from a medical practitioner of failure to attend for treatment as set out above, the Medical Officer of Health may, if he thinks it expedient so to do in the interests of the public health, make an order under section 84 of the Health Act, 1920, for the removal of such person to a hospital or other place where he may be effectually isolated. The medical officer in charge is required to admit such person and make any necessary examination to determine whether the patient is suffering from any venereal disease, and if so, he may detain the patient for a period not exceeding six weeks for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. The Medical Officer of Health may, however, on the recommendation of the medical officer of the hospital or institution, extend the period of detention for not more than six weeks at any one time unless he is satisfied that the person detained is no longer suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form. A detained person may, with the consent of the Medical Officer of Health, be released by the medical officer of the hospital or place where he is detained, but must follow out the directions of the medical officer as to further treatment or investigation. Provision is made for the right of appeal by a detained person to a Magistrate, who may order an examination by two medical practitioners, and if it appears from the evidence brought before him that the person concerned is free from venereal disease in a communicable form, the Magistrate may make an order for his release.

Where treatment is not conveniently obtainable at a public hospital or public clinic the Director-General of Health may authorize a registered medical practitioner to administer free treatment if the patient is unable to pay. In such cases fees for services are paid by the State according to a scale laid down.

It is an offence for any person, while suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form and while not being treated to the satisfaction of a medical practitioner, to engage in any employment or act in any capacity in or about any factory, shop, hotel, restaurant, house, or other place if, by reason thereof, in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health, any food intended for consumption by any other person or any food utensil is exposed to infection from venereal disease, or is likely to be so infected. Any person who, while suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, is employed for hire or reward in any occupation involving the care of children under five years of age also commits an offence. If any person suffering from venereal-disease knowingly infects, or does or suffers any act likely to infect, any other person, he is liable to imprisonment for twelve months, together with a fine of £100.

It is the duty of every medical practitioner who is consulted by any person, sixteen years of age or over, suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form, to give such person a notice setting forth the requirements for treatment and for not infecting others, and expressly warning him or her against marrying until medically certified as cured.

Every precaution is taken for the maintenance of secrecy and the avoidance of publicity in the carrying-out of the regulations.


In January, 1930, an amendment to the Dogs Registration Act, 1908, came into force requiring local authorities to keep a supply of approved remedies for the care or prevention of disease in dogs caused by infection from the parasite Echinococcus granulosus. At the time of registration every person registering a dog receives a sufficient amount of an approved remedy to enable him to treat the dog every three months until the ensuing date of registration, and also printed instructions for the use of the remedy. The approved remedy at present supplied is arecoline hydrobromide. The Act is administered by the Department of Internal Affairs.


In addition to the powers of conferring degrees of Bachelor and Master of Surgery and Bachelor and Doctor of Medicine, the Senate of the New Zealand University has power to grant diplomas in public health, and to make regulations for the examination of candidates for such diplomas. The examination for the diploma in public health is held in two parts, which may be taken separately or at the same time.


Under the Medical Practitioners Act, 1914, as amended by the Medical Practitioners Amendment Act, 1924, is constituted the Medical Council of New Zealand, consisting of. the Director-General of Health and six other registered medical practitioners. One of the six members is appointed on the recommendation of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association.

The Council deals with all applications for registration under the Act, which enacts that every person shall be entitled to registration who satisfies the Council that he is a graduate in medicine and surgery of the University of New Zealand; or registered on the register kept in accordance with the provisions of the Acts regulating the registration of medical practitioners in the United Kingdom, or eligible for registration on such last-mentioned register; or the holder, after a course of not less than five years' study, of a foreign diploma approved by the Council. The Council may however, refuse to approve any diploma (even in the case of persons registered or eligible for registration in the United Kingdom) unless it appears that New Zealand graduates are, without further examination, entitled to registration in the country granting the diploma. It may also require the holder of a foreign diploma to pass an examination in medicine and surgery to be prescribed and conducted by the Senate of the New Zealand University.

Regulations issued on 20th August, 1941, permit of a provisional practising certificate being issued to a medical student who, with a view to becoming registered in New Zealand, has completed all parts of the curriculum up to and including the passing of the necessary examinations pertaining to the first five of the six years' course. This is a temporary measure, necessitated by war conditions.

An applicant who is refused registration as a medical practitioner has the right of appeal to the Supreme Court. The fee for registration is £2, payable on deposit of evidence of qualification. Under the Finance Act, 1932– 33 (No. 2), an annual practising certificate (fee 5s.) is required.

The Medical Council is vested with disciplinary powers, including the suspension of a medical practitioner from practice. Right of appeal to the Supreme Court is provided. The Supreme Court, on the motion of the Medical Council, may order the removal of a name from the register in cases where a medical practitioner is guilty of grave misconduct, or is convicted of an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment with hard labour for a term of two years or upwards. The number of medical practitioners on the register at 31st March, 1944, was 1,863. During the year 1943–44 the names of 20 practitioners were removed and 89 added, 84 of the latter having New Zealand qualifications.


The Dentists Act, 1936, provides for the constitution of a Dental Council consisting of—

  1. The Director-General of Health.

  2. Two dentists appointed on the recommendation of the Minister of Health.

  3. One dentist, being a member of the Faculty of Dentistry in the University of Otago, appointed on the recommendation of the Minister.

  4. One dentist appointed upon election by postal vote of those dentists whose registered addresses are in the North Island.

  5. One dentist appointed upon election by postal vote of those dentists whose registered addresses are in the South Island.

  6. One medical practitioner, being a member of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Otago, appointed on the recommendation of the Minister.

  7. One medical practitioner nominated in that behalf by the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association and appointed on the recommendation of the Minister.

Every adult person is entitled to be registered as a dentist who satisfies the Dental Council that he is the holder of a qualification in dentistry obtained from the University of New Zealand; or that he is the holder of a qualification approved by the Dental Council and obtained from a university or other institution in the United Kingdom or in some other part of His Majesty' s dominions (in the latter case, however, the Council may require a further examination); or the holder of an approved foreign qualification, but the Council may refuse to approve any foreign qualification if New Zealand graduates in dentistry are not accepted for registration without further examination in the country concerned, or the Council may require the applicant to pass a further examination.

Application for registration should be made to the Director-General of Health. The fee for initial registration is £2. If a provisional practising certificate is required there is a further fee of 5s. A fee of £1 per annum is payable for an annual practising certificate.

The number on the register at 1st October, 1944, was 830.


The Nurses and Midwives Registration Act, 1925, as amended in 1926, 1930, 1939, 1943, and 1944, provides for a Nurses and Midwives Registration Board, consisting of the Director-General of Health or his deputy; the Director-General of Mental Hospitals or his deputy; the Director of the Division of Nursing (who is Registrar of the Board); a registered medical practitioner; a registered nurse, a registered midwife, a registered psychiatric nurse, and one other person recommended by the New Zealand Registered Nurses' Association or a similar body; and one person nominated by the Hospital Boards' Association.

Every person who has attained the age of twenty-one years and is certified as having undergone training for not less than three years and three months in a hospital approved by the Board as a training-school under the Act, and who has passed the prescribed hospital and State examinations, is entitled to registration. The 1943 Amendment gives the Board power to grant an applicant for registration credit for training received elsewhere than in New Zealand.

The number on the register of nurses in active practice at 31st March, 1944, was 3,228.

There are thirty-nine public hospitals recognized as training-schools for nurses. The following table shows the number of occupied beds in training schools, registered nurses, and pupil nurses for each of the last five years.

Number of occupied beds in training schools5,3326,0406,2866,8097,603
Number of registered nurses8099229841,1721,366
Number of pupil nurses2,2192,5752,7982,9743,124

Private hospitals complying with certain specified conditions, public mental hospitals, and hospital ships may be approved by the Board as training-schools for nurses.

Maternity Nurses and Midwives.

The Act also provides for the registration of midwives and maternity nurses. The requirements for training are as follows:—

Maternity Nurses.

In the case of a person who is a registered nurse the period of training is six months, and in the case of any other person, is a period of eighteen months. At the end of this time the candidate is eligible to sit for the State Maternity Examination.


No person may be accepted for training as a midwife until such person has been registered as a maternity nurse; the duration of the course of training will then be a period of six months, at the end of which the candidate is eligible to sit for the State Midwifery Examination.

The number on the register of midwives in active practice on the 31st March, 1944, was 730, and the number of registered maternity nurses on the active list was 1,283.

Nursing Aids.

The Nurses and Midwives Registration Amendment Act, 1939, provides for the registration and training of “nursing aids.” There were 62 on the register at 31st March, 1944.

Psychiatric Nurses.

The Nurses and Midwives Registration Amendment Act, 1944, which came into force on 1st January, 1945, provides for the registration and training of psychiatric nurses. Regulations issued on 14th February, 1945, prescribe that the period of training for a psychiatric nurse is two years in the case of a registered nurse and three years in the case of any other person. The period of training is deemed to include any period of training undergone in any public mental institution between 1st January, 1942, and the date of coming into force of the regulations referred to (23rd February, 1945).

Hospital Dietitians.

A State course for training hospital dietitians has been established. The course is of one year' s duration for graduates of the Home-science School, University of Otago, and two years for approved registered nurses. Thirty-nine have qualified as hospital dietitians since the course was introduced in 1942.

District Health Nurses.

There are 18 departmental Nurse Inspectors and 156 District Health Nurses stationed throughout the Dominion. These include School Nurses.

Post-graduate Training.

Selected registered nurses periodically undergo a postgraduate course of training for administrative positions. The Department of Health has established at Wellington a school for this purpose in charge of specially trained tutor sisters. Thirty-two nurses attended this course in 1944.


The Opticians Act, 1928, provides for the constitution of an Opticians Board, consisting of the Director-General of Health (the Registrar), three persons engaged in practice as opticians in New Zealand (one of whom must be practising as an employee of another registered optician), and a registered medical practitioner with special knowledge of diseases of the eyes.

The Board deals with all applications for registration under the Act. On payment of the prescribed fee (£5), every person is entitled to registration as an optician who satisfies the Board that—

  1. He has received satisfactory training qualifying him to practise as an optician, and is the holder of a certificate of qualification recognized by the Board, or

  2. He has passed an examination under the Act. both theoretical and practical, after a course of not less than three years' training in New Zealand as prescribed by regulations.

Under the Finance Act, 1932– 33 (No. 2), an annual practising certificate (fee 10s.) is required.

Regulations pursuant to the Opticians Act, 1928, prescribe the conditions and. period of training and the syllabus for the examination conducted by the Opticians Board.

The number of opticians on the register at 31st March, 1944, was 281.


Under the Masseurs Registration Act, 1920, and the Masseurs Registration Amendment Act, 1924, there is constituted the Masseurs Registration Board of New Zealand, consisting of the Director-General of Health, a registered medical practitioner, and two persons engaged in the practice of massage in New Zealand.

The Board deals with all applications for registration (fee £3) under the Act. It is necessary for applicants to be in possession of approved certificates for the three branches of massage: (1) Massage; (2) medical electricity; (3) remedial exercises and other branches of physiotherapy.

Under the Finance Act, 1932–33 (No. 2), an annual practising certificate (fee 10s.) is required.

The number of masseurs on the register at 31st March, 1944, was 376.


The Plumbers Board of New Zealand, constituted under the Plumbers Registration Act, 1912, consists of five members—viz., the Director-General of Health or his deputy (Chairman); the Director of Education; a city or borough engineer nominated by the Municipal Association of New Zealand; a master plumber and a journeyman plumber elected by their respective associations.

The functions of the Board are to decide what persons may be registered under the Act, and in what districts sanitary plumbing may be performed only by registered plumbers. It also decides the scope of the examinations to be held as a part of the process of securing registration.

Under the Finance Act, 1932– 33 (No. 2), an annual license fee of 5s. is payable by registered plumbers doing sanitary plumbing. A registered plumber is not-required to pass any examination or to pay any license fee under local authority by-laws.

The total of names on the register at 31st March, 1944, was 2,939.


In order to make better provision for the sale of food and drugs in a pure state the Sale of Food and Drugs Act was passed by the Legislature, and came into force on 1st January, 1908. The Act is administered by the Department of Health, and provides for the analysis, by analysts appointed under the Act, of any article of food or drink, or of any drug, which may be sold, offered for sale, or exposed for sale, and for the inspection of any place where there is any food or drug intended for sale. If any such article be proved to be unfit for human consumption, or likely to cause injury to health if consumed, heavy penalties may be inflicted on the person or persons responsible. Stringent measures are provided for the prevention of adulteration of food, drink, or drugs, and for the inspection of places where-such goods are manufactured or packed. The sale of any vessel or utensil made of enamelware of such a nature as to be capable of imparting any poisonous or deleterious-properties to any foodstuff is prohibited. The selling of light-weight bread is an offence under the Act, as is also the taking back of bread after it has been in the possession of the purchaser for more than an hour.

Considerable progress has been made in implementing the purposes of the Act. All the commonly used foodstuffs are standardized, and the labelling of packages is controlled by regulations which are revised and added to as the necessity arises.

An amendment of the Act in 1924 marked a noteworthy advance in legislation of this kind, and has been used to good effect in controlling all kinds of publicity concerning any food or drug whereby a purchaser is likely to be deceived in regard to the properties of such food or drug, whether it is dealt with by a regulation or not.

The definition of “drug” includes medicines used externally or internally by man; it also includes anæthetics, soaps, ointments, disinfectants, and tobacco.

Any person may, on payment of the prescribed fee, together with the cost of the sample, require any authorized officer to purchase a sample of any food or drug and to submit it for analysis.

The administration of the Weights and Measures Act is among the functions of the Department of Labour; the correct weight of bread, butter, and other foodstuffs coming within the scope of this Act.


This Act, which superseded and repealed the Quackery Prevention Act, 1908, came into force on 1st January, 1943. An advertisement is described as any words, whether written or spoken, or any picture, drawing, or figure which may be inserted in any newspaper or other periodical or brought to the notice of the public in any other manner. The term does not, however, include any advertisement or scientific matter which is distributed only to members of the medical or pharmaceutical professions, or of any other profession concerned with the health of the human body, or which is published only in a publication which in the ordinary course circulates only among, or is distributed only to, such persons. The control of all advertisements is in the hands of an authority, called the Medical Advertisements Board, which consists of the Director-General of Health as Chairman, an analyst under the Food and Drugs Act, 1908, a medical practitioner, and two other persons.

The Board may serve on the proprietor of any drug, cosmetic, dentifrice, article, substance, preparation, instrument, or apparatus to which any medical advertisement relates, or on any person for whom or on whose behalf a medical advertisement has been published, a notice requiring the proprietor or other person to prove to the satisfaction of the Board any claim or statement which is contained or implied in the advertisement. Persons served with a notice are entitled to appear before the Board and submit evidence. Advertisements which are the subject of a notice must not be published after the expiration of seven days from the service of the notice and until the Board has notified its decision.

With the prior authority of the Board, the Chairman may, for the purpose of protecting the public, publish statements relating to any matter contained or implied in medical advertisements. All such statements will be privileged. All medical advertisements are to contain the true name of the advertiser. Provision is also made for the control of testimonials appearing in advertisements.

Regulations issued under the Act list a schedule of diseases in two parts. Concerning those in Part I, no claim to be able to diagnose, prevent, alleviate, treat, or cure may be made, but a claim to be able to treat or alleviate those in Part II is allowed provided no indication or suggestion of prevention or cure is made. Advertisements may not state that any article or method of treatment is used or recommended by medical practitioners, dentists, chemists, nurses, or masseurs, or by any person using the description or title of “doctor,” “scientist,” or “professor” unless the person named is or was a medical practitioner registered by law in some part of the British Empire. Inter alia, the regulations also prohibit any claim or statement which is false, or likely to mislead or deceive, or indecent, or intended to suggest the fear of serious consequences from some trivial or minor complaint. No person may invite correspondence from the public for diagnosis of or consultation concerning any complaint. The regulations also cover the issuing of directions concerning dosage, and precautions concerning glandular preparations, dangerous drugs, and poisons.

Every person who infringes the provisions is liable to imprisonment for a term up to three months or to a fine not exceeding £50, and for a continuance of the offence to a further fine not exceeding £5 for every day during which the offence continues. In the case of a corporate body the penalty is a fine not exceeding £200, and up to £20 a day for continuing offences.


In order to carry out New Zealand' s obligations under the Geneva Convention (League of Nations), the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1927, was enacted. The dealing in and the use of prepared opium are prohibited, and the production, manufacture, sale, and distribution of other dangerous drugs are subject to a license granted by the Director-General of Health or by some other lawful authority. Provisions are made to prevent illicit traffic in drugs of a habit-forming nature. Suitable regulations are in force to give effect to the provisions of the Act, and follow lines similar to the regulations in England and Australia.

The Poisons Act, 1934, is aimed principally at preventing deaths from misadventure arising from two main causes: first, the careless use of industrial and farm poisons through loose packing or handling in bottles commonly used for foodstuffs, beverages, or harmless medicines; second, the increasing tendency by the public to use certain of the newer drugs having hypnotic or pain-reducing properties, or supposed to be effective for slimming, &c. Regulations providing machinery for carrying out the Act have been passed on the lines of the provisions in force in Great Britain.


The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, constituted by the Pharmacy Act, 1939, consists of about 800 members. These are known as “registered chemists,” and all pharmacies are required to be under the immediate supervision and control of one of these.

The affairs of the Society are managed by the Pharmacy Board, set up by the Act. This Board consists of twelve members, one of whom is appointed by the Minister of Health, nine are elected on a district basis by members of the society, and two by persons (other than members of the society) employed in pharmacies. The main function of the Pharmacy Board is to administer the Pharmacy Act and its amendments in the interests of the public and of the members of the society, and also to watch such other legal provisions generally as may have a bearing upon pharmacy.

The Society has reciprocal agreements with the societies of Great Britain and all the Australian States—that is to say, a member registered after passing the full examinations of a reciprocating country may be registered in any of the others on complying with prescribed formalities and on payment of the necessary fees.

The Pharmacy Board holds examinations annually for those who wish to obtain the necessary qualifications entitling them to registration. Candidates must also serve four years' apprenticeship. The College of Pharmacy in Wellington was taken over as a function of the Board at the beginning of 1944. For the preceding period of eleven years the College had been conducted privately, but the Board had always evinced a keen interest in the welfare of the College. Apprentices may be required to attend for certain periods at this college as a compulsory part of their technical training.

The Society has a Benevolent Fund, which is used for the relief of members who may be in needy circumstances, or of their relatives who may be unprovided for.

In addition to the statutory organization set up by the Pharmacy Act, members of the Pharmaceutical Society have another organization known as the Chemists' Defence Association, Ltd., which provides an indemnity guarantee for its members, deals with matters of general interest not covered by the Act, and governs ethical questions as between pharmacists and medical men and the public generally. There is also a Chemists' Service Guild governing purely business matters.

Pharmacy is now subject to the provisions of the Industrial Efficiency Act, 1936, every open shop being under license: no company or individual may open a pharmacy or change his premises without consent from the licensing authority. There are 560 pharmacies at present open under license.


The Cemeteries Act, 1908, which was amended in 1912, 1922, and 1926, constitutes the legislation governing burial and cremation in New Zealand. The Cemeteries Amendment Act, 1926, transferred the work of administration from the Minister of Internal Affairs to the Minister of Health, one of the objects being to utilize the services of Inspectors of Health in giving closer attention to matters for which a field staff is essential.

Widespread provision for cemeteries has been made in the past by the reservation of areas of Crown land for this purpose, but apart from this the Cemeteries Act makes it clear that local authorities are charged with ensuring that in their districts there exists adequate provision for the disposal of the dead.

In most rural areas and in the smaller centres the local authority either acts as trustee or else has been delegated the power of appointing individual trustees to carry out the provisions of the Act. For some cemeteries established on Crown reserves trustees are appointed by the Governor-General. In the larger centres local authorities have acquired land for the establishment of cemeteries.

In regard to cremation, the law provides that this method of disposal may be carried out subject to the prior condition that the deceased was not known to have left any written direction to the contrary and also subject to the condition that the cremation is effected in conformity with the regulations. The latter impose stringent precautions against cremation being used for any criminal purpose. Crematoria have been established in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Hastings.


The Division of School Hygiene is responsible for medical inspection of school-children throughout New Zealand. The School Medical Service was placed on a definite basis in 1912 with the appointment of three full-time School Medical Officers. The staff now consists of a Director and 13 full-time and 3 half-time School Medical Officers. In addition, 5 Medical Officers of Health act as part-time School Medical Officers. The nursing work of the Division of School Hygiene, originally carried out by specialized school nurses, is now done by a staff of 141 district nurses as part of their general programme, and 2 Plunket nurses doing part-time duties. Eighteen Nurse Inspectors give part of their time to school duties, while a further 21 nurses employed by Hospital Boards and the Public Works Department carry out the school nursing work of their respective areas.

The School Medical Service aims at securing for each child three physical examinations during his primary-school life. These examinations are made as the child enters school, half-way through, and at leaving. In between these times special examinations are carried out when requested by teachers, parents, or district nurses, or when considered necessary by School Medical Officers. Parents are notified of defects found, the choice of medical attendance or public hospital treatment being left to the parents. The district nurse follows up the doctor' s work by visiting homes and encouraging parents to have defects remedied.

The following summary furnishes particulars of children medically examined in schools in 1943:—

Children completely examined50,4644,493
Number of children notified a defective (medical and dental)23,3452,715

The size of the existing staff does not permit of medical supervision of non-Maori secondary schools as a routine measure, but annual inspections are carried out where circumstances permit. Maori scholarship-holders are examined annually, and routine inspections with X-ray examinations are made at Maori secondary schools.

Kindergartens are inspected as a routine. Some 4,780 pre-school children were medically examined in 80 pre-school clinics operating in co-operation with the Plunket Society. Advice is given as necessary, and return visits are arranged for in cases where the child' s health shows need of continued supervision. The mother is referred to her own medical adviser or the public hospital when this course of action is deemed necessary.

Entrants to the teaching profession are medically examined before admission to training colleges. Dental trainees of the Dental Hygiene Division are also medically examined before entrance to Dental School. These examinations include chest X-ray.

The milk-in-schools scheme was inaugurated at the beginning of 1937. In 1943, 235,361 pupils representing some 84 per cent. of school population were receiving free bottled, pasteurized, malted milk, or milk for cocoa-making.

Apples free of cost were supplied during the apple season to pupils attending all types of schools. The supply continued for a period of eight weeks and involved the distribution of approximately 92,000 cases of apples. This scheme was inaugurated in 1941.

The health-camp movement has progressed steadily since the formation of the National Federation of Health Camps in 1936, and the inauguration of the King George V Memorial Fund Board in 1938. Permanent camps are established or are in the course of establishment in some areas, and summer camps are operating in all districts. The sale of health stamps through post-offices is one source of revenue towards their maintenance.

Diphtheria immunization is being steadily offered by the School Medical Service, and the following numbers of children had this protective course in 1943: Pre-school, 7,806; school-children, 15,660: total, 23,466. The scope of immunization work has been widened to include whooping-cough. Vaccine has been obtained in quantity, and free treatment is available through pre-school clinics. Tuberculosis work has been entirely re-organized, the family being taken as the unit for preventive work. Contact supervision, previously done in schools, is now carried out in the homes. District nurses see that the tuberculosis case is under proper care and treatment, arrange the X-raying of all household contacts, also such base hospital, sanatorium, and specialist visits as may be needed for full diagnosis and treatment of incipient disease in contacts. Backward children, or children with defects of speech and hearing, are referred to special classes or schools.

The sanitary condition of school buildings is inspected, and defects are reported to the Education Authorities for remedial action.


The New Zealand School Dental Service, instituted in 1921, is conducted by the Dental Division of the Department of Health. By the end of 1943 school dental clinics had been established at 413 centres in the Dominion, and further expansion was being continued. Each clinic deals with the children of certain specified schools in its vicinity, and these are organized into a “dental group.” Local administration of clinics is in the hands of a dental clinic committee, composed of parents and other local residents. Treatment of the children in the clinics is carried out by school dental nurses specially trained for this work by the Department. For this purpose there is a modern well-equipped training school at Wellington.

At the end of December, 1943, there were 441 trained school dental nurses in the Service, and in addition there were 150 student dental nurses in training. At the same date, 168,588 children belonging to 2,203 schools were under systematic treatment at the various clinics. With the consent of their parents, children are brought under treatment while they are in the primer classes, but the attendance of pre-school children is also encouraged. Children who attend are kept dentally fit until they leave primary school. For this purpose they are re-examined at six-monthly intervals and necessary treatment is carried out. The number of children of preschool age included in the total quoted above was 18,122.

Particular attention is given to instructing children in the principles of dental hygiene, and the Department aims at securing the co-operation of both the children and their parents in the endeavour to reduce the prevalence of dental disease.

During the year 1943– 44 the staff of the Dental Division gave 7,246 talks, addresses, and other forms of educational activity.

The following is a summary of the treatment performed in the Service during the year 1943: Fillings, 980,766; extractions, 81,524; other operations, 400,114: making a total of 1,462,404 operations.

Plans for the extension of the Government' s dental services to provide for children beyond primary-school age are now under way, and it is intended that the scheme will eventually embrace adolescents up to the age of eighteen years.


Probably no other country in the world has better natural facilities than New Zealand for popular recreation. The Dominion has also had the benefit of much organization by sports bodies for the promotion of various games, but it was not until 1937, with the passing of the Physical Welfare and Recreation Act, that the cult of physical fitness became a definite part of a national policy, in line with movements in other British countries, several countries of the Continent of Europe, and the United States of America. The purpose is tersely set out in the Act—“to provide for the development of facilities for, and the encouragement of, physical training, exercise, sport, and recreation, and to facilitate the establishment of centres for social activities related thereto.”

Before the Act was passed the goodwill of representatives of sports bodies from all parts of the Dominion was shown at a conference in Wellington, from which the structure of a National Sports Council emerged. The Act made provision for a National Council of Physical Welfare and Recreation, comprising the Minister of Internal Affairs (Chairman), the Under-Secretary of Internal Affairs (Deputy-Chairman), the Director-General of Health, the Director of Education, a representative of the Naval, Military, and Air Forces, and other members (not more than ten) to be appointed by the Minister. There was provision also for the declaration of areas as districts under the Act and the appointment of District Committees, representing the Councils.

Before preparations were complete for a systematic functioning of the National Council and District Committees, a state of war was declared, and the development of activities had to be adapted to the abnormal conditions.

Physical Welfare Officers.

Despite the difficulties, a practicable programme was carefully planned and physical welfare officers were appointed to put the national policy into operation. For administrative purposes, the Dominion has been divided into sixteen districts.

Voluntary Leaders.

To make amends, as far as possible, for unavoidable limitation of staff, the Department encourages the training of voluntary leaders until they are qualified to spread the benefits of the instruction given by the Physical Welfare Officers. In this manner very important service has been given for the Home Guard, the Air Training Corps, the Women' s War Service Auxiliary, Church Youth Groups, and other organizations.

War Effort.

For some time after the outbreak of war the main activities of the male officers were concerned with the Home Guard.

Later on, the principal training scheme was for the Air Training Corps, information regarding which will be found in Section 8. In addition to special exercises the cadets are encouraged to take part in suitable sports. Instruction in swimming is an important feature, and a high degree of efficiency has been reached. As a result of the scheme many cadets who had shown an indifferent attitude to field games before joining the Corps have now developed into enthusiastic players. The physique of cadets was thus much improved.

Sports Councils

The Department' s officers have helped materially in the formation of the New Zealand Sports Council and the provincial district Sports Councils, which function for the welfare of all types of sport. These Councils, which are self-governing, have the Department' s friendly co-operation whenever it is desired.

School Recreation Cards.

Other assistance for sports bodies is given with the use of recreation cards, which facilitate recruiting among pupils when they leave school.

Group Travel.

A scheme for the promotion of group travel, particularly tours for people of moderate means, was formulated and some progress has been made despite war restrictions.

Camps for Women Industrial Workers.

A successful start has been made with recreational week-end camps for women industrial workers, particularly in industries closely linked with the war effort.

Educational Activities.

Supporting the practical demonstrations, the Department carries on keep-fit campaigns by means of newspaper articles, radio talks, and lectures.



PRIOR to the abolition of the provinces in 1876 hospital maintenance was left to the care of the several Provincial Councils, each of which had a system of its own. On the change-over to the county form of government in the following year all of these diverse systems came under the charge of the Central Government, and many difficulties and incongruities arose. Gradually there grew up a system of excessive demands upon the Government, and in 1885 an attempt to reduce a somewhat chaotic state of affairs to some semblance of order and uniformity took shape in the Hospitals Act of that year, which provided for the constitution of special hospital districts and Boards. Several amendments, based on the result of experience, were passed in later years, and the present law relating to the subject is embodied in the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act, 1926, to which a number of amendments have since been made.

The management of affairs in each hospital district is entrusted to a Hospital Board, consisting of not more than twenty and not less than eight members representing the contributory local authority districts comprising the hospital area. Members are elected at the ordinary general election of the contributory authorities.

Subject to the consent of the Minister of Health, a Hospital Board has power to establish, control, and manage any of the following institutions: Hospitals, charitable institutions, maternity homes, convalescent homes, sanatoria, habitual inebriates' homes, reformatory institutions for the reception of women and girls, and any other institutions for any purpose which the Governor-General by Order in Council may declare to be a public charitable purpose. It may grant charitable aid to indigent, sick, or infirm persons; may provide medical, surgical, and nursing attention for persons not inmates of an institution; and may grant financial assistance to medical and nursing associations and private philanthropic institutions approved by the Minister.

It is the duty of every Hospital Board to provide and maintain such hospitals as the Director-General of Health considers necessary in any part of the district for (a) the reception, relief, &c., of any persons suffering from infectious diseases; (b) the reception, &c., of persons suffering from other than infectious diseases. Hospital Boards are also required to provide for the removal to hospital of these classes of persons. In addition, Boards must provide maternity hospitals.

Provision of Finance.

No rating-powers are given to Hospital Boards, but under the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act the estimated net expenditure (excluding Government subsidy) of a Board is apportioned by the Board among the contributory local authorities within its district in proportion to the capital value of the rateable property in each contributory district. On levies from local authorities for maintenance purposes a scale of subsidy is in operation ranging from 14s. to 26s. per £1, and averaging throughout the Dominion £1 for £1. The principle of the scale is to give relatively greater assistance where the requirements are high in proportion to the rateable capital value of the hospital district.

Prior to the coming into operation of the Social Security Act, 1938, patients' fees and other recoveries from those assisted formed about a third of the total maintenance receipts of Boards.

Under Part III of the Social Security Act, however, Hospital Boards now receive payments from the Social Security Fund in respect of hospital treatment and examinations (including out-patient treatment), pharmaceutical requirements, and district nursing services. These payments provide free treatment for all persons entitled to benefits under the Act. The only exceptions to the foregoing are laboratory services for, and dental treatment of, outpatients. (Details of hospital and other benefits appear in the section dealing with “Social Security, Pensions, Superannuation, &c.”)

Receipts from the Social Security Fund are now the major source of Boards' revenue for maintenance purposes. Levies on local authorities and Government subsidy thereon are each about one-fourth of the total maintenance receipts.

As regards capital works, the net requirements are met by levy and by subsidy in equal amounts; in other words, the subsidy is at the rate of £1 for £1. Where Boards may have recourse to borrowing, loan repayments are financed in the same way as ordinary capital expenditure, and interest charges in the same manner as in the case of maintenance expenditure.

A Government subsidy was formerly payable on voluntary contributions and bequests, but this has been discontinued since March, 1932.


The following is a summary of the receipts of Hospital Boards for the years ended 31st March, 1942 and 1943.

Voluntary contributions and bequests9,66612,762
Payments from Social Security Fund, patients' payments, and charitable-aid recoveries1,530,6141,761,083
Rent, interest, and dividends31,41931,611
Sale of capital assets2,5261,798
Miscellaneous receipts48,885113,900


Although the figures in the preceding statement relate to receipts, the official returns of Hospital Boards have since 1916– 17 been supplied on the basis of an Income and Expenditure Account and Balance-sheet.

During the war years the expenditure only (not the income) has been tabulated. The following summary for the years ended 31st March, 1942 and 1943, gives the total expenditure by Hospital Boards, with the addition of expenditure on Government hospitals other than mental hospitals.

Amount.Percentage of Total.Amount.Percentage of Total.
 £ £ 
Hospital maintenance2,903,54986.33,324,85786.1
Charitable relief—    
Medical associations9,7050.37,4130.2
District nursing26,0550.827,0540.7
Miscellaneous maintenance expenditure27,4740.882,9502.1
Interest on loans90,0962.7110,9012.9
National Provident Fund35,8401.040,6921.0

Capital expenditure for the year 1942–43 totalled £1,031,825, this amount including £130,436 in respect of amortization of loan-money. The total, expenditure for the-year, excluding amounts paid from one Board or departmental institution to another,. was thus ਲ4,892,025.

Hospital Maintenance Expenditure.

The average annual cost of maintenance of general hospitals per occupied bed in the years shown was as follows:—

Year.Provisions.Surgery and DispensaryDomestic and Establishment.Salaries and Wages.Miscellaneous.Totals, Maintenance,

Charitable-aid Expenditure.

Charitable-aid expenditure during the last five years has been as follows:—

Year.Indoor Relief.Outdoor Relief.Totals.

The increase in rates of various existing pensions, the introduction of invalidity pensions in 1936, and the introduction of social security benefits in 1939, have relieved Hospital Boards of an appreciable amount of expenditure under the heading of “Outdoor Relief,” the decrease between 1935– 36 and 1942– 43 amounting to 80.1 per cent. The reduction in “Indoor Relief” between 1939– 40 and 1940– 41 was accounted for mainly by the reclassification of certain institutions which are now included with hospitals.

Cost to Government and Local Authorities.

The following shows, for triennial periods, the average annual net maintenance requirements of Hospital Boards—i.e., the average estimated deficit to be met by levies on the local authorities and the Government subsidy thereon.

Triennium.Average Annual Amount.
1930–31 to 1932–331,116,503
1931–32 to 1933–341,075,146
1932–33 to 1934–351,086,479
1933–34 to 1935–361,100,228
1934–55 to 1936–371,173,581
1935–36 to 1937–381,306,206 1
1936–37 to 1938–391,495,335
1937–38 to 1939–401,711,469
1938–39 to 1940–411,697,051
1939–40 to 1941–421,733,178
1940–41 to 1942–431,838,279
1941–42 to 194342,036,843


During the year 1942– 43 twelve new loans aggregating £893,850 were authorized for terms ranging from ten to twenty–five years.

The amount of loans outstanding at the 31st March, 1943, was £2,798,623. This amount, however, is reduced by a sum of £159,671 standing to the credit of sinking funds, making the net amount of loan-money £2,638,952.


Subsection D of the preceding section contains statistics of in-patients treated at public hospitals other than purely maternity hospitals. In the following table the figures are inclusive of maternity hospitals, sanatoria, &c., and relate to the financial year instead of to the calendar year.

Year.In-patients treated.Average Number of Occupied Beds.Beds available.
Total Number.Proportion per 1,000 of Population.Number.Proportion per 1,000 of Population.Number.Proportion per 1,000 of Population.

The number of institutions coming under the heading of public hospitals for the year ended 31st March, 1943, was 145, comprising 74 general hospitals (6 of which were also old people' s homes, and 2 special hospitals), 1 chronic hospital, 4 convalescent hospitals, 54 maternity hospitals, 5 tuberculosis sanatoria, 1 tuberculosis prevention institution, 2 chronic.tuberculosis hospitals, 2 tuberculosis dispensaries, and 2 infectious.diseases hospitals. A comparison of beds and patients for the last five years is as follows:—

* In addition, dental cases treated during the year and attendances were: Auckland, 2,144, 8,164; Wellington, 28,510, 46,502; Christchurch, 6,203, 22,850; and Timaru, 083, 3,675.
Number of institutions129130139143145
Number of beds—     
Children's cots1,2361,2511,3221,3291,390
Infectious disease1,0921,0321,0721,153870
Average number of occupied beds per diem6,8977,3068,8089,37810,225
In-patients treated during year114,451123,540143,291152,503184,644
Deaths during year5,8455,5976,3086,7517,400


The Private Hospitals Act, which came into force on 1st January, 1907, is now embodied in the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act, 1926, Part III of which provides for the licensing, management, and inspection of private hospitals. All such institutions must be licensed, and every application for a license must be accompanied by a full description and plan of the building it is proposed to use, together with a statement showing the number and class of cases it is proposed to receive. The license shall state whether it is in respect of a lying-in private hospital or a surgical and medical private hospital, or if for both classes of cases: no private hospital may be used for any purpose other than that in respect of which the license is granted and purposes reasonably incidental thereto.

For every private hospital there must be a resident manager, either the licensee or some person appointed by the licensee, and in every case the manager must be a legally qualified medical practitioner or a registered nurse in the case of a surgical and medical hospital, or a registered midwife in the case of a lying-in hospital, or a registered nurse and midwife, or a registered nurse having as resident assistant a registered midwife, in the case of a hospital licensed for both purposes. No license may be granted in respect of a house not previously licensed until such house and annexed buildings have been approved by the Director-General of Health, and no addition may be made to any private hospital until it has been so approved. No license may be granted unless the character and fitness of the applicant are deemed to be satisfactory. The license must be renewed on 1st January of each year.

In every private hospital there must be kept a register of patients showing particulars as to name, age, abode, and date of reception of each patient, date when such patient left (or, in the event of death, the date thereof), name of medical practitioner attending, and such other details as may be prescribed. Inquiry may be made at any time as to the management, conduct, and equipment of any private hospital, and if such inquiry discloses an unsatisfactory state of affairs the license may be revoked. Provision is made for the inspection of private hospitals in the same manner as for public institutions.

The Social Security Act, inter alia, provides for the payment to licensees of private hospitals (who have entered into contracts under the Act) of prescribed amounts in respect of hospital treatment afforded by them. Particulars are contained in Section 24, “Social Security, Pensions, Superannuation, 'c.”

The total number of private hospitals licensed in the Dominion as at 31st March 1943, was 314, with 1,1C8 maternity beds and 1,815 beds for general cases.


Benefits under the Social Security Act, 1938.—The Social Security Act, inter alia, makes provision for payments from the Social Security Fund to hospitals, medical practitioners, and nurses for services in connection with maternity cases.

Particulars of maternity benefits provided under the Act will be found in Section 24, “Social Security, Pensions, Superannuation, 'c.”

State Maternity Hospitals.

There were formerly seven State maternity (St. Helens) hospitals, but in 1933 two-Wanganui and Gisborne-were handed over to the control of the Wanganui and Cook Hospital Boards respectively, and at the end of 1937 the St. Helens Hospital, Dunedin, was closed. Prior to the advent of the maternity benefits under the Social Security Act, the use of these hospitals was restricted to cases where the husband's income did not exceed £6 per week, and in cases of large families £6 per week. There are now no restrictions in this respect, and all service is free to the patient. The main function now served by these hospitals is to provide extended training for maternity nurses, so that they may qualify for the more responsible work of midwives.

This service is given under the supervision of the Medical Superintendent, who is also responsible for the conduct of all abnormal cases and for the supervision of the ante-natal and post-natal care of all patients attending. There is also an out-patient department attached to each hospital, which provides nursing services for patients not entering the institution.

The statistics given below for the year 1943 cover only the four State maternity (St. Helens) hospitals.

Hospital, and Year of Opening.Number of Beds.Confinements in InstitutionConfinements attended Outside.
Total Live Births.Total Still-1 births.Deaths of Mothers,Deaths of Infants in Hospital.
Auckland (1906)32596l61168
Wellington (1905)3344314146
Christchurch (1907)1529217....8
Invercargill (1918)17194515..

Public Maternity Hospitals.

There were at 31st March, 1943, 85 public maternity hospitals or maternity wards attached to public hospitals under control of Hospital Boards. These maternity hospitals and wards had 796 beds available. These institutions admit all residents of their respective districts, irrespective of income. At most of them patients may be attended by the midwives in charge of the institution, under the supervision of the medical superintendent of the hospital, or in some instances may engage their own medical attendants.

For the reception of single girls there are special charitable institutions at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, in addition to those established by the Salvation Army at the four chief centres and at Napier and Gisborne.

District Midwives and Maternity Nurses.

Fourteen Hospital Boards have forty-seven district nurses, who in most cases carry out some obstetrical work in conjunction with other health work. In addition, there are Health Department district nurses appointed for the purpose of attending the Maori population, part of their work being attendance on Maori women during confinement.

Ante-natal Services.

Since maternity benefits have been provided free to patients under the Social Security Act and medical men have been paid a fee under that Act for giving ante-natal, neo-natal, and post-natal attention, the bulk of the ante-natal attendance has been provided by the patient' s own medical attendant, this being one part of the service for which he receives a fee. The doctor' s attendance, if desired, is supplemented by that of the midwife in charge of an ante-natal clinic. These free antenatal clinics are established in connection with the four St. Helens Hospitals, the eighty-five public maternity hospitals or maternity wards, and a number of clinics conducted by the Plunket Society. In the case of women living far from the main centres of population, the work is also supplemented by the District Nurses who are employed by the Health Department or by Hospital Boards.

The majority of women now realize that ante-natal care is as essential to their welfare as attendance during their delivery and lying-in period by a doctor and trained maternity nurse or midwife. The Department has supplemented the service by the free distribution of a pamphlet “Suggestions to Expectant Mothers,” which has served its purposes as propaganda for ante-natal care.

Every effort is being made to impress the public with the importance of parental hygiene and systematic ante-natal care throughout pregnancy. Addresses and lectures are delivered by Medical Officers of the Department of Health to nurses and societies interested in this subject. So that there will be definite co-operation between the midwife and the ante-natal clinic, and in order that the midwife may be informed of the clinical methods adopted by the Health Department, refresher courses of lectures, particularly on ante-natal work, are available to all registered midwives and maternity nurses.


One hundred and twenty institutions classed under the heading of benevolent and orphan asylums furnished returns to the Census and Statistics Department for the year 1943. These institutions, which are conducted by Hospital Boards, religious bodies, and other public or semi-public organizations, are alike in that they provide accommodation on a benevolent or charitable basis, but differ largely in the classes of persons to whom they afford assistance. The generic name covers old people' s homes, maternity and refuge homes for women and girls, orphanages, homes for the infirm or afflicted, “prison gate” homes, and an institute for the blind. Some of the orphanages deal with cases similar to those dealt with by the special schools under the control of the Education Department, and a few of the women' s institutions receive offenders committed to them by the Courts.

The following table gives particulars of admissions, discharges, &c., during each of the last five years.

Number of InstitutionsAdmissions during Year.Births in Institutions during Year.Discharges during Year.Deaths in Institutions during Year.Inmates at 3lst December.Total Inmates during Year.

The foregoing figures reveal a substantial decrease in the number of inmates of charitable institutions during the last two years, but the actual position is obscured by the fact that certain inmates of institutions under the control of Hospital Boards are now supported by hospital benefits from the Social Security Fund, and are no longer counted in these statistics. Such inmates are now included in the statistics relating to public hospitals.

The next table gives similar information for the year 1943, classified according to the class of authority controlling the institutions.

Controlling Authorities.Number of Institutions.Inmates at 1st January.Admissions during Year.Births in Institutions during Year.Discharges during Year.Deaths in Institutions during Year.Inmates at 31st December.Total Inmates during Year.
Hospital Boards23799884..6611618611,683
Church of England1558927424281..606887
Roman Catholic Church161,696767447601011,6462,507
Presbyterian Church17465144..13415460609
Methodist Church4207166..13213228373
Baptist Church15031..24..5181
Salvation Army279183,6041703,729229414,692
Undenominational associations, 'c.1650058153560155591,134

In many cases there is a variation in the class of inmate provided for by the different controlling bodies. For instance, none of the homos under the supervision of the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, or the Brethren are maternity homes of any description. The four churches mentioned control children' s homes and orphanages only, while the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church provide chiefly for children, although some maternity cases are dealt with. The Hospital Boards concentrate chiefly upon old people' s homes, while the Salvation Army deals with all types, and is the only body that conducts extensively the “prison-gate” or industrial type of institution. Factors such as these affect the demands made upon the different institutions for accommodation or relief.

The ages and sexes of all inmates in the institutions at 31st December, 1943, were as follows:—

Under 5 years211233444
5 and under 10 years539456995
10 and under 15 year6965821,278
15 and under 17 year90156246
25 and under 25 year39208247
25 and under 35 year4576121
35 and under 45 year7489163
45 and under 55 year10897205
55 and under 65 year174146320
65 years and over8364781,314

Some remarkable differences in the sex proportions at the various age-groups are apparent in the foregoing table. In the first group there is naturally little relative disparity, but in the groups covering ages 5 and under 15 years, there is a considerable preponderance of males. The next four groups, covering ages 15 and under 45 years, show a large excess of females. The number of females in these groups, of course, is greatly increased by the inclusion of girls and women entering maternity homes. The figures are also affected by the fact that the majority of boys who have spent most of their lives in orphanages obtain outside employment at about age 15. From 45 onwards a distinct male excess is observed.

The overwhelming majority of males dependent upon charitable aid at these later ages is indeed remarkable, although the “prison-gate” and industrial type of home no doubt swell the numbers at this stage.

The next table contains information concerning inmates of orphanages and of a few other institutions which provide for both children and older people. The figures relate to inmates under the age of twenty-one who were admitted to the institutions during 1943.

Age, In Completed Years.Legitimate.No Information as to Legitimacy.Illegitimate.Totals.
Father and Mother both Alive.Father Dead, Mother Alive.Father Alive, Mother Dead.Father and Mother both Dead.No Information as to Orphanhood
Not stated3..1..3....7

Contrary to what might generally be expected, the above figures reveal that children both of whose parents are alive constitute a substantial majority of those admitted to homes. Cases where both parents are dead are comparatively few.


THERE are eight public mental hospitals in the Dominion maintained wholly or in part out of the public revenue. There is also one private hospital licensed for the reception of the mentally afflicted.

The patients on the register at the end of 1943 were distributed as shown below. Numbers given throughout this subsection are inclusive of Maoris. Figures for Maoris are also given separately toward the end of the subsection.

Mental Hospital.Males.Females.Totals.
Kingseat (Papakura)423327750
Seacliff and Waitati626369995
Ashburn Hall (private mental hospital)102434

The number of patients remaining at the end of each of the last five years is shown in the following table.

Year.Patients remaining at 31st December.Proportion per 10,000 of Population.
Average of five years4,3773,6878,06454.3644.4249.30

The total number of patients under supervision, care, or control during 1943 was 9,285 (4,933 males, 4,352 females), as against 9,353 in 1942. The average number resident in mental hospitals was 7,694 in 1943 and 7,687 in 1942.


The total admissions to mental hospitals during the year 1943 was 1,208 (550 males and 658 females), this number not including 233 transfers from one institution to another. The principal causes of insanity as assigned on admission were as follows:

Previous attack203
Puberty and adolescence24
Puerperal state16
Mental stress, prolonged118
Organic brain disease67
Physical disorders59

Of the 1,208 persons admitted to mental hospitals during 1943, those admitted for the first time to any mental hospital in New Zealand numbered 969 (453 males, 516 females), and those readmitted 239 (97 males, 142 females).

The figures for 1943 represent one first admission for every 1,688 persons of the-mean population of the Dominion. The number of first admissions and the rate per 10,000 of mean population for each of the last five years were as follows:—

Year.Number of First Admissions.Proportion per 10,000 of Mean. Population.
Average of five years4754989735.876.035.96

The number of males admitted to mental hospitals has not shown any appreciable increase since the outbreak of war, the average for the four years 1936– 39 being 560, as compared with an average of 568 for the period 1940– 43. Female admissions, on the other hand, rose from an average of 573 in the former period to 639 in the latter, an increase of 11.5 per cent. These figures are inclusive of readmissions.


A person labouring under mental defect, but capable of understanding the meaning of the procedure, may seek admission to a mental hospital as a voluntary boarder. At the beginning of 1943 there were 286 such patients on the books (130 males, 156 females), and during the year 374 (161 males, 213 females) were admitted. If a voluntary boarder should after admission show mental defect sufficiently pronounced and sustained to render it improper to classify him any longer as such, application for a reception order is made to a Magistrate. During the year 1943, 10 (2 males, 8 females) were transferred from the voluntary to the ordinary register, and 13 males and 14 females died, while 274 (115 males, 159 females) were discharged, leaving 349 (161 males, 188 females) on the records at the end of the year.


The following table shows the position in regard to servicemen suffering from psychiatric disorders admitted to mental hospitals from the commencement of hostilities up to 31st December, 1943. These figures possess added interest in view of the fact mentioned previously that there has been practically no increase in the total male admissions since the outbreak of war.

Admitted after Overseas Service.Admitted from Camps, Ac., in New Zealand
Discharged recovered49 Discharged recovered59 
Discharged not recovered13 Discharged not recovered17 
Died2 Died5 
  64  81
Remaining at 31st December, 1943 46Remaining at 31st December, 1943 46


A summary is given showing the ages of patients in. mental hospitals at the end of 1943.

Age, in Years.Males.Females.Totals.
1 and under 5322658
5 and under 107347120
10 and under l512080200
15 and under 20231169400
20 and under 306214601,081
30 and under 407445851,329
40 and under 507597021,461
50 and under 607707901,660
60 and under 706555791,234
70 and under 80278231509
80 and under 90544195
90 and over246


The next table gives the average number resident, those who were discharged as recovered, and those who died, during the period 1939–43.

Year.Year.Discharged as recovered.Died.
Number.Percentage of Number admitted.Number.Average Number resident.
Average of five years7,61333728.115437.12

The table following shows the duration of residence in mental hospitals of patients who died and of patients who were discharged as recovered during the year 1943. Of those discharged as recovered, 59 per cent. had been inmates for loss than one year.

Duration of Residence.Patients who died.Patients discharged as recovered.
Under 1 month303464156
1 month and under 3 months273259242751
3 months and under 6 months203050213960
6month and under 9 months101424163854
9 month and under 12 months91120172542
1 year and under 2 years272350385997
2 years and under 3 years211839111627
3 year and under 5 years1919384812
5 year and under 7 years81119213
7 year and under 10 years131427448
10 year and under 12 years12719......
12 year and under 15 years12820..11
15 years and over593594......
Died during absence14721......

Old age and diseases of the circulatory system are the principal causes of death among mental hospital patients. The figures for the principal causes and groups of causes for the year 1943 are as follows:—

Other general diseases20
General paralysis of the insane15
Other diseases of the nervous system65
Diseases of the circulatory system127
Diseases of the respiratory system88
Diseases of the digestive system13
Diseases of the genitourinary system4
Old age120
External causes6
Died during absence23

A table is added showing for all admissions since 1876 the percentages of patients who were discharged (as recovered and relieved, separately), who died undischarged, or who still remained at the end of 1943.

*includes a small number of patients discharged whose condition was not improved.
Discharged—Per Cent.Per Cent.Per Cent.
Remaining at end of 194315.9217.0516.42
Total admissions, 1876—1943100.00100.00100.00


A license may be granted to enable a private mental hospital to receive patients for treatment. Stringent conditions are attached to the issue of such a license, which may be revoked at any time. The Director.General of Mental Hospitals has wide powers in the regulation and control of private institutions, which are placed practically on the same footing as public mental hospitals in regard to inspection and other matters.

There is only one licensed private mental institution in the Dominion, that at Wakari (Ashburn Hall), near Dunedin, established in 1882. Particulars of admissions, discharges, deaths, and patients remaining, for the last five years, are as follows. These figures are included in preceding tables.

Year.Admissions.Discharges.Deaths.Patients remaining at End of Year.


The number of Maoris admitted as patients to mental hospitals is small. The figures for the last five years were:—

Year.Admitted during Year.Remaining at End of Year.

The above figures are also included in the tables covering all inmates of mental hospitals.

The number of Maoris remaining in mental hospitals at the end of 1943 represented a rate of only 19.59 per 10,000 of the Maori population, as compared with a rate of 51.55 in the case of the non-Maori population.


The total expenditure on maintenance of public mental hospitals (not including the cost of new buildings and additions), and receipts on account of patients and for sale of produce, &c., during the last five years were as follows:—

Year.Total Expenditure.Receipts on account of Patients, Sale of Produce,&c.Net Expenditure,

As from 1st April, 1939, free maintenance and treatment have been provided in all public mental hospitals in accordance with the provisions of the Social Security Act, 1938. The consequent loss of revenue to the Mental Hospitals Department, through the operation of the Act, is now recoverable from the Social Security Fund, the amount so recovered during 1943–44 being £183,199. Of the balance of receipts, £13,218 represents the recovery of patients' accounts outstanding at 31st March, 1939. The gross average cost per patient in 1943– 44 was £95 4s. 2d., as compared with £92 12s. 5d. in 1942– 43, £89 4s. 9d. in 1941– 42, and £86 11s. 4d. in 1940– 41.


THE education system of New Zealand can be understood only when it is seen against its historical background. The first settlements in the new colony were relatively isolated units which had each to make its own provision for the education of its children. In some places the provision of schools was left to the churches, in some to private enterprise, and in others to public associations. When the provinces were established in 1852, the Provincial Councils took over education as one of their functions, but this brought no degree of uniformity to New Zealand schools, for each province tended to foster the type of school organization already established in its area. The provinces varied considerably in the efficiency of their school systems; but, in spite of some success in the face of difficulties in certain areas, at the end of the provincial period in 1876 not more than half the children between the ages of five and fifteen were attending school at all.

The present national system of free, secular, and compulsory* education is based on the Education Act of 1877. This Act followed upon the abolition of the provinces, but the provinces, though dead as political units, left their mark upon the school system. A fierce struggle between the protagonists of central and of local control ended in a victory for the provincialists, and the public schools were placed under the control of District Education Boards, which were for the most part the same bodies as the old Provincial Education Boards. The Colonial Government, however, had to provide all the finance in the form of capitation grants, and a small Department of Education was set up in Wellington, very largely for the purpose of distributing the grants. For every school district constituted under the Act there was a School Committee, elected by householders, which, subject to the control of the Board, had “the management of educational matters within the school district.” The School Committees elected the members of the Education Board.

As far as mere structure is concerned, this still remains the pattern of the system of school administration in New Zealand, but there have been, in the intervening sixty-odd years, great changes in the relative functions of the three authorities. The general tendency has been for final power and responsibility to shift from the Committees to the Boards and from the Boards to the Department. The Committees, in fact, through lack of professional executive officers and independent sources of revenue, from the very beginning were unable to take over the full powers that the 1877 Act obviously intended them to have, and for the first twenty years of national education the Education Boards were the predominant authorities in the system.

From just before the beginning of this century the Education Department began to play an increasingly important part in educational administration, partly as a result of improved means of communication. Under the Act of 1877 the Boards had been given wide powers: to administer funds from endowments and departmental grants, to appoint and remove teachers, to pay teachers' salaries according to their own scales, to establish scholarships and provide for secondary education in district high schools, and to control the inspectorate. Legislation, beginning with the establishment of a national scale of primary school salaries and staffing in 1901 and culminating in the Education Act of 1914 (still the basic measure under which the education system is administered), concentrated these powers more and more in the hands of the Department, which began to take a more detailed interest in expenditure by the Boards. The original freedom of the Boards in the expenditure of building grants was taken away, and the present system, requiring special departmental authorization for each new building, gradually became established. From 1901 onwards the Department paid over to the Boards the exact sum required for teachers' salaries, thus leaving a much-reduced capitation grant to be used by the local authorities at their own discretion. In 1914 the Department took over the control of the primary-school inspectorate.

* Every child (with certain statutory exemptions) between the ages of seven and fifteen years has to be enrolled as a pupil of either a public or a registered school.

The centralization of the inspectorate made possible a further change affecting the powers of the Boards. In 1920 a Dominion grading scheme was instituted under which all primary-school teachers were annually awarded grading marks by the Inspectors. A teacher's total marks give him a place on a numerically graded list*. Since all ordinary appointments are decided on the basis of this list, the system of appointment is in effect a national one, and the Boards have very limited powers of discretion although they make the appointments and the teachers are servants of the Boards. In 1940 biennial grading was substituted for annual grading, thus freeing the inspectors of schools in alternate years to give more time to schools. The provision of an annual grading number for teachers was, however, retained.

It does not follow, however, that, since the Boards and the School Committees have lost many of their original powers, they have ceased to play an important part in the system. The Committee's primary function is the care of school buildings, grounds, and equipment, but, in addition to this, many interest themselves very keenly in the general activities of the school and provide in each district a focusing-point for local opinion on educational matters. The Education Boards are still the initiating bodies on matters of buildings, sites, conveyance of pupils, consolidation, and provision of school facilities generally; and, although the final word often lies with the Minister of Education or the Department, the Boards have no small influence in the fixing of policy within their districts. The schools are legally their schools and the teachers their teachers, and, although in general the Boards' choices of applicants are limited by the grading system, they have much more discretion in the selection of applicants for special or key positions. The teachers' class-room activities are under the control of the Inspectors, but their general responsibility is to the Boards, and their professional' life tends to centre on the Boards rather than on the Department. In spite of the apparent clumsiness of the administrative structure and of periods of strong feeling in the past, the system at present functions remarkably smoothly, and has achieved a balance, workable if not ideal, between the claims of local initiative and national efficiency.

Post-primary education, with the exception of that given in the district high schools, was not brought by the Act of 1877 within the province of the Education Boards. Several secondary schools had been established in various ways before 1877, and these continued under their own Boards of Governors, which were in no way related to the Education Boards. The Education Reserves Act, 1877, set aside one-fourth of the educational reserves for secondary education, vesting the remainder in the Education Boards for primary-school purposes. Thus there was introduced into the colony that cleavage between elementary and secondary education that was characteristic of the English system. In the years immediately following the Act of 1877, a series of Acts set up a number of local High School Boards, each in control of its own land endowments. No effective provision was made for the inspection of these schools by any outside authority or for the co-ordination of their work with any other part of the school system.

* A teacher's salary was determined by his grade. In 1938 now regulations for the purpose of raising the salaries and stabilizing the staffs of public-school teachers fixed a basic salary dependent on years of service, plus a possible position salary depending on the position held.

† The Education Amendment Act of 1938 provided for Increased grants to Education Boards for general purposes, and also for the incidental expenses of the School Committees.

Further secondary schools, and, from 1902 onwards, technical high schools, were from time to time established. Before 1901, fees had been charged even in district high schools. In that year free places were instituted in district high schools, and in 1902 secondary schools were offered special capitation grants if they would provide free places for deserving scholars. Under the Education Act of 1908 free places at the technical schools were granted on a more liberal basis, and by 1914 all State post-primary schools were obliged to give free places for two years at least to any pupil who had passed the Proficiency examination. In 1936 the Proficiency examination was abolished and free post-primary education to the end of the year in which he reached nineteen years of age became available to every child completing a primary-school course or attaining fourteen years of age.

A direct effect of this movement towards free post-primary education was that the Department began to exercise an increasing degree of control over the schools. The Education Amendment Act, 1920, authorized the establishment of Dominion staffing and salary scales for post-primary schools, and instituted the system—already operative in the case of the Education Boards—of paying over to the schools the exact sum required for salaries plus a capitation grant for incidental expenses, less the amount received from local secondary-school endowments. This, in effect, nationalized these endowments, and spread more evenly the benefits resulting from the foresight of the early settlers.


Perhaps the best method of sketching the outline of the school system as it now stands is to trace the career of a child as he passes through the system. He may at the age of three enter a free kindergarten. The kindergartens are under the control of the Free Kindergarten Association, subsidized by the Government. At the age of five he may enter, and at seven he must enter, either a primary school organized under one of the nine Education Boards, or a registered private primary school. All State primary schools are co-educational. The child passes through the infant classes and Standards I, II, III, and IV. At this point he will in most places go straight on to Forms I and II in the same school, but since 1922 there have been established a number of intermediate schools (under the control of Education Boards) and intermediate departments (most of them under post-primary school Boards), which take Form I and II pupils from contributing schools in their areas.

On satisfying the requirements of his headmaster in Form II, or on reaching the age of fourteen, the way is now open to free post-primary education until the age of nineteen is reached. The Education Amendment Act, 1920, made provision for the raising of the school-leaving age from fourteen to fifteen years, but this change was not brought into operation until February, 1944, and all children are now required to attend school until the new leaving-age is reached. This means, in effect, that some period of secondary education is now compulsory for nearly all children. The only provision for exemption is inability to profit from the further period of education. Most children will enrol for the additional compulsory period at post-primary schools, but the Correspondence School will be called upon to cater for some pupils in the more remote country districts.

When a country child leaves the primary stage he may have no alternative but to enter Form III of a district high school (which is really a secondary top to a primary school and is under the same control), or enrol in the Correspondence School. In more thickly populated areas there will be either a secondary school or a technical high school available. In some towns a secondary school and a technical high school have amalgamated to form a combined school. To those not understanding the peculiar character of the New Zealand technical high school this may seem a strange union, but the differences between schools of the two types are, except in the larger centres, relatively slight.

The technical schools, combined schools, and a few of the secondary schools run evening classes, particularly in practical and vocational subjects, which an adolescent may attend after he leaves full-time day school. Apprentices in some trades are required to attend evening classes as a part of their trade training.

Prior to 1944 a pupil desiring to undertake a University course remained at post-primary school for three or four years before sitting for the University Entrance Examination. This procedure has now been changed in certain respects, and pupils of certain approved schools may be accredited for matriculation purposes provided that they have completed a four-years secondary-school course. In other cases a pupil who has passed the School Certificate Examination, which is of the same standard as the old University Entrance Examination except that there is only one compulsory subject (English), may sit for a new examination of three subjects at the advanced stage, provided that he or she will have attained the age of sixteen years by 31st December in the year in which the examination is taken. The completion of another year of satisfactory work at school after passing this examination gives the pupil a Higher Leaving Certificate, which entitles him to free tuition at a University college. The University of New Zealand, whose controlling body is the University Senate, is constituted of University colleges in Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury, and the University of Otago (which does not itself grant degrees). The School of Agriculture, consisting of Massey and Canterbury Agricultural Colleges and governed under one Council in connection with the University of New Zealand, is open to students specializing in agricultural studies.

The four teachers' training colleges, although they work in conjunction with the four University colleges, are organically related to them only through the recently formed Boards of Studies. The Education Boards in the four main centres are the controlling authorities of the training colleges.

The State system also caters for the needs of certain special groups of children. Maori children may attend the public schools, but there are also Native village schools provided for their primary education.* There are also a few mission schools remaining from the pre-Maori War system established with the help of Government subsidies. For his post-primary education the Maori child may go free to any available secondary school; but in remote areas he will go to a denominational Maori secondary school. Some of those denominational secondary schools are financed in part from public endowments specially provided, and all of them receive funds from special State scholarships.

Children living in isolated areas or prevented in other ways from attending school may be enrolled in the Correspondence School for both primary and post-primary work.

Finally there are several special schools and smaller homes, administered by the Education Department's Child Welfare Branch, to take care of deaf-and-dumb, backward, or delinquent children.

In addition to the various State schools described, a parent may send his child to a private school, either primary or secondary, conducted by either religious bodies or private individuals. No Government free place is tenable at these schools, but a Secondary School Bursary (referred to on p. 117) may be tenable at a private school, while assistance in the matter of conveyance on the railways and a boarding-allowance under certain conditions may also be given to pupils attending private schools, whether primary or post-primary. All private schools must be registered, and are subject to an annual inspection by the Department's Inspectors. The majority of the private-schools are conducted by the Roman Catholic Church. Amongst the private schools are two endowed secondary schools modelled after the English public school.

To complete the above sketch it should be added that co-education exists only in certain stages of the system. In the public, Native, technical, and some of the secondary schools (particularly those in the country), in the teachers' training colleges, and in the University colleges, pupils and students of both sexes attend together. The principal State secondary schools in the larger centres, however, and—with one exception—all the registered private secondary schools, are single-sex schools.

During 1944 consideration was given to the report of the Consultative Committee on the post-primary curriculum. This report is probably the most important contribution ever made to secondary education in the Dominion. In October, 1944, the Minister of Education called a conference in Christchurch to consider pre-school education, youth services, adult education, religion in education, and rural education. It was the first widely representative conference on education held in New Zealand, and valuable reports were made on the topics under consideration.

* Established under the Native Schools Act, 1867, and administered by the Education Department since 1880.

† Except for Maori “Government pupils” in the denominational secondary schools.

‡ Education Amendment Act, 1921–22.


The number of pupils and students receiving instruction in the educational institutions of the Dominion is shown in the following summary. The table refers to roll numbers as at the end of the year (except in the case of technical classes, which are as at 1st July).

Class of Institution.1939.1940.1941.1942.1943.

* Exclusive of children in kindergartens (2,182 in 1943).

† There were also 996 students taking part-time courses.

Primary Education     
Public (State) schools205,066203,951204,050203,912204,060
Intermediate schools and departments205,066203,951204,050203,912204,060
Native village schools10,40310,73010,91611,00911,274
Native mission schools722736720641614
Registered private primary schools27,55827,71827,89427,82628,714
Lower departments of secondary schools200186155160187
Correspondence classes (primary)1,6881,7271,7931,9161,941
Chatham Islands schools149139127128125
Totals, primary*245,786245,187245,655245,592246,915
Post-primary Education     
Secondary schools14,74314,30313,60913,52314,774
Combined schools2,8082,7932,7802,6602,901
Secondary departments of district high schools5,4015,2535,0334,8525,197
Technical high schools8,4818,0097,3717,9238,436
Maori secondary (boarding) schools431419400346371
Registered private and endowed secondary schools5,5735,6375,7295,8666,572
Correspondence classes (secondary)628644565554559
Totals, post-primary38,06537,05835,48735,72438,810
Technical Classes (excluding Technical High Schools and Technical Day Schools)     
Conducted by Education, Secondary School, or High School Boards5,4145,3994,9962,2932,489
Conducted by Technical School Boards11,4809,8979,2338,0779,002
Conducted by University colleges334302313295368
Totals, technical17,22815,59814,54210,66511,859
University Education     
University colleges5,0204,7394,5553,7564,921
Canterbury Agricultural College1058113647120
Massey Agricultural College22524916634140
Students exempt from lectures629459409536772
Totals, University5,9795,5285,2664,3735,953
Totals, scholars and students*307,058303,371300,950296,354303,537

The transfer of young men to the Armed Forces and the demand for wartime labour are clearly reflected in the foregoing table. Between 1939 and 1942 students attending post-primary schools decreased by 2,341 (6.2 per cent.), part-time students attending technical classes by 6,563 (38.1 per cent.), and University students by 1,606 (26.9 percent.). This trend was arrested in 1943, and the figures for that year recorded increases under practically all headings as compared with 1942, a contributing factor being the partial demobilization of home-service personnel of the Armed Forces, many of whom were under twenty years of age.


The number of candidates who actually presented themselves for the various examinations conducted by the Education Department during the last five years is given below.


* Final grade only.

Public Service Entrance1,8742,5583,0382,8852,902
Teachers' Certificate171169185174184
School Certificate4,8045,0405,1724,9425,470
London University3..1..6
Handicraft Teachers' Certificate129664
Naval Cadetships148711

The University of New Zealand conducted examinations in 1943 in the faculties of arts, science, medicine, public health, dentistry, home science, law, engineering, commerce, agriculture, and music; for diplomas in journalism, in banking, and in fine arts; and for admission to the legal and accountancy professions. There were 6,757 entrants for the degree and professional examinations in 1943, compared with 5,084 in 1942. The number of candidates for the University Entrance Examination in the last five years has been: 1939, 5,437; 1940, 5,191; 1941, 5,255; 1942, 4,947; 1943. 5,152.


Out of public funds £5,221,389 was spent on education for the financial year ended 31st March, 1944. This sum included amounts paid from reserves revenue, but not revenues received by certain secondary schools and University colleges from endowments, fees, &c., which are available for educational purposes. Direct income of post-primary schools and University colleges in 1943–44 from reserves vested in them amounted to approximately £50,000. The following shows the expenditure from public funds for each branch or service of education for each of the last five years.

General administration48,31246,93350,56546,71048,919
Elementary education3,433,8183,275,8343,146,7653,067,7383,148,806
Secondary education and technical instruction1,055,5021,023,1711,029,970917,839941,314
Training colleges, &c.226,056195,700198,724219,286267,833
Higher education178,996166,920174,343179,917187,016
Native schools236,180241,932227,491193,390191,481
Physical instruction4,0615,3297,32412,10312,060
School for the deaf11,65410,94813,45912,21513,467
Education of the blind5,1746,2606,6955,8624,619
Schools for the mentally backward38,40526,71726,35125,37924,485
Child welfare161,956182,965170,945179,334198,080
Material and storesCr. 5471,165....2,495
Country library service7,1789,78811,55413,42116,384
Vocational guidance    12,035
Miscellaneous services156,581162,731154,432165,201152,395

There is now given a series of comparative figures which shows the cost of education during the period 1933–34 to 1943–44.

Year ended 31st March,Expenditure from Public Funds.Expenditure per Head of mean Population.


The primary-school system consisted in December, 1943, of 2,090 public schools (including district high schools and intermediate schools or departments), 156 Native village and 10 mission schools for Maoris, 302 registered private primary schools, and 5 lower departments of secondary schools. There were also 46 free kindergarten schools.

Lower departments of secondary schools may be run for pupils who have not passed Form II, provided that no part of the cost of instruction or of the maintenance of the department is met out of the income from endowments of the school or from Government grants. At the end of 1943 the total number of pupils in the five departments mentioned in the preceding paragraph was 187 (128 boys, 59 girls), with 7 teachers.

The curriculum of the primary school, as set out in the syllabus of instruction, includes English, arithmetic, geography, history and civics, drawing and handwork (including needlework), nature-study and elementary science, physical education, moral instruction and health, and singing. Elementary science, agriculture, and, in some schools, dairy work are taught by the regular staff under the supervision of specialist itinerant instructors. Woodwork and metal-work instruction is given to the older boys at manual-training centres, and the older girls are taught domestic subjects, including cookery and hygiene.

The whole of the curriculum is being systematically revised by a number of committees representative of the Education Department and of teachers' organizations. The report of the Arithmetic Syllabus Revision Committee was the first to be adopted, and during 1944 a series of arithmetic text-books was issued to primary schools. These and other text-books produced under the scheme are to be issued free of charge to pupils in all schools, both State and private.

Emphasis has recently been placed on the fuller use of broadcasting, visual aids, art-work, the school library, and physical education.

At the end of the primary course a pupil may receive from the headmaster a Primary School Certificate to the effect that he has satisfactorily completed the work of Form II as prescribed in the Public Schools Syllabus. This certificate replaces the proficiency certificate which was abolished in 1936.


Children below the age of five are not enrolled in the State primary schools. They may be enrolled, however, at free kindergartens maintained by local branches of the New Zealand Free Kindergarten Association. Since 1935 the Government has substantially increased its total grant to the kindergartens. In 1939 three women advisers to infant departments and kindergartens were appointed, and in 1942 grants were provided for the training of kindergarten teachers. The number of trainees to whom the Government pays allowances was increased in 1943 from thirty-nine to eighty.

At the end of 1943 there were 2,182 children on the rolls of forty-six free kindergartens. As yet the system is far from universal.

Public (State) Schools.

The figures tabulated below refer to pupils in public schools—i.e., all pupils in primary schools and intermediate schools and departments. Pupils in the secondary departments of district high schools are not included.

Year.Population at 31st December (excluding Maoris).Number of Schools (including Intermediate Schools and Departments).Pupils at End of Year.Mean of Average Weekly Roll.Average Attendance, Whole Year.Average Attendance as Percentage of Weekly Roll.

Of the 2,090 schools shown above for 1943, 1,453 had rolls of not more than seventy, and of these 767 had rolls ranging from one to twenty-four.

In each of the education districts are located Inspectors of Primary Schools, who form part of the staff of the Department of Education. The total number of Primary-school Inspectors on the 31st March, 1943, was 37, allocated as follows: Auckland, 11; Hawke's Bay, 3; Taranaki, 2; Wanganui, 3; Wellington, 4; Nelson, 2; Canterbury, 6; Otago, 4; Southland, 2.

The following table relates to pupils on the rolls of the public primary schools and Forms I and II of intermediate schools and departments at the 1st July, 1943.

Age, In Years.1943.Percentage of Total Pupils.
5 and under 6