Table of Contents


NEW morerows="" features in this issue of the Year-Book include a Section covering the results of the 1953 Census of Distribution and a short article on Gas Generation and Supply. Several Sections have been extensively rewritten—namely, Building and Construction, Imports, Roads and Road Transport, and Government Finance.

A short article on the Royal Tour is included as Appendix (d) to this volume.

My sincere thanks are due to all who assisted in the preparation and printing of the Year-Book.

Government Statistician.
Census and Statistics Department, 1 July 1954.


TitleLatest No.Date of IssuePrice Per CopyPostage (Extra)

* Published by the Customs Department.

† £2 2s. per annum (post free).

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

§ Being prepared for printing.

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

New Zealand Official Year-Book1954September 195415012
Pocket Digest of New Zealand Statistics1953April 195436 2
Annual Statistical Reports:      
  Population and Buildings Statistics1952–53February 195466 3
  Vital Statistics1952September 195356 2
  Justice Statistics1952May 1954106 4
  External Trade (Part A, Exports)*1949 and 1952December 1953150 5
  External Trade (Part B, Imports)*1949 and 1952April 1954176 8
  Shipping and other Transport Statistics1949 to 1952August 1954130 4
  Report on, and Analysis of, External Trade Statistics1949 to 1952October 195496 4
  Farm Production Statistics1952–53June 195450 3
  Factory Production Statistics1951–52June 1954226 10
  Insurance Statistics1952May 195446 3
  Prices, Wages, and Labour Statistics1951–52 and 1952–53June 195486 4
  Industrial Accidents1951 and 1952§    
  Income and Income Tax Statistics for the Income Year1950–51May 195490 4
  National Income and Sector Accounts1938–39 to 1953–54August 195460 3
  Balance of Payments1950–51 to 1953–54In the Press    
Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand1951–52March 1954150 7
Monthly Abstract of Statistics  40 2
    Retail Trading Statistics (Sept. Abstract)June QuarterOctober 1954    
    Population Projections:      
      New Zealand (Incl. Maori) (December Abstract) December 1953    
      Non-Maori (October Abstract) November 1953    
    Factory Production Statistics (April Abstract)1952–53May 1954    
  Special Supplements:      
    New Zealand Life Tables (non-Maori) (July Abstract)1950–52August 195316 2
    New Zealand Life Tables (Maori) (November Abstract)1950–52December 195316 2
    Retail Prices in New Zealand (October–November) Abstract December 194920 2
Census of Distribution, 19531953April 195460 4
Maps of Urban Areas, 19511951January 1953200 3
Census of Public Libraries, 19491949January 195226 2
Volumes of 1951 Census Results:      
  Vol. I. Increase and Location of Population1951April 195376 4
  Vol. II. Ages and Marital Status1951January 1954106 4
  Vol. III. Religious Professions (Including Summaries for Dependent Children, Race, and War Service)1951November 195350 2
  Vol. IV. Industries, Occupations and Incomes1951September 1954126 5
  Vol. V. Birthplace and Duration of Residence of Overseas-Born1951In the Press    
  Vol. VI. Maori Census1951§    
  Vol. VII. Dwellings and Households1951August 195460 2
  Appendix A. Census of Poultry1951February 195326 2
  Appendix B. Life Tables 1950–52 and Values of Annuities1951§    
  War Service1951November 1953    


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


Inter-censal Population (p. 25).—Recent population changes are given in the following table.


Year EndedMalesFemalesTotalMean Population for Year
Total Population (Including Maoris)
30 June 19531,029,4591,017,9322,047,3912,022,684
30 September 19531,036,2461,024,4432,060,6892,035,903
31 December 19531,043,1431,031,6382,074,7812,048,826
31 March 19541,049,9631,037,7772,087,7402,061,376
Maori Population
30 June 195363,47660,617124,093122,143
30 September 195364,01061,158125,168123,132
31 December 195364,50761,639126,146124,146
31 March 195465,14162,243127,384125,174

The above figures are exclusive of the population of the Cook Islands, 15,657; Niue Island, 4,708; and Tokelau Islands, 1,753 (all at 31 March 1954), and the population of Western Samoa, 91,988 (at 31 March 1954).

Natural Increase.—Owing to the uniformly high levels in births in the last few years and the relative stability in the number of deaths, population gains from natural increase—i.e., excess of births over deaths—have been particularly marked in recent years, the excess of births over deaths in 1953 at 33,589 constituting a record.

Migration (pp. 26–29).—The total number of arrivals in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1954 was 125,096, while the total number of departures in the same year was 110,049. Excluding crews and through passengers, arrivals totalled 61,845 and departures 46,404, making the net excess of arrivals 15,441, as compared with 22,032 in 1952–53. A classification of total arrivals and departures gives the following results.

Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Arrivals
Immigrants intending permanent residence29,00524,896
New Zealand residents returning18,57017,443
Through passengers5,6457,448
      Total arrivals127,116125,096
Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Departures
New Zealand residents departing—  
Temporary residents departing19,62221,079
Through passengers5,6457,448
      Total departures106,782110,049

Until 1953–54 recent statistics of the numbers of immigrants intending permanent residence had shown considerable increases, arrivals under this heading being 18,234 in 1950–51; 24,922 in 1951–52; and 29,005 in 1952–53. This upward trend was not only halted in 1953–54 but in fact a decrease of 4,109 was shown, or slightly more than the gain registered in 1952–53, arrivals in 1953–54 totalling 24,896.

The resumption of assisted passages for certain classes of immigrants is reflected in the statistics. The following were the numbers arriving under this heading over the past four years: 1950–51, 2,928; 1951–52, 4,949; 1952–53, 7,581; 1953–54, 6,299.

The numbers of assisted migrants, which had been steadily rising over the last few years, showed a substantial drop during 1953–54; unassisted migration fell 13–2 per cent, as against a decrease of 16–9 per cent in assisted migrants.


Vital statistics for the calendar years 1952 and 1953 are shown, in summary form, in the following table. Statistics in more detail for 1953 and earlier years are given on pages 55–108.

NumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean PopulationNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

* Infant mortality rates per 1,000 live births.

    Total population51,92826.0151,94325.35
    Total population18,8969.4718,3548.96
Marriages (total)17,0618.5517,2248.41
Infant deaths under one year—    

Births.—The total number of births registered in 1953 (51,943) is the highest recorded in the history of New Zealand, exceeding the previous high total in 1952 by 15. The birth-rate, however, is still below the high figure of 27.70 recorded in 1947.

Population Projections by Age Groups.—A projection by age groups of the non-Maori population appears in Section 3 of this publication. The following tables present projections by age groups of the total population, also separate figures for the Maori population only. The same assumptions regarding immigration have been utilized for the total population projections, while no allowance for migration movement has been made in projecting the Maori population.


Age GroupsDecember 1951December 1962
(a) Assuming 10,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years129,350122,600251,950136,050128,950265,000
5 and under 10 years124,200118,600242,800130,100123,450253,550
10 and under 15 years105,850101,300207,150125,700119,950245,650
15 and under 20 years86,90083,650170,550107,100102,300209,400
20 and under 25 years71,90068,100140,00089,70085,000174,700
25 and under 30 years77,05070,700147,75076,85070,200147,050
30 and under 35 years81,15075,000156,15081,05072,850153,900
35 and under 40 years74,25073,950148,20083,45076,700160,150
40 and under 45 years70,30070,950141,25075,40074,700150,100
45 and under 50 years68,10065,850133,95070,25070,750141,000
50 and under 55 years59,20056,600115,80066,50064,700131,200
55 and under 60 years49,05048,80097,85056,10054,600110,700
60 and under 65 years37,05041,70078,75044,70045,95090,650
65 years and over90,460107,370197,83091,210114,260205,470
      Totals =1,124,8101,105,1702,229,9801,234,1601,204,3602,438,520
(b) Assuming 5,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years127,950121,250249,200132,850125,900258,750
5 and under 10 years123,150117,750240,900127,700121,250248,950
10 and under 15 years104,850100,500205,350123,700118,300242,000
15 and under 20 years86,00083,000169,000105,200100,800206,000
20 and under 25 years70,10067,200137,30087,00083,450170,450
25 and under 30 years74,25069,450143,70072,25068,050140,300
30 and under 35 years78,80073,700152,50075,95070,300146,250
35 and under 40 years72,65072,800145,45079,50074,250153,750
40 and under 45 years69,20070,100139,30072,70072,750145,450
45 and under 50 years67,35065,300132,65068,40069,350137,750
50 and under 55 years58,75056,250115,00065,35063,800129,150
55 and under 60 years48,80048,60097,40055,40054,050109,450
60 and under 65 years36,90041,50078,40044,35045,60089,950
65 years and over90,260106,870197,13090,860113,260204,120
(c) Assuming no Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years126,550119,900246,450129,650122,850252,500
5 and under 10 years122,150116,900239,050125,300119,050244,350
10 and under 15 years103,85099,700203,550121,750116,600238,350
15 and under 20 years85,10082,300167,400103,30099,300202,600
20 and under 25 years68,30066,350134,65084,30081,900166,200
25 and under 30 years71,45068,200139,65067,65065,950133,600
30 and under 35 years76,45072,350148,80070,80067,700138,500
35 and under 40 years71,05071,650142,70075,55071,800147,350
40 and under 45 years68,05069,250137,30069,95070,800140,750
45 and under 50 years66,65064,750131,40066,55067,950134,500
50 and under 55 years53,30055,900114,20064,20062,900127,100
55 and under 60 years48,55048,40096,95054,75053,500108,250
60 and under 65 years36,80041,30078,10044,00045,20089,200
65 years and over90,060106,420196,48090,410112,360202,770


Age GroupsDecember 1957December 1962
Under 5 years14,35013,50027,85017,05016,05033,100
5 and under 10 years11,35010,80022,15013,95013,20027,150
10 and under 15 years9,0508,70017,75011,25010,70021,950
15 and under 20 years8,1507,80015,9508,9508,55017,500
20 and under 25 years6,6006,45013,0507,9507,65015,600
25 and under 30 years5,2505,35010,6006,4506,30012,750
30 and under 35 years4,2504,3008,5505,1005,20010,300
35 and under 40 years3,3003,3506,6504,1004,2008,300
40 and under 45 years2,8502,9505,8003,1503,2006,350
45 and under 50 years2,7002,3505,0502,7002,7505,450
50 and under 55 years2,0001,6503,6502,5002,1504,650
55 and under 60 years1,5001,3002,8001,7501,4503,200
60 and under 65 years1,0008001,8001,2501,0502,300
65 years and over1,6601,4703,1301,8101,5603,370


Farm Production

Estimated Areas of Principal Crops, 1954 Season.—Estimates of areas sown under wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes were collected in the spring of 1953 by inquiry from growers of these crops, and from these estimates, together with reports from Field Officers of the Department of Agriculture at the end of January 1954, total yields of wheat, oats, and barley are estimated. In framing these estimates of yields due allowance is made for areas not threshed (fed off, etc.). Following are the estimates for 1953–54, together with the final figures for the preceding season 1952–53.

1952–53 (Final Figures)1953–54 (Estimated)

* Not available.

Peas for threshing27,265614,417 (Tons)30,000* (Tons)

These figures relate only to holdings of 1 acre and over situated outside borough boundaries. In addition, in the case of potatoes, a fairly considerable amount in the aggregate is grown on smaller holdings and on holdings within borough boundaries.

Farm Production Statistics, 1953–54 Season.—The most striking feature of the 1953–54 statistics is the sustained increase in all classes of livestock. Dairy cows in milk, increasing by nearly 2 per cent, just failed to reach the 2 million mark, which will be a significant peak in the history of the dairy industry following on the first million mark having been reached in 1922. Details for the previous year are shown for comparative purposes; all figures relate only to holdings of one acre and over situated outside borough boundaries.

Dairy cows in milk at 31 January1,962,4921,999,100
Total dairy stock at 31 January2,967,6613,110,400
Total beef stock at 31 January2,478,3022,634,400
Total pigs at 31 January627,830648,900
Total horses at 31 January158,065158,300
Sheep shorn34,794,48935,541,600
Lambs shorn7,111,9008,355,900
Lambs tailed22,162,27023,594,800
Grasses and clovers cut for hay    Acres570,659515,400
Grasses and clovers cut for ensilage    Acres212,911165,200
Lucerne cut for hay or ensilage    Acres93,57089,100
Grassland top dressed (year ended 31 January)—19531954
  With artificial fertilizers only    Acres4,941,6975,377,400
  With lime only    Acres626,372531,400
  With both artificial fertilizers and lime    Acres1,597,8341,546,300
Agricultural tractors at 31 January No.52,49555,600

Timber Production

Timber Production (pp. 512–514).—Provisional figures issued by the New Zealand Forest Service indicate a continued high level of timber production for the year ended 31 March 1954, the output of rough-sawn timber being given as 572,200,000 board feet, a fall of only 0.8 million board feet below the output of the previous year. The output of the principal species was as follows: rimu and miro, 219,200,000 board feet; matai, 36,500,000 board feet; kahikatea, 16,300,000 board feet; beech, 16,800,000 board feet; totara, 14,800,000 board feet; tawa, 16,400,000 board feet; and radiata pine, 235,200,000 board feet. Indigenous species totalled 326,100,000 board feet, and exotics 246,100,000 board feet.

Factory Production Statistics, 1952–53

The main features of the 1952–53 figures are the declines in the total number of persons engaged and in overtime hours worked compared with 1951–52. A number of groups recorded decreases in employment, the principal being: Footwear and other wearing apparel, etc., furniture and fittings, leather and leather products, and rubber products. Significant increases in employment are noted in only three groups: Wood and cork products, machinery, and transport equipment.

Three of the groups mentioned above showing decreased employment also recorded a fall in “added value” over the previous year: Footwear and other wearing apparel, etc., leather and leather products, and rubber products.

In fifteen of the twenty groups overtime hours showed a decline over the previous year, particularly noticeable in footwear and other wearing apparel, etc., wood and cork products, and rubber products. The only significant increase in overtime worked was recorded in transport equipment.

Capital expenditure during 1952–53 was approximately £18 million, compared with £14.8 and £12.4 in 1951–52 and 1950–51 respectively.

One final point of some note is the drop recorded in the manufacturers' surplus—from £33.3 million in 1951–52 to £31.3 million in the latest year, mainly as a result of the fall in production in the groups registering declines in employment and “added value “.

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

The year covered by these statistics is in general that ending 31 March 1953, although concerns are permitted to furnish returns covering their financial years most closely corresponding to that period. In the case of dairy factories and meat-freezing works the years correspond to the respective seasons ending June and September 1953.

Summary (p. 554).—Following are the principal statistics of factory production for 1952–53, with comparable figures for the two previous years.

General Summary1950–511951–521952–53
Number of establishments 8,1138,5478,512
Persons engagedNo.138,435144,370143,180
Production costs—    
  Salaries, wages£65,005,45875,038,79378,490,492
  Other expenses£28,867,07832,027,62235,359,704
Value of output£380,200,428431,038,354464,064,555
Value added in manufacture (added value)£113,315,862140,355,463145,119,219
Overtime worked by wage-earnersHrs.16,005,13816,549,55315,489,705
Volume of production index: base 1949–50 (= 1000)104611191110 
Premises and plant—    
  Value at end of year—    
    Land and buildings£50,573,47556,982,65763,278,850
    Plant and machinery£37,043,37440,797,23545,828,724
  Capital expenditure during year—    
    Land and buildings£4,751,8165,370,3456,775,499
    Plant and machinery£7,624,1149,426,89211,301,031
Coal consumption as fuelTon823,776860,536855,796

Principal Statistics 1952–53 (p. 572).—The following table gives the number of persons engaged, production costs, value of output, and added value for the year 1952–53, classified according to industry groups.

Industry GroupsNumber of Persons EngagedProduction CostsValue of OutputAdded Value
Salaries and WagesMaterialsOther ExpensesTotal
Tobacco manufactures1,3235934,1993785,1706,1201,921
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods24,1669,74821,1012,17733,02634,77013,669
Wood and cork products (except furniture)12,2207,15614,4243,21024,81027,78313,360
Furniture and fittings4,9552,5753,7975576,9297,6863,889
Paper and paper products2,7711,4666,2781,0208,76410,0573,780
Printing, publishing, etc.8,4684,7875,6411,91012,33814,6919,050
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)1,5788592,7742823,9154,1861,412
Rubber products2,0661,3213,6749549496,4352,761
Chemicals and chemical products4,5802,61414,3171,90818,83920.9026,585
Petroleum and coal products2501551,13311511,4031,506373
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.5,8473,5125,0003,0021,51412,9307,930
Basic metal manufactures8225201,6943042,5182,7611,067
Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment)6,1913,7617,9851,24612,99214,5886,603
Machinery (except electrical)8,3254,88711,5551,57518,01719,9168,360
Electrical machinery and appliances3,9552,1304,6377867,5538,1523,515
Transport equipment17,2799,73321,9833,01834,73437,93815,955
Miscellaneous products2,5861,1941,7204383,3523,7852,065

A further table is shown below for 1952–53, giving by industry group the value of premises and plant at the end of the year and capital additions and alterations during the year.

Industry GroupLand and BuildingsPlant and Machinery
Capital Expenditure During YearValue at End of Year*Capital Expenditure During YearValue at End of Year*

* Includes estimated value for rented premises and machinery.

Tobacco manufacture33,999424,89972,720345,803
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods245,1896,309,961352,4802,289,452
Wood and cork products (except furniture)524,4264,557,4511,119,5155,102,064
Furniture and fittings127,6531,920,354122,394707,181
Paper and paper products137,6891,329,452214,2011,349,500
Printing, publishing, etc.275,2733,462,582776,5893,314,978
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)21,642525,58763,702303,967
Rubber products148,3671,458,579352,3031,723,972
Chemicals and chemical products367,8802,946,100503,8852,297,160
Petroleum and coal products56,360183,61215,001122,169
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.614,0483,283,9741,314,6144,006,672
Basic metal manufactures63,541541,69237,507317,884
Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment)217,2942,505,362283,0411,563,192
Machinery (except electrical)401,8002,944,849433,5251,787,326
Electrical machinery and appliances130,1551,389,557225,912632,049
Transport equipment722,4638,025,806531,0722,787,202
Miscellaneous products57,5811,167,809114,027624,595

Electric Power

Electric-power Statistics (p. 621).—Principal data covering all stations for the year ended 31 March 1953 are summarized below:—

Number of stations97

* Calculated on revenue from retail sales only.

Persons engaged5,197
Salaries and wages paid£3,213,243
Number of consumers622,439
Prime movers (total b.h.p.)1,149,752
Generator capacity (main and standby) (kW.)785,782
  Revenue (excluding rates)£15,765,858
    Total revenue£15,766,505
  Management and general£1,655,262
  Capital charges£4,936,823
    Total expenditure£15,768,690
Capital outlay— 
  Total expenditure to date£124,706,812
  Expenditure during year£17,772,187
Units (kWh.)— 
  Generated (000)3,568,749
  Generated per head of mean population1,781
  Sold (retail) (000)2,841,457
  Sold retail per head of mean population1,414
  Revenue per unit of retail sales*0,894d.


Building Permits in Urban and Rural Districts Combined.—The following table gives a summary for New Zealand of building permits (including State building operations) for the years ended 31 March 1953 and 1954.

New Dwellings: NumberNew Dwellings: ValueTotal, All Buildings: ValueNew Dwellings: NumberNew Dwellings: ValueTotal. All Buildings: Value
  ££ ££
Urban districts11,70028,045,24147,179,87012,59631,524,23953,972,845
Rural districts4,5179,232,99313,948,1244,86110,212,04215,527,020

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

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

Building Permits Issued: Rural Districts.—Rural districts include the remaining counties of New Zealand and the two Road Boards of Waiheke Island.

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

Dwelling Units Completed.—Local authorities supplying building permit figures were also requested to supply the number of dwelling units which were completed during the year. Estimates have been made in some cases where it was not possible to supply actual figures. While absolute accuracy for these statistics cannot be claimed, it is believed they will give reasonably approximate results, and also reasonably accurate comparisons of year to year changes.

The total figures on this basis for new dwelling units completed during 1953–54 were 16,600, compared with 16,100 in 1952–53 and 16,300 in 1951–52. Those completed in urban districts numbered 12,200 in 1953–54, and in the previous years quoted 11,900 in each year.


All aggregative series compiled by the Census and Statistics Department are subjected to periodical review to ensure that they still serve a useful purpose in measuring changes in some part of the economy, and that they continue to measure those changes as accurately as possible. A series may be discontinued or superseded if its original purpose seems irrelevant to present conditions, or if the necessary information is no longer available. Changes in method may be adopted if there are changes in sources of information, or if new sources of greater reliability are discovered, or if inconsistencies in the old method are detected.

The underlying concept of Gross Farming Income was first examined, and it was decided that (within the assumptions and limitations set out on pages 429–431 of the present Year-Book) this series serves a clear and useful purpose.

A detailed examination of methods revealed some inconsistencies; it was also sometimes possible to find ways of simplifying calculations without reducing accuracy. Two changes in basic assumptions have been made: first, all prices have been taken “sacks in”, and the value of wool bales is now also included; second, in the case of “grasses and clovers cut for hay” and “grain crops cut for chaff”, production, with the exception of 20 per cent of oats and of grasses and clovers cut for chaff or hay, is now excluded from Gross Farming Income.

These changes have been incorporated in the recalculation of the value of Gross Farming Income, 1938–39 to 1952–53, the results of which are presented below. The total effect of the changes in method is not great, and it by no means invalidates comparison with figures given elsewhere in this Year-Book for earlier years. In addition to the changes already referred to, some further simplifications of method for 1951–52 and 1952–53 were introduced, but with little effect on the aggregates.


Production YearAgricultural ProducePastoral ProduceProduce of Dairying, Poultry, and BeesAll Farm Produce
Value £(m.)Index of Value (Base: 1938–39 = 100)Per Cent of TotalValue £(m.)Index of Value (Base: 1938–39 = 100)Per Cent of TotalValue £(m.)Index of Value (Base: 1938–39 = 100)Per Cent of TotalValue £(m.)Index of Value (Base: 1938–39 = 100)Per Cent of Total

* Provisional.



Statistics of external trade in the calendar year 1953, in continuation of the statistics included in pages 261–315 of this Year-Book, are given below.

Total Commodity Trade.—Following are statistics of exports and imports in 1951, 1952, and 1953.

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

* The corresponding c.i.f. values were £276,215,000 in 1952 and £192,143,000 in 1953.



Calendar YearExportsImports
Value IndexVolume IndexValue IndexVolume Index
1936–38 (average)100100100100

The total trade per head of mean population in 1953 was £195 (exports £115 and imports £80)

Exports.—New Zealand's export commodity trade in 1953 was of a value a little below that of 1952, a decrease of 2 per cent in value being recorded between the two years. An indication of the movement in the value of exports in the main groups of commodities is afforded by the following table.


Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWoolHides, Pelts, and Skins

Apart from the question of values, a special interest attaches to progress in the volume of our export trade in major export commodities. In the following table the fluctuations in the quantities of exports of butter, cheese, meat, and wool since 1943 are shown.

Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWool

* Record.

NOTE.—The figures do not include wartime supplies to Allied Forces under mutual-aid arrangements, a factor of particular importance in 1943 and 1944.

 Tons (000)Tons (000)Tons (000)Tons (000)

Direction of Export Trade.—The table below shows the destinations of New Zealand exports in 1953.

CountryTotal Exports
United Kingdom£(000) 157,894
Republic of India960
Federation of Malaya974
Hong Kong104
British West Africa140
Rhodesia, Northern224
Rhodesia, Southern327
Union of South Africa597
British Guiana107
British West Indies1,425
Gilbert and Ellice Islands66
Western Samoa450
Other Commonwealth countries203
    Totals, Commonwealth countries172,193
West German Federal Republic6,052
Republic of Ireland978
Philippine Islands254
Belgian Congo122
Netherlands Antilles244
Panama Republic295
United States of America18,372
Society Islands158
Other countries829
    Totals, all other countries62,698
Ships' stores706
  Totals, all countries235,596

Exports to Commonwealth countries in 1953 accounted for 73 per cent of the total experts, excluding ships' stores.

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


Calendar YearFood, Drink, and TobaccoApparel, Textiles, Fibres, and YarnsOils, Fats, and WaxesMetals, Metal Manufactures, and MachinesPaper and StationeryDrugs, Chemicals, and ManuresVehicles (Including Parts and Tires)Total*

* Including classes not listed.


Direction of Import Trade.—The next table shows the source (origin) of New Zealand's imports in 1953.

CountryTotal Imports*

* Provisional figures.

United Kingdom92,334
Bahrein Island2,881
British Borneo511
Hong Kong217
Malaya and Singapore3,054
British West Africa450
Kenya and Uganda89
Union of South Africa1,090
British West Indies442
Gilbert and Ellice Islands67
Nauru Island413
New Zealand (re-imports)45
Western Samoa246
Other Commonwealth countries43
  Totals, Commonwealth countries133,052
West German Federal Republic1,967
Germany—Eastern Zone262
Saudi Arabia602
Netherlands Antilles141
United States of America12,120
Other countries239
    Totals, all other countries30,451
  Totals, all countries163,503

Imports from Commonwealth countries in 1953 comprised 81 per cent of the total.


The Census and Statistics Department's first quarterly sample survey of retail trade shows that retail stocks have been reduced since the end of 1953, though they are still above their 1952 value. On a quantity basis the reduction in stocks over the past year is quite substantial.

Sales during the first quarter of 1954 were at about a quarter of the value of sales in the year 1953. On a quantity basis the indications are that sales are somewhat less than a quarter of sales in the year 1953. However, there are considerable seasonal movements in retail sales, and until further quarterly surveys have been completed it will be difficult to draw firm conclusions from quarterly changes in turnover.

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

The results of the first of the quarterly inquiries are now available and relate to retail trading during the quarter ended 31 March 1954.

Hotel, motor vehicle and motor accessory trading are excluded from the sample inquiry, and also from the census figures quoted by way of comparison.

The actual sample inquiry is confined to 9 per cent of establishments, but these, on the basis of the census, represent approximately 29 per cent of total turnover. To provide the estimates presented in the following tables the figures have been expanded by suitable techniques to represent the activity of all retail stores.

The figures as published are of a provisional nature and final figures for the March quarter will be given later when provisional figures for the June quarter are released.

Turnover by Store-types.—The estimated turnover figures for the March quarter of 1954 represent in the case of most types of stores approximately one-quarter of the totals for the complete census year 1952–53. The turnover in furniture stores appears to have been at a lower level than that experienced in other types of stores, but grocers' stores on the other hand record increased turnovers.

The table which follows gives figures for both the census year 1952–53 and the March quarter of 1954.


Store TypeNorth IslandSouth IslandTotals, New Zealand
Auckland Urban AreaWellington and Hutt Urban AreasRemainder of North IslandTotals, North IslandChristchurch Urban AreaDunedin Urban AreaRemainder of South IslandTotals, South Island

* The sample response in this case was inadequate, and the figures, while based on the returns received, should be accepted with reservation.

Year Ended 31 March 1953
Butcher, etc.3,6852,5567,84514,0862,0121,3283,3006,64020,726
Other food and drink8,8884,56811,95825,4143,2432,0014,5649,80835,222
Boot and shoe1,3619952,4284,7847114301,0212,1626,946
Other apparel9,5395,63716,77631,9524,4082,4026,96513,77545,727
Furniture and soft furnishings4,3232,2794,92911,5311,5379602,0844,58116,112
Household appliances, radios, etc.1,4411,0902,8655,3966955111,0902,2967,692
Hardware, builders', etc.2,3633,5655,54611,474839,4471,7963,08214,556
General, departmental, and variety11,9644,52030,08546,5696,8622,91512,37922,15668,725
Quarter Ended 31 March 1954
Butcher, etc.8856092,0483,542487342*9091,7385,280
Other food and drink2,2781,291*3,130*6,699850*5371,2342,6219,320
Boot and shoe3342435711,1481411112625141,662
Other apparel2,3121,3843,9787,6741,0165511,6343,20110,875
Furniture and soft furnishings9844701,1502,6043431944851,0223,626
Household appliances, radios, etc.359314*7511,424164*120*2645481,972
Hardware, builders', etc.612*8021,3432,7571931044187153,472
General, departmental, and variety2,2751,0587,68211,0151,6557223,0875,46416,479

The following table covering retail trading throughout the whole of New Zealand reflects to a certain extent both the seasonal pattern of trading (e.g., milk, ice-cream, confectionery, soft drinks, etc.) and changes due to other circumstances.


Commodity GroupYear Ended 31 March 1953Quarter Ended 31 March 1954

* Information obtained in the quarterly survey indicates that “Clothing, drapery, dress piece goods” are divided in the following proportions: Men's and boys' wear, 28 per cent; women's, girls', and infants' wear, 59 per cent; household drapery, 13 per cent.

Groceries and small goods (including butter, bacon, etc.)£(000) 59,704£(000) 15,867
Butchers' meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables31,0087,895
Other foods (bread, cakes, pastry, etc.)12,0612,994
Milk, ice-cream, confectionery, soft drinks, etc.10,1513,042
Tobacco, cigarettes, and tobacconists' sundries8,9902,096
Chemists' goods, toiletries, cosmetics (including dispensing)8,7652,177
Clothing, drapery, dress piece goods*57,34813,501
Furniture, bedding, floor coverings, soft furnishings, and household textiles21,7654,590
Musical instruments, including radios4,6811,062
Household appliances and electrical goods9,5012,525
Domestic hardware, china, and glassware10,5572,447
Builders' hardware and materials (excluding timber, bricks, and roofing tiles)13,1053,254
Books, stationery, etc.9,1712,387

Stocks.—The Census of Distribution, together with the recent sample inquiry, provides stock figures as at 31 March of the last three years, and these are presented in the form of actual values and index numbers of actual value in the table which follows. The 1953 figures have been used as the base for the index numbers in order to highlight the stock changes between 1953 and 1954.

The figures show for 1954 a fall in stocks as compared with 1953, but an overall increase in value of stocks of 6 per cent as compared with 1952. The increased unit value of retail goods over this same period must be considered in comparing figures of values. An adjustment taking into account such retail price changes would possibly show a reduction in the physical volume of stocks as at March 1954 as compared with both 1953 and 1952.

Hardware stores recorded a substantial increase in the value of stocks held in 1953, but the 1954 figure was lower. The retail stores showing overall increases in the value of stocks in 1954 as compared with 1953 were mainly “Boot and shoe”, “Grocer”, “Other apparel”, and “Chemist”. Lower stocks were held in particular by “Household appliances, radios, etc.”, and “General, departmental, and variety”.

On a location basis Wellington is the only main centre to record an increase in the value of retail stocks over the last year. Christchurch showed the largest decrease.


Actual Value of StocksIndex Numbers of Value of Stocks
Store type— £(000) Base 1953 (= 1000)  
  Butcher, etc.3784413428571000776
  Other food and drink1,6171,8811,7538601000932
  Boot and shoe2,3212,4682,66594010001080
  Other apparel14,64015,11915,56396810001029
  Furniture and soft furnishings4,3284,3914,40098610001002
  Household appliances, radios, etc.1,2781,4141,2789041000904
  Hardware, builders', etc.2,7783,7433,4577421000924
  General, departmental, and variety12,85114,25612,9869011000911
  Auckland urban area10,42711,19710,5679311000944
  Wellington and Hutt urban areas6,9377,7568,66789410001117
  Remainder North Island21,72324,15623,1618991000959
  Christchurch urban area6,5677,5926,3298431000812
  Dunedin urban area3,1243,5613,2208771000904
  Remainder South Island9,31010,1049,6269211000953
  Totals, all retail stores58,08864,36661,5709021000957


Banking and Currency

Reserve Bank (p. 763).—Data showing the liabilities and assets of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand at the last balance day in May 1954 are shown below, together with the corresponding figures for the last balance day in March 1954.

As at Last Balance Day in
March 1954May 1954

* Expressed in New Zealand currency.

  Total liabilities (including other)183,860,452176,282,890
  Bank notes68,003,56668,143,405
  Demand liabilities—  
  Total assets (including other)183,860,452176,282,890
  Sterling exchange reserve*78,210,55689,512,207
    To the State or State undertaking52,733,49240,986,185

Trading Banks (pp. 764–771).—The principal statistics of trading banks for the months of March and May are given below. Debits and clearings cover the monthly periods ended on the last Wednesday of the respective months, while the remaining figures are as at those dates.

As at Last Balance Day in
March 1954May 1954
Bank debits—££
Bank clearings63,789,62455,527,145
Advances, including notes and bills discounted149,537,443148,081,384
Unexercised overdrafts103,506,801111,854,060
  Not bearing interest238,597,622251,235,723
  Bearing interest40,761,71041,013,522
Reserve Bank notes—  
  Notes held by trading banks10,655,29310,948,318
  Net note circulation57,348,27357,195,087
Ratio of advances to deposits52.9750.14

An analysis of advances of the trading banks at quarterly intervals is published by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and the classification as at the last Wednesday in March of 1953 and 1954 is contained in the following table. Figures for earlier years will be found on page 768.

Advances toAs at Last Wednesday in March
Industries allied to primary production20,31620,840
Other manufacturing and productive industries26,59922,924
      Total advances138,401146,405

Overseas Assets of Banks (p. 774).—In the following table the revised series of overseas assets of banks (on account of New Zealand business only) are shown.

Overseas Assets at End of
March 1953March 1954
Trading banks' overseas assets—  
In London26,49527,553
Reserve Bank's overseas assets—  
Sterling exchange53,28378,211
Other overseas assets22,96124,741
Total gross overseas assets106,813135,102
Overseas liabilities of trading banks4,8276,041
Overseas liabilities of Reserve Bank5251
Net overseas assets101,934129,010

Savings Banks (pp. 777–782).—A summary of statistics of savings banks at 31 March 1954 is given below.

Post Office Savings BankTrustee Savings BanksNational Savings Accounts

* On deposits held during year ended 30 June 1953.

Number of depositors1,520,988376,427 
Total amount of deposits during year109,340,23924,320,57410,328,837
Total amount of withdrawals during year99,134,78422,958,1399,629,595
Excess of deposits over withdrawals10,205,4551,362,435699,242
Interest credited to depositors4,442,620915,4211,839,437*
Total amount to credit of depositors at end of March 1954205,921,81241,131,52165,469,117

Post Office Savings-bank Accounts Classified by Amount Groups.—The following is a classification of the balances in Post Office Savings-bank Accounts at 31 March 1940, 1953, and 1954, shown by amount groups and percentage of accounts within each group.

At 31 March 1940Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1953Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1954Percentage of Total
£      £      
Under 1769,31280.09352,32323.71354,38923.30
1 and under 10357,79624.08361,86824.11
10 and under 50  281,50518.95286,94418.87
50 and under 10060,8226.33120,7288.13122,1068.03
100 and under 20050,2865.24119,3878.03124,2048.17
200 and under 30025,9482.7066,3674.4770,7824.65
300 and under 40015,5521.6243,8892.9546,2863.04
400 and under 50010,1851.0633,6512.2635,8402.36
500 and under 6008,1630.8526,5831.7928,1511.85
600 and under 7004,4950.4715,3791.0415,8011.04
700 and under 8003,2140.3311,4880.7712,2410.80
800 and under 9002,3370.249,0790.619,3290.61
900 and under 1,0001,7880.197,2500.497,8260.51
1,000 and under 1,5006,4310.6721,6861.4623,5721.55
1,500 and under 2,00010,0040.6710,7020.70
2,000 and under 3,0001,9730.217,3910.508,6040.57
3,000 and under 4,00046 8340.601,4330.09
4,000 and under 5,0007 3310.025750.04
5,000 and over6 1810.013350.02
    Total number of Accounts960,565100.001,485,852100.001,520,988100.00

It will be noted that the actual number of accounts with balances of under £50 have increased from 769,312 in March 1940 to 1,003,201 in March 1954, but expressed as a percentage of the total accounts within this group showed a decline from 80.1 per cent in 1940 to 66.3 per cent in 1954. For the £50 and under £200 groups there were both absolute and relative increases over the period—i.e., from 111,108 or 11.6 per cent to 246,310 or 16.2 per cent. In the next groups £200 and under £500, the increases were more marked still, the numbers being almost trebled, and the percentage nearly twice as high, the figures being 51,685 or 5.4 per cent in the earlier year and 152,908 or 10.1 per cent for the later year.

The groups comprising balances within the range £501 to under £2,000 however exhibited the greatest percentage increase, from 3.0 to 7.1 per cent of the total, the numbers also showing a substantial increase from 28,401 to 107,622 during the period. Accounts consisting of £2,000 and over increased from 2,032 to 10,947, although prior to September 1952 interest was not paid on sums between £2,000 and £5,000.

Overseas Receipts and Payments.—The following statement gives statistics of exchange-control transactions for the years ended 31 March 1953 and 1954. Comparable items for the calendar years 1952 and 1953 are, however, given on pages 775–776. All figures quoted are taken from Reserve Bank sources.

Year Ended 31 March 1953Year Ended 31 March 1954
  Butter48,424 50,412 
  Cheese17,406 20,475 
  Meat48,272 48,924 
  Wool73,914 87,206 
    Total (including other)227,078 239,872 
  Licensed 48,007 38,404
  Decontrolled 119,804 133,915
  Government 29,153 25,141
    Total (including other) 201,085 200,449
Transport: Freights, fares, ships' charters1,8513,0001,5201,216
Travel: Private and business (exclusive of fares)1,6864,8621,6054,783
  Reinsurance 614 598
    Totals, insurance5301,4077131,768
International investment income—    
  Interest, dividends, and other private investment income6,3936,1326,6375,167
  Interest on Government and local authority loans 2,719 2,866
    Totals, international investment income6,3938,8516,6378,033
Government transactions—    
  Current expenditure by New Zealand Government overseas 7,845 9,890
  Current receipts by New Zealand Government and expenditure by other Governments in New Zealand1,543 2,124 
    Totals, Government transactions1,5437,8452,1249,890
Miscellaneous current transactions—    
  Commissions, royalties, rebates, etc.8451,7195361,340
  Films and entertainments 768 817
  Unilateral transfers (immigrants' transfers, personal remittances, charitable, legacies, &c.)6,8655,0385,5715,689
  Expenses of business firms7352,3344423,153
  Other current transactions1,341408705694
    Totals, miscellaneous current transactions9,78710,2677,25411,693
Capital transfers—    
  Government 7598,8021,788
  Local authority 76 154
    Totals, capital transfers4,2114,69211,6014,841
Cook Islands exports or imports20910510189
Unidentified−72 101 
    Grand totals253,216242,114271,527242,763


Summary of the Public Account for the Financial Years 1952–53 and 1953–54 (p. 697).—The source of the following table is parliamentary paper B-6, 1954.

ReceiptsYear Ended 31 March

* Expenditure from Public Works Account.

† Transfer from National Development Loans Account.

‡ Sale or purchase of investments by Public Account.

§ A number of transfer entries, such as the annual transfer from Consolidated Fund to Social Security Fund and the transfers of the surplus for previous years which do not affect the overall cash surplus or deficit, have been excluded from both sides of the above statement.

|| Excludes £12 million borrowed from trading banks.

  Income tax78.780.8
  Social security charge45.549.7
  Sales tax22.021.1
  Stamp and death duties14.515.0
  Other taxation11.813.0
    Totals, taxation199.8205.9
Profits from trading1.51.8
Departmental receipts15.316.7
Total Consolidated Fund and Social Security Fund receipts223.5232.1
Receipts from borrowing (less repayments)—  
Borrowing in New Zealand—  
  National Savings3.22.9
  Post Office Saving Bank4.511.5
  Other borrowing||10.821.4
Overseas borrowing—  
  London and Australia 12.4
    Totals, borrowing18.548.2
Other capital receipts—  
  Transfer from Consolidated Fund for debt repayment6.66.9
  Sinking Fund contributions3.33.7
Transfers from Consolidated Fund to—War Emergency Fund and Defence Funds0.13.5
  Public Works Account6.0 
Miscellaneous capital receipts4.67.0
Excess receipts of trading accounts, etc., within the Public Account−1.97.5
    Grand totals260.7§308.9§
Social services98.0105.7
Administration, etc.22.521.9
Maintenance of works, etc.14.615.1
Development of industry12.913.2
Interest and management of the public debt17.619.1
Transfer for repayment of the public debt6.66.9
Transfer to Defence Fund 3.5
Transfer to Public Works Fund 6.0
    Totals—Consolidated Fund and Social Security Fund Expenditure219.4228.9
Works and other capital expenditure—  
  Housing construction*9.810.6
  School buildings*4.85.9
  Highways construction*3.33.3
  Forest development*1.81.8
  Electric supply13.513.2
  Land settlement 1.7
  State coal0.51.1
  Post Office2.93.6
  Murupara Pulp and Paper Scheme*0.24.3
  State Advances Corporation13.812.0
Purchase of miscellaneous investments not included above6.46.0
Overall cash surplus or deficit—  
  Sale of S.A.C. securities to trading banks −12.0
Withdrawn from Reserve Bank −10.0
Increase in cash (and imprest) balance 18.8
Decrease in cash (and imprest) balance−16.1 
    Grand totals260.7§308.9§

Summary of Budget Proposals.—The presentation of the Financial Statement was made on 22 July 1954, principal changes from the existing situation being briefly recorded below.

Taxation: Income Tax.—The personal exemption is raised from £230 to £375, and for persons over 65 years from £230 to £420, that for a wife increased from £100 to £125, and for a child or other dependent relative from £65 to £75. The surcharge of 2 ½ per cent on income tax and the limit of £26 on tax saving from wife and child exemptions are abolished. The commencing rate for income tax is to be at the rate of 3s. in the pound on taxable balance instead of 2s. 6d. as in earlier years. The rebate provisions of previous years have now been absorbed in the higher exemptions.

Aggregation of incomes of husband and wife will not now apply if either has an income of less than £500, or their combined incomes do not exceed £1,000. In cases where wives have a personal income exceeding £500 a year only that part in excess of £500 will be added to the income of their husbands for purposes of assessing taxation.

The “A + B” system of assessing liability for tax where dividends are involved is to be abolished, the average rate system in use before 1942 being substituted for it. The allowance for farm improvements is increased from £200 to £300.

Land Tax.—The exemption limit is raised from £1,000 to £3,000 reducible by £1 for each £2 above that figure until exemption ceases at £9,000 (in lieu of £2,500). It is also proposed to change from a graduated to a “step” system of taxation and to reduce the rates considerably. Tax will be at the rate of 1d. in the pound on taxable balance up to £10,000; 2d. on the next £5,000; 3d. on the second £5,000; and a maximum rate of 4d. in the pound on any balance in excess of £20,000 (present maximum is 6d. in the pound).

Sales Tax.—This tax was removed by resolution of the House of Representatives from a large number of items, including soap, tooth paste, toilet brushes and combs, much sporting and athletic equipment, aerated waters and cordials, torches, rope, lawn mowers, table ware and kitchen utensils and tradesmen's tools.

Social Security.—It is proposed to amend the Social Security Act to provide for an increase of 10s. a week in the mother's allowance for widows with two or more dependent children; a similar concession will be extended to war widows.

Overseas Loans.—A further loan of £10 million is to be floated on the London market, most likely before the end of the year.

Geothermal Steam Project.—Agreement has been reached with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for launching a joint enterprise for the production of heavy water and electric power, utilizing the geothermal steam at Wairakei.

Exchange Allocation Scheme.—It was announced in the Statement that the exchange allocation scheme for imports, operated by the Reserve Bank, will be terminated as from the end of 1954.

Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for 1954–55 (p. 698).—The following table is a composite account embracing Works and Loans Accounts, Consolidated Fund, and Social Security Fund, and shows the estimated receipts and payments for 1954–55.

Estimated Receipts, 1954-55£(m)Estimated Payments, 1954–55£(m)

* Includes operating expenses.

Works and Loan Accounts
Receipts Expenditure 
Revenue, departmental trading receipts, transfers, etc. Hydro-electric17.450*
 22.160Land settlement10.240*
National Savings, Post Office Savings Bank16.000State housing11.300
Overseas loans15.500Education buildings6.500
Internal loans22.500Railway construction, etc.9.535
  Telephone and telegraph extension5.000
  Roads and highways construction0.950
  Forest development1.920
  Murupara development4.157
  State Advances6.000
  Other works3.505
Consolidated Fund
Taxation— Interest and debt repayment28.374
  Customs23.500Permanent appropriations4.760
  Beer duty6.000Annual appropriations— 
  Sales tax20.300Stabilization13.008
  Film hire0.100Defence25.000
  Stamp duty14.800Development of primary and secondary industries14.317
  Land tax1.200  
  Income tax80.800Social services (excluding transfer to Social 
  Security Fund)46.625
 146.700Other votes27.261
Other receipts— Supplementary estimates1.000
  Trading profits3.100  
Social Security Fund
Social security charge53.800Administration expenses1.074
Miscellaneous0.100Emergency benefits and Christmas bonus0.610
   Monetary benefits—
  Universal superannuation6.900
  Medical, hospital, etc., benefits12.620
  Over-all surplus0.276
    Grand total£304.860Grand total£304.860

Consolidated Fund (pp. 699–701).—The following table contains a summary of the receipts and payments of the Consolidated Fund for the financial years ended 31 March 1953 and 1954.

Interest on capital liability—  
  Post and Telegraph1,016,2661,183,785
  Electric supply2,350,4532,811,803
  Housing and Housing Construction1,051,9271,162,394
  Land settlement1,535,7371,578,210
  Other accounts193,053140,086
Interest on other public moneys746,157869,604
Profits on trading undertakings1,480,9461,780,287
Departmental receipts15,185,21416,597,591
    Totals, receipts177,822,098182,319,295
Permanent appropriations—  
  Civil list159,125143,739
  Debt services—  
  Administration and management264,4071,004,709
Superannuation (subsidy and contribution)2,998,0003,068,000
    Totals, permanent appropriations27,831,19829,601,415
Annual appropriations—  
  Prime Minister's Office18,33618,564
  External Affairs1,800,1641,811,860
  Inland Revenue1,106,1361,222,349
    Totals, finance16,657,51116,558,715
General administration—  
  Public Service Commission95,50695,904
  Internal Affairs2,621,8473,788,718
  Island Territories825,7991,193,579
  Printing and Stationery1,789,180772,365
  Labour and Employment3,101,2132,168,884
  Maori Affairs838,867805,108
  Census and Statistics145,465145,671
    Totals, general administration11,793,38211,122,383
Law and order—  
  Crown Law19,78719,851
    Totals, law and order2,670,7943,003,856
  Defence construction and maintenance2,263,9542,721,184
    Totals, defence26,481,10629,012,489
  Maintenance of public works and services9,425,5279,626,550
  Highways maintenance5,178,6875,507,898
    Totals, maintenance14,604,21415,134,448
Development of primary and secondary industries—  
  Lands and Survey1,729,5001,739,378
  Forest Service1,856,7161,790,653
  Milk Marketing630,947652,334
  Industries and Commerce388,923378,070
  Tourist and Publicity1,253,8341,337,037
  Scientific and Industrial Research1,009,5721,089,808
  Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services2,263,2712,323,174
    Totals, development of primary and secondary industries12,883,09713,203,522
Social services—  
  Subsidies to Hospital Boards9,618,37410,270,079
  War and other pensions6,639,7267,241,673
  Payment to Social Security Fund14,000,00014,000,000
    Totals, social services53,187,97857,304,186
    Totals, annual appropriations140,294,839147,383,282
Unauthorized expenditure389,01831,618
Transfer to Public Works Account6,000,000 
Transfer to Defence Fund 3,500,000
    Totals, payments174,515,055180,516,315
Surplus from current year's operations3,307,0431,802,980
Balance in Fund at end of year10,447,7458,943,682

The surplus for the year 1951–52 of £12,635,721 was expended during the 1952–53 year as follows: transfer to National Development Loans Account, £4,000,000; transfer to Public Works Account, £8,635,721. The corresponding surplus for the year 1952–53 of £3,307,043 was expended during the year 1953–54 by transfer to the Public Works Account.

Taxation (pp. 708–709).—Particulars of revenue from taxation for the financial years 1951–52, 1952–53, and 1953–54 are contained in the following table.

Item of Revenue1951–521952–531953–54

* These totals do not include an amount of £889,406 (after rebate), being part of Customs duties at the rate of 3d. per gallon on motor spirits from 1 November 1953 to 31 March 1954, and paid into the Motor Taxation Account of the Deposits Account. This amount will appear in the 1954–55 figures of taxation, as it was transferred later to the National Roads Fund.

Consolidated Fund—£££
  Beer duty5,273,8045,466,7015,833,871
  Sales tax21,811,37521,991,70321,133,740
  Film-hire tax112,541135,348131,190
  Stamp duties5,207,5775,702,5266,327,042
  Death (including gift) duties8,117,2598,767,8578,682,376
  Land tax1,137,9371,315,1361,615,372
  Income tax78,101,50378,701,37680,799,719
Social security taxation—   
  Social security charge43,612,86845,507,93849,717,376
    Grand totals200,549,807199,770,283205,912,911*

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

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

State Indebtedness (p. 728).—The public debt as at 31 March 1954 amounted to £706,461,822, an increase of £36,682.379 as compared with a year earlier. Of the 1954 debt figure, £89,880,637 was held in the United Kingdom, an increase of £9,999,544.


Revenue of the Social Security Fund for the year ended 31 March 1954, together with the 1952–53 figures in parentheses, was as follows: charge on salaries and wages, £28,714,790 (£26,650,922); charge on company and other income, £21,002,586 (£18,857,016); grant from Consolidated Fund, £14,000,000 (£14,000,000); interest on investments, £15,639 (£19,909); miscellaneous receipts, £105,956 (£100,389); total receipts, £63,838,971 (£59,628,236).

Payments from the Fund in 1953–54, with 1952–53 payments in parentheses, were: Monetary benefits, £48,626,205 (£46,306,272); emergency benefits and special assistance, £468,887 (£361,912); medical, etc., benefits, £10,607,046 (£10,428,597); Christmas bonus, £1,644,925 (£767,115); administration expenses, £1,017,140 (£957,558); other payments, £6,111 (£4,990). Total payments from the Fund were therefore £62,370,314 (£58,826,444). The balance in the Fund at the end of March 1954 was £12,428,167.

Particulars of the various social security benefits (monetary and health) and war pensions in force at the end of March 1954, together with total payments during the financial year 1953–54, are shown in the following table.

Class of Benefit or PensionAs at 31 March 1954Payments During Year Ended 31 March 1954
Number in ForceAnnual Value
Social security benefits—   
  Sickness4,395 1,086,241
  Unemployment17 6,575
  Emergency2,133 366,558
      Totals515,533 48,992,762
  Medical  3,085,749
  Hospital  2,184,239
  Maternity  924,616
  Pharmaceutical  2,919,620
  Supplementary  1,492,822
      Totals  10,607,046
  War pensions—   
  First World War17,4193,109,3612,776,891
  Second World War24,7662,349,6742,107,575
  War veteran's allowance6,8102,117,9101,822,018
  South African War294,7744,528
  Mercantile Marine pensions242,9282,384
  Emergency Reserve Corps92,0181,618
  Sundry pensions and annuities36459,15755,285
      Grand totals565,058 66,379,484


Retail Prices (pp. 881–884).—Details of the consumers' price index for the calendar year 1953, and for each of the quarters ended 31 March 1954 and 30 June 1954, are given below.


Base: Weighted average twenty-one towns, first quarter, 1949 (=1000)

Calendar Year 1953Quarter Ended 31 March 1954Quarter Ended 30 June 1954
  Meat and fish175518531871
  Fruit, vegetables, and eggs158814601537
  Other foods136614591502
      All foods150915531598
  Other housing124313221322
      All housing121912881288
  Fuel and lighting136614691480
Clothing and footwear—   
  Clothing and footwear131613491380
  Household durable goods116511771181
  Other commodities114711511160
      All miscellaneous117712021208
      All groups133313771400

Share Prices (pp. 891–894).—Index numbers of share prices in 1953, together with the average for the three months ended March 1954, are given below.

GroupIndex Numbers Base Average for Each Group, 1938 (= 1000)
Average for 1953Average for 3 Months Ended March 1954
Frozen meat18642010
Miscellaneous (including breweries)11961261
    All industrial groups12161279
Loan-agency companies20912287
    All finance, etc., groups17471918
    All groups combined14821598

Monthly statistics for the first five months of 1954 are given below, together with figures for the corresponding months of 1953.


Industrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll GroupsIndustrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll Groups


Wage-rates (pp. 899–902).—Index numbers of average nominal wage-rates of wage-earners in 1952 and 1953, and of adult male wage-earners as at 31 March 1954, are as follows.

Industrial GroupBase: All Groups 1926–30 (= 1000)
Adult MalesAdult Females
Average for YearAs at 31 March 1954Average for Year
Provision of—     
  Food, drink, etc.22662416257022352367
  Clothing, footwear, and textiles21432311246023922581
  Building and construction206622272369  
  Power, heat, and light214022982449  
  Transport by water236725132680  
  Transport by land208022382384  
  Accommodation, meals, and personal service19172161231925252783
Working in or on—     
  Wood, wicker, seagrass, and fibre217723332487  
  Stone, clay, glass, and chemicals201021782326  
  Paper, printing, etc.22832459262722072388
  Skins, leather, etc.197521332275  
  Mines and quarries213122852466  
  The land (farming pursuits)208721502279  
    All groups combined21432284243224082611

Effective Weekly Wage Rates (p. 903).—The following table shows nominal and effective weekly wage rates of adult workers for the years 1952 and 1953 and of males only for the first quarter of 1954. The base of the index numbers is in each case the average of the five years 1926–30 (= 1000).

YearRetail Prices (All Groups)Nominal Weekly Wage RatesEffective Weekly Wage Rates

* Not available.

March quarter18232432*1334*

Average Rates of Wages (pp. 905–908).—The following table gives the prescribed minimum average weekly wage rates as at 31 March 1954, the series being confined to adult males.

OccupationAverage Wage (Four Principal Districts) at 31 March 1954

NOTE.—The following perquisites (as assessed for statistical purposes), as at 31 March 1954, should be added to the listed occupations: General farm hands, ploughmen, shepherds, and dairy-farm hands, 35s. per week for board and lodging; shearers and wool pressers, 7s. per day for rations; assistant stewards (first and second grade), chief and second cooks, able and ordinary seamen, 44s. 5d. per week as value of board and lodging; and hotel chefs and waiters, 41s. 10d. per week as value of board and lodging.

Adult Males  
  First shopmen2411
  Second shopmen2245
  Butter-factory employees—Churning and butter making: General hands19210
  Assistant smuttermen2054
Meat freezing—  
  Slaughtermen, per 100 sheep983
  General hands2310
Meat preserving—  
  General hands2310
  Sausage-casing making: General hands2384
Aerated water and cordial making—  
  Cordial makers2015
  Bottle washers19111
  Brewing labourers2090
  Factory hands2200
  Boot operatives2200
Woollen mills—  
  General hands19910
  Carpenters and joiners2268
  Plumbers (competent)2315
  Builders' labourers2079
  General labourers1889
  Engine drivers2310
  Yardmen, head2310
  General hands21010
  Boatbuilding: Shipwrights2331
Metal works, etc.—  
  Boilermakers, journeymen2247
  Iron and brass moulders2266
  Tinsmiths, journeymen2247
  Engineering fitters, etc.2271
  Electrical workers2292
  Motor mechanics23211
  Linotype operators (day)2366
  Letterpress machinist (day)2274
  Skin and leather workers—  
  General hands18810
Mineral and stone workers—  
  General hands1944
Mining (coal)—  
  Screen worker2179
  Miners (on day wages, per shift)507
Agricultural and pastoral workers—  
  General farm hands1520
  Threshing-mill hands, per hour53
  Shearers (per 100 sheep shorn)680
  Wool pressers2458
  Dairy-farm hands1850
  Engine drivers, average third and sixth years2444
  Firemen, average second and ninth years22110
  Guards, average first and third years2370
Shipping and cargo working—  
  Assistant stewards, first grade2043
  Assistant stewards, second grade2007
  Chief cooks2522
  Second cooks2272
  Able seamen21911
  Ordinary seamen, first class1701
  Waterside workers: Ordinary cargo2218
Hotel workers—  
  Soft-goods assistants (male)21410
  Grocers' assistants20510
  Warehouse storemen2054

Aggregate Weekly Wage Payment in Industry (pp. 909–911).—The following data, showing the average weekly wage pay-out in industry, have largely been extracted from the half-yearly surveys conducted by the Department of Labour and Employment.

All Industrial Groups CombinedPay-roll Strength, Males and Females Combined (Including Juveniles and Salaried Executives)Weekly Wage Payout (Including Overtime, Bonus Earnings, etc.)
AggregateAverage Per Person

* Does not include retrospective payments arising from the general order of the Court of Arbitration of 19 November 1953.

1949 October450,1043,632,663815
1950 April459,6983,780,634846
1951 April463,8884,526,7279152
1952 April475,9754,945,72410710
1953 April487,9135,401,4991115
1954 April502,4426,145,3271247

Estimated Distribution of the Labour Force (p. 968).—The following table supplies an estimated distribution of the total labour force at 15 October 1953 and 15 April 1954.

Industrial GroupMalesFemalesTotals
October 1953April 1954October 1953April 1954October 1953April 1954
Primary industry137.8137.012.212.21500149.2
Manufacturing industry141.4149.443.844.8185.2194.2
Power, water, and sanitary services10.810.80.70.811.511.6
Building and construction62.864.
Transport and communication68.569.08.18.476.677.4
Distribution and finance84.986.839.040.1123.9126.9
Domestic and personal services18.919.226.226.545.145.7
Administration and professional54.354.649.150.2103.4104.8
    Totals, in industry579.4591.6180.3184.2759.7775.8
Armed forces10.610.9100.911.611.8
Unemployed0.10.1  0.10.1
    Totals, labour force590.1602.6181.3185.1771.4787.7

Half-yearly Surveys of Employment (pp. 971–972). Following is a summary of the employment statistics as returned for 15 April 1954.

Primary Industry (Other than Farming, Fishing, and Hunting)Manufacturing IndustryPower, Water, and Sanitary ServicesBuilding and ConstructionTransport and CommunicationDistribution and FinanceDomestic and Personal ServicesAdministration and ProfessionalTotals, all Industries Covered
Male employees10,428131,18210,81044,57950,59663,30311,23741,066363,201
Male working proprietors3508,30065,0321,6478,3132,84063127,119
Female employees20541,1517741,0487,81034,21113,54640,496139,241
Female working proprietors11,192 4392,4291,7191825,566
Number of establishments61112,0952414,7162,45713,4594,2783,54041,397

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

Food, Drink, and TobaccoTextiles, Clothing, and LeatherBuilding Materials and FurnishingsEngineering and Metal WorkingMiscellaneous Manufacturing
Male employees29,74812,44624,24948,02116,718
Male working proprietors1,1019811,7163,661841
Female employees6,54022,6621,3214,6146,014
Female working proprietors462556257376
Number of establishments1,9091,9492,5534,3471,337

Limitations in the coverage of the figures shown above are noted on page 970.

Summary of Vacancies, Placements, and Disengaged Persons.—This table gives additional figures to those presented on page 977.

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


Shipping and Cargo Handled (pp. 327–336).—Statistics of entrances and clearances of vessels in the foreign trade in 1952 and 1953, and the total calls made in the foreign and coastal trade for the same years, are shown in the following table. The tonnage of cargo handled is also given.

Calendar Year
  Number of vessels704673
  Net tonnage3,028,0302,767,557
  Number of vessels726676
  Net tonnage3,140,2962,804,020
Total calls made—  
  Number of vessels1,8201,841
  Net tonnage7,640,4107,257,775
  Number of vessels13,62213,696
  Net tonnage4,621,9634,451,465
  Number of vessels15,44215,537
  Net tonnage12,262,37311,709,240
Tonnage of cargo handled—  
Total manifest tonnage10,372,3429,271,951

Statistics of shipping movement and cargo handled at New Zealand ports in 1952 and 1953 are given below.

Total Shipping MovementTotal Cargo Handed
1952: Net Tonnage1953: Net Tonnage1952: Tons1953: Tons
Other ports5,7145,6872,5562,404

Railway Transport (pp. 339–347).—Summarized statistics of railway transport in the years ended 31 March 1952, 1953, and 1954 follow.

UnitYear Ended 31 March

* Including road motor and other subsidiary services.

Passenger journeys—    
  Railway road motor services(000)24,66424,12022,627
Tonnage of goods carried—    
  TimberTons (000)744819772
  LivestockTons (000)639647631
  CoalTons (000))   
  Lime and manuresTons (000)8,4468,5608,231
  Other goodsTons (000) J   
  TotalsTons (000)9,82910,0269,635
Net ton-miles runMillions1,0691,0631,034
  Railway operation£(000)20,09722,58923,682
  Railway operation£(000)21,51522,75523,621

Road Transport (p. 361).—Statistics of motor-vehicles licensed at 31 March 1953 and 1954 arc as follows.

ClassAs at 31 March
Contract vehicles2,1062,164
Rental cars1,6381,706
Private-hire cars352289
Service cars727723
Vehicles exempted from payment of licence fees (other than exempted  
Government-owned vehicles)45,56447,287
Government vehicles13,90014,632
Motor cycles25,54625,754
Power cycles3,6513,972
Dealers' cars2,3122,443
Dealers' motor cycles121128
    Grand totals550,762578,459


As explained on page 998, since December 1951 the definition of an accident has been amended to include those in which the worker is absent beyond the day or shift on which the accident occurred.

DetailCalendar Year 1951Calendar Year 1952
Total number of accidents33,48937,201
Number of accidents resulting in—  
  Permanent total disability72
  Permanent partial disability820493
  Temporary disability32,59136,652
Accidents resulting in temporary disability—  
  (a) Duration of incapacity of—  
  Under 3 days7,7431,408
  3 days and up to 1 week8,668 
  Over 1 week and up to 2 weeks10,27411,354
  Over 2 weeks and up to 4 weeks7,9008,507
  Over 4 weeks and up to 6 weeks2,7663,007
  Over 6 weeks and up to 13 weeks2,8022,750
  Over 13 weeks1,106958
  (b) Amount of lime lost—  
  Number of cases32,59136,652
  Time lost, in days789,636753,365
Calendar days lost by all accidents where—  
  (a) Constant allowance for age is made in case of fatality or permanent disability3,202,1682,006,950
    Average per case9654
  (b) Actual age of person is taken into account in case of fatality or permanent disability2,719,4721,783,560
    Average per case8148
Amount of compensation or damages paid—  
    Totals        £1,494,6511,144,219
    Average per case        £44.630.8

FIRE LOSS STATISTICS, 1952 (pp. 828–836)

A classification of insured property losses through fire during the calendar year 1952 is given below. The figures are comparable with those covering the year 1951 shown in Section 34c.

Type of Fire DistrictNumber of Separate FiresGross Amount of Insurance Cover on Risks A fleetedGross Amount of Loss Paid on Risks AffectedPercentage of Loss Paid to Amount at Risk
United urban fire districts4,08917,530,358919,8285.25
Urban fire districts6,05014,195,477402,6852.84
Secondary urban fire districts559625,45774,19211.86
Remainder of New Zealand1,7023,858,349309,1198.01
Floating and travelling risks202824,29710,6261.29

The principal causes of outbreaks during 1952 are set out in the following table.

Causes of FiresNumber of Separate FiresInsurance Cover on Risks AffectedAmount of LossAverage Loss Per Fire
Naked lights175329,14517.481100
Defective chimneys, etc.6292,903,48861,42098
Smoking and careless use of matches1,8575,187,23979,33243
Sparks from fireplaces4,5034,141,31771.90616
Heating, boiling-down2961,045,97918,56063
Inflammable spirits and materials2924,338,034164,481563
Incendiarism and arson36298,32811,557321
Outside causes271674,57717,66865
Other causes30669,5387,139238
Floating and travelling risks202824,29710,62653
Unknown causes1,4309,503,5601,102,816771

REHABILITATION (pp. 251–260)

The following table gives particulars of rehabilitation-loan authorizations for the years ended 31 March 1953 and 1954, and the totals to 31 March 1954.

Class of LoanNumberAmount
1952-531953–54Total to 31 March 19541952–531953–54*Total to 31 March 1954*

* Excludes suspensory loans.

Purchase of farm, etc.85368510,1346,4266,41752,779
Tools of trade14101,4691149

Included in the foregoing total figures are 22,166 supplementary housing loans for £2,887,063. These loans, which are not repayable so long as the ex-serviceman or his dependants continue in occupation of the property, are granted to assist in bridging the gap between present-day costs and normal values, and each case is considered on its merits.

The figures shown in the table are exclusive of 6,984 suspensory loans (5,166 residential and 1,818 farm), amounting to £2,802,873 (£872,425 residential, £1,930,448 farm), made up to 31 March 1954.

EDUCATION (p. 149)

The following table shows the number of scholars and students receiving instruction in the educational institutions of New Zealand during the years 1952 and 1953. Registered private schools are included.


* Exclusive of students taking part-time courses with the Correspondence School, 1,227 in 1952, and 1,179 in 1953.

† Includes 614 students taking short courses at the agricultural colleges in 1952 and 636 in 1953.

Primary schools341,156359,537
Post-primary schools61,529*67,478*
Technical classes (part-time)26,34930,637
Teachers' training college2,7102,769


Radio Licences (p. 394).—The number of radio licences for receiving stations in force on 31 March 1954 was 501,756, and for all classes of radio licences 506,323, compared with 491,856 and 496,355 respectively at 31 March 1953.

Horse Racing (p. 723).—The number of racing days in the calendar year 1953 was 354. Totalizator investments totalled £38,611,000 in 1953 (£33,739,000 in 1952), while Government taxation totalled £3,563,000 in 1953 (£3,128,000 in 1952).

Land Transfers (pp. 400–402).—Transactions under the Land Transfer Act have been on a very heavy scale during the last three financial years. The average amount per transaction (town and suburban properties) in 1953–54 was £2,175, as compared with £2,082 in 1952–53 and £1,586 in 1951–52.

Year Ended 31 March
Town and suburban properties—   
  Consideration    £73,165,00065,461,00075,503,000
Country properties—   
  Area    Acres1,848,6021,616,7811,675,617
  Consideration    £35,965,00035,241,00038,915,000
All properties—   
  Consideration    £109,129,000100,702,000114,419,000

Mortgages (pp. 791–801).—Particulars of gross totals of mortgages registered and discharged during the last three financial years are shown below. In sympathy with the movement in land transfer registrations, mortgage registrations have been heavy during recent years. The 1953–54 figure of £70,910,000 showed a slight decrease on the total of £74,732,000 for the previous year.

Year Ended 31 MarchRegistered*Discharged*

* Inclusive of duplicate registrations and discharges.

  £ £

Justice.—Prisoners in gaols at end of calendar year (pp. 226–232): 1952, 1,113, or 5.50 per 10,000 of population; 1953, 1,115, or 5.44 per 10,000 of population.

Registration of Aliens (pp. 33–34).—The number of aliens on the register at 1 April 1954 totalled 23,148 (15,304 males, 7,844 females), compared with 1 April 1953 figures of 21,726 (14,732 males, 6,994 females).

Naturalizations (p. 32).—The number of certificates of naturalization issued to former aliens during the year ended 31 March 1954 was 136, compared with a total of 118 in the previous year. Certificates of registration as a New Zealand citizen were granted to 250 citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or of former aliens (228 in 1952–53), and 65 certificates of registration (38 in 1952–53) to minor children (either citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or former aliens).


Table of Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand:—Area in Square Miles
(a) Exclusive of Island Territories— 
    North Island44,281
    South Island58,093
    Stewart Island670
    Chatham Islands372
    Minor islands— 
        Kermadec Islands13
    Campbell Island44
        Uninhabited (areas in parentheses)—263
        Three Kings (3).  Snares (1). 
        Solander (½).  Antipodes (24). 
        Bounty (½).  Auckland (234). 
        Total New Zealand, exclusive of Island Territories103,736
(b) Island Territories— 
    Tokelau Islands, comprised of4
    Fakaofo Island, Nukunono Island, Atafu Island 
    Cook and associated islands, comprised of— 
        Lower (Southern) Group78
        Rarotonga.  Aitutaki. 
        Mangaia.  Mauke. 
        Atiu.  Takutea. 
        Mitiaro.  Manuae and Te-au-o-tu. 
    Northern Group12
        Palmerston.  Pukapuka. 
        Penrhyn.  Suwarrow. 
        Manihiki.  Nassau. 
    Niue Island100
        Total New Zealand, inclusive of Island Territories103,930
Ross Dependency (Estimated)175,000
Trust Territory of Western Samoa1,133

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By reason of the latter fact the coast line is, on the whole, not greatly indented; and, as a consequence, New Zealand is not well endowed with natural harbours. In the North Island, Auckland and Wellington are the only two safe natural harbours of which the fullest commercial use can be made. On the east coast of the North Auckland Peninsula several deep and sheltered harbours exist, but as the surrounding country is comparatively undeveloped they are of little economic consequence at present. In the South Island the Marlborough Sounds and the West Coast Sounds form perfect land-locked harbours, but owing to their situations and to the rugged nature of the terrain they have—with the exception of Queen Charlotte Sound—little or no commercial utility. Where vital localities have not been endowed with ideal harbours it has been necessary to improve existing facilities by dredging and by breakwater construction, &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.

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

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

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

Kaikoura ranges, the two latter ranges running parallel to the east coast. The south portion of the Southern Alps breaks up into a miscellany of ranges dominating the mountainous Fiord and north-western Southland regions.

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

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

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

Glaciers.—In keeping with the dimensions of the mountain system, New Zealand possesses, in the South Island, a glacial system of some magnitude. Of the glaciers the largest is the Tasman, which, with others of comparable size, rises in the more elevated area surrounding Mount Cook. Flowing down the eastern slope of the range, the Tasman glacier has a length of 18 miles and a width of 1 ½ 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 (7 ¼ 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 9 ¾ miles and 8 ½ miles respectively, and terminal faces at altitudes of 670 ft. and 690 ft.

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

Rivers.—Of the numerous New Zealand rivers few are 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, Cobb, and Waipori in the South are used for major hydro-electric schemes, and a further major development is now being undertaken on the Clutha. The characteristics just mentioned are also important for purposes of irrigation, but, owing to the country's reliable rainfall, there are few areas other than in Canterbury and Otago where the rivers are so utilized.

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


Flowing into the Pacific OceanMiles
  Waihou (or Thames)95
  Waiapu (from source Mata River)75
  Waipaoa (from source Waipapa Stream)70
  Wairoa (from source Hangaroa River)85
  Mohaka (from source Taharua River)95
Flowing into Cook Strait 
Flowing into the Tasman Sea 
  Waikato (from source Upper Waikato River)270
  Wairoa (from source Waiotu Stream)115
  Hokianga (from source Waihou River)45


Flowing into Cook StraitMiles
Aorere (from source Spee River)45
  Takaka (from source Cobb River)45
  Waimea (from source Wai-iti River)30
Flowing into the Pacific Ocean 
  Waiau-uha (or Waiau)105
  Rangitata (from source Clyde River)75
  Waitaki (from source Hopkins River)135
  Clutha (from source Makarora River)210
Flowing into Foveaux Strait 
  Aparima (Jacobs River)70
  Waiau (from source Clinton River)135
Flowing into the Tasman Sea 
  Waiho (from source Callery River)20
  Buller (from source Travers River)110

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

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

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

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

LakeLength, in MilesGreatest Breadth, in MilesArea, in Square MilesDrainage Area, in Square MilesApproximate Volume of Discharge, in Cubic Feet Per SecondHeight Above Sea Level, in FeetGreatest Depth, in Feet
Rotorua7 ½63215842091584
Rotoiti10 ½2 ½1426500913230
Tarawera6 ½6 ½1575 1,032285
Waikaremoana126 ¼211287722,015846
Wairarapa104271,250  64
Rotoiti522 ¾86 1,997228
Rotoroa72 ½8146 1,470 
Brunner5416145 280357
Kaniere51 ¾811 422646
Coleridge1131870 1,667680
Wanaka30475960 922 
Te Anau3361321,32012,660694906
Manapouri12656416 5961,458
Poteriteri17217162 96 
Waihola4 ½1 ⅛3 ⅓2,200 (Tidal)52
Ellesmere1610107 ½745 (Tidal)45

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

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

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

During the period 1835–1953, 80 destructive earthquakes are known to have occurred in New Zealand, 60 of which were of the semi-destructive type (not exceeding intensity M.-M. 7). Of the remainder, 14 were of intensity M.-M. 8–9 and 6 of intensity M.-M. 10–12.

The total number of earthquakes of all intensities, and the maximum intensity, reported felt in New Zealand in each of the years 1922 to 1953 were as follows.

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

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


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

Summary of Seismic Activity in New Zealand in 1952.—During 1952 earthquake activity was comparatively low and still showed signs of decreasing at the end of the year. There were no outstanding seismic disturbances. Early in the year several shocks originated at considerable depth beneath the region north and north-west of Lake Taupo. Activity was more or less continuous in various parts of Hawke's Bay region. The largest shock, which occurred on 28 August, was centred near the coast of southern Hawke's Bay and reached instrumental magnitude near 6. It was felt over most of the southern part of the North Island with maximum intensity M.-M. 6 in the Havelock North area. Several other shocks during the year reached felt intensity M.-M. 5 in southern Hawke's Bay. Some earthquakes originated off the west coast of the South Island between Cape Foulwind and Milford Sound, a region which is generally almost inactive. The strongest shock of this series occurred on 3 November, and reached intensity M.-M. 5 in the Hokitika area. On 14 September a shock in Marlborough Sounds reached intensity near M.-M. 6 in the vicinity of Picton. During August a series of small very local shocks was recorded by the Wood-Anderson seismograph at Karapiro, the strongest ones being felt slightly in the surrounding region. It is thought that they probably originated in the Morrinsville-Matamata area, where there have been occasional outbreaks of earthquake swarms in the past.

During the year 83 shocks were reported felt in New Zealand; 64 in the North Island and 26 in the South Island. Seven were felt in some part of both Islands.

Summary of Seismic Activity in New Zealand in 1953.—Earthquake activity in 1953 was rather higher than in the previous year and there were several abnormal seismic disturbances. On 24 March an unusually deep focus earthquake occurred with epicentre in North Taranaki. The depth of the origin was near 570 km. (354 miles), as compared with 370 km. (230 miles), the greatest depth previously recorded for earthquake activity in the New Zealand region. This shock was not felt, mainly on account of its very deep origin. During the latter half of June an earthquake swarm was experienced at Great Barrier Island. These disturbances were of very shallow origin and appeared to be more marked in the northern part of the Island. A large number of shocks occurred, but none appear to have exceeded intensity M.-M. 4. Local earthquakes are very infrequent in the region of Great Barrier Island. On 29 September a strong shock originated in the Bay of Plenty at a depth of about 300 km. (186 miles). The instrumental magnitude (7–7 ¼) was abnormally high for shocks at that depth and in consequence it was felt over a very large area; from the Coromandel Peninsula to Westland and north Otago. The maximum felt intensity (M.-M. 7) occurred in the East Cape Peninsula, where considerable minor damage resulted. As is usual in deep-seated shocks, the distribution of felt intensity was irregular. A shock with shallow origin on 4 July also reached intensity M.-M. 7 in the Tokaanu region, causing some minor damage. The perceptible area of this shock was comparatively small, being confined to the central and western parts of the North Island. On 18 October an earthquake originating some distance north of Taranaki affected a considerable area of the North. Island from near Helensville to Wanganui. It was felt in most of the Auckland area, Waikato, King Country, and Taranaki, with maximum intensity M.-M. 5 in coastal regions from about Kawhia to New Plymouth. Strong shocks in this region are very infrequent, but a few have occurred during the past hundred years. Other shocks during the year reached intensity M.-M. 5 at Wairoa on 12 January, Te Teko on 14 January, Porangahau on 7 April, Otaki and Farewell Spit on 11 April, and Waipawa on 29 October. In all, 133 shocks were reported felt in New Zealand during the year; 114 in the North Island and 24 in the South Island. Five of these shocks were felt in some part of both Islands.

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

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

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

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

  4. Areas north of Auckland.

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

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

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

Deaths Due to Earthquakes.—During the period 1848–1953 the number of deaths recorded in New Zealand as due directly or indirectly to earthquakes was 284. Of these, 255 were due to the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931.

CLIMATE.—The collection of climatic data for the use of Government Departments and the general public is a function of the New Zealand Meteorological Service. It maintains approximately 130 stations within New Zealand and 35 on islands of the South West Pacific for the recording of full climatic data, supplemented by approximately 950 stations in New Zealand and 130 in the Pacific Islands recording rainfall. Most of these stations are operated by public bodies, Government Departments, or voluntary observers. Additional records are provided by over a hundred stations which report by telegraph or radio for forecasting purposes.

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

Detailed climatological statistics are published annually in the Meteorological Observations. Work on this publication ceased during the war years, and this has delayed the appearance of recent issues, the latest available being that for 1948. Current statistics appear monthly in a climatological table included in the New Zealand Gazette.

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


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

* Rainfall averages refer to standard period 1921–1950.

† Normals relate to present site.

 Ft.In. Hrs.      
Te Paki, Te Hapua20056.711692,16972.859.265.957.045.952.0
Hamilton East13145.951612,05674.655.965.551.737.I44.7
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana2,10076.90183 68.147.658.052.037.745.0
New Plymouth16061.161862,21169.154.862.255.242.949.3
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North11039.051701,83970.553.162.254.339.146.9
Waingawa, Masterton34038.011422,09174.353.363.750.535.843.4
Lake Coleridge1,19531.54114 70.748.661.149.130.340.7
Milford Sound20253.50194 64.448.357.

Brief Review of 1952.Year.—The annual rainfall was mainly above normal over the North Island except in the far north and in western Taranaki. The surplus was greatest in central areas about Lake Taupo, in southern Hawke's Bay, and near Gisborne. Marlborough and most of Canterbury again experienced a very wet year, but over the remainder of the South Island rainfall was mainly below normal.

There was more sunshine than usual in two small areas around Dunedin and Ashburton, but elsewhere the year was cloudier than average. The sunshine deficit exceeded 100 hours for inland districts of the South Island and almost the whole of the North Island; Auckland's sunshine was lower than for any year since 1910. Temperatures were close to, or slightly above, normal, and only in parts of inland Canterbury were conditions appreciably warmer than usual.

Seasonal Notes.—January, February, and March continued a succession of rather cloudy months which, for many districts, had commenced the previous September. Exceptionally heavy rainfall in Northland caused serious flooding on 15 and 19 February. In many places, however, especially east of the main ranges, conditions were relatively dry over these three months and favourable for harvesting. Pip and stone fruits yielded good crops, but tomatoes and grapes suffered from lack of sunshine. The North Island potato crop was also disappointing. Butterfat production set a new record for the season.

In April and May spells of fine weather lasting about a fortnight alternated with cooler unsettled weather in the later part of each month. Dry conditions persisted in eastern districts, several places in the Gisborne district and Hawke's Bay having record low rainfalls for May. Dull stormy weather predominated from the beginning of June until 9 July. Although there was little rain on the east coast, it was a very wet period for the remainder of the North Island. A long spell of fine settled weather followed and lasted until the end of the month.

As a result of several months of low rainfall east of the ranges winter feed became very scarce and there were many deaths among hoggets and early lambs, particularly in Hawke's Bay. This dry spell came to an end early in August, when easterly winds prevailed, bringing considerable rain during the next six weeks. This latter period, however, was a very dry one for Westland, Southland, and Central Otago. Between Cromwell and Wanaka there was no measurable rain at all in August.

In the middle of September there was a change to boisterous westerly conditions. On 23 September occurred the only appreciable snowfall since mid-June; afterwards severe frosts were recorded in most inland districts. For the greater part of the country September was a very sunny month. In October spells of sunny weather alternated with beneficial rains. It was a warm month and contributed very favourable conditions for the spring season. Crops and pastures made excellent growth, and dairy production was at a high level.

By contrast, dull wet weather prevailed in November and the first half of December. Such widespread excess rainfall and lack of sunshine had not been previously experienced in November for at least fifty years. Eastern districts north of Otago suffered the most; but for Westland and Southland both months were comparatively dry and sunny. Over large areas of farm land the ground became waterlogged. Shearing was seriously delayed and many farmers were unable to cut hay. Blight affected many vegetable crops, particularly North Island potatoes. Conditions were more favourable in the far south, and Central Otago fruit growers were expecting a good harvest.

Conditions improved greatly in the west and south from the middle of December, and in the final week the whole country enjoyed a spell of warm settled weather.

Brief Review of 1953.—Rainfall was near to or above normal over the greater part of the country. The excess was greatest in Northern Wairarapa, Marlborough, and North Canterbury; for quite a number of stations in these districts this was the wettest year in over thirty years of records. Rainfall was appreciably below normal in Gisborne, northern Hawke's Bay, and most of Otago and Southland. The percentage deficiency was greatest in a small area surrounding the town of Gisborne.

Annual temperatures were generally above normal throughout the North Island, and in Nelson and Westland. The departure was as much as 1° F. in parts of Northland. The remainder of the South Island was slightly cooler than the average.

Sunshine was below average over the whole country. The deficiency exceeded two hundred hours over most of the North Island, and also over Nelson and Buller. For the cities of New Plymouth, Wellington, and Nelson sunshine was the lowest in over thirty years of records.

Seasonal Notes.—January followed the general pattern of the two previous months with warm sunny weather in Westland, but high rainfall in eastern areas. In many districts from North Canterbury to Hawke's Bay it was the wettest January for more than fifty years. Towards the end of the month there were serious floods in the Ashley, Clarence, Porangahau, and Manawatu Rivers.

Rainfall decreased generally in February, but conditions were predominantly cloudy and cool. March was a month of comparatively settled weather with more plentiful sunshine until near the end, when heavy rains affected most of the South Island. On the whole it was not a favourable season for primary production.

For the next three months the weather was cloudier than usual, and rainfall was above average over the North Island. April was cool and stormy, with an exceptionally high frequency of strong winds from Cook Strait southward. May and June were both comparatively mild.

July was a sunny month and also rather dry. However, heavy rain over the Auckland Province during 3–5 July caused serious flooding in the lower Waikato on 7 July, and some areas of farmland were under water for several weeks. Snow fell to low levels in eastern districts of the South Island on 10 and 11 July. August was cloudy and milder, and provided favourable conditions for lambing in the North Island. Stock wintered reasonably well in most districts, but were adversely affected by the waterlogged ground in the Auckland and Taranaki provinces.

The next three months were all comparatively dry. Temperatures were mild, apart from three exceptionally cold southerly changes which affected eastern districts of the South Island between 25 September and 7 October. Many lambs were lost in Southland and West Otago, while late frosts ruined a considerable proportion of the Central Otago fruit crop. The dry weather proved rather welcome at first, but in November strong winds dried up the ground and retarded pasture growth. For the provinces of Auckland and Hawke's Bay, December, like the previous month, was warm, with deficient rainfall; in some areas farmers complained of very dry conditions.


The observations from which the following summary was compiled for the year 1952 were taken at 0900 hours New Zealand Standard Time—i.e., 2100 hours Greenwich Mean Time.

StationTemperatures in Shade—Degrees FahrenheitHours of Bright SunshineRainfall
Mean Daily MaximumMean Daily MinimumApproximate Mean Temp.Extremes for 1952Extremes*
Maximum and MonthMinimum and MonthAbsolute MaximumAbsolute MinimumTotal Fall (Inches)No. of Rain Days

* Highest and lowest temperatures for duration of records.

Te Paki, Te Hapua66. Feb.29.9 July80.227.01,992.049.44177
Auckland66.153.259.681.8 Feb.36.9 July90.431.91,785.050.29177
Tauranga66.049.057.589.2 Jan.27.9 July91.922.52,245.554.90167
Hamilton East64.844.954.982.1 Feb.24.8 July94.414.21,811.445.76172
Rotorua63.845.654.792.5 Jan.27.0 June98.021.31,925.158.87164
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana58.244.951.688.1 Jan.32.0 May & July88.122.2 85.51211
Gisborne65.947.656.885.9 Jan.26.6 July95.82602,122.242.34176
New Plymouth62.249.956.178.8 Feb.33.2 July86029.11,992.156.40170
Napier65.749.657.696.0 Jan.27.9 June96.527.52,223.030.46120
Wanganui63.349.356.381.9 Feb.29.3 Aug.88.028.81,987.336.84149
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North63.447.555.481.8 Feb.27.6 July87.021.21,685.640.28158
Waingawa, Masterton63.744.554.188.0 Feb.23.5 June95.419.51,991.344.81172
Kelburn, Wellington60.048.954.479.6 Feb.33.3 July88.028.61,877.647.95145
Nelson Airfield62.144.353.278.0 Jan.22.4 June92.022.42,365.339.96127
Blenheim64.144.654.488.4 Jan.24.3 June94.616.12,386.829.95111
Hanmer60.739.149.987.0 Feb.16.6 June97.08.21,859.746.84149
Hokitika59.244.151.674.0 Dec.27.4 June84.525.01,837.992.50189
Lake Coleridge60. Dec.17.5 June92.010.0 28.97128
Christchurch61.444.252.885.7 Feb.23.4 June95.719.31,898.325.62123
Timaru61.740.751.294.1 Jan.23.6 June99.019.81,789.028.3091
Milford Sound57.942.550.275.6 Jan.25.4 June79.823.1 254.67183
Alexandra62.139.951.090.9 Dec.15.9 June94.411.01,970.714.5499
Musselburgh, Dunedin58.544.451.485.5 Feb.28.6 June94.023.01,766.226.50146
Invercargill58.442.350.481.2 Nov.23.6 Aug.90.019.01,634.343.13201

For 1952 the mean sea-level pressure values in millibars at 0900 hrs. New Zealand Standard Time were: Auckland, 1015.1; Wellington, 1013.1; Nelson, 1013.4; Hokitika, 1013.6; Christ-church, 1011.5; and Dunedin, 1010.7.

PLANTS OF NEW ZEALAND.—Those desiring information on the flora and plant covering of New Zealand are referred to the article by Dr. W. R. B. Oliver, D.Sc., F.R.S.N.Z., which appeared in the 1940 and previous issues of the Year-Book, while a brief reference to the geographical distribution of the forest trees is made in the section of this Year-Book dealing with Forestry (Section 21). For more detailed information the following works may 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, 1950 (reprint); “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. 4, 1952; “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 Flora of New Zealand,” by W. Martin, ed. 3, 1947; “The Botanical Names of the Flora of New Zealand,” by A. Wall and H. H. Allan, ed. 2, 1950; “Grasses of New Zealand,” by H. H. Allan, 1936; “A Handbook of the Naturalized Flora of New Zealand,” by H. H. Allan, 1940; “Poisonous Plants in New Zealand,” by H. E. Connor, 1951; and numerous articles published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

FAUNA.—A brief article on the fauna of New Zealand, originally prepared by the late Mr. James Drummond, F.L.S., F.Z.S., and revised by him in 1935, is contained in the 1940 and earlier editions of the Year-Book. Later publications dealing with this topic include “Native Animals of New Zealand,” by A. W. B. Powell, 1947, and “Introduced Mammals of New Zealand,” by Dr K. A. Wodzicki, 1950.


Table of Contents

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

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

At present (January 1954) the Executive Council consists of fifteen members in addition to the Governor-General. Two members, exclusive of His Excellency or the presiding member, constitute a quorum.

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

In accordance with the recommendations contained in the report (issued in 1951) of the Royal Commission upon parliamentary salaries and allowances, the Prime Minister's salary as from 1 September 1951 was increased to £3,000 with a tax-free allowance of £1,000 for the expenses of his office and the Ministerial residence. In addition, while travelling on official business he receives £3 3s. per day to meet expenses, and by virtue of his office is entitled to free cars, secretarial assistance, and free postage. The salary of each Minister holding a portfolio is £2,000 with a tax-free expense allowance of £450, and that of each Minister without portfolio £1,650, with £400 tax-free expense allowance. Where the office of Minister of External Affairs is held by a Minister other than the Prime Minister the expense allowance is increased to £600. Any Minister not occupying a Ministerial residence receives an allowance in lieu at the rate of £300 per annum. This allowance or the assessed value of the residence where one is provided is subject to income tax. Previously Ministers did not receive an expense allowance as such, but the Commissioner of Inland Revenue allowed a deduction from salary of £250 as an expense allowance. Ministers also receive an allowance of £3 3s. per day when travelling on official business.

The Civil List Amendment Act 1936 made provision for the appointment of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries, an innovation in executive control in New Zealand. The rate of salary attachable to such position is now £1,250, with the same house provision or allowances, and travel allowance while on official business, as for Ministers. An expense allowance of £350 is also payable. At the present time (January 1954) three such appointments are current.

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

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

Number of Representatives.—The number of members constituting the House of Representatives is eighty—seventy-six Europeans and four Maoris. They are designated “Members of Parliament.” The number was originally fixed by the Constitution Act as not more than forty-two and not less than twenty-four, and the first Parliament called together in 1854 consisted of forty members. Legislation passed in 1858 fixed the number of European members at forty-one; in 1860, at fifty-three; in 1862, at fifty-seven; in 1865, at seventy; in 1867, at seventy-two; in 1870, at seventy-four; in 1875, at eighty-four; in 1881, at ninety-one; in 1887, at seventy; and in 1900, at seventy-six. 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.

Qualifications of Members.—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 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.

Salaries, &c.—The Civil List Act 1950 provided that, on a recommendation of a Royal Commission, the salaries and allowances of Ministers and Members of Parliament may be fixed by Order in Council, in which event the salaries and allowances so fixed will be payable instead of those specified in the Civil List Act 1950. In conformity with the recommendations of the Royal Commission issued in 1951 the honorarium paid to members of the House of Representatives has been increased to £900 per annum. They are also paid a basic allowance at the rate of £250 per annum for expenses incurred in connection with parliamentary duties and a sessional allowance of £150 per annum to all members except those representing the nine electorates in or around Wellington. To meet the higher travelling and other expenses for partly rural and predominantly rural electorates additional increments of £75 and £150 respectively are to be paid to members representing such electorates, subject to the classification of electorates by the Representation Commission into the four classes of (a) urban electorates in or near Wellington or Lower Hutt, (b) urban electorates other than Wellington electorates, (c) partly urban and partly rural electorates, and (d) predominantly rural electorates (refer Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Order 1951). Payment to members is subject to certain deductions for absence not due to sickness or other unavoidable cause. In addition to the honorarium, members are entitled to certain privileges in respect of railway and other forms of travel, a stamp allowance of £4 a month, &c.

Part V of the Superannuation Act 1947 introduced a contributory superannuation scheme for members of the House of Representatives, which provided a minimum retiring allowance of £250 per annum for a member with nine years' service, the allowance increasing by £25 per annum for every year's service in excess of that period until a maximum allowance of £400 per annum is reached after fifteen years' service.

A member must be fifty years of age before he qualifies, on ceasing to be a member, to receive the allowance. The annual contribution, which is compulsory, is £50 per annum, but a member may if he so desires receive a refund of his contributions upon ceasing to be a member.

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

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 is £1,600 per annum, in addition to which he receives an expense allowance of £500 and residential quarters in Parliament House. The honorarium of the Chairman of Committees is £1,300, and an allowance of £350 per annum to cover expenses incurred in connection with his parliamentary and official duties is also paid.

The Leader of the Opposition is paid a salary of £1,600 with an expense allowance of £400. In addition, a secretary and typist are provided by the State and an allowance of £150 is payable for travel outside his electorate. His official stamp allowance is £10 per month.

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

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

The population used as the basis in obtaining the quota for each European electoral district is the total population as disclosed by the census, with the following exceptions:

  1. Maoris:

  2. Persons detained in mental institutions:

  3. Persons detained in prisons:

  4. Persons on board ship:

  5. Temporary guests in licensed hotels:

  6. Persons residing temporarily in military, &c., camps:

  7. Patients in public hospitals.

Provision exists for an allowance by way of addition or subtraction of 7½ per cent of the total population where districts containing the exact quota could not be formed consistently with consideration of topography, community of interest, communications, and existing electoral boundaries.

These provisions, which differ considerably from those previously in force, are contained in the Electoral Amendment Act 1950. This Act also provided that all general elections and by-elections shall be held on a Saturday and for both European and Maori elections to be held on the same day. Previously the Maori elections were held on the day preceding the European elections. An amendment in 1951 provides for the polling hours in Maori electorates to be extended to 7 p.m., as in the case of European electorates.

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

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

FRANCHISE.—Since the abolition of plural voting in 1889 and the introduction of women's suffrage in 1893 every person 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 New Zealand, 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 was necessary before registration became operative. The Electoral Amendment Act 1948, however, provided for the preparation of rolls for Maori electoral districts, which, subject to and after notification in the Gazette that these rolls have been formed, shall be for all purposes the electoral rolls of the districts concerned.

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 Her 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 was committed to military defaulters' detention and had not been discharged therefrom:

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

Maoris are qualified to vote only at elections of the four members representing the Maori race. A Maori half-caste is entitled to be registered either as an elector of a Maori or a European electoral district, while special provisions govern any changeover of registration.

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 31 of this Year-Book.


Table of Contents

GENERAL REVIEW.—A population census was taken as for the night of Tuesday, 17 April 1951, in New Zealand, while censuses of its island territories were conducted by the Department of Island Territories for the night of Tuesday, 25 September 1951.

The minor islands (see page 2), other than the Kermadec Islands and Campbell Island, were uninhabited at the date of the census, as was also the Ross Dependency, situated in Antarctic regions.

The 1951 census population of geographic New Zealand (i.e., excluding Island Territories) was 1,939,472, inclusive of 115,676 Maoris.

For the Island Territories 1951 census figures were: Cook Islands and Niue Island, 19,632; Tokelau Islands, 1,580; Trust Territory of Western Samoa, 83,096. The total census population of New Zealand and Island Territories was 2,043,780. Armed Forces personnel overseas at the time of the census and not included in the population numbered 1,894 (Europeans 1,830, Maoris 64).

The figures contained in the following summary are the latest available.


* Includes population of the inhabited minor islands—i.e., Kermadec Islands, 14 (males); and Campbell Island, 5 (males).

New Zealand—    
  (a) Exclusive of Island Territories—    
    Europeans30 September 1953972,261963,3011,935,562
    Maoris30 September 195363,98261,136125,118
      Totals, New Zealand (excluding Island territories)30 September 19531,036,2431,024,437*2,060,680
  (b) Island Territories—    
    Tokelau Islands31 March 19537858861,671
    Cook Islands31 March 19537,9637,38015,343
    Niue Island31 March 19532,2242,3894,613
      Totals, New Zealand (including Island territories) 1,047,2151,035,092*2,082,307
Trust Territory of Western Samoa25 September 195143,79041,11984,909

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

Date of CensusNumbersIntercensal Numerical IncreaseIntercensal Percentage IncreaseAverage Annual Percentage Increase

* Excludes New Zealand Armed Forces personnel overseas.

† Includes New Zealand Armed Forces personnel overseas.

March 1901*815,85372,6469.771.89
April 1906936,304120,45114.762.75
April 19111,058,308122,00413.032.52
October 1916*1,149,22590,9178.591.50
April 19211,271,664122,43910.652.27
April 19261,408,139136,47510.732.06
March 19361,573,810165,67111.771.13
September 1945*1,702,298128,4888160.83
September 19451,747,679173,86911.051.11
April 1951*1,939,472237,17413.932.37
April 19511,941,366193,68711.081.91

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

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

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

 NumbersPer Cent

* 2.39 for a full year.

1953 (9 months)36,1571.79*

If the numbers of the first three quarters of 1953 are maintained in the fourth quarter, the year's gain will be slightly less than the gain for 1952, which was the highest in the history of New Zealand.

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

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

YearGross RateNet Rate

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

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

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

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

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


YearEstimated PopulationYearEstimated PopulationYearEstimated PopulationYearEstimated Population
 (000) (000) (000) (000)

It should be remembered that while these figures give a reliable indication of what will happen if the assumptions given above are realized, the sex and age groupings for the total population was not available at the time of writing. A compilation has however been made for the non-Maori population, and details are given under the next heading. Maori life tables are now being compiled and, when these are completed, it will be possible to prepare similar projections for the Maori section of the population. Meantime, it is not advisable to try to estimate future Maori population by deducting one projection from the other.

NOTE.—Projections by age-groups for the total and the Maori population have since become available; refer to latest statistical information.

European Population Projection by Age Groups.—In preparing the projection of the non-Maori population to December 1957 and December 1962, chances of survival for the existing population, for net immigration, and for births have been calculated from the 1950–52 life tables for non-Maori lives.

Three alternative assumptions are made with regard to immigration:

  1. A net inflow of 10,000 per annum.

  2. A net inflow of 5,000 per annum.

  3. Emigration balances immigration.

In each case the age and sex distribution of the net inflow have been assumed to be the same as for the period 1934–53. During the last five years the net inflow has averaged 11,527 per annum, but over the last twenty years the average has been 4,005.

Expected births have been calculated with reference to the average number of women of child-bearing age, using average annual birth rates for the period 1949–52.

It should be stressed that population projections are not predictions of what the population will be at any given time. They merely show what would be the effect on the existing population of certain stated assumptions, without implying that those assumptions will necessarily be realized. Anyone who wishes to predict the population should therefore examine not only the figures given but also the validity of the assumptions, and the likelihood that they will continue to apply in the future.


Age GroupsDecember 1957December 1962
(a) Assuming 10,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years115,000109,100224,100119,000112,900231,900
5 and under 10 years112,850107,800220,650116,150110,250226,400
10 and under 15 years96,80092,600189,400114,450109,250223,700
15 and under 20 years78,75075,850154,60098,15093,750191,900
20 and under 25 years65,30061,650126,95081,75077,350159,100
25 and under 30 years71,80065,350137,15070,40063,900134,300
30 and under 35 years76,90070,700147,60075,95067,650143,600
35 and under 40 years70,95070,600141,55079,35072,500151,850
40 and under 45 years67,45068,000135,45072,25071,500143,750
45 and under 50 years65,40063,500128,90067,55068,000135,550
50 and under 55 years57,20054,950112,15064,00062,550126,550
55 and under 60 years47,55047,50095,05054,35053,150107,500
60 and under 65 years36,05040,90076,95043,45044,90088,350
65 years and over88,800105,900194,70089,400112,700202,100
(b) Assuming 5,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years113,600107,750221,350115,800109,850225,650
5 and under 10 years111,800106,950218,750113,750108,050221,800
10 and under 15 years95,80091,800187,600112,450107,600220,050
15 and under 20 years77,85075,200153,05096,25092,250188,500
20 and under 25 years63,50060,750124,25079,05075,800154,850
25 and under 30 years69,00064,100133,10065,80061,750127,550
30 and under 35 years74,55069,400143,95070,85065,100135,950
35 and under 40 years69,35069,450138,80075,40070,050145,450
40 and under 45 years66,35067,150133,50069,55069,550139,100
45 and under 50 years64,65062,950127,60065,70066,600132,300
50 and under 55 years56,75054,600111,35062,85061,650124,500
55 and under 60 years47,30047,30094,60053,65052,600106,250
60 and under 65 years35,90040,70076,60043,10044,55087,650
65 years and over88,600105,400194,00089,050111,700200,750
(c) Assuming no Net Inflow from Immigration
Under 5 years112,200106,400218,600112,600106,800219,400
5 and under 10 years110,800106,100216,900111,350105,850217,200
10 and under 15 years94,80091,000185,800110,500105,900216,400
15 and under 20 years76,95074,500151,45094,35090,750185,100
20 and under 25 years61,70059,900121,60076,35074,250150,600
25 and under 30 years66,20062,850129,05061,20059,650120,850
30 and under 35 years72,20068,050140,25065,70062,500128,200
35 and under 40 years67,75068,300136,05071,45067,600139,050
40 and under 45 years65,20066,300131,50066,80067,600134,400
45 and under 50 years63,95062,400126,35063,85065,200129,050
50 and under 55 years56,30054,250110,55061,70060,750122,450
55 and under 60 years47,05047,10094,15053,00052,050105,050
60 and under 65 years35,80040,50076,30042,75044,15086,900
65 years and over88,400104,950193,35088,600110,800199,400

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

CountryCensus PeriodAverage Annual Percentage Increase

* Excluding Newfoundland.

† European population.

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

§ Excluding full-blooded aborigines.

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

New Zealand1945–512.37
England and Wales1931–510.46
Northern Ireland1937–510.48
Republic of Ireland1946–510.03
Union of South Africa1946–512.06
United States of America1940–501.36

The outstanding feature of the above table is the position occupied by New Zealand, with an annual rate of increase of 2.37 per cent. This would, however, be reduced to 1.91 per cent if members of the Armed Forces who were overseas in 1945 and 1951 were added to the New Zealand totals at the census dates and not regarded as population gains in the intercensal period.

The Commonwealth countries, Union of South Africa (206 percent), Canada (1.72 percent), and Ceylon (1.51 per cent), show the next highest rates of increase. On the other hand, European countries show the lowest rates of increase—France and Hungary actually show decreases—with the United Kingdom countries recording very low figures. The significance of the census dates, particularly in the case of Australia and of the Union of South Africa, must not be overlooked. In Australia, for instance, the great bulk of its huge post-war immigration took place after the 1947 census.

SEX PROPORTIONS.—Latest (September 1953) available figures show that males outnumber females by 8,960 in the European population, 2,846 in the Maori population, and 11,806 in the total population. Females per 1,000 males were: European, 991; Maori, 956; total population, 989. Net increase of population from migration adds to the male preponderance, but the major source of population increase is the excess of births over deaths, and this results in a female preponderance. In the relatively near future it seems probable that females will outnumber males. Females per 1,000 males at the last four censuses have been—

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

There are marked differences in the sex proportions of the population of different parts of New Zealand. The following observations relate to the census of 1951 and give the number of females per 1,000 males.

In the aggregate of cities and boroughs the ratio was 1,071; in town districts, 1,010; and in counties, 885. For the provincial districts ratios were—

Otago (Otago portion)1016
Hawke's Bay1003
Otago (Southland portion)951

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

New Plymouth1119
Palmerston North1070

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

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

Intercensal population statistics for New Zealand are statistics of record; those for lesser divisions such as provincial districts, counties, or boroughs are estimates.

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

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

INTERCENSAL RECORDS.—The intercensal statements of total population, prepared from the records of vital statistics and of external migration, have been by virtue of the favourable position of New Zealand in this respect relatively accurate. Moderate discrepancies, however, are inevitable and, in the tables following, revisions have been made for figures subsequent to the 1945 census to conform with the 1951 census figures.

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

Population (Including Maoris) at End of YearIncrease During YearMean Population for Year
MalesFemalesTotalsNumericalPer Cent

* Minus sign (−) signifies a decrease.

Years Ended 31 March
Years Ended 31 December

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

Population (Excluding Maoris) at End of YearIncrease During YearMean Population for Year
MalesFemalesTotalsNumericalPer Cent

* Minus sign (−) signifies a decrease.

Years Ended 31 March
Years Ended 31 December

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

Including crews of vessels, 121,471 persons from overseas arrived in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1953, which, compared with 1951–52, shows an increase of 9,412. During the same period 101,137 persons departed. This figure, compared with the corresponding one for 1951–52, shows an increase of 4,557.

In addition to the figures just quoted there were also 5,645 “through” passengers who called at a port of New Zealand en route to their destination.

The excess of total arrivals over total departures for 1952–53 was 20,334, compared with a similar excess of 15,479 during 1951–52. This is the highest figure for net immigration since 1879.

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., have not been taken into account in this table.

Year Ended 31 MarchArrivalsDeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures

The number of arrivals in 1952–53 was the highest in the history of New Zealand migration statistics. In 1951–52 the number of departures showed a slight decrease on the previous year, and this was continued in 1952–53, when there was a further drop of 2,626.

During the war years normal civilian movements overseas were largely restricted, but in post-war years immigration on an enhanced scale has been experienced. Had it not been for shipping difficulties and for the serious housing shortage there is little doubt that larger numbers would have been recorded.

In the eight-year period ending 31 March 1953 the net gain from passenger migration was 68,416, while if movement of crews is taken into account this is increased to 71,549.

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

Immigrants intending permanent residence11,38717,70118,23424,92229,005
New Zealand residents returning12,84018,46319,97620,42618,570
  On business1,7691,9362,4062,8462,502
  Theatrical, entertaining, etc.7001,117634582785
  Educational purposes97597111133199
  Others, officials, etc.3134696131,035
  In transit447485631651835
Through passengers3,0732,4892,9232,7445,645

The succeeding table gives a similar analysis of departures.

New Zealand residents departing—     
Temporary residents departing11,52016,00817,96318,44419,622
Through passengers3,0732,4892,9232,7445,645

Ages.—The following table gives the age-distribution of immigrants and emigrants for the twelve months ended 31 March 1953.

Age, in YearsPermanent ArrivalsPermanent DeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures
60 and over4507871,237202365567670

Of the permanent arrivals during the year 1952–53, 17 per cent were under fifteen years of age, 42 per cent under twenty-five years, 73 per cent under thirty-five years, and 86 per cent under forty-five years. Permanent departures represented a similar age distribution with percentages of 16, 39, 68, and 81 respectively.

Origin.—The great majority of immigrants to New Zealand have always come from the British. Isles. During the immigration boom of the “seventies” several shiploads of immigrants from Baltic countries arrived under Government auspices. With this exception, systems of Government-assisted passages to immigrants have been until recently confined to immigrants from the United Kingdom. Conditions arising out of the recent war have brought changes, and systems of Government aid have been devised for immigrants from other countries. These conditions have also stimulated independent migration, apart from that governmentally aided. It is therefore of some interest to survey briefly the net gain of population in the post-war years.

The next table gives the excess of overseas arrivals oven departures for the eight years 1945–46 to 1952–53. The basis of “permanent” arrivals and “permanent” departures has not been used; this is founded on intention, and intentions, particularly in existing times, are subject to change. Instead the table covers total arrivals and total departures less (a) persons of New Zealand birth and (6) New Zealand residents of overseas origin returning after an absence of less than a year or departing for a period of less than a year. Included, it will be noted, are crews of vessels. Annually the surplus of crew arrivals over crew departures provides a moderate increment to the population of New Zealand. For the eight years the net gain from this source was 3,133. Information as to the country of origin is not available in this case.

The total surplus of arrivals on this basis was 83,469. Of these, 57,492 came from Commonwealth countries (including 46,868 from the United Kingdom) and 22,617 from other countries. Of the remainder, 227 came from unspecified countries or were born at sea. The period under review ends at 31 March 1953.

Country of BirthExcess of Arrivals

* Including condominia, protected states, and trust territories.

United Kingdom23,71123,157
Union of South Africa153199
India and Pakistan1,2351,183
Cook Islands and Niue653675
Western Samoa926699
Others (Pacific)7345
All others327302
Other Countries  
Republic of Ireland and Ireland, undefined1,041742
Others (Europe)162162
United States of America427289
Others (Pacific)4029
All others146100
Born at sea24
Not specified103118
Crews of vessels2,994139
    Grand totals45,50837,961

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

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

In July 1947 a comprehensive assisted passage scheme was introduced by the Government. Under this scheme financial aid was granted to certain categories of immigrants. Eligibility was confined to single residents of the United Kingdom (with no dependants) between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years who were suitable for, and willing to accept employment in, a wide variety of productive and servicing occupations. Free passages were provided for those successful applicants who served in the United Kingdom Armed Forces (including Merchant Navy) during the Second World War; all others selected were required to contribute £10 towards the cost of their fares. All assisted immigrants were required to enter into a contract with the New Zealand Government that they would engage in approved employment for two years after their arrival in New Zealand.

A scheme of child migration from the United Kingdom also came into operation during the same year, the first draft arriving in June 1949. This scheme was devised to bring to New Zealand, on a guardianship basis, British children between the ages of five and seventeen years whose parents were prepared to agree to their placement with foster-parents approved by the Superintendent of Child Welfare. Arrivals under this scheme totalled 169 in 1949–50, 107 in 1950–51, 99 in 1951–52, and 87 in 1952–53. This scheme was terminated on 31 May 1953.

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

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

  2. The contribution of £10 previously required to be paid by other than ex-service personnel towards the cost of their fares to New Zealand to be abolished. In future free passages to be provided for all British immigrants, both single and married (including wives and families), selected under the scheme.

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

  4. The acceptance, after negotiation and conclusion of agreements with the countries concerned, of a number of single non-British men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years. Such an agreement was later entered into with the Netherlands Government.

Arrivals of “assisted” Dutch immigrants were 55 males in 1950–51, 937 males and 163 females in 1951–52, and 2,108 males and 601 females in 1952–53.

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

Year ending 31 March 1947158
Year ending 31 March 19481,140
Year ending 31 March 19491,527
Year ending 31 March 19502,532
Year ending 31 March 19512,928
Year ending 31 March 19524,949
Year ending 31 March 19537,581

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

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

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

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

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

For persons from the Cook Islands, Niue, or Western Samoa the only requirement is a permit to visit New Zealand granted by the Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands or Niue or the High Commissioner for 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.

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

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

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

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

  2. Idiots or insane persons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Those born in New Zealand.

  2. Those naturalized in New Zealand.

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

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

  5. Women (being British subjects) married before the commencement of the Act to men who become citizens under the various provisions of the Act.

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

  1. By birth in New Zealand.

  2. By descent.

  3. By registration.

  4. By naturalization.

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

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

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

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

The complete numbers of naturalizations, registrations, etc., during the year ended 31 March 1953 were as follows.

Country of BirthCertificates of Naturalization (Aliens and British-protected Persons)Certificates of Registration as a New Zealand Citizen (British Subjects, Irish Citizens, British-protected Persons, and Aliens)Certificates of Registration as a New Zealand Citizen—Minor Children (British Subjects and Aliens)
United Kingdom  893634
Union of South Africa  13  
Republic of India  61114
Canada   1  
Australia  5612
Western Samoa21 2  
Fiji  12  
Tonga2  1  
Latvia   1  
Poland12 1713
Germany63 311
Netherlands7  223
Belgium1 1   
France1 1   
Republic of Ireland  1   
Switzerland4  3  
Italy51 2  
Czechoslovakia2  3  
Austria3  4  
Yugoslavia28  7 1
Rumania1  1  
Greece6  4  
Egypt   1  
Jordan     2
Burma  6511
Indonesia7  513
United States of America2 21  
Mexico   1  
Society Islands1  1  
Born at Sea    1 

Of the certificates of registration granted to adult males, 110 were to British subjects or Irish citizens who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, and 5 to British subjects generally resident outside New Zealand who were registered as New Zealand citizens by virtue of their close associations by way of descent, residence, or otherwise, with New Zealand.

The certificates of registration granted to adult females were 50 to British subjects who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, 10 to British wives of New Zealand citizens, 5 to British subjects generally resident outside New Zealand, and 48 to alien women married to New Zealand citizens by birth or naturalization.

Certificates of registration granted to minor children were 33 (13 males, 20 females) to children of New Zealand citizens, by naturalization or registration, and 5 (1 male, 4 females) to children who lodged applications independently.

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

The number of aliens on the New Zealand register at 1 April 1953 was 21,726, comprising 14,732 males and 6,994 females. This does not purport to be the complete number in New Zealand, as certain classes are not required to register, including the following: (a) children under sixteen years of age; (b) persons holding diplomatic status, Consuls, or employees of Embassies, Legations, and Consulates who are resident in New Zealand solely for the purpose of performing official duties; (c) certain temporary visitors to New Zealand; (d) Western Samoans, except in special circumstances. Under the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, though not possessing the status of British subject (or, in alternative phraseology, Commonwealth citizen), is nevertheless not classed as an alien and is not required to register.

The following table shows the numbers on the register at 1 April 1952 and 1 April 1953.

Country of Nationality1 April 19521 April 1953
Russia (U.S.S.R.)1358722212889217
United States of America608249857548238786
Other countries623395593493

The number of aliens on the register as at 1 April 1953 shows an increase of 5,497 as compared with twelve months earlier, the countries contributing the major portion of this increase being Netherlands (4,802), China (202), Austria (110), Switzerland (91), Poland (77), Denmark (76), and Germany (69).

The United States of America recorded a numerical decrease of 71, this being the only country to show a decrease in excess of 6 during the year.

The age distribution and occupations of aliens on the register at 1 April 1952 will be found on page 31 of the 1953 issue of the Year-Book.

DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION.—Detailed population statistics are compiled for each census and these are published in Vol. 1—Increase and Location of Population. In the 1951 issue will be found figures for provincial districts, land districts, urban areas, counties, cities, boroughs, town districts, extra-county islands, and shipping. In addition, county figures are subdivided further into (a) ridings, and (b) townships, localities, etc.

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

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

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


The natural increase of European population (i.e., excess of births over deaths) for the North Island during the 1945–51 intercensal period was 103,954, and the total net increase 151,373. For the South Island the natural increase was 48,806, and the total net increase 68,869. It is clear that in the strict sense of the term there was no “northward drift” of population in this period. Inclusive of Maoris, the North Island increase was 167,577, or 14.62 per cent, and the South Island increase 69,597, or 12.52 per cent. In contrast to preceding periods the South Island rate of increase approaches fairly closely that of the North Island.

At the 1951 census the North Island population was 1,313,869, inclusive of 111,512 Maoris; and the South Island population 625,603, inclusive of 4,164 Maoris.

At 31 March 1953 the North Island population was estimated as 1,389,390, inclusive of 118,923 Maoris; and the South Island population as 648,163, inclusive of 4,276 Maoris.

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

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

Provincial DistrictArea (Square Miles)Estimated Population 1 April 1953Provincial DistrictArea (Square Miles)Estimated Population 1 April 1953
Hawke's Bay4,26095,600Otago—  
Taranaki3,75090,400Otago portion14,050164,600
Wellington10,870410,900Southland portion11,48079,700
Nelson10,87070,300New Zealand103,7402,037,553

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

The area shown for New Zealand now includes certain islands which formerly were excluded. These are Kermadec Islands (13 square miles), Campbell Island (44 square miles), and the uninhabited islands—Three Kings, Solander, Bounty, Snares, Antipodes, and Auckland—with a total area of 263 square miles.

Urban and Rural Population.—On 17 April 1951 somewhat over two-fifths (43.7 per cent) of the population of New Zealand (excluding Maoris) were included in the five principal urban areas—Auckland, Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and over one-half (54.4 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. It will be observed that there was a marked slackening in the rate of the urban drift between 1926 and 1936, but the 1945 figures, due, no doubt, to wartime influences, disclosed a substantial increase in the urban population, whereas the rural population, for the first time, recorded a decrease. In the 1945–51 period a substantial gain was recorded in the rural population, but it was insufficient to prevent further deterioration of its ratio to total population.

CensusPopulationPercentage of Total

* Figures exclude military and internment camps.

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

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

Excluding Maoris—      
Including Maoris—      

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

Including MaorisExcluding Maoris
Urban: towns of—    
  25,000 or over338,213625,666337,221617,921
    Totals, urban798,1881,196,857792,5761,171,834
    Totals, New Zealand1,401,0011,933,5941,337,3841,818,011
Urban: towns of—    
  25,000 or over24.1432.3625.2133.99
    Totals, urban56.9761.9059.2664.45
    Totals, New Zealand100.00100.00100.00100.00

Some apparent anomalies where the numbers exclusive of Maoris exceed those inclusive of Maoris arise from the transfer of towns to other categories as a result of the different basis of population.

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

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

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

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

Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)Population Increase 1945–51
New Plymouth16,34418,59721,05724,9233,86618.36
Palmerston North20,10724,37227,82032,9085,08818.29

In the quarter-century covered by the table all urban areas, with two exceptions, have consistently recorded increases in population. Of these exceptions, one comprised a slight recession at Wanganui, 1926–36. The other was Dunedin, 1926–36, but there the recession arose from the inflation of the 1926 population by visitors to the exhibition then being held at Dunedin. In numbers, growth during the twenty-five years is led by Auckland; in rate, Hutt and Hamilton are outstanding.

The Wellington figure is partly explained by the substantial growth in the adjacent Hutt Urban Area. However, the increase for the two urban areas combined is 10.74 per cent, a rate exceeded by all urban areas except Dunedin.

Of particular interest is the marked increase in the Maori population in urban areas during the last twenty-five years. In Auckland the number of Maoris increased from 1,209 in 1926 to 7,621 in 1951. In the fifteen urban areas there were 3,457 Maoris in 1926, as compared with 16,010 in 1951.

The next table contains the population (Maoris included) of the fifteen urban areas as estimated for 1 April 1953. The component parts of the five largest centres of population are given in detail, while for the remaining ten areas totals only are quoted. In most of the ten cases the urban area comprises the central city or borough plus the urban portion of the adjoining county. At 1 April 1953 the five largest urban areas had a total population of 849,000, this being equivalent to 41.67 per cent of the New Zealand total. The total for urban areas at the same date was 1,128,100, or 55.37 per cent of the total population of New Zealand.

Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)
Auckland Wellington 
  Auckland City131,400Wellington City126,500
  Birkenhead Borough5,070Tawa Flat Town District3,050
  Northcote Borough3,400Remainder of urban area8,050
  Takapuna Borough14,750  
  Devonport Borough12,150Total137,600
  Henderson Borough2,270  
  Glen Eden Borough3,020Christchurch 
  New Lynn Borough6,800Christchurch City126,600
  Mt. Albert Borough26,500Riccarton Borough8,380
  Mt. Eden Borough19,400Lyttelton Borough3,620
  Mount Wellington Borough8,370Heathcote County7,660
  Newmarket Borough2,630Remainder of urban area36,540
  Ellerslie Borough3,960  
  One Tree Hill Borough12,900Total182,800
  Mt. Roskill Borough21,800  
  Howick Borough2,630  
  Onehunga Borough17,550Dunedin 
  Otahuhu Borough8,420Dunedin City71,100
  Papatoetoe Borough9,210Port Chalmers Borough3,110
  Manurewa Borough3,580West Harbour Borough2,020
  Papakura Borough3,870St. Kilda Borough7,430
  Panmure Township Road District660Green Island Borough3,710
  Remainder of urban area30,160Mosgiel Borough3,350
   Remainder of urban area7,180
      Total350,500      Total97,900
  Hutt Napier26,100
  Lower Hutt City46,600Hastings25,300
  Upper Hutt Borough9,370New Plymouth26,600
  Petone Borough10,750Wanganui31,200
  Eastbourne Borough2,770Palmerston North35,000
  Remainder of urban area10,710Nelson21,600

Counties.—The following table gives the estimated population (including Maoris) of individual counties at 1 April 1953, together with the approximate area of each. It should be noted that “Administrative Counties” do not include boroughs or town districts independent of county control, but include town districts which form parts of counties.

North Island—  
  Bay of Islands12,290824
  Great Barrier Island290110
  Hauraki Plains5,300233
  Hawke's Bay17,6001,671
  Waimate West2,84083
  Wairarapa South3,080440
  South Island—  
  Mount Herbert59066
  Chatham Islands470372
  Stewart Island560670
      Grand totals741,460102,619

During the year ended 1 April 1953 twelve counties are estimated to have gained population to the extent of 500 or more persons. Of these Waitemata, Waimairi, and Hutt counties were estimated to have gained population to a greater extent than all other counties during the year.

The growth of population in such counties as Waitemata, Manukau, Hutt, Makara, and Waimairi is largely attributable to urban development in the areas bordering on the three largest centres of population—Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Matamata County gained population as a result of development of the forest industry, particularly at Tokoroa, a township built to house the employees of the timber mills at Kinleith, 4½ miles away. Tauranga County population increased considerably during the year, especially in the area adjoining Tauranga Borough. In addition new timber mills have been commenced in this area. In Rotorua County also the forest industry was responsible for the substantial population gain.

Taupo and Tuapeka increased as a result of State hydro-electric development at Whakamaru and Roxburgh respectively.

In Whakatane County the development of the pulp and paper project has been largely responsible for the population increase. The gain in Rangitikei County population was mainly due to the increase in numbers at Waiouru. As a result of alterations to boundaries Waiouru military establishment (previously in Waimarino County) is now included in Rangitikei County.

Once again decreases in population were very few, in fact it was estimated that only two counties lost in excess of 100 persons during the period. In both cases reductions in numbers at military camps were responsible—Linton Camp in Kairanga County and Burnham camp in Malvern County were both extensively reduced in numbers.

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

BoroughPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres
North Island—  
  Glen Eden3,0201,244
  New Lynn6,8001,393
  Auckland (City)131,40018,253
  Mount Albert26,5002,430
  Mount Eden19,4001,476
  Mount Wellington8,3703,770
  One Tree Hill12,9002,430
  Mount Roskill21,8004,605
  Hamilton (City)32,0005,705
  Te Awamutu4,2001,162
  Te Kuiti3,4801,668
  Te Aroha2,7602,783
  Mount Maunganui2,120935
  Te Puke1,5901,047
  Napier (City)20,8002,477
  Havelock North2,3101,165
  New Plymouth (City)23,3004,132
  Wanganui (City)28,7005,726
  Palmerston N. (City)32,9006,943
  Upper Hutt9,3702,165
  Lower Hutt (City)46,6007,688
  Wellington (City)126,50017,798
South Island—  
  Nelson (City)17,8005,550
  Christchurch (City)126,60016,788
  Timaru (City)22,5003,524
  Port Chalmers3,110714
  West Harbour2,0202,181
  Dunedin (City)71,10013,536
  St. Kilda7,430462
  Green Island3,710878
  Invercargill (City)27,7006,399
  South Invercargill1,3302,257
      Grand totals1,262,720307,807

During the year 1952–53 it was estimated that Auckland City, with a gain of 3,300 persons, had the highest numerical increase in population of all cities and boroughs. Mount Roskill with 1,700 increase was in second position, and Christchurch City third with an increase of 1,600. Five other cities and boroughs each gained in excess of 1,000. These were Lower Hutt City, Hamilton City, Wellington City, Palmerston North City, and Upper Hutt Borough.

Petone was estimated to have lost 200 persons, and was the only borough to suffer a population decrease. This was largely the result of the closing of Shandon Industrial Workers' Camp.

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

Town DistrictPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in AcresTown DistrictPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres

* Parent county shown in parentheses

(a) Town Districts Not Forming Parts of Counties
North Island—     
  Hikurangi930960Tawa Flat3,050797
  Waiuku1,2401,275South Island—  
  Manunui8301,251Pleasant Point580730
  Bulls710677Grand totals24,92024,115
(b) Town Districts Forming Parts of Counties*
North Island—     
  Kohukohu (Hokianga)2301,020Patutahi (Cook)2201,275
   Kaponga (Eltham)450558
  Rawene (Hokianga)480280Normanby (Hawera)410260
  Russell (Bay of Islands)6201,066Totals6,54010,995
  Kawakawa (Bay of Islands)670280South Island—Havelock (Marlborough)290210
  Onerahi (Whangarei)1,000990   
  Mercer (Franklin)3101,000Southbridge (Ellesmere)390531
  Te Kauwhata (Waikato)6701,290   
   Outram (Taieri)360886
  Ohaupo (Waipa)3001,283Edendale (Southland)510696
  Kihikihi (Waipa)480523   
  Kawhia (Kawhia)310470Totals1,5502,323
  Te Karaka (Waikohu)390700   
    Grand totals8,09013,318

Extra-county Islands and Migratory Population.—In addition to the populations quoted for administrative counties, cities and boroughs, and independent town districts, the New Zealand totals include migratory population and persons located on islands not within the boundaries of any county. The two latter categories comprised an estimated total of 8,453 people at 1 April 1953.

Of the islands concerned, Waiheke, estimated at 2,000 for 1 April 1953, was the only one with a population of any size.

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

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

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

Within New Zealand there are wide variations in density of population. The North Island, with an area of 44,294 square miles, had a population density of 29.66 persons per square mile at the 1951 census date, and the South Island, with an area of 59,442 square miles, had a population density of 10.52 persons per square mile at the same date.

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

Provincial DistrictArea, in Square MilesPersons Per Square Mile
Hawke's Bay4,2609.3012.4614.9418.0721.41
  Otago portion14,0508.959.469.7610.7611.33
  Southland portion11,4804.185.175.446.356.76

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

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

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

A statement of Maori population is now given for each census from 1901 to 1951.

YearMaori PopulationIntercensal IncreaseIntercensal IncreaseAverage Annual Increase

* Includes members of Armed Forces overseas at census date.

  NumberPer CentPer Cent

The average annual percentage increase from 1945 to 1951 was 2.89, which is considerably higher than the corresponding figure for the European population—viz., 2.34 per cent. Movements of troops have tended to invalidate this comparison; the natural increase ratios for the year 1952 shown below afford a better illustration.

Birth rate24.7745.41
Death rate9.2812.34
Natural-increase rate15.4933.07

Of the 115,676 Maoris at the 1951 census, 111,512 were in the North Island. Auckland Provincial District contains the bulk of the Maoris, particularly in the Auckland Peninsula and Poverty Bay regions. In the South Island Maoris do not attain any numerical significance. Maoris have always been residents in rural communities and this is still substantially true. A marked change is, however, taking place which probably acquired impetus during the war as a result of employment conditions. As late as the 1936 census only 8,249 Maoris (10.02 per cent) dwelt in cities, boroughs, or independent town districts. By the 1951 census the comparative figure was 22,726 (19.65 per cent). The largest concentration is in Auckland Urban Area, where 7,621 Maoris were enumerated.

The records of the 1945 and 1951 censuses permit of a statement of the total numbers wholly or partly of Maori blood.

Counted in the Maori population—

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

Counted in the population other than Maori—

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

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

STATISTICS OF THE 1951 CENSUS.—The tabulation and analysis of the population census taken for the night of 17 April 1951 is still proceeding, and the following volumes of census results have been published:

  • Volume I—Increase and Location of Population.

  • Volume II—Ages and Marital Status.

  • Volume III—Religious Professions, etc.

  • Appendix A—Census of Poultry.

  • New Zealand Life Tables, 1950–52.

  • Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings.

Some of the data to be covered by further volumes of census results are available, and certain summaries are given in the following pages; others will be found in the appropriate sections of this volume—e.g., Building, Construction, and Housing; Incomes and Income Tax; Employment and Unemployment, etc. The figures are subject to revision, but it is improbable that any major changes will be necessary.

It should be noted that Maoris are included in all tables, except where otherwise stated. When making comparisons with the figures for the census of 25 September 1945 allowance should be made for the fact that both censuses exclude members of the New Zealand Forces who were overseas at the respective census dates. The number absent overseas in 1945 was 45,381 (44,715 males and 666 females), and in 1951, 1,894 (1,891 males and 3 females). The 1945 census figures also exclude 250 members of the United States of America Forces and 803 enemy prisoners of war in New Zealand. On the other hand, refugees and internees were included in the enumeration.

AGES.—The age distribution of the population as disclosed at the censuses of 1945 and 1951 is now given.

Age Group (Years)1945 Census1951 Census
Under 590,99287,533178,525119,443114,989234,432
100 and over72330152439
Not specified—Adults8585981,4567947311,525

The percentage of age distribution for the last two censuses is now given.

Age Group (Years)19451951Age Group (Years)19451951
 Per CentPer Cent Per CentPer Cent
Under 510.5012.1050.545.115.01
40–446.426.5990 and over0070.08
45–495.855.76    Totals100.00100.00

The exclusion of members of the Armed Forces overseas affects the comparison in the above tables, particularly in regard to certain age groups. In the following summary, however, the absent members have been included in order to give a better picture of the changes in the age constitution of the population. All of these have been included in the age group 15 and under 65 years.

Age Group (Years)1945 Census1951 CensusIncrease 1945–51
NumbersPer CentNumbersPer CentNumbersPer Cent

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

Under 15458,65126.27570,62129.42111,97024.41
15 and under 651,140,12965.301,191,66661.4351,5374.52
65 and over147,2198.43177,4599.1530,24020.54
Not specified1,680 1,620 −60 

The outstanding points emerging from this table are the large increases in the numbers of children under 15 years, and of persons aged 65 or over, and the comparatively little change in the group 15 and under 65 years. The increase in children is mainly due to the high birth rate in the post-war years, while the gradual ageing of the population has been in evidence over a long period. The group 15 and under 65 years, which includes most of the working population, is, of course, affected by deaths in two World Wars.

MARITAL STATUS.—The marital status of persons aged 16 years and over as returned at the census of 1951 is summarized in the following tables. The status is that existing at the census date—i.e., a person who had been widowed or divorced, but had remarried before the census, is counted as married.

Age Group (Years)Never MarriedMarriedLegally SeparatedWidowedDivorcedNot SpecifiedTotal
90 and over681633371 4609
Not specified, adults1022567279393794
    Totals 1951194,701433,0916,66327,1787,0391,239669,911
    Totals 1945181,083366,1144,80526,2975,948914585,161
90 and over9982277714965
Not specified, adults8143412936105731
    Totals 1951153,199431,1767,80371,8357,891686672,590
    Totals 1945174,781378,8546,00364,2926,392183630,505

The proportional distribution of the adult population—i.e., those aged 21 years and over—is given in the following summary.

Marital StatusMalesFemales
Per Cent
Never married21.9821.3219.7515.72
Legally separated0.931.111.061.27

The return of many single men who were overseas in 1945 would tend to obscure movement in the proportions of males as between the censuses. It is evident, however, that the high post-war marriage rates have increased the proportion of married men, but not to the same extent as is observed for females.

RELIGIOUS PROFESSIONS.—The following summary presents the main religious professions returned at the last census, with comparative figures for 1945 being given also.

Religious ProfessionAdherents
Church of England634,364726,626
Roman Catholic (including Catholic undefined)230,819264,555
Protestant (undefined)12,12214,432
Salvation Army13,30013,607
Church of Christ11,40611,937
Latter Day Saints7,79810,008
Seventh Day Adventist5,0846,159
Christian (undefined)3,7804,853
Christian Scientist4,8274,586
Undenominational Christian1,6922,726
Jehovah's Witness6501,756
Eastern Orthodox Catholic5951,007
Commonwealth Covenant Church835659
Society of Friends546593
Assemblies of God362475
Liberal Catholic334328
Hau Hau662307
No religion (so returned)11,31311,475
All other religious professions3,2474,538
Object to state133,431137,597
Not specified9,29910,451

The category recorded as “Object to state” represents those persons availing themselves of the special statutory right of objecting to answer a question on this subject. It is very likely that the “not specified” group may also include a number of persons objecting to the question.

The proportional distribution according to number of adherents is as shown below.

Religious ProfessionPercentage of Total Population
Church of England37.2737.47
Roman Catholic (including Catholic undefined)13.5613.64
Protestant (undefined)0.710.74
Salvation Army0.780.70
Church of Christ0.670.62
Latter Day Saints0.460.52
No religion (so returned)0.660.59
Object to state7.847.09
All others (including “not specified”)4.063.94

BIRTHPLACES.—The distribution of the population in 1951 according to place of birth is now presented, with the 1945 figures being incorporated for comparative purposes. The nomenclature used in regard to countries of birth refers to status and territories in the census year and not necessarily to the present position.

Commonwealth of Nations with Protected States, Protectorates, Trust Territories, and Condominia—  
  New Zealand1,456,0671,672,962
  Northern Ireland9,0248,817
  United Kingdom or Great Britain, n.o.d.219155
  Isle of Man362331
  Channel Islands622563
  Union of South Africa1,2231,398
  Republic of India2,0963,838
  Canada (including Newfoundland)1,7602,091
  Cook Islands393999
  Niue Island222330
  Western Samoa5921,336
  Other Pacific Islands within Commonwealth243351
  All other countries within Commonwealth9151,355
    Total, Commonwealth Countries1,674,3701,907,143
Other Countries—  
  Republic of Ireland7,2496,423
  Ireland undefined2,3421,932
  Russia (U.S.S.R.)348506
  United States of America1,0791,713
  All other countries outside Commonwealth1,7203,068
    Total other countries26,31030,651
  Born at sea570410
  Not specified1,0481,268
    Grand totals1,702,2981,939,472

The heavy post-war immigration is reflected in a number of instances in the above table, particularly in regard to several foreign countries. The arrival of assisted immigrants from Netherlands is mainly responsible for the large increase shown for that country, while several thousand “displaced persons” arrived from other European countries.

DURATION OF RESIDENCE OF OVERSEAS-BORN.—Persons born elsewhere than in New Zealand are now classified by their duration of residence in this country.

Duration of Residence (Years)Census
90 and over4586
Not specified3,5294,466

The curtailment of migration during the war years and the recovery following the cessation of hostilities is shown in the figures quoted above for persons with less than 5 years' residence in New Zealand.

In making comparisons between the two censuses it should be noted that the intercensal period was 5½ years, and in addition the figures are affected by troop movements. This appears to be the reason for the large increase from the 19,711 in the 25–29 group in 1945 to 24,613 in the 30–34 group in 1951.

RACIAL ORIGINS.—The racial origins of the population are shown in three main divisions together with comparative figures for the 1945 census. While it is not possible to complete an accurate ethnological survey from census data, the information obtained is of considerable value.


* Included with Polynesian.

NOTE.—F.B. signifies “full blood,” M.B. “mixed blood,” the second race being European.

  European-Maori quarter-caste16,90218,421
      Totals, European1,592,8761,809,441
  Full Maori61,44076,918
  Three-quarter caste18,34815,201
  Maori-other Polynesian*374
      Totals, Maori98,744115,676
Race alien—  
  Lebanese—F.B. 828
  M.B.F.B. 901383
  Syrian—F.B.M.B. 438109
  M.B. 197
  Syrian-Maori 42
  West Indian—F.B.1124
  Cook Island Maori (including Niuean)—F.B.387934
  Other or undefined—F.B.170750
  Polynesian-Melanesian 46
  Other race aliens—F.B.72107
      Totals, race aliens10,67814,355
      Grand totals1,702,2981,939,472

The increase in Maoris of full-blood was at a substantially higher rate than that of Maori-Europeans; in fact, the three-quarter caste Maoris returned a decrease during the intercensal period. It does not seem likely that the decrease is a real one and it is possible that a change in enumeration technique may be partly responsible. Prior to 1951 a special Maori household schedule was used in the North Island and all persons in a Maori dwelling were enumerated on the one schedule. In 1951 Maoris were enumerated on the same schedules as Europeans and a separate personal schedule was used for each occupant in a dwelling on census night.

The relative rates of increase between 1945 and 1951 for the three groups were—Europeans, 13.6 per cent; Maoris, 17.1 per cent; and race aliens, 34.4 per cent. The substantial increases in Indians and Polynesians (other than Maori) result mainly from immigration.

DEPENDENT CHILDREN.—The term “dependent children” in these statistics covers all living children under the age of sixteen years irrespective of financial dependency between parent and child. In a few instances children under sixteen were not financially dependent on their parents, while in other cases children may be partly or wholly supported by their own efforts; generally, however, the great bulk of children under sixteen years are dependent on their parents.

Number of Dependent Children Under 16 Years1945 (Excluding Maoris)1951 (Including Maoris)
Married MenWidowersWidowsMarried MenWidowersWidows
9 or over37239818715
Not specified4253610158934126

In the following summary, showing the average number of dependent children, the figures quoted for 1951 are under two headings—viz., exclusive of Maoris and inclusive of Maoris—figures for Maoris were not available for 1945. The exclusion of Maoris results in decreases in all cases of the average numbers of children.

Excluding MaorisExcluding MaorisIncluding Maoris
Average Number of Dependent Children
Married men—   
  Per person1.151.241.30
  Per person with dependent children2.162.222.29
  Per person0.210.160.21
  Per person with dependent children1.911.932.06
  Per person0.190.140.17
  Per person with dependent children1.771.831.96

OVERSEAS WAR SERVICE.—The compilation of statistics regarding war service was restricted to service in uniform with the Armed Forces overseas from the place of enlistment. It included Navy, Army, and Air Force service, but not Merchant Navy, and only service with a Commonwealth Force in the First and Second World Wars and the South African War was counted. Of the 209,784 persons with overseas war service, 205,178 saw service in one war only, 4,535 had service in two wars, while 71 claimed service in the three wars.


Overseas service—   
  Only in World War II134,3234,110138,433
  Only in World War I62,9731,30064,273
  Only in South African War2,447252,472
  In World War II and World War I3,282493,331
  In World War I and South African War1,13081,138
  In World War II and South African War65166
  In World War II, World War I, and South African War70171
  Totals with overseas war service, 1951 census204,2905,494209,784
  Totals with overseas war service, 1945 census157,7442,840160,584

The figures quoted for both censuses are exclusive of the members of the New Zealand Armed Forces overseas at the respective dates.


Forces with Which ServedWorld War IIWorld War ISouth African War

NOTE.—In this table where persons served in more than one war, they are shown for each war in which they served.

New Zealand Forces125,1541,85852,6175762,08318
Australian Forces1,0751201,224392261
United Kingdom Forces and Indian Forces11,0152,10013,2627351,24415
Canadian Forces28230284523 
Other Commonwealth Forces214536831361



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

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

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

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

Birth statistics are compiled from the records of the Registrar-General. The births covered by a year's statistics are those registered during the year irrespective of the year of birth. The figures do not include still-births, except in the special classification on page 65 and in a table on page 60.

NUMBERS AND RATES.—The general long-term history of the birth rate in New Zealand has been downward. A reference to the diagram on page 58 and to the table on page 56, showing quinquennial average birth rates, indicates this trend very clearly. After the pioneering days of the nineteenth century, when the population consisted very largely of young immigrants faced with the raising of a family, the birth rate began to decline appreciably. A further migration wave at the turn of the century reversed the trend temporarily, but in 1909 the downward movement was again resumed. With minor fluctuations in the earlier stages and in the years influenced by the First World War this decline continued until 1936. In that year a slight upward movement began, and by 1940 some of the deficit had been made up by the gradual rise. This was accelerated during the Second World War (with minor fluctuations) until successive record high totals (as regards the numbers of births) were established in 1945–47. In 1948 a decline in births was shown with a further recession in 1949. The decreases were not large, and in 1950–52 increases were again in evidence with the 46,469 births registered in 1952 as the highest recorded in the history of New Zealand. The numbers and rates of births (children born alive) for each of the last twenty years are given in the following table.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

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

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

The “crude” rates do not permit of allowance being made for variations in the proportion of women of the child-bearing ages, and it is advisable and of interest to supplement the table of “crude” rates with a computation of the legitimate birth rate per 1,000 married women of 15 and under 45 years of age, or the total birth rate per 1,000 of all women of these ages. The following table gives both rates for New Zealand for each census from 1881 to 1951 together with the “crude” rate for the year.

YearBirth Rate Per 1,000 Women 15 and Under 45 YearsCrude Birth Rate

* Per 1,000 married women.


The legitimate rate per 1,000 married women between the ages of 15 and 45 fell steadily at each census date from 1881 to 1936, the figure registered in the latter year being equal to a decline of 57 per cent. Considerable improvement was, however, effected in 1945, with a further improvement in 1951, but the latter rate shows a fall of 43 per cent on the 1881 figure. The rate on the basis of all women between the ages of 15 and 45 exhibited a greater fall, the 1936 figure being 63 per cent lower, but again substantial improvement was shown in 1945 and 1951, the latter rate being equivalent to a decrease of 40 per cent. The greater fall in the rate for all women is due to the fact that the proportion of married women in the child-bearing ages is now smaller than in former years.

Although the “crude” birth rates have fluctuated more so than the refined rates, the decline has not been so great, the 1951 figure being equal to a fall of 36 per cent on the 1881 rate.

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

NATURAL INCREASE.—The decline of the birth rate in New Zealand has been accompanied until recent years by a decrease in the death rate. Nevertheless, the nominal rate of natural increase of population has fallen from 29.32 per 1,000 of mean population in 1880 to 15.49 in 1952. Acceptance of this figure without consideration of the effect of the changing age constitution will give an erroneous view of the present margin of increase and of the probable trend of population growth in the future.

The last eleven years have seen considerable movement in the rate of natural increase, the exceptionally low figure in 1943 being the result of a low birth rate due to war conditions. The increase in births coupled with a decrease in deaths resulted in increases each year to 1947 when the natural increase rate rose to 1708. Since then the rate declined each year to 1951 on account of decreases in the birth rate, and for the three years 1949–51 owing to increases in the death rate. An increase in the birth-rate in 1952 together with a decrease in the death rate has resulted in the highest natural increase since 1949. The average annual rate of natural increase for the quinquennium 1946–50 was 1606, and it is necessary to go back to 1911–15 to find a higher average annual rate, the figure for that period being 16.76.

YearNumbersRate Per 1,000 Mean Population
BirthsDeathsNatural IncreaseBirthsDeathsNatural Increase

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

The movements that have taken place since 1880 are well illustrated in the accompanying diagram, which shows the rates at annual intervals, although only every tenth year is labelled.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.—An international comparison of birth and natural increase rates is made in the following table. New Zealand's position is much higher on the basis of natural increase than it is on that of the birth rats. The rates, which are the average of the five years 1948–52, are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of Population
BirthsNatural Increase
Costa Rica47.234.9
Puerto Rico38.428.0
Union of South Africa25.817.0
New Zealand24.915.6
United States of America24.114.4
Republic of Ireland21.68.8
United Kingdom16.64.9

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

YearNumber of Births ofMale Births Per 1,000 Female Births

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

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

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

† Includes one case of quadruplets.


Counting only cases where both children were born alive, there were 569 cases of twin births registered in 1952. There were also three cases of triplets and one case where one of triplets was still-born.

The total number of confinements resulting in living births was 45,893, and on the average one mother in every 80 gave birth to twins (or triplets).

When still-births are taken into account, the total number of confinements for the year 1952 is increased to 46,683, and the number of cases of multiple births to 628. On this basis the proportion of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets is increased to one in 73.

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

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

* Includes one case of quadruplets.

19485223075592   256112.6
19495324395843 1 458813.3
195054046125986*  1760513.6
195150940105598 1 956812.7
19525694786243 1 462813.7
  Average of five years5344195854   559013.2

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

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

YearStill-birth Cases Per 100 of Total Cases (Including Still-births)
Single CasesMultiple Cases
  Average of five years1.758.62

During the five years 1948–52 there were 2,672 cases of live twin births (including ex-nuptial), and of these in 865 instances, or 32.4 per cent, both children were males; in 847, or 31.7 per cent, both were females; and in the remaining 960, or 35.9 per cent, the children were of opposite sexes.

The three cases of triplets in 1952 comprised one of three females, one of one male and two females, and one of two males and one female.

AGES OF PARENTS.—Information as to the relative ages of parents of legitimate living children whose births were registered in 1952 is shown in the following tables.

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

* Including 45 legitimate cases where twins would have been registered had not one child been still-born.

† Including 9 cases of triplets and 1 case where one of triplets was still-born.

Single Births
Under 212591,35285614232138   2,662
21 and under 25992,9525,3431,63138811118114110,558
25 and under 3066816,3335,1081,705406943011 14,374
30 and under 351609863,9033,0301,0212837738119,410
35 and under 40 4895822,0111,44546014064114,806
40 and under 45 274322755031413058131,344
45 and over    921422612 110
Multiple Births
Under 213451      13
21 and under 2512049225     97
25 and under 30 579651742   172
30 and under 35  22625115 1  151
35 and under 40   1037301714 99
40 and under 45    46123 16
45 and over     1    1
    Totals429155160114562047 549
    Grand totals3695,08013,76911,5697,5163,6231,2394181943643,813

PREVIOUS ISSUE OF PARENTS.—Information as to the previous issue of the existing marriage, required in connection with the registration of births in New Zealand, is useful not only for record purposes, but also as providing valuable data for statistical purposes. Tables are given in the annual Report on Vital Statistics containing detailed information as to number of previous issue in conjunction with (1) age of mother and (2) duration of marriage. The table under the first heading for the year 1952 is here summarized.

Age of Mother, in YearsNumber of Previous IssueTotal Legitimate Cases
0123456 and Under 1010 and Under 1515 and Over

* This number represents 43,264 single cases and 549 multiple cases.

Under 211,9985788811     2,675
21 and under 255,5863,4591,23028880111  10,655
25 and under 303,9035,0903,4831,37246614488  14,546
30 and under 351,4882,4322,6761,56774633530116 9,561
35 and under 405988641,1049046273444055814,905
40 and under 451441692512161771392134561,360
45 and over61117181512248 111

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 1952 registrations, who are also taken into account in the computation of the averages.

Age of Mother, in YearsTotal MothersTotal IssueAverage Issue
Under 212,6753,4621.29
45 and over1115895.31

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 1952) born up to the present time to those mothers of legitimate children whose births were registered during the year. They do not purport to represent, nor do they represent, the average issue of all women of the ages shown. Furthermore, they include issue born to the existing marriages only. The averages for recent years were as follows: 1948, 2.40; 1949, 2.42; 1950, 2.45; and 1951, 2.46. In 1915, the earliest year for which reliable comparative figures are available, the average issue was 3.11. This fall in the average issue of women giving birth to children is some indication of the tendency towards smaller families. The 1943 average, for the first time since these figures were compiled, reversed the trend, and a further increase was recorded in 1944, but with the increase in the proportion of first births in the three following years the average declined. A slight improvement has been noted for the years 1948–52, this being accounted for by decreases in the proportion of first births.

FIRST BIRTHS.—Of a total of 254,396 confinements resulting in legitimate births during the six years 1947–52, the issue of no fewer than 87,089, or 34 per cent, were first-born children. In 35,586, or 41 per cent, of these cases the birth occurred within twelve months, and in 64,289, or 74 per cent, within two years after the marriage of the parents. In the remaining 26 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.

The annual number of first births registered naturally follows closely the movement in the marriage rate. With the return of men from service overseas there came a heavy increase in the number of marriages, and correspondingly the proportion of first births rose steeply to 4003 per cent in 1947, a rate very little below the record figure of 41.69 per cent established in 1940. Since 1947, however, a downward tendency has been evident. An interesting feature of the birth statistics for 1947 and 1948 was the high proportion of first births occurring within two years after marriage—75.62 per cent of all legitimate first cases recorded in 1947 and 75.44 per cent in 1948 falling in this class. These are the highest figures recorded since 1929. The steady decline in the marriage rate since the post-war peak figure of 1946 has been accompanied by a marked downward movement in the actual proportion of first births to total births.

YearTotal Legitimate CasesTotal Legitimate First CasesProportion of First Cases to Total CasesFirst Cases Within One Year After MarriageFirst Cases Within Two Years After Marriage
NumberProportion to Total First CasesNumberProportion to Total First Cases
   Per Cent Per Cent Per Cent
  Totals for six years254,39687,08934.2335,58640.8664,26973.82

The period of time elapsing before the birth of the first child has varied considerably during recent years mainly as a result of war and post-war influences. The following table compares the 1952 figures with those for earlier years, and illustrates the movement in the duration-of-marriage factor in first births.

Duration of Marriage, in YearsProportion Per Cent of Total First Births
Under 1 year52.9550.0646.2538.4740.42
1 and under 2 years28.6226.6426.7926.3031.58
2 and under 3 years9.0210.4310.2411.2812.85
3 and under 4 years3.435.516.167.885.92
4 and under 5 years1.883.033.967.183.54
5 and under 10 years3.263.365.497.364.58
10 years and over0.840.971.111.531.11

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; 1944, 2.22 years; and 1952, 1.81 years.

An item of interest extracted from the birth statistics is a table of first births occurring to mothers in different age groups, expressed as a proportion per cent of the total first births. A comparison has also been computed on this basis for the years 1914, 1924, 1934, 1944, and 1952.


Age of Mother, in YearsFirst Births, Proportion Per Cent at Each Age Group to Total First Births
Under 206.737.558.907.337.94
20 and under 2535.8938.1640.3941.7947.32
25 and under 3035.0132.5932.7929.5428.44
30 and under 3515.6114.6813.1014.6110.84
35 and under 405.525.333.795.364.36
40 and under 451.161.590.991.341.05
45 and over0.080100.040.030.05

The figures of average ages of mothers at the birth of their first child are as follows for the above years: 1914, 26.55; 1924, 26.39; 1934, 25.90; 1944, 25.18; and 1952, 25.48.

EX-NUPTIAL BIRTHS.—The numbers of ex-nuptial births registered during each of the years 1942–52, with the percentages they bear to total births registered, were as follows.

YearNumberPercentage 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 high percentages recorded during 1943–46.

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

Census YearUnmarried Women 15 and Under 45 Years of AgeEx-nuptial BirthsEx-nuptial Birth Rate Per 1,000 Unmarried Women

Included in the total of 2,104 ex-nuptial births in 1952 were twenty-four cases of twins, and two cases where one of twins was still-born, the number of confinements being thus 2,080. From the following table it will be seen that of the 2,080 mothers 664, or 32 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age.

45 and over1

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

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

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

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

YearNumber of Children Legitimated
Previously RegisteredNot Previously RegisteredTotal
1950401 401
1951394 394
1952415 415
    Totals from 1894 to 195211,7263,29415,020

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

The adoption of a Maori child is required to be registered in the same manner as that of a European child unless the adoption order is made under the Maori Affairs-Act 1953.

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


Of the 1,430 adoptions registered in 1952, 797 were children under the age of one year, 247 were between one and five years, 189 were between five and ten years, and 197 were aged ten years or over. In addition, 186 Maori children (99 males and 87 females) were adopted in 1952.

Statistics of adoptions registered have been available in New Zealand since 1919, and these indicate that the numbers are considerably influenced by the economic condition of the country, the lowest total, 329, being recorded in 1931. The highest total prior to 1940 occurred in 1921, when 584 adoptions were registered, this, no doubt, being the result of influences operating after the First World War. Possibly various factors arising out of the Second World War have had a bearing on the high totals for recent years, but the extension of age at which a child might legally be adopted is also of importance in this connection. It should also be noted that the unprecedented totals since 1944 are associated with the high number of ex-nuptial births occurring in these years.

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

The registrations of European still-births during each of the years 1948–52 were as follows.

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

Masculinity is in general much higher among still-births than among living births, the rate for still-births in 1952 being 1,094 males per 1,000 females as compared with 1,051 for living births.

The percentage of ex-nuptials among still-born infants was in 1952, 6.41, and among infants born alive, 2.42.

Of the living legitimate births registered in 1952, 31 per cent were first births, while of legitimate still-births 37 per cent were first births. Statistics over many years indicate that there is a considerably greater probability of still-births occurring to mothers having their first confinement than to those having subsequent confinements. In addition to the 846 European still-births in 1952, there were 110 Maori still-births registered, comprising 57 males and 53 females.

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


MARRIAGE may be celebrated in New Zealand 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 even; ??. Marriage before a Registrar can be celebrated at any time during the hours the office of the Registrar is open for the transaction of public business.

Notice of intended marriage must be given to a Registrar of Marriages by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, 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 in any particular case a declaration is made that there is no parent or lawful guardian resident in New Zealand, then a certificate may be issued by the Registrar (without the necessity of Court proceedings) fourteen days after 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.

Marriage is forbidden between persons within certain degrees of relationship, any such marriage being declared void. The prohibition applies whether the relationship is by the whole blood or by the half-blood, and whether the relationship is nuptial or ex-nuptial. The present law on this matter is contained in the Marriage Amendment Act 1946.

An amendment to the Marriage Act in 1939, which repealed a similar provision passed in 1933, stipulates that a Registrar may not issue a certificate of marriage where either of the intending parties is under sixteen years of age. No marriage shall be deemed to have been unduly solemnized, however, by reason only of this provision. The 1933 amendment made provision enabling women to become officiating ministers for the purposes of the Marriage Act. The 1946 amending Act provides for the validity of Service—i.e., Armed Forces overseas—marriages.

The Maori Purposes Act 1951 stipulates that after 1 April 1952 every marriage to which a Maori is a party shall be celebrated in the same manner, and its validity shall be determined by the same law, as if each of the parties was a European; and all the provisions of the Marriage Act 1908 shall apply accordingly.

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

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

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

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

* Inclusive of Maoris.


Both the marriage rate and the number of marriages in 1946 were the highest on record. The main reason for this was the return from overseas of many thousands of men in the most prolific marriage age groups. An appreciable decline, however, in both the number of marriages and in the marriage rate took place in 1947 and 1948 and continued until 1951. Although separate figures for European marriages are not available for 1952, the total of all marriages showed a small increase on the 1951 figure.

Comparison with Other Countries.—Marriage rates for certain countries for 1952 are given below (these particulars have been taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, issued by the Statistical Office of the United Nations).

CountryRates Per 1,000 Mean PopulationCountryRates Per 1,000 Mean Population
United States of America10.0Portugal7.8
New Zealand8.6Sweden7.4
Puerto Rico8.2Republic of Ireland5.3

MARITAL STATUS.—The total number of persons married during the year 1952 was 34,122, of whom 29,867 were single, 1,750 widowed, and 2,505 divorced. The figures for the five years 1948 to 1952, showing the sexes separately, are given in the table following.

YearSingleWidowedDivorcedTotal Persons Married

* Inclusive of Maoris.


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


* Inclusive of Maoris.

 Per CentPer CentPer CentPer CentPer CentPer Cent

Reference to the divorce statistics at the end of this subsection will show that the number of divorces since and including the later war-years has been at a high level, although there has been a steady decline since 1946. The number of decrees absolute in the period 1948–52 was 8,644, as compared with 4,907 in the five years 1936–40, an increase of 76 per cent. The increase in the number of divorced people remarrying is therefore not surprising. The number of widowed persons remarrying, which was 39 per 1,000 in 1940, rose to 51 per 1,000 in 1952.

The relative marital status of bridegrooms and brides for each of the five years 1948 to 1952 is next given.

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

* Inclusive of Maoris.


The relative proportions of divorced men and divorced women remarrying during the last three years has changed but little compared with ten years earlier. During the three years 1938–40 the number of male divorcees remarrying was 2,066, as compared with 2,169 females, which gives a rate of 95 males for every 100 females. In 1950–52 the respective numbers were 3,814 males and 3,815 females, and the corresponding rate 100 males for every 100 females. In the case of widowed persons remarrying, however, there has been a marked change in the figures. In the three-year period 1938–40, 2,420 widowers remarried but only 1,619 widows, whereas in 1950–52, there were 2,659 widowers and 2,346 widows who remarried, the number of widowers per 100 widows being 149 in the former period and 113 in the latter period.

AGES OF PERSONS MARRIED.—Of the 34,122 persons married in 1952, 5,162, or 15 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age; 12,591, or 37 per cent, were returned as twenty-one and under twenty-five; 8,194, or 24 per cent, as twenty-five and under thirty; 4,673, or 14 per cent, as thirty and under forty; and 3,502, or 10 per cent, as forty years of age or over. The following table relates to the year 1952.

Age of Bridegroom, in YearsAge of Bride, in YearsTotal Bridegrooms
Under 2121 and Under 2525 and Under 3030 and Under 3535 and Under 4040 and Under 4545 and Over
Under 21639213193   874
21 and under 252,3793,081481608116,011
25 and under 301,0382,5051,38229454875,288
30 and under 3517155360534513737121,860
35 and under 40431472712271716732958
40 and under 45125510414013111261615
45 and over626441121732378571,455
    Total brides4,2886,5802,9061,18167446297017,061

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

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

A perusal of the above table reveals the fact that greater proportions of marriages are now being celebrated at the younger and, to a lesser extent, at the older age groups. This has become very marked in the 1948–52 period, and is mainly due to the fact that the outbreak of war induced a number of earlier marriages which has resulted in fewer unmarried people entering the middle-age groups.

For many years the average age (arithmetic mean) at marriage for both males and females, more particularly the latter, showed a tendency to increase. However, in recent years there has been very little change, the year to year fluctuations being within very narrow limits. The figures for each of the years 1945–52 are as follows.


* Inclusive of Maoris.


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


* Inclusive of Maoris.


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

Marriages of Minors.—Of every 1,000 men married in 1952, 52 were under twenty-one years of age, while 251 in every 1,000 brides were under twenty-one.

In 639 marriages in 1952 both parties were given as under twenty-one years of age, in 3,649 marriages the bride was returned as a minor and the bridegroom as an adult, and in 235 marriages the bridegroom was a minor and the bride an adult.

The proportion of minors among persons marrying has been increasing over a fairly long period, and in the table below figures are given for the last five years. In the latest year (1952) one bride in every four was under twenty-one years of age, the proportion for grooms being one in twenty.

YearAge, in YearsTotals
1617181920NumberRate Per 100 Marriages

* Inclusive of Maoris.

1949 26681684126744.02

MARRIAGES BY MINISTERS OF VARIOUS CHURCHES.—Of the 17,061 marriages registered in 1952, Church of England clergymen officiated at 4,334, Presbyterians at 4,428, Roman Catholics at 2,257, and Methodists at 1,453, while 3,384 marriages were celebrated before Registrars.

The following table shows the proportions of marriages by ministers of the largest churches and before Registrars in each of the years 1946–52.

ChurchPercentage of Marriages

* Inclusive of Maoris.

Church of England27.6826.5326.5525.8025.9525.8325.40
Roman Catholic11.8512.2511.8112.1711.9312.6713.23
Before Registrars16.6018.2018.0318.9918.8419.5519.84

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

NUMBER OF OFFICIATING MINISTERS.—The number of names on the list of officiating ministers under the Marriage Act was (January 1953) 2,731, and the churches to which they belong are shown hereunder.

Roman Catholic Church580
Church of England506
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand451
Methodist Church of New Zealand327
Salvation Army151
Ratana Church of New Zealand149
Seventh Day Adventist52
Latter Day Saints45
Ringatu Church.44
Associated Churches of Christ34
Congregational Independent30
Commonwealth Covenant Church26
Assemblies of God18
Jehovah's Witness16
Apostolic Church15
Liberal Catholic Church14
Evangelistic Church of Christ10
United Maori Mission10
Churches of Christ8
Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Conference8
Pentecostal Church of New Zealand8
Church of Te Kooti Rikirangi7
Spiritualist Church of New Zealand7
Absolute Maori Established Church5
Hebrew Congregations5

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

DIVORCE.—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) and its later amendments.

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 in the case of restitution and separation, grounds (i), (j), (k), (l) below) 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. Since the celebration of the marriage the respondent has been convicted of attempting to commit the murder of the petitioner or any child (of any age) of the petitioner or respondent, or has been convicted of any offence under section one hundred and ninety-seven of the Crimes Act 1908 against the petitioner or any such child.

  5. Respondent has since the celebration of the marriage been convicted of murder.

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

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

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

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

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

  11. 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.)

  12. Parties are living apart, are unlikely to be reconciled, and have been living apart for not less than seven years.

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

In cases based on separation of the parties, whether by order or agreement or otherwise, the Court is bound to dismiss the petition if the respondent opposes it and the Court is satisfied that the separation was due to the wrongful act or conduct of the petitioner; and in all those cases, as well as in cases where the ground is failure to comply with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights, the Court has in any event a discretion whether or not to grant a decree.

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 (j), (k), and (l), her New Zealand domicile is retained if her husband was domiciled in New Zealand at the date of the agreement, decree, order, or commencement of separation.

The amending Act of 1953 establishes a New Zealand domicile for a wife petitioning for divorce where she has been living apart from her husband if she has been living in New Zealand for three years preceding the petition and has the intention of residing in New Zealand permanently.

Until the passing of the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act 1953 there were no statutory provisions as to nullity of marriage. This Act embodies the common law on the subject, with several additions to the grounds on which a marriage is voidable, and some changes.

The basis of the Court's jurisdiction in nullity is established as the domicile of either petitioner or respondent in New Zealand at the time of the filing of the petition, or the celebration of the marriage in New Zealand.

A petition for a nullity decree may be presented in respect of either a void, or a voidable marriage, the former being those which are invalid and of no effect whether or not a decree is obtained, and the latter those which are valid unless and until a decree is obtained.

Marriages are void in the following cases:

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

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

  3. Where the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship as set out in the Marriage Amendment Act 1946.

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

Marriages are voidable on the following grounds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Matrimonial Causes (War Marriages) Act 1947 made special provisions, in respect of war marriages (i.e., a marriage celebrated on or after 3 September 1939 but before 1 June 1950) where one of the parties was domiciled outside New Zealand by: (1) extension of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to certain marriages irrespective of domicile; (2) recognition of decrees and orders (in relation to such marriages) made in the United States of America; and (3) shortening the period of desertion or separation as ground for divorce in such cases from three years to twelve months.

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

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

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

The later years of the war witnessed a marked increase in divorce. The high level of decrees absolute granted in 1945 was exceeded by approximately 400 in each of the two succeeding years. However, a slight falling off, for the first time in six years, was recorded in 1947 and continued in 1948. A small increase was shown in 1949, after which the decrease continued in 1950 and 1951, being quite substantial in the former year. In 1952, however, there was an increase over 1951 of 102, or 6.4 per cent.

It is worth noting that there was one divorce for every ten marriages solemnized in 1952, while the ratio in 1951 was one divorce to every eleven marriages.

The next table gives the grounds (dissolution or nullity cases) of petitions and decrees during 1951 and 1952.

GroundsPetitions FiledDecrees Absolute Granted
Husbands' PetitionsWives' PetitionsHusbands' PetitionsWives' Petitions
Bigamy1352 233
Drunkenness with cruelty, failure to maintain, etc.22851 41
Consanguinity   1  1 
Non-compliance with order for restitution of conjugal rights15813651491471345945
Separation for not less than three years411415548555344386472527
Murder of children  1   1 

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

Mention should be made here of the fact that over a period of five years, 1948–52 inclusive, the average percentage of decrees absolute granted on wives' petitions was greater than those granted to husbands. The figures are—wives 89.2 per cent, husbands 85.3 per cent.

The principal grounds on which petitions were filed during 1952 showed the following increases compared with 1938, a normal pre-war year: adultery, 227 (111.8 per cent); desertion, 126 (59.4 per cent); non-compliance with restitution order, 76 (69.7 per cent); and separation, 335 (52.8 per cent).

In 627 of the 1,960 cases where petitions for dissolution were filed during 1952 there was no living issue of the marriage. The number of living issue was 1 in 558 cases, 2 in 378 cases, 3 in 207 cases, 4 or more in 186 cases, while the number of issue was not stated in four cases.

The table which follows shows the duration of marriage in all cases for which petitions for dissolution were filed in the five years 1948 to 1952.

Duration of Marriage, in YearsHusbands' PetitionsWives' Petitions
Under 5197204191192168169137141147139
5 and under 10308334296263312340282255279301
10 and under 15243198212203222243217202203196
15 and under 20126128121104126133114128112133
20 and under 30162148139142128141127121134134
30 and over56555548563436434740
Not stated711363110522

The number of children affected by the divorce petitions of their parents during each of the last five years was as follows: 1948, 3,108; 1949, 2,885; 1950, 2,682; 1951, 2,784; and 1952, 2,858.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

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

The general trend of the death rate in New Zealand was for many years downwards, reaching its lowest level during the depression years of the early “thirties.” Since then an upward trend has been in evidence, and the figures recorded during the war years were the highest for a long time. It is possible that the absence overseas of considerable numbers of men of early adult age, at which 'mortality experience is the most favourable, would have some effect on the rates established. The strains of wartime would also have some effect on deaths in the older age groups; in fact, the high rate of 1942 disclosed a sharp rise in deaths resulting from diseases of the heart and nervous system. For four years following 1945 a downward trend was again in evidence—the 1949 figure being the lowest since 1937—but although small increases have been recorded in 1950 and 1951, the 1952 rate again shows a decrease.

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

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

COMPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.—An international comparison of death rates is made in the following table. They are the average of the five years 1948–52 and are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of PopulationCountryRates Per 1,000 of Population

* European population only.

Union of South Africa*8.8United Kingdom11.7
Denmark8.9Costa Rica12.3
New Zealand9.3Portugal12.7
Australia9.6Republic of Ireland12.8
United States of America9.7France12.9
Puerto Rico10.4Mexico16.6

DISTRIBUTION OF DEATHS OVER THE YEAR.—An examination of the total number of deaths registered in each quarter of the period 1942–52 gives the following averages: March quarter, 3,493; June quarter, 3,989; September quarter, 4,720; and December quarter, 4,044.

A classification according to month of death shows that in 1952 the months during which the greatest number of deaths occurred were August, July, and June, with totals of 1,980, 1,761, and 1,548 respectively. Excluding December, a proportion of deaths occurring in that month not being registered till January, February had the least number of deaths, 1,159, followed by April and January, with 1,202 and 1,282 respectively.

The lowest number of deaths on any one day, again excluding December, was 23, this number occurring on 21 January. The greatest number (84) occurred on 5 August.

AGE AT DEATH.—The deaths registered during the year 1952 are tabulated below according to age.

Under 1 month36633870445–49 years294223517
1–2 months57399650–54 years451334785
3–5 months634610955–59 years566410976
6–11 months673810560–64 years8286291,457
1 year43408365–69 years1,2868752,161
2 years37276470–74 years1,4751,1862,661
3 months19193875–79 years1,3511,2632,614
4 months19153480–84 years9969861,982
5–9 months584610485–89 years5276381,165
10–14 months52237590–94 years148196344
15–19 months793311295–99 years245579
20–24 months11334147100 years235
25–29 months11661177101 years 11
30–34 months12763190102 years 11
35–39 months160115275105 years 11
40–44 months202148350115 years1 1

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

Age, in YearsNumber of DeathsPercentage of Total
Under 19249901,0081,0147.576.936.035.82
1 and under 53272051992192.681.441.191.26
5 and under 1016798871041.370.690.520.60
10 and under 1510510864750.860.760.380.43
15 and under 202221511201121.821.060.720.64
20 and under 253152471581472.581.730.950.84
25 and under 303372701421772.761.890.851.01
30 and under 353372901911902.762.031.141.09
35 and under 403743202752753.072.241.651.58
40 and under 454783623283503.922.531.962.01
45 and under 506404725225175.253.303.122.97
50 and under 557947986977856.515.594.174.51
55 and under 608811,1451,0219767.
60 and under 651,0031,4611,5031,4578.2210.238.998.37
65 and under 701,0771,6972,1702,1618.8311.8812.9812.41
70 and under 751,1711,7722,5362,6619.6012.4115.1715.28
75 and under 801,2421,5562,3162,61410.1810.8913.8615.01
80 and over1,8052,3403,3783,57914.8016.3820.2120.55

During the earlier period covered by the next table the fall in the death rate was common to all ages and to both sexes. In more recent years, however, there have been some fluctuations in the rates for the higher age groups, but the 1952 figures again reflect a declining tendency. Of special significance are the low rates recorded in the childhood and early adult life age groups in 1951 and 1952 and the high percentage reduction effected during the entire period. The female rate for the various age groups is almost invariably lower than the male rate. The rapid increase in the death rate (per 1,000 of population) at successive age groups is well exemplified.

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

* Per 1,000 live births in this case.

Both Sexes

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

YearMales (Years)Females (Years)

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

EXPECTATION OF LIFE.—Life tables for the European section of the population based on the mortality experience of New Zealand, ranging from 1880 to 1938, have been published at various times in previous issues of the Year-Book. The latest investigation was based on the 1951 census combined with the deaths for the three years 1950–52, and the (complete) expectation of life at various ages is given below. Complete results, accompanied by a brief account of the methods employed in the construction of the table, will be found in the Special Supplement to the July 1953 issue of Monthly Abstract of Statistics.


The expectation of life at age 0 has risen by 13.00 years in the case of males and by 14.34 years in the case of females over the period since the first New Zealand life table of 1891–95. The effect of the lowered infant-mortality rate and the efficacy of the health services generally is clearly demonstrated, however, by the fact that at age 5 the expectation of life of males has increased by only 7–10 years and females by 9.20 years over the same period.

A brief comparison is quoted below.

PeriodMales (Years)Females (Years)

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

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


* Exclusive of Maoris.

† White population.

New Zealand (1950–52)*68.2972.43
Australia (1946–48)66.0770.63
Union of South Africa (1945–47)63.7868.31
England and Wales (1951)65.8470.88
United States of America (1950)66.672.4
Norway (1945–48)67.7671.68
Netherlands (1947–49)69.471.5
Denmark (1946–50)67.870.1
Sweden (1941–45)67.0669.71
Finland (1941–45)54.6261.14
France (1946–49)61.967.4
Switzerland (1939–44)62.6866.96
Canada (1947)65.1869.05

STANDARDIZED DEATH RATES.—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 over the 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 a 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 indices of the relative mortalities free from the distortion which might arise through differences in their respective sex or age constitutions. A comparison of the relative proportions of population in various age groups between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, for instance, shows this country to have higher proportions in the age groups under 30, while the United Kingdom has higher proportions in the age groups over 30 years.

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 1920 to 1950 and for the year 1952.

YearRecorded RatesStandardized Rates

INFANT MORTALITY.—Over a long period of years New Zealand has been renowned for its low rate of infant mortality, a fact attributable partly to such matters as climate, virility of the race, comparative absence of densely settled areas, etc., and partly to legislative and educative measures—the latter conducted by the State as well as by various organizations (one of the most important of these is the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children which was founded in 1907).

Particulars of deaths of infants under one year of age for each of the years 1942–52 are shown in the following table.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 Live Births

In the following table New Zealand's infant-mortality rate is shown in comparison with that of other countries. The figures are taken from the United Nations Monthly Bulletin of Statistics. It is interesting to observe that the distinction of having the lowest infant-mortality rate in the world now belongs to Sweden, which achieved the phenomenally low ratio of 20 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1952, as compared with New Zealand's 22 for the same year. In the case of the Union of South Africa and New Zealand the European population only has been taken into account.

CountryQuinquenniumDeaths Under 1 Year Per 1,000 Births
New Zealand1948–5223
United States of America1948–5230
United Kingdom1948–5232
Union of South Africa1948–5236
Republic of Ireland1947–5152
West German Federal Republic1948–5256

The male rate of infant mortality is considerably above the female rate, the average over the five-year period 1948–52 being 25.3 male deaths per 1,000 male births and 19.8 female deaths per 1,000 female births.

The rates per 1,000 births for the two sexes combined at different ages during the first year of life are now given for each of the last eleven years.


YearUnder One DayOne Day and Under Two DaysTwo Days and Under One WeekTotal Under One WeekOne Week and Under Two WeeksTwo Weeks and Under Three WeeksThree Weeks and Under One MonthTotal Under One MonthOne Month and Under Twelve MonthsTotal Under One Year
19427.7 5.315.

Infants who die in the first year of life may be grouped roughly into two main classes—viz., those dying within one month of birth and those surviving the first month of life but dying before the first anniversary of their birth. Deaths amongst the first class, called neo-natal deaths, are due principally to pre-natal and natal influences. The second group covers those infants who have succumbed in the main to causes arising from post-natal influences such as the various epidemic diseases, diseases of the respiratory system, faulty feeding, and other environmental factors.

The next table shows that, whereas in the quinquennium 1946–50 the death rate for children under one month of age was 42 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-ninth as high as in the “eighties.”

In other words, whereas formerly over sixty children out of every 1,000 who survived the first month of life died before reaching one year of age, now only seven such deaths occur. While the decline in the under-one-month group has been progressive for some years, it was among infants who had survived the first month of life that the most marked reductions were achieved. In the “thirties,” however, the reduction of this rate was arrested, and in the quinquennium 1941–45 an increase was recorded for the first time. For some years it had been considered that any further substantial decrease in the total infant-mortality rate would have to be achieved in the under-one-month group. The figures for 1946–50, however, indicate that whereas this group recorded a decrease of 13 per cent from 1941–45, the one-month-and-over group declined by 31 per cent.

PeriodDeaths Per 1,000 Births
Under I YearUnder 1 MonthBetween 1 and 12 Months

The accompanying diagram further illustrates the reduction in the infant-mortality rate that has taken place over a long period.

Causes of Infant Mortality.—The principal causes of infant mortality over the last ten years, showing both numbers and rates per 1,000 live births, are shown in the following table. The classification is according to the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International List.

Causes of DeathNumber of Deaths
Tuberculosis, all forms4685635 14
Congenital syphilis7522 14  1
Enteric fever and other Salmonella infections       3  
Dysentery, all forms   1  1   
Diphtheria258105  2  
Meningococcal infections1058924 2510
Tetanus  24  1 1 
Poliomyelitis2        2
Measles  311 31 2
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life90736172807485539679
Pneumonia of the newborn19193227253126223022
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life26281829212117152610
Diarrhoea of the newborn46565233 1
Congenital malformations147165182181190159163198151205
Birth injury83103115130154167158142146118
Asphyxia and atelectasis61647793100102111128164174
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)29342934373530503834
Immaturity unqualified249284274311276193238223191191
Other and undefined causes174150174142162130137122131129
Causes of DeathRates Per 1,000 Live Births

* Less than 0.1.

Tuberculosis, all forms0. *0.1
Congenital syphilis0. *0.1  *
Enteric fever and other Salmonella infections       0.1  
Dysentery, all forms   *  *   
Diphtheria0.  0.1  
Meningococcal infections0.*0.1
Tetanus  0.10.1  * * 
Poliomyelitis0.1        0.1
Measles  0.1** 0.1* 0.1
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life3.
Pneumonia of the newborn0.
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life0.
Diarrhoea of the newborn0. *
Congenital malformations4.
Birth injury2.
Asphyxia and atelectasis2.
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)
Immaturity unqualified8.
Other and undefined causes5.

Some remarkable changes are disclosed by the next table, which gives the infant-mortality rates for various groups of causes in quinquennial periods commencing with the years 1872–76 and for 1952. It would appear that diseases which can be combated openly, such as epidemic diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases due to faulty nourishment, etc. (i.e., diseases of the digestive system), have shown a definite response to the strenuous campaigns launched against them. If a comparison be made between the averages of the first and last five-yearly periods given—i.e., 1872–76 and 1947–51—it is found that the general infant-mortality rate shows a decline of 74 per cent, while even greater decreases are recorded for tuberculosis (98 per cent), convulsions (99 per cent), gastric and intestinal diseases (95 per cent), epidemic diseases (92 per cent), and respiratory diseases (78 per cent). The rate for epidemic diseases still continues to decline, and it is interesting to note that over 40 per cent of the total under this heading in the years 1947–51 were due to whooping-cough, while an additional 27 per cent were assigned to influenza. During the five-year period 1948–52 there were only two deaths of infants from diphtheria and three deaths due to scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat.

The increase shown for malformations and the decrease for tuberculosis are probably somewhat less than is indicated by the figures. In the earlier years covered by the table the latter heading included all deaths from hydrocephalus, many of which were no doubt due to congenital hydrocephalus, which is now included among the malformations. A proportion of the deaths from hydrocephalus in the earlier years would also probably be due to meningitis. The following table shows quinquennial average death rates of infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births. To enable the comparison with past years to be maintained, the infant deaths for 1950 onwards have been re-assembled to conform to the former classifications for the purposes of this table—i.e., influenza deaths have been included under epidemic diseases, while both pneumonia and diarrhoea of the newborn have been included under respiratory and gastric and intestinal diseases respectively, and not as diseases of early infancy.

PeriodEpidemic DiseasesTuberculosisInfantile ConvulsionsRespiratory DiseasesGastric and Intestinal DiseasesMalformationsEarly InfancyOther CausesTotals

It is convenient to consider still-births and neo-natal deaths together, as they are largely the result of common causes. The combined group may be termed perinatal mortality. The term is particularly appropriate when we consider how deaths in the newborn crowd closely towards the day of birth. This effect is clearly shown in the table on page 87. Still-births and neo-natal deaths are considered together in the next table and are computed as rates per 1,000 total births.

YearStill-birthsNeo-natal DeathsNeo-natal Deaths Plus Still-births

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

CAUSES OF STILL-BIRTH.—still-born child is defined in New Zealand as one “which has issued from its mother after the expiration of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy and which was not alive at the time of such issue.”

The registration of still-births has been effected in New Zealand since 1913, but no information regarding the causes of still-births was required for registration purposes until 1947. As from 1 July 1952 a certificate of the cause of death in cases of intermediate foetal deaths—i.e., deaths after the end of the twentieth but before the end of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy—was also required to be furnished. The certificates of causes of still-birth and foetal death provide for both maternal and foetal causes to be entered.

Of the 846 still-births registered during 1952, in 61 cases (7 per cent) the cause was not known or not stated. Foetal causes only were specified in 448 cases (53 per cent); maternal causes only in 202 (24 per cent); while for 135 still-births (16 per cent of the total) there were both foetal and maternal causes present.

The following table shows the 846 still-births registered during 1952 classified (a) according to maternal causes and (b) according to foetal causes.

Causes of Still-birthNumber of Cases
(a) Maternal Causes   
Chronic disease in mother9918
Acute disease in mother11213
Diseases and conditions of pregnancy and child-birth7183154
Difficulties in labour8158139
Other causes in mother8614
No maternal cause262246508
(b) Foetal Causes   
Placental and cord conditions176124300
Birth injury191029
Congenital malformation of foetus3973112
Diseases of foetus and ill-defined causes10598203
No foetal cause10399202

PERINATAL MORTALITY AND PREMATURITY.—Approximately three out of every four infants who die in the first year of life do so in the first month, and of those dying in the first month 41 per cent die in the first day of life and 86 per cent in the first week.

A principal factor in the loss of this new life is prematurity. This is seen in the following table, where causes of neo-natal deaths for 1952 are set out in accordance with the International List of 1948.

Causes of DeathUnder One DayOne Day and Under One WeeksOne Week and Under Two WeeksTwo Weeks and Under Three WeeksThree Weeks and Under One MonthTotal Under One Month
Congenital malformations2954201211126
Injury at birth263671171
Injury at birth with prematurity19224  45
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis493041286
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis, with prematurity294432 78
Pneumonia of newborn 651416
Pneumonia of newborn, with prematurity12 115
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia 3   3
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia, with prematurity583  16
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)6161  23
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis), with prematurity253  10
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn15   6
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn, with prematurity  1  1
Nutritional maladjustment11   2
Nutritional maladjustment, with prematurity3    3
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy 1   1
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy, with prematurity44   8
Immaturity with mention of any other subsidiary condition      
Immaturity, unqualified11173321190
Hernia, intestinal obstruction111  3
External causes1    1
Other causes331 310

A total of 190, or 27 per cent, of all neo-natal deaths are directly attributed to prematurity (immaturity) and a further 166 deaths are given as associated with it. The principal conditions of early infancy with which prematurity was associated were (i) asphyxia in 78 cases (11.1 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), (ii) birth injury in 45 cases (6.4 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), and (iii) all other causes peculiar to early infancy, 43 cases (6.2 per cent of all neo-natal deaths).

In the case of still-births, out of 846 there were 378 cases, or 45 per cent, where gestation fell short of full term.

It is not possible to assess what the reduction in perinatal mortality would be if every pregnancy were to go to full term, but there is no doubt that it would be considerable.

As a first step in the campaign to reduce this grave loss of new life, details of the birth weight and gestation period of all infants born alive or dead after 1 July 1952 were required to be furnished to the Registrars of Births and Deaths. These will provide essential basic data for further studies on prematurity. It will give a measure of the extent of the problem in different localities according to the age and parity of the mother and the occupation of the father, and it will enable cohorts of infants to be followed through their first year of life so that their mortality and morbidity experience may be shown according to their degree of maturity at birth.

CAUSES OF DEATH.—Since 1908 the classification of causes of death in New Zealand has been on the basis of the international classification initiated by Dr. Jacques Bertillon. Almost all countries are member States of the World Health Assembly, and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death has world-wide application.

The sixth (1948) revision of the classification was applied in New Zealand to the deaths for 1950. At the same time a departure was made from the previous arbitrary rules of selection, when more than one cause of death was entered on a certificate, to an assignment according to what is termed the underlying cause of death. This may be defined as (a) the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death, or (b) the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury. The responsibility for indicating the train of events is placed on the physician or surgeon signing the medical certificate of death.

The following table shows the numbers of deaths and death rates per million of mean population according to the Abbreviated List of 50 Causes (Sixth Revision, 1948). In order to provide a comparison with the years 1950 et seq the individual causes for each of the years 1948 and 1949 were, wherever possible, reassembled under the headings of the 1948 revision of the classification. It should be observed that no allowance was possible for the alteration in method of primary cause selection.

The statistics for tuberculosis, cancer, puerperal causes, and violent causes, which are of special interest and significance, are discussed later on in this subsection. Certain diseases (cholera, plague, smallpox, typhus, and malaria) are not listed in the table below, as there were no deaths occurring from these causes in the years shown.

Causes of DeathNumbersRates Per Million of Mean Population

* Comparative figures not obtainable. with those given for later years (see letterpress).

† Less than one.

‡ These figures and rates are not comparable

Tuberculosis of respiratory system408365351319225236207195174120
Tuberculosis, other forms61706164473540343525
Syphilis and its sequelae82719167624740513733
Typhoid fever332  221  
Dysentery, all forms3353222321
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat3 1112 1
Meningococcal infections9791419545810
Acute poliomyelitis52132154307129
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic56558575623231474133
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues2,5632,5882,6522,8362,7991,4841,4691,4771,5491,492
Benign and unspecified neoplasms23465536421326312022
Diabetes mellitus347355228244221201202127133118
Vascular lesions affecting central nervous system**1,8242,0632,165**1,0161,1271,154
Non-meningococcal meningitis201518152312910812
Rheumatic fever691417835894
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease251258233204220145146130111117
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease          
 4.7754,9604,657  2,6592,7092,483  
 5,4305,744   3,1443,261   
Other diseases of the heart  595591660  331323352
Hypertension with heart-disease  653676632  364369337
Hypertension without mention of heart**162154165**908488
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum1491471461501408683818275
Intestinal obstruction and hernia1231151271181107165716458
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of newborn658586115753848486340
Cirrhosis of liver42565464572432303530
Nephritis and nephrosis**212199189**118109101
Hyperplasia of prostate1081061491541406260838475
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium56454031333226221718
Congenital malformations206217299202255119123166110136
Birth injuries, post-natal asphyxia, and atelectasis  270310292  150169156
Infections of the newborn585640253025339363141613
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified  318296274  177162146
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined and unknown causes21220618620918212311710411497
All other diseases3,1003,0141,3341,4261,5361,7951,711743779819
Motor-vehicle accidents181195212269252105111118147134
All other accidents618547501549550358311279300293
Suicide and self-inflicted injury181171165182189105979299101
Homicide and operations of war1920201419111111810

TUBERCULOSIS.—The death rate from tuberculosis of the respiratory system has shown a declining tendency for many years, but the reduction by nearly one-half in the space of the five years 1948–52 is a noteworthy achievement. The rate for 1952, 120 per million of population, is a record low rate for this country.

In addition to the 225 deaths from tuberculosis of the respiratory system during 1952, there were 47 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis, comprising—

Tuberculosis of meninges and nervous system14
Tuberculosis of intestines, peritoneum, and mesentery2
Tuberculosis of bones and joints10
Tuberculosis of lymphatic system1
Tuberculosis of genito-urinary system13
Tuberculosis of adrenal glands1
Disseminated tuberculosis6

The following table shows the number of deaths from tuberculosis in 1952, classified according to sex and age groups. Of those dying from this cause in 1952, persons under the age of 45 years formed 49 per cent.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 56814
5 and under 10224
10 and under 15112
15 and under 20 11
20 and under 255712
25 and under 309817
30 and under 3512719
35 and under 405712
40 and under 4514418
45 and under 5015621
50 and under 5518826
55 and under 6020727
60 and under 6514620
65 and under 7025126
70 and under 7520525
75 and under 8010414
80 and over9514

CANCER.—A special report on cancer is issued annually by the Medical Statistics Branch of the Department of Health. Besides a section dealing with cancer as a cause of death there are analyses of returns received from the various cancer clinics established in New Zealand under the auspices of the British Empire Cancer Campaign Society. These returns, together with those of patients treated in the public hospitals of New Zealand, provide for reasonably wide coverage. A system of registration enables a follow-up of each patient to be maintained which will eventually enable survival rates by site and method of treatment to be compiled. Special articles and statistical tables on the subject of cancer are contained in the 1917 and 1926 issues of the Year-Book, while the 1949 report of the Department of Health contains data covering the twenty-six years from 1924 to 1949.

Attention is drawn to the transference, under the 1948 Revision of the International Classification, of Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia, etc., into the category of malignant diseases. This classification was introduced in 1950, and all cancer figures quoted for that and subsequent years include these conditions.

Cancer is annually responsible for more deaths in New Zealand than can be assigned to any cause other than diseases of the heart. While it is most prevalent in middle and old age, it exacts a heavy toll throughout the life-span. With the inclusion of Hodgkin's disease and leukaemia under the cancer heading the disease assumes a very high position as a cause of death among children and adolescents. It is interesting to compare the decline in the death rate from tuberculosis with the rise in the cancer death rate. These rates are set out in the following table and diagram. The fall in the tuberculosis rate may be said to reflect the achievements of the public-health service, whilst the rise in the cancer rate portrays in general the increasing age of the population.

This is illustrated by the following figures.

PeriodAverage Death Rates Per 10,000 of Population

The relative movements in the death rates from cancer and tuberculosis are further illustrated in the following diagram, which shows the rates at five-yearly intervals since 1880.

In 1952 there were 2,799 deaths from cancer in New Zealand, a proportion of 14.92 per 10,000 of mean population. A summary for the last eleven years is given below.

YearNumber of Deaths From CancerRecorded Death RateStandardized Death Rate*

* Standard population used for standardized rates—England and Wales 1901.

† Includes Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia, etc., from 1950 onwards.


A summary showing the location of the disease in deaths from cancer during 1952 is given in the following table.

Site of DiseaseNumbersRates Per Million of Mean Population
Buccal cavity and pharynx401757431830
Intestine, except rectum135200335143214179
Trachea, and of bronchus and lung not specified as secondary2344027424843146
Cervix uteri 7676 8141
Other and unspecified parts of uterus 6262 6633
Prostate168 168178 89
Bone and connective tissue122032132217
All other and unspecified sites293318611311340326
Leukaemia and aleukaemia602484642645
Lymphosarcoma and other neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic system5752109615658

The standardized figures for recent years suggest that cancer, while undoubtedly increasing in numerical incidence, is not doing so out of proportion to the population exposed to the cancer risk. Improvement in diagnosis has been responsible for some of the numerical increase in the recorded deaths from cancer, though this factor has now become more stabilized. A classification according to sex and age groups for 1952 is now given.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 514822
5 and under 106612
10 and under 15459
15 and under 20336
20 and under 25819
25 and under 3012517
30 and under 35102030
35 and under 40273259
40 and under 45334982
45 and under 504478122
50 and under 5578117195
55 and under 60122136258
60 and under 65139157296
65 and under 70243177420
70 and under 75273229502
75 and under 80226176402
80 and over191167358

Ninety-one per cent of the deaths from cancer during 1952 were at ages 45 years and upwards, and 60 per cent at ages 65 years and upwards. Approximately one death in every six of persons who die after the age of 50 years is due to cancer.

PUERPERAL CAUSES.—In point of numbers of deaths, puerperal accidents and diseases do not rank high among causes of death. Nevertheless, deaths from puerperal causes are of special importance and significance. The rate per 1,000 live births in each of the last twenty years is shown in the following table.

YearProportion Per 1,000 Live Births

A survey of the death rate from puerperal causes since 1872 shows that for a period in the early part of the twentieth century there was a tendency for the rate to decline. Then followed a definite upward movement, culminating in a rate of 6.48 per 1,000 live births in 1920, the third highest on record, this figure having been exceeded only in 1884 and 1885. Comparatively high rates persisted until 1931, since when the decline has been more or less steady. The efficacy of new drugs and methods of treatment is reflected in the extremely low rates recorded in recent years, the figure for 1951 of 0.69 being a new record. This low rate has been achieved mainly by a reduction in the number of deaths from septic abortion and puerperal toxaemia, the latter being a cause which had hitherto been particularly resistant to preventive measures. Deaths from complications of childbirth have also been unusually few since 1949.

It is generally conceded that in years of high birth rates the maternal-mortality rate tends to rise, probably due to the abnormally high proportion of first births in the total of births, upon which the death rate for these causes is based. In common with most countries for which recent figures are available, the reverse has been the experience in New Zealand during recent years;. Possibly a contributory factor in this reversal has been the rise in the proportion of births taking place in institutions, more particularly in special annexes attached to the larger hospitals, where every facility for the care of the patient is more readily available.

Details of deaths from deliveries and complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium for the three years 1950 to 1952 are shown in the following summary. The disease headings conform to the 1948 Revision of the Classification introduced in 1950.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per 10,000 Live Births
Toxaemias of pregnancy13792.931.571.94
Placenta praevia 31 0.670.22
Other haemorrhage of pregnancy1110.230.220.22
Ectopic pregnancy1 10.23 0.22
Other complications arising from pregnancy 1  0.22 
Abortion without mention of sepsis or toxaemia1330.230.670.64
Abortion with sepsis8241.810.450.85
Delivery complicated by placenta praevia or antepartum haemorrhage1130.230.220.64
Delivery complicated by retained placenta2 10.45 0.22
Delivery complicated by other post-partum haemorrhage5441.130.900.85
Delivery with trauma1330.230.670.64
Sepsis of childbirth and the puerperium2110.460.220.22
Puerperal phlebitis and thrombosis1 10.23 0.22
Puerperal pulmonary embolism1310.230.670.22
Puerperal eclampsia31 0.630.22 
Other and unspecified complications of the puerperium 1  0.22 
    Totals, including septic abortion4031339.036.94710
    Totals, excluding septic abortion3229297.226.496.25

A summary of maternal mortality from all puerperal causes, in triennial periods since 1927 and for the year 1952, is now given.

Causes of Death1927–291930–321933–351936–381939–411942–441945–471948–501952
Puerperal sepsis12858394446301261
Eclampsia and other toxaemias101979394805862429
Septic abortion47859168586133204
Accidents, haemorrhage, and other mortality12412410491135941107319
    Total maternal mortality40036432729731924321714133
    Maternal mortality, excluding septic abortion35327923622926118218412129

DEATHS FROM EXTERNAL CAUSES.—Deaths from external causes, apart from suicide, claim approximately 4 per cent of the total deaths. The following table shows deaths from external causes for the three years 1950, 1951, and 1952 according to the Intermediate List of the 1948 Revision of the International Classification. It is necessary to refer to the detailed list of circumstances of accident or means of injury if a comparison with years prior to 1949 is required, as the inclusions under the headings below differ considerably from past practice—e.g., drowning from boats and ships or from horseback whilst crossing rivers are included below as transport fatalities, as also are falls on board ship and from horseback.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per Million of Mean Population
Motor-vehicle accidents212269252118147134
Other transport accidents8511590476348
Accidental poisoning17293091616
Accidental falls149139168837690
Accident caused by machinery311935171019
Accident caused by fire and explosion of combustible material11192161010
Accident caused by hot substance, corrosive liquid, steam, and radiation141711896
Accident caused by firearm19221711129
Accidental drowning and submersion649081364943
All other accidental causes1119997625452
Homicide and injury purposely inflicted by other persons (not in war)1714189810
Injury resulting from operations of war3  2  

The number of deaths recorded from all accidental causes in 1952 was 802, corresponding to a rate of 4.28 per 10,000 of population. By comparison with 1936, there was an increase of 104 in the number of deaths, but the death rate has decreased by 0.40 per 10,000 of population.

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

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

YearDeaths Due to AccidentRate Per 10,000 of Mean Population
RailwayTramwayMotor VehicleAircraftRailwayTramwayMotor VehicleAircraft

Deaths arising out of aircraft accidents fell off steeply after 1945. This was to be expected, since the figures include Air Force accidents in New Zealand as well as civilian casualties. In 1948 the crashing on Mount Ruapehu of a National Airways Corporation plane with the loss of 13 lives was the principal cause of the high figure for civil air transport accidents in that year. New Zealand's worst air disaster occurred in 1949, when fifteen lives were lost in a crash at Waikanae. The figure of 25 deaths is the highest total recorded in a non-war year. The sharp increase in 1943 in deaths due to railway accidents is accounted for by one serious accident near Hyde in Central Otago, which resulted in twenty-one deaths. In 1948 a derailment near Blenheim resulting in the loss of six lives was a substantial contribution to the total in that year.

Deaths from motor-vehicle accidents recorded an appreciable increase up to 1930, but this trend was reversed during the depression years, largely owing to a great reduction in the number of motor vehicles on the roads during that period. With the advent of more prosperous times, the toll of the motor vehicle again mounted, although, fortunately, not in proportion to the tremendous increase in motor vehicular traffic on the highways. An appreciable drop, however, was experienced during the war years on account of there being less traffic on the roads owing to restrictions in the use of motor spirits and rubber tires. Since the war the number of fatalities from motor-vehicle accidents progressively increased up to 1951. The 1952 total of 240 deaths was a decrease of 14 on the figure for 1951.

The figures given in the above table for deaths from motor-vehicle accidents (which do not include deaths of Maoris) are exclusive of accidents where persons have been killed in collisions between motor vehicles and trains or trams, these being assigned to the heavier vehicle. For 1952 there were 12 deaths from such accidents, bringing the total number of deaths in cases where a motor vehicle was involved up to 252. The corresponding figure for 1951 was 269.

Non-transport Accidents.—Over the three-year period 1950 to 1952, 44 per cent of deaths from accidental causes involved transport vehicles or devices, with the remaining 56 per cent spread over a wide range of circumstances.

The 1948 Revision of the International List makes provision for these non-transport accidents (excluding therapeutic misadventure in treatment, complications following vaccination or inoculation, and late effects of injury and poisoning) to be grouped according to the place where the accident or poisoning occurred. The following table shows the deaths, both numbers and rates, for each of the three years 1950, 1951, and 1952 according to this classification.

Place of OccurrenceNumberRate Per Million of Mean Population
Home (including home premises and vicinity and any non-institutional place of residence)203222195113121104
Farm (including buildings and land under cultivation, but excluding farm and home premises)442947251525
Mine and quarry4710245
Industrial place and premises271918151010
Place for recreation and sport778444
Street and highway121012756
Public building (building used by the general public or a particular group of the public)6135373
Resident institution (homes, hospitals, etc.,)13233271317
Other specified places728394404550
Place not specified1416328917

One in every two fatal non-traffic accidents occurs in or about the home.

The chief killer in the home is falls, which exacts a heavy toll of the aged and infirm. Second comes asphyxia from regurgitation of foodstuffs and inhalation of other objects, or mechanically from pillows and bedclothes: this is the principal hazard of the first six months of life, though a proportion of these deaths is probably due to some undisclosed underlying respiratory infection. Almost all the home drowning fatalities are amongst toddlers between one and two years of age who fall into rivers, creeks, and ponds in the immediate home vicinity.

There were 120 deaths from non-transport accidents on farms in the period covered, while fatal non-transport accidents in industrial plants, factories, and workplaces totalled 64.

OCCUPATIONAL ACCIDENTS.—The majority of occupational accidents are included in accidents occurring in industrial places or premises, on railways, farms, and mines and quarries, but a certain number occur in such places as places of recreation and sport, streets and highways, and public buildings. For example, 8 occupational accidents causing the deaths of 7 jockeys and 1 trotting driver are included under “place for recreation and sport.”

The following table shows details of deaths from accidental causes arising out of and in the course of the deceased's employment. So far as transport accidents are concerned, where these occurred to farmers engaged in transporting produce and to persons whose occupation was driving, these were included as occupational. Details of occupational accidents are not available for 1952.

Description of Accident194919501951Totals, 1949–51
Railway accident involving railway employee1031124
Railway accident involving other person2114
Motor-vehicle traffic accidents5111127
Motor-vehicle non-traffic accidents11 2
Other road-vehicle accidents156324
Submersion of occupant of small boat1135
Other water transport injury by submersion54110
Falls on ships1315
Crushing while loading or unloading ship1225
Aircraft accidents73515
Poisoning by liquid substance 1 1
Poisoning by gases and vapours21 3
Blow from falling object12131338
Accident caused by mine vehicle  11
Machinery accidents17301865
Accident caused by cutting or piercing instrument 1 1
Accident caused by electric current117826
Accident caused by fire and explosion of combustible material23 5
Accident caused by hot substance, corrosive liquid, and steam1113
Accident caused by firearm  44
Mechanical suffocation1 34
Sting of venomous insect1  1
Accident caused by animals3317
Drowning and submersion 134
Excessive cold  11
Crushing  11

Farming and agricultural employment, which contributed an average of 31 occupational deaths in each year, were responsible for the highest total in any one occupational group. The annual average number of deaths in other occupational groups were (i) railway employees 8, (ii) transport drivers 5, (iii) fishermen and seamen 5, (iv) miners and quarrymen 5.

Further data regarding accidents will be found elsewhere in this volume (see Index). A later section is devoted wholly to statistics of industrial accidents.

SUICIDES.—Suicidal deaths in 1952 numbered 189—males 141, females 48—the death rate per 10,000 of mean population being 101.

YearNumber of Suicidal DeathsRate Per 10,000 of Mean Population

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

Annual Average DuringMalesFemalesBoth Sexes
1950–52 (3 years)1.440.500.97


Unless specially stated to the contrary, in each of the preceding subsections Maoris have been excluded from the statistical tables presented. The standard of registration of Maoris is still below that of the European section of the population of New Zealand. This is due partly to difficulties of language, educational status, etc., and partly to problems of access. This latter difficulty arises from the fact that the greater portion of the Maori population is resident in country districts not so well served with modern facilities as regards transport, medical, and nursing services, etc. Consequently registration of vital facts regarding the Maori race as a whole is not quite at the same high level of accuracy as obtains for the European population, but very considerable improvement has been effected in recent years.

MAORI BIRTHS.—In the successive Registration Acts special provision was made for exemption from the necessity of registration in the case of births and deaths of Maoris, though registration could be effected if desired. Section 20 of the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act 1912 (now section 52 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1951) empowered the making of regulations to provide for the registration of births and deaths of Maoris. Regulations were made accordingly, and Maori births and deaths became registrable as from 1 March 1913. The number of Registrars of Maori Births and Deaths in New Zealand is over 250, most of these being in the North Island, where the great majority of the Maori population is located. Every Maori settlement of any size is within reach of one of these Registrars. Maori registrations are entered in a separate register, which does not, however, make provision for as many particulars as is the case with registrations of Europeans.

The number of births of Maoris registered during 1952 was 5,459 (2,856 males, 2,603 females). The Maori birth rate in 1952 was almost twice the European birth rate (24.77 per 1,000). Registrations of Maori births in each of the last eleven years were as follows.

YearNumber of Maori BirthsRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Prior to 1946 there was reason to believe that the number of Maori births was somewhat understated, and this view was confirmed by the registration figures for 1946, the year in which the provision of family benefits under the Social Security scheme was extended to cover all children under sixteen years of age irrespective of the income of the parents. Of the 5,776 Maori births registered during 1946, no fewer than 1,447, or 25 per cent, had actually occurred before 1945—i.e., over a year before registration.

For the purposes of the Maori Births and Deaths Registration Regulations 1935 a Maori is defined as “a person belonging to the aboriginal race of New Zealand, and includes a half-caste and a person intermediate in blood between half-castes and persons of pure descent from that race”.

Only registrations relating to persons possessing half or more Maori blood are made in the register of Maori births or Maori deaths. All registrations in respect of persons possessing less than half Maori blood must be made in the European register.

MAORI MARRIAGES.—In the 1953 and preceding issues of the Year-Book a brief statement of the legislative position relating to Maori marriages was given. The Maori Purposes Act 1951, however, brought about a complete change to that hitherto existing. The view was taken that the Maori race had now reached a stage where such special dispensations were no longer justifiable. From 1 April 1952 all Maori marriages are subject to the ordinary laws affecting European marriages, and no marriage according to Maori custom subsequent to that date will be held valid. As a result it is not now possible to distinguish marriages of Maoris from those of Europeans, and Maori marriage statistics as a separate feature will lapse.

The Maori marriage figures for each of the eleven years (1941–51) were as follows.

YearUnder Maori Land ActUnder Marriage ActTotalsYearUnder Maori Land ActUnder Marriage ActTotals

MAORI DEATHS.—Registrations of Maori deaths during each of the last eleven years have been as follows.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Maori Population

The rates for the two sexes are much more nearly equal for Maoris than for the rest of the population, the female rate being indeed higher than the male in some years. The total Maori death rate has shown considerable improvement during recent years, with a decline from 18.34 in 1942 to 12.34 in 1952.

Apart from mere numbers by sex, statistics of Maori deaths are not available prior to 1920, but annual tabulations are now made on the bases of age and cause of death. The ages of Maoris whose deaths were registered during the year 1952 were as shown in the following table.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 1250211461
1 and under 57967146
5 and under 10201535
10 and under 15131831
15 and under 2014923
20 and under 25291847
25 and under 30291645
30 and under 35161430
35 and under 40272855
40 and under 45252449
45 and under 50313465
50 and under 55343064
55 and under 60373471
60 and under 65533487
65 and under 70333568
70 and under 75282048
75 and under 80403171
80 and under 85201737
85 and under 90121426
90 and under 957310
95 and under 100437
100 and over257

EXPECTATION OF LIFE.—Official life tables dealing with the Maori population have been compiled for the first time. The investigation was based on the 1951 Census combined with the deaths for the three years 1950–52, and the (complete) expectation of life at various ages is given below.


The expectation of life of Maoris is much shorter than that of the European population. A comparison at age 0 shows a longer expectation of 14.24 years for European males and 16–55 years for European females.

A similar table to the above for Europeans will be found in Section 4C.

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

On the other hand, there is a much lower mortality rate among Maoris from certain diseases which rank high as causes of death among the European population. Principal among these are cancer, heart-disease and other diseases of the circulatory system, nephritis, the group of general diseases which includes diabetes and exophthalmic goitre, and the group of diseases of the nervous system which includes apoplexy and cerebral haemorrhage. Malformations show lower rates for Maoris than for Europeans, but the indefinite nature of the data in the registration entries covering the deaths of many Maori infants may be partly responsible, as the figures of deaths from malformations and the group “early infancy” taken in conjunction indicate a much higher rate for Maoris from these causes as a whole than for the European population.

The Introduction of the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International Classification of Causes of Death in 1950, together with the change to assignment according to the underlying cause of death, prevent accurate comparisons being made between the 1950 and subsequent mortality tabulations and those for earlier years. The following table shows the Maori deaths for 1950 to 1952 classified according to the Abbreviated List of the 1948 Revision.

Causes of DeathNumber of DeathsRate Per 10,000 of Mean Maori Population
Tuberculosis of respiratory system19412911117.1311.089.23
Tuberculosis, other forms6039385.303.353.16
Syphilis and its sequelae9440.790.340.33
Typhoid fever52 0.440.17 
Dysentery, all forms7230.620.170.25
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat1 10.09 0.08
Meningococcal infections 82 0.690.17
Acute poliomyelitis 13 0.090.25
Measles  15  1.25
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic1011140.880.941.16
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues65771065.746.618.82
Benign and unspecified neoplasms4210.350.170.08
Diabetes mellitus4550.350.430.42
Vascular lesions affecting central nervous system3151442.744.383.66
Non-meningococcal meningitis1812171.591.031.42
Rheumatic fever96140.790.521.16
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease3840363.363.432.99
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease14119114112.4516.4011.73
Other diseases of the heart4683444.067.133.66
Hypertension with heart-disease919210.791.631.75
Hypertension without mention of heart2150.180.090.42
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum21100.180.090.83
Intestinal obstruction and hernia101390.881.120.75
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of the newborn5050764.414.296.32
Cirrhosis of liver5110.440.090.08
Nephritis and nephrosis199231.680.771.91
Hyperplasia of prostate1250.090.170.42
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium125141.060.431.16
Congenital malformations2123401.851.973.33
Birth injuries, postnatal asphyxia, and atelectasis5548474.864.123.91
Infections of the newborn812140.711.031.16
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified7565826.625.586.82
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined and unknown causes2732212.382.751.75
All other diseases96731048.486.278.65
Motor-vehicle accidents2629442.302.493.66
All other accidents7461686.535.245.66
Suicide and self-inflicted injury7690.620.520.75
Homicide and operations of war3920.260.770.17

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 1952 the number so certified was 1,392 out of 1,483 registrations, equivalent to 94 per cent.

MAORI INFANT MORTALITY.—As regards infant mortality, the Maori rate is much higher and more variable than the European, principally owing to the ravages of epidemic diseases, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and diarrhoeal diseases. The infant-mortality rate for the first year of life was 77 per 1,000 births in the case of Maoris for the five years 1948–52, as compared with 23 per 1,000 among European infants. The decrease in the Maori infant-mortality rate during the years 1946 and 1947 is more apparent than real, as the birth figures on which they are based include a considerable number of late registrations of hitherto unregistered births (see p. 98).

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 YearRate Per 1,000 Live BirthsNumber of Deaths Under One YearRate Per 1,000 Live Births

The next table shows for the year 1952 the principal causes of death of Maori infants in the various subdivisions of the first year of life. The classification is according to the Sixth (1948) Revision of the International Classification of Causes of Death.

Causes of DeathUnder 1 Day1 Day and Under 2 Days2 Days and Under 1 Week1 Week and Under 2 Weeks2 Weeks and Under 3 Weeks3 Weeks and Under 1 Month1 Month and Under 2 Months2 Months and Under 3 Months3 Months and Under 6 Months6 Months and Under 9 Months9 Months and Under 12 MonthsTotals
Tuberculosis        2417
Syphilis1          1
Dysentery, all forms       1 1 2
Whooping-cough       13419
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic   11  12319
Non-meningococcal meningitis       283114
Influenza       253111
Pneumonia, except of newborn      911313629116
Bronchitis   1   187522
Intestinal obstruction and hernia     11 1  3
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of newborn      3222241364
Congenital malformations5 22411253328
Birth injuries71341      126
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis14241       21
Infections of the newborn1 32 26    14
Immaturity unqualified1610131   1   41
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy9482 1 2523