Table of Contents


THIS is the sixtieth issue of the New Zealand Official Year-Book. In addition to the normal scrutiny and revision of material contained in each section certain new features have been added. A special article on the tourist attractions of New Zealand has been prepared by the Tourist and Publicity Department and published in Appendix (d) of this issue, while a new and greatly improved map of New Zealand has been substituted for the earlier somewhat inadequate one. A section on history, constitution, and administration replaces the previously brief references to constitutional matters, while several other sections, namely, External Trade, Building and Construction, Production, Distribution, and Industry Sector Accounts, have been substantially revised.

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

Government Statistician.

Census and Statistics Department,
6 July 1955.


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

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

* £2 10s. per annum (post free).

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

‡ 1954 Reports being prepared for printing.

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

New Zealand Official Year-Book1955October 1955150
Pocket Digest of New Zealand Statistics1954April 195536
Annual Statistical Reports:    
  Population, Migration, and Buildings Statistics1953–54May 195576
  Vital Statistics1953October 195470
  Justice Statistics1953June 195576
  Shipping and other Transport Statistics1954In the Press.. 
  External Trade Statistics, Report on and Analysis of1953July 195576
  Farm Production Statistics1953–54July 195596
  Industrial Production Statistics1953–54In the Press.. 
  Insurance Statistics1953June 195556
  Prices, Wages, and Labour Statistics1953March 1955106
  Industrial Accidents Statistics1953August 195576
  Income and Income Tax Statistics for the Income Year1951–52April 195586
  National Income and Sector Accounts1938–39 to 1954–55In the Press.. 
  Balance of Payments1950–51 to 1953–54October 195446
Local Authorities Handbook of New Zealand1952–53May 1955150
Monthly Abstract of Statistics*  50
    Retail Trading Statistics (Quarterly Issue)June QuarterAugust 1955.. 
    Population Projections:    
      New Zealand (Inch Maori) (December Abstract)..December 1953.. 
      Non-Maori (October Abstract)..November 1953.. 
      Industrial Production Statistics (March Abstract)1953–54April 1955.. 
Special Supplements:    
      New Zealand Life Tables (non-Maori) (July Abstract)1950–52August 195316
      New Zealand Life Tables (Maori) (November Abstract)1950–52December 195316
      Retail Prices in New Zealand (October-November) Abstract..December 194920
Census of Distribution, 19531953April 195460
Maps of Urban Areas, 19511951January 1953200
Census of Public Libraries, 19541954June 195546
Volumes of 1951 Census Results:    
  Vol. I. Increase and Location of Population1951April 195376
  Vol. II. Ages and Marital Status1951January 1954106
  Vol. III. Religious Professions (Including Summaries for Dependent Children, Race, and War Service)1951November 195350
  Vol. IV. Industries, Occupations, and Incomes1951September 1954126
  Vol. V. Birthplaces and Duration of Residence of Overseas-Born1951December 195450
  Vol. VI. Maori Census1951January 195566
  Vol. VII. Dwellings and Households1951August 195460
  Appendix A. Census of Poultry1951February 195326
  Appendix B. Life Tables 1950–52 and Values of Annuities1951December 195656
  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. 33).—Recent population changes are given in the following table.


Year EndedMalesFemalesTotalMean Population for Year
Total Population (Including Maoris)
30 June 19541,052,2011,040,5782,092,7792,073,319
30 September 19541,057,1511,045,3812,102,5322,084,223
31 December 19541,065,4901,052,9442,118,4342,094,910
31 March 19551,072,0901,058,8372,130,9272,105,767
Maori Population
30 June 195465,67162,753128,424126,240
30 September 195466,24363,295129,538127,327
31 December 195466,94663,860130,806128,456
31 March 195567,56064,405131,965129,611

The above figures are exclusive of the population of the Cook Islands, 15,657 (at 31 March 1954); Niue Island, 4,734 (at 31 March 1955); Tokelau Islands, 1,796 (at 31 March 1955), and Western Samoa, 94,128 (at 31 December 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 1954 at 35,255 constituting a record.

Migration (pp. 34–36).—The total number of arrivals in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1955 was 136,294, while the total number of departures in the same year was 128,918. Excluding crews and through passengers, arrivals totalled 61,610 and departures 54,580, making the net excess of arrivals 7,030, as compared with 15,441 in 1953–54. A classification of total arrivals and departures gives the following results.

Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Arrivals
Immigrants intending permanent residence24,89619,453
New Zealand residents returning17,44320,211
Through passengers7,44811,005
      Total arrivals125,096136,294
Year Ended 31 March
Migration: Departures
New Zealand residents departing—  
Temporary residents departing21,07923,603
Through passengers7,44811,005
        Total departures110,049128,918

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, the number totalling 24,896. A further decrease of 5,443 was shown in 1954–55 when immigrants intending permanent residence totalled 19,453.

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 five years: 1950–51, 2,928; 1951–52,4,949; 1952–53,7,581; 1953–54,6,299; 1954–55,4,332.

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. This trend continued in 1954–55, when unassisted immigrants fell 18.7 per cent and assisted immigrants 31.2 per cent compared with the previous year.


Vital statistics for the calendar years 1953 and 1954 are shown, in summary form, in the following table. Statistics in more detail for 1953 and earlier years are given on pages 56–108.

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

* Infant mortality rates per 1,000 live births.

    Total population51,94325.3554,13125.84
    Total population18,3548.9618,8769.01
Marriages (total)17,2248.4117,5578.38
Infant deaths under one year—    

Births.—The total number of births registered in 1954 (54,131) is the highest recorded in the history of New Zealand, exceeding the previous high total in 1953 by 2,188. The birth-rate, however, is still below the high figure of 27.70 recorded in 1947.


Farm Production

Estimated Areas and Yields of Principal Crops, 1955 Season.—Estimates of areas sown under wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes were collected in the spring of 1954 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 1955, total yields of wheat, oats, and barley are estimated. In compiling these estimates of yields due allowance is made for areas not threshed (fed off, etc.). Following are the estimates for 1954–55, together with the final figures for the preceding season 1953–54. (Refer pp. 472–488.)

1953–54 (Final Figures)1954–55 (Estimated)
Area (For All Purposes)Yield (From Area Threshed)Area (For All Purposes)Yield (From Area Estimated to be Threshed)

* Not available.

Peas for threshing30,889953,74926,000*
  (Tons) (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.

Livestock Figures.—See page xxxviii.

Timber Production

Timber Production (pp. 520–523).—Provisional figures issued by the New Zealand Forest Service indicate a continued high level of timber production for the year ended 31 March 1955, the output of rough-sawn timber being given as 616,000,000 board feet, an increase of 43.8 million board feet above the output of the previous year. The output of the principal species was as follows: rimu and miro, 211,000,000 board feet; matai, 37,700,000 board feet; kahikatea, 19,000,000 board feet; beech, 18,700,000 board feet; totara, 14,700,000 board feet; tawa, 16,500,000 board feet; and exotic pines, 281,500,000 board feet. Indigenous species totalled 323,600,000 board feet, and exotics, 292,400,000 board feet.

Mines and Mineral Production

Mines and Mineral Production (p. 543).—The following quantities were produced during the calendar year 1954: Coal, 2,594,300 tons; gold, 41,713 ozs.; silver, 33,049 ozs.; manganese ores, 239 tons; iron ores, 2,916 tons; tungsten ores, 28 tons; magnesite, 720 tons; evaporated salt, 1,500 tons; and petroleum, 239,800 gallons.

Factory Production Statistics, 1953–54

Totals for the year 1953–54 show a recovery from the decline recorded in 1952–53. The volume of production index for each industry group has risen, the index for all industries being 6.1 per cent greater than that of the previous year. The greatest rises in the volume of production occurred in the following groups: Paper and pulp products; textiles; electrical machinery and appliances; rubber products; chemicals and chemical products.

The amount of overtime worked increased in this year by 56 per cent, this being distributed over thirteen of the twenty groups, the number of persons engaged being some 3,200 greater than in 1952–53. Salaries and wages rose by 10.3 per cent as compared with the previous year, and added value increased by 11.9 per cent.

Capital expenditure during 1953–54 was approximately £19.2 million, compared with £18.1 million and £14.8 million in 1952–53 and 1951–52 respectively.

One final point of some note is the rise recorded in the manufacturers' surplus—from £31.3 million in 1952–53 to £35.5 million in the latest year. Expressed as a proportion of added value, manufacturers' surplus accounted for 21.9 per cent in 1953–54 as against 21.5 per cent the previous year.

This series of factory production statistics compiled by the Census and Statistics Department covers 77 per cent of the labour force engaged in manufacturing activity. Actually the proportion of factory production covered by the survey would be greater, in that all establishments of any considerable size are included.

The year covered by these statistics is in general that ending 31 March 1954, 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 1954.

Summary (p. 564).—Following are the principal statistics of factory production for 1953–54, with comparable figures for the two previous years.

General Summary1951–521952–531953–54
Number of establishments 8,5478,5128,377
Persons engagedNo.144,370143,180146,426
Production costs—    
  Salaries, wages£75,038,79378,490,49286,579,123
  Other expenses£32,027,62235,359,70440,392,917
Value of output£431,038,354464,064,555495,376,770
Manufacturers' surplus£33,289,04831,269,02335,746,553
Value added in manufacture£140,355,463145,119,219162,518,593
Overtime worked by wage-earnersHrs.16,549,55315,489,70516,363,370
Volume index for industry: Base 1949–50 (= 1000) 111911161184
Premises and plant—    
  Value at end of year—    
    Land and buildings£56,982,65763,278,85069,895,860
    Plant and machinery£40,797,23545,828,72453,255,370
  Capital expenditure during year—    
    Land and buildings£5,370,3456,775,4997,047,437
    Plant and machinery£9,426,89211,301,03112,132,769
Coal consumption as fuelTon860,536855,796864,521

Principal Statistics 1953–54 (p. 586).—The following table gives the number of persons engaged, production costs, value of output, and added value for the year 1953–54, classified according to industry groups.

Industry GroupNumber of Persons EngagedProduction CostsValue of OutputAdded Value
Salaries and WagesMaterialsOther ExpensesTotal
Tobacco manufactures1,2836064,5563935,5546,4391,883
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods24,80610,61621,1792,38834,18336,17314,994
Wood and cork products (except furniture)12,1577,69115,8823,83227,40530,60114,719
Furniture and fittings5,0592,8894,1566477,6928,4994,343
Paper and paper products3,1481,7845,9511,8139,54810,8124,861
Printing, publishing, etc.8,6355,3735,7642,17713,31415,88810,124
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)1,6569403,1593054,4044,6641,505
Rubber products2,2671,5173,4351,0596,0117,1143,678
Chemicals and chemical products4,6152,81014,2322,11819,15921,7677,536
Petroleum and coal products2581791,0691311,3791,541472
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.5,8563,7874,9503,34712,08413,6008,651
Basic metal manufactures7525051,3142462,0652,288974
Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment)6,5624,3007,8101,45713,56615,3027,492
Machinery (except electrical)8,3315,33412,6701,78019,78321,9989,329
Electrical machinery and appliances4,2512,4415,2049488,5939,4614,257
Transport equipment17,57510,81424,4543,51138,77842,13317,679
Miscellaneous products2,6511,3522,1015143,9674,4262,325
    Totals, all groups146,42686,579332,85840,393459,830495,377162,519

Volume of Industrial Production (pp. 583–584).—The following analysis shows the variations in the volume of industrial production in the several industrial groups. The series is based on the volume of production in 1949–50.

GROUP INDICES: BASE 1949–50 (= 1000)

Industry Group1951–52 Index1952–53 Index1953–54
IndexIncrease Over 1952–53
    Per Cent
Tobacco manufactures1114112711744.17
Footwear, other wearing apparel, and made-up textile goods1125101110554.38
Wood and cork products (except furniture)1184118211961.15
Paper and paper products12841301159922.87
Printing, publishing, etc.1061112411744.40
Leather and leather products (except footwear and apparel)10279679811.42
Rubber products1803132614398.49
Chemicals and chemical products1169114912387.83
Non-metallic mineral products n.e.i.1048111711553.39
Electrical machinery and appliances11221128128614.03
Furniture and fittings }

Petroleum and coal products }

Basic metal manufactures }

Metal products (except machinery and transport equipment) }

Machinery (except electrical) }

Transport equipment }

Miscellaneous products }

    Totals, all groups111911161184610


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 1954 and 1955.

New Dwellings: NumberNew Dwellings: ValueTotal, All Buildings: ValueNew Dwellings: NumberNew Dwellings: ValueTotal. All Buildings: Value
  ££ ££
Urban districts12,59631,524,23953,972,84515,44340,241,57374,590,286
Rural districts4,86110,212,04215,527,0205,42012,525,26918,814,951
    Totals, New Zealand17,45741,736,28169,499,86520,86352,766,84293,405,237

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 islands outside county boundaries.

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 1954–55 were 18,500, compared with 16,600 in 1953–54 and 16,100 in 1952–53. Those completed in urban districts numbered 13,900 in 1954–55, 12,200 in 1953–54, and 11,900 in 1952–53.


Statistics of external trade in the calendar year 1954, in continuation of the statistics included in pages 265–321 of this Year-Book, are given below.

Total Commodity Trade.—Following are statistics of exports and imports in 1952, 1953, and 1954.

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

* The corresponding c.i.f. values were £276,215,000 in 1952, £192,180,000 in 1953, and £245,380,000 in 1954.



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

The total trade per head of mean population in 1954 was £218 (exports £116 and imports £102).

Exports.—New Zealand's export commodity trade in 1954 was valued at £244.4 millions, an increase of 3.6 per cent over the previous year. An indication of the movement in the value of exports in the main groups of commodities is afforded by the following table.


Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWoolHides, Pelts, and Skins

Apart from the question of values, a special interest attaches to progress in the volume of our export trade in major export commodities. In the following table the fluctuations in the quantities of exports of butter, cheese, meat, and wool since 1944 are shown.

Calendar YearButterCheeseFrozen MeatWool

* Record.

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

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

Direction of Export Trade.—The table below shows the main destinations of New Zealand exports in 1954.

CountryTotal Exports
United Kingdom163,024
Republic of India1,485
Federation of Malaya637
Hong Kong108
British West Africa131
Rhodesia-Nyasaland Federation252
Union of South Africa552
British Guiana122
British West Indies1,964
Gilbert and Ellice Islands58
Western Samoa558
Other Commonwealth countries121
    Totals, Commonwealth countries179,869
West German Federal Republic10,488
Eastern Germany136
Republic of Ireland403
Philippine Islands251
French Indo-China1,597
Belgian Congo93
Netherlands Antilles211
Panama Republic165
United States of America13,932
Society Islands266
Other countries931
    Totals, all other countries63,911
Ships' stores652
    Totals, all countries244,432

Exports to Commonwealth countries in 1954 accounted for 74 per cent of the total exports, 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 main sources (origin) of New Zealand's imports in 1954.

CountryTotal Imports*

* Provisional figures.

United Kingdom120,746
Bahrein Island2,439
British Borneo76
Hong Kong471
Malaya and Singapore4,817
British West Africa967
Kenya and Uganda234
Union of South Africa1,217
British West Indies305
Gilbert and Ellice Islands113
Nauru Island497
Western Samoa358
Other Commonwealth countries189
    Totals, Commonwealth countries171,552
West German Federal Republic4,362
Germany—Eastern Zone278
Netherlands Antilles2,325
United States of America17,493
Other countries312
    Totals, all other countries41,723
    Totals, all countries213,275

Imports from Commonwealth countries in 1954 comprised 80 per cent of the total.


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

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

Turnover by Store-types.—In the following tables details are shown for the years ended 31 March 1953 and 1955, and for the quarters ended 31 March 1954 and 1955.

Value of turnover increased in all store-types in the year ended 31 March 1955 as compared with the year ended 31 March 1953. The largest relative increase occurred in household appliances, radios, etc., the smallest movement being in furniture and soft furnishings.


Store-typeNorth IslandSouth IslandTotals, New Zealand
Auckland Urban AreaWellington and Hutt Urban AreasRemainder or North IslandTotals, North IslandChristchurch Urban AreaDunedin Urban AreaRemainder of South IslandTotals, South Island
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
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
General, department, and variety11,9644,52030,08546,5696,8622,91512,37922,15668,725
Year Ended 31 March 1955
Butcher, etc.3,8672,8638,71315,4432,3411,5183,9457,80423,247
Other food and drink9,2715,39912,83627,5063,5322,3024,68010,51438,020
Other apparel10,0476,49118,87235,4104,4972,6877,55814,74250,152
Furniture and soft furnishings4,6842,3895,40812,4811,6571,0122,1284,79717,278
Household appliances, radios, etc.1,9771,3783,2796,6348626501,2622,7749,408
General, department, and variety13,5275,34333,99752,8678,1263,22813,93525,28978,156
Quarter Ended 31 March 1954
Butcher, etc.8826321,9773,4914933568921,7415,232
Other food and drink2,2181,4133,2306,8618425601,2402,6429,503
Other apparel2,0911,3083,9057,3049595521,5163,02710,331
Furniture and soft furnishings9604791,1502,5893401884459733,562
Household appliances, radios, etc.3592727201,3511721222425361,887
General, department, and variety2,8401,0577,64611,5431,6757083,0875,47017,013
Quarter Ended 31 March 1955
Butcher, etc.9166652,2403,8215663529631,8815,702
Other food and drink2,2661,3663,2686,9008675701,2032,6409,540
Other apparel2,0431,4704,1617,6749766131,6003,18910,863
Furniture and soft furnishings9345561,1622,6523852174581,0603,712
Household appliances, radios, etc.4693397641,5721971363256582,230
General, department, and variety2,9851,1428,09212,2191,7777343,5216,03218,251

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 EndedQuarter Ended
31 March 195331 March 195531 March 195431 March 1955

* Information obtained in the quarterly surveys indicates that retail trading in “Clothing, drapery, dress piece goods” was divided in the following proportions in the year ended 31 March 1955: Men's and boys' wear, 31 per cent; women's, girls', and infants' wear, 59 per cent; household drapery, 10 per cent.

Groceries and small goods (including butter, bacon, etc.)59,70466,51215,92515,830
Butchers' meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables31,00834,4227,8708,372
Other foods (bread, cakes, pastry, etc.)12,06112,8343,1823,101
Milk, ice-cream, confectionery, soft drinks, etc.10,15111,1192,9253,081
Tobacco, cigarettes, and tobacconists' sundries8,9909,0792,1172,110
Chemists' goods, toiletries, cosmetics (including dispensing)8,7659,6582,2152,298
Clothing, drapery, dress piece goods*57,34863,53812,88613,994
Furniture, bedding, floor coverings, soft furnishings, and household textiles21,76522,5304,6514,931
Musical instruments, including radios4,6815,0761,0061,127
Household appliances and electrical goods9,50112,6512,4992,845
  Domestic hardware, china, and glassware10,55712,0172,5092,778
  Builders' hardware and materials (excluding timber, bricks, and roofing tiles)13,10515,1593,2063,496
Books, stationery, etc.9,1719,7962,3662,439

Stocks.—The Census of Distribution, together with the present sample inquiry, provides stock figures as at 31 March of the last four years, and these are presented in the form of actual values and index numbers of actual value in the table which follows.

The figures for March 1955 show a rise in value of stocks of 7 per cent as compared with the March 1954 figure, an increase of 3 per cent as compared with March 1953, and an increase of 15 per cent as compared with March 1952.


Actual Value of StocksIndex Numbers of Value of Stocks
Store-type—£(000)Base 1953 (= 1000)
  Butcher, etc.3784413634088571000823925
  Other food and drink1,6171,8811,8301,8628601000973990
  Other apparel14,64015,11915,04217,62696810009951166
  Furniture and soft furnishings4,3284,3914,3454,56598610009901040
  Household appliances, radios, etc.1,2781,4141,3461,58090410009521117
  Hardware, builders', etc.2,7783,7433,4773,6177421000929966
  General, department, and variety12,85114,25613,38114,75690110009591035
    Totals, all retail stores58,08864,36662,16966,58090210009661034


Banking and Currency

Reserve Bank (p. 778).—Data showing the liabilities and assets of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand at the last balance day in May 1955 are shown below, together with the corresponding figures for the last balance day in March 1955.

As at Last Balance Day in
March 1955May 1955

* Expressed in New Zealand currency.

Total liabilities (including other)168,416,300136,588,085
Bank notes69,864,70369,943,745
Demand liabilities—  
  Total assets (including other)168,416,300136,588,085
  In New Zealand10,337,64710,373,555
  Sterling exchange44,679,58347,569,686
  Other exchange448,599349,336
  Marketing organizations26,016,10626,741,818

Trading Banks (pp. 779–788).—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 1955May 1955
Bank debits—££
Bank clearings76,554,85457,158,126
Advances, including notes and bills discounted189,240,526186,928,866
Unexercised overdrafts98,641,216102,010,010
  Not bearing interest237,133,978243,843,415
  Bearing interest39,771,85540,041,544
Reserve Bank notes—  
  Notes held by trading banks9,121,59310,788,752
  Net note circulation60,743,11059,154,993
Ratio of advances to deposits64.4063.97

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 1954 and 1955 is contained in the following table. Figures for earlier years will be found on page 784.

Advances toAs at Last Wednesday in March
Industries allied to primary production20,84033,207
Other manufacturing and productive industries22,92428,560
    Total advances146,405184,234

Overseas Assets of Banks (p. 790).—In the following table overseas assets of banks (on account of New Zealand business only) are shown.

Overseas Assets at End of
March 1954March 1955
Trading banks' overseas assets—  
  In London27,55329,518
Reserve Bank's overseas assets—  
  Sterling exchange78,21144,680
  Other overseas assets24,74123,692
Total gross overseas assets135,102103,257
Overseas liabilities of trading banks6,0418,970
Overseas liabilities of Reserve Bank5156
Net overseas assets129,01094,230

Savings Banks (pp. 794–800).—A summary of statistics of savings banks at 31 March 1955 is given below.

Post Office Savings BankTrustee Savings BanksNational Savings Accounts

* On deposits held during year ended 30 June 1954.

Number of depositors1,554,549382,357 
Total amount of deposits during year117,880,90026,924,40311,128,289
Total amount of withdrawals during year112,842,48626,187,60710,281,512
Excess of deposits over withdrawals5,038,414736,796846,777
Interest credited to depositors4,710,920957,8231,911,672*
Total amount to cr. of depositors at end of March 1955215,671,14642,826,14168,227,566

Post Office Savings-bank Accounts Classified by Amount Groups (p. 796).—The following is a classification of the balances in Post. Office Savings-bank accounts at 31 March 1953, 1954, and 1955, shown by amount groups and percentage of accounts within each group.

At 31 March 1953Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1954Percentage of TotalAt 31 March 1955*Percentage of Total

* Excludes 17,343 accounts domiciled at Apia and Rarotonga.

Under 1 352,32323.71354,38923.30354,53523.06
1 and under10357,79624.08361,86823.79368,07023.94
10 and under50281,50518.95286,94418.87289,71418.85
50 and under100120,7288.13122,1068.03123,7868.05
100 and under200119,3878.03124,2048.17125,9558.19
200 and under30066,3674.4770,7824.6570,7344.60
300 and under40043,8892.9546,2863.0445,7772.98
400 and under50033,6512.2635,8402.3636,9522.40
500 and under60026,5831.7928,1511.8527,3471.78
600 and under70015,3791.0415,8011.0416,4861.07
700 and under80011,4880.7712,2410.8112,3670.81
800 and under9009,0790.619,3290.6110,0590.66
900 and under1,0007,2500.497,8260.518,2990.54
1,000 and under1,50021,6861.4623,5721.5523,8971.56
1,500 and under2,00010,0040.6710,7020.7011,0220.72
2,000 and under3,0007,3910.508,6040.579,2170.60
3,000 and under4,0008340.061,4330.091,8280.12
4,000 and under5,0003310.025750.046740.04
5,000 and over 1810.013350.024870.03
    Total number of accounts 1,485,832100.001,520,988100001,537,206*100.00

Overseas Receipts and Payments.—The following statement gives statistics of exchange-control transactions for the years ended 31 March 1954 and 1955. Comparable items for the calendar years 1953 and 1954 are, however, given on pages 792–793. All figures quoted are taken from Reserve Bank sources.

Year Ended 31 March 1954Year Ended 31 March 1955
    Total (including other)239,872..216,230..
    Total (including other)..200,449..252,910
Transport: Freights, fares, ships' charters1,5201,2161,5273,821
Travel: Private and business (exclusive of fares)1,6054,7831,9505,925
    Totals, insurance7131,7687842,144
International investment income—    
  Interest, dividends, and other private investment income6,6375,1676,5365,193
  Interest on Government and local authority loans..2,866..3,117
    Totals, international investment income6,6378,0336,5368,310
Government transactions—    
  Current expenditure by New Zealand Government overseas..9,890..8,486
  Current receipts by New Zealand Government and expenditure by other Governments in New Zealand2,124..948..
    Totals, Government transactions2,1249,8909488,486
Miscellaneous current transactions—    
  Commissions, royalties, rebates, etc.5361,3401,0231,729
  Films and entertainments..817..789
  Unilateral transfers (immigrants' transfers, personal remittances, charitable, legacies, etc.)5,5715,6896,4417,740
  Expenses of business firms4423,1534763,348
  Other current transactions705694513913
    Totals, miscellaneous current transactions7,25411,6938,45314,520
Capital transfers—    
  Local authority..154..425
    Totals, capital transfers11,6014,84137,83113,039
Cook Islands exports or imports1018984112
Unidentified101 63 
    Grand totals271,527242,763274,405309,267


Summary of the Public Account for the Financial Years 1953–54 and 1954–55 (p. 711).—The source of the following table is parliamentary paper B–6, 1955.

Year 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 over-all cash surplus or deficit, have been excluded from both sides of the above statement.

|| Excludes £12 million borrowed from trading banks.

¶ As from 1 April 1954, all highways taxation is credited direct to National Roads Fund. Previously it was credited partly to Customs revenue and partly to highways taxation.

** As from 1 April 1954, all expenditure on roads is being met from National Roads Fund. Previously construction expenditure was met from Public Works Account and maintenance expenditure from Consolidated Fund.

  Income tax80.888.3
  Social security charge49.756.7.
  Sales tax21.122.6
  Stamp and death duties15.016.2
  Other taxation7.77.3
  Highways taxation5.3
    Totals, taxation205.9218.6
Profits from trading1.83.1
Departmental receipts16.717.4
    Total Consolidated Fund and Social Security Fund receipts232.1247.5
National Roads Funds receipts..18.2
Receipts from borrowing (less repayments)—  
  Borrowing in New Zealand—  
   National Savings2.92.7
   Post Office Saving Bank11.511.5
   Other borrowing21.4||9.9
  Overseas borrowing—  
   London and Australia12.411.6
    Totals, borrowing48.235.7
Other capital receipts—  
  Transfer from Consolidated Fund for debt repayment6.912.3
  Sinking Fund contributions3.72.7
Transfers from Consolidated Fund to—  
  War Emergency Fund and Defence Fund3.53.8
  Public Works Account..6.3
  National Development Loans Account..3.5
Miscellaneous capital receipts7.09.5
Excess receipts of trading accounts, etc., within the Public Account7.53.9
Grand totals308.9§343.4§
Social services105.7114.0
Administration, etc.21.923.1
Maintenance of works, etc.15.19.0
Development of industry13.213.6
Interest and management of the public debt  
Transfer for repayment of the public debt  
Transfer to Defence Fund3.51.0
Transfer to Public Works Account..2.0
Transfer to National Development Loans Account..3.5
Transfer to National Roads Fund..1.0
    Totals, Consolidated Fund and Social Security Fund expenditure228.9237.5
Works and other capital expenditure—  
  Housing construction*10.69.4
  School buildings*5.95.1
  Highways construction*3.3..
  Forest development*1.81.6
  Electric supply13.212.0
  Land settlement1.71.0
  State coal1.10.2
  Post Office3.66.0
  Murupara Pulp and Paper Scheme*4.39.2
  State Advances Corporation 12.06.0
    Totals, works, etc.67.259.8
Other expenditure—  
  Defence Fund..3.2
  National Roads Fund..14.8**
Purchase of miscellaneous investments not included above67.277.8
Over-all cash surplus or deficit—  
  Sale of S.A.C. securities to trading banks−12.0..
  Fixed deposits with trading banks in New Zealand..14.6
  Increase in cash (and imprest) balances18.83.1
    Grand totals308.9§343.4§

Summary of Budget Proposals.—The presentation of the Financial Statement was made on 21 July 1955, principal changes from the existing situation being briefly recorded below.

Taxation: Income Tax.—A rebate of 20 per cent from income tax, computed in accordance with existing rates and provisions, is to be granted for the tax year 1955–56 to individual taxpayers, with an upper limit of £75 to any rebate.

Sales Tax.—A fairly lengthy list of goods, of which the most important items were bicycles, clocks, and medicinal preparations and drugs, was exempted from sales tax by Resolution of the House of Representatives.

Death Duties.—Legislation to be introduced in the present session will abolish succession duty and impose a single estate duty, calculated on the value of the estate, which will combine the two existing duties, but will effect a general concession throughout the whole range of estates (estimated to amount to 17½ per cent reduction on total death and succession duties). The new scale will apply to estates of all persons dying on or after 21 July 1955.

Gift Duties.—The rates of gift duty will also be liberally adjusted (amounting to a 20 per cent reduction) throughout the entire range of gifts, for those gifts made on or after 21 July 1955.

Social Security.—The Social Security Commission is given a discretionary authority to raise the basic rate of benefit for single persons living alone by an amount of 5s. a week (i.e., maximum benefits £3 15s. a week). As already announced, it has been decided to apply the domestic service concession to women beneficiaries who perform domestic and nursing services in private homes, hospitals, and charitable institutions. An amendment to the Act is to be introduced enabling an unmarried woman between fifty-five and sixty years of age, who is unfit for regular employment, to be paid a benefit on the same basis as an age benefit. Also, as already announced, payments of benefits for which tuberculosis sufferers may qualify will be at rates up to £4 10s. for a single person and £8 10s. for a married couple, with additions where there are dependent children. For war pensions, a discretionary power is given to the War Pensions Board to provide a similar extra payment for single war pensioners who are in receipt of economic pensions, and also single war veterans, as in the case of social security beneficiaries.

Deferred Maintenance.—The deferred maintenance provisions introduced in 1944 will be repealed with effect for the income year ending 31 March 1956.

Hire Purchase.—Hire purchase regulations were gazetted on 21 July 1955 providing for minimum deposits of 50 per cent for motor vehicles and 15 per cent for all other goods, and for maximum periods for payment of the balance of 18 months for motor vehicles and 24 months for all other goods.

Local Authority Works.—The Local Government Loans Board has been informed that it is Government policy at the present time to confine local authority works activity to the most essential classes.

Public Loan.—It is intended to issue a public loan later in the year to complete the financing of the Government's capital programme.

Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for 1955–56 (p. 712).—The following table shows the estimated receipts and payments for 1955–56 for the Consolidated and Social Security Funds.

Estimated Receipts, 1955–56£(m.)Estimated Payments, 1955–56£(m.)
Consolidated Fund
Taxation— Interest and debt repayment34.7
  Customs28.0Permanent appropriations4.2
  Beer duty6.5Annual appropriations— 
  Sales tax21.5  Stabilization12.6
  Film hire0.1  Defence26.7
  Stamp duties14.9  Development of primary and secondary industries15.0
  Land tax1.0  Social services (excluding transfer to Social Security Fund)51.8
  Income tax90.7  Other votes43.3
 162.7Supplementary estimates2.0
Other receipts—   
  Interest9.4    Total190.3
  Trading profits2.9  
Social Security Fund
Social security charge60.0Administration and special assistance1.8
Transfer from Consolidated Fund14.0Monetary benefits56.8
Miscellaneous0.1Medical, hospital, etc., benefits14.8
    Total74.1    Total73.4

Consolidated Fund (pp. 712–716).—The following table contains a summary of the receipts and payments of the Consolidated Fund for the financial years ended 31 March 1954 and 1955.


* Now a payment of the National Roads Fund.

Interest on capital liability—  
  Post and Telegraph1,183,7851,326,103
  Electric supply2,811,8033,179,972
  Housing and Housing Construction1,162,3941,271,929
  Land settlement1,578,2101,599,330
  Other accounts140,08642,000
Interest on other public moneys869,604958,767
Profits on trading undertakings1,780,2873,143,946
Departmental receipts16,597,59117,185,650
    Totals, receipts182,319,295191,216,241
Permanent appropriations—  
  Civil list143,739143,446
  Debt services—  
  Administration and management1,004,7091,033,250
Superannuation (subsidy and contribution)3,068,0004,305,000
Contribution to National Roads Fund..1,000,000
    Totals, permanent appropriations29,601,41539,242,786
Annual appropriations—  
  Prime Minister's Office18,56419,993
  External Affairs1,811,8602,070,450
  Inland Revenue1,222,3491,295,964
    Totals, finance16,558,71515,147,283
General administration—  
  Public Service Commission95,904106,142
  Internal Affairs3,788,7183,171,638
  Island Territories1,193,5791,161,923
  Printing and Stationery772,365936,095
  Maori Affairs805,108797,625
  Census and Statistics145,671145,621
    Totals, general administration11,122,38310,179,056
Law and order—££
  Crown Law19,85121,853
    Totals, law and order3,003,8563,360,367
  Defence construction and maintenance2,721,1841,891,614
    Totals, defence29,012,48924,098,566
  Maintenance of public works and services9,626,5509,043,322
  Highways maintenance5,507,898*
  Totals, maintenance15,134,4489,043,322
  Development of primary and secondary industries—  
  Lands and Survey1,739,3781,882,319
  Forest Service1,790,6532,137,008
  Milk Marketing652,334..
  Industries and Commerce378,070393,371
  Tourist and Publicity1,337,0371,362,884
  Scientific and Industrial Research1,089,8081,149,378
  Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services2,323,1742,202,756
    Totals, development of primary and secondary industries13,203,52213,617,121
Social services—  
  Subsidies to Hospital Boards10,270,07910,726,676
  War and other pensions7,241,6738,013,050
  Payment to Social Security Fund14,000,00014,000,000
    Totals, social services57,304,18660,821,665
    Totals, annual appropriations147,383,282138,574,060
Unauthorized expenditure31,61859,479
Transfer to Public Works Account..2,000,000
Transfer to Defence Fund3,500,0001,000,000
Transfer to National Development Loans Account..3,500,000
    Totals, payments180,516,315184,376,325
Surplus from current year's operations1,802,9806,839,916
Balance in Fund at end of year8,943,68213,980,618

The surplus for the year 1952–53 of £3,307,043 was expended during the year 1953–54 by transfer to the Public Works Account. The corresponding surplus for the year 1953–54 of £1,802,980 was expended during the year 1954–55 by transfer to the Public Works Account.

Taxation (pp. 722–723).—Particulars of revenue from taxation for the financial years 1952–53, 1953–54, and 1954–55 are contained in the following table.

Item of Revenue1952–531953–541954–55

* Now included under National Roads Fund taxation.

Consolidated Fund—£££
  Beer duty5,466,7015,833,8716,208,359
  Sales tax21,991,70321,133,74022,621,119
  Film-hire tax135,348131,190135,959
  Stamp duties5,702,5266,327,0426,905,585
  Death (including gift) duties8,767,8578,682,3769,385,145
  Land tax1,315,1361,615,372966,632
  Income tax78,701,37680,799,71988,316,880
Social security taxation—   
  Social security charge45,507,93849,717,37656,175,151
National Roads Fund taxation—   
  Highways revenue (less rebates)..889,40616,082,403
    Grand totals199,770,283206,802,317234,766,098

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. 742).—The public debt as at 31 March 1955 amounted to £730,683,878, an increase of £24,222,056 as compared with a year earlier. Of the 1955 debt figure, £99,880,283 was held in the United Kingdom, an increase of £9,999,646.


Revenue of the Social Security Fund for the year ended 31 March 1955, together with the 1953–54 figures in parentheses, was as follows: Charge on salaries and wages, £32,423,831 (£28,714,790); charge on company and other income, £23,751,320 (£21,002,586); grant from Consolidated Fund, £14,000,000 (£14,000,000); interest on investments, £35,094 (£15,639); miscellaneous receipts, £103,865 (£105,956); total receipts, £70,314,110 (£63,838,971).

Payments from the Fund in 1954–55, with 1953–54 payments in parentheses, were: Monetary benefits, £52,901,484 (£48,626,205); emergency benefits and special assistance, £565,297 (£468,887); medical, etc., benefits, £12,588,924 (£10,607,046); Christmas bonus, £3,481 (£1,644,925); administration expenses, £1,097,219 (£1,017,140); other payments, £7,231 (£6,111). Total payments from the Fund were therefore £67,163,636 (£62,370,314). The balance in the Fund at the end of March 1955 was £15,578,640.

Particulars of the various social security benefits (monetary and health) and war pensions in force at the end of March 1955, together with total payments during the financial year 1954–55, are shown in the following table.

Class of Benefit or PensionAs at 31 March 1955Payments During Year Ended 31 March 1955
Number in ForceAnnual Value
Social security benefits—   
  Monetary— ££
War pensions—   
    First World War17,0742,988,7773,110,948
    Second World War24,7032,274,2792,341,940
    War veteran's allowance7,6162,584,8702,212,223
    South African War285,0665,051
    Mercantile Marine pensions242,7612,867
    Emergency Reserve Corps91,8881,934
Sundry pensions and annuities42466,24168,869
      Grand totals575,233..73,678,881


Retail Prices (pp. 892–895).—Details of the consumers' price index for the calendar year 1954, and for each of the quarters ended 31 March 1955 and 30 June 1955, are given below.


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

Calendar Year 1954Quarter Ended 31 March 1955Quarter Ended 30 June 1955
  Meat and fish190219791965
  Fruit, vegetables, and eggs146613581502
  Other foods149715331549
    All foods158716011638
  Other housing132214161416
  All housing129313691369
Fuel and lighting148014841497
Clothing and footwear—   
    Clothing and footwear137814021409
  Household durable goods116011381131
  Other commodities114711391140
    All miscellaneous119812021200
    All groups139514181432

Share Prices (pp. 904–907).—Index numbers of share prices in 1954, together with the average for the year ended March 1955, are given below.

GroupIndex Numbers Base Average for Each Group, 1938 (= 1000)
Average for 1954Average for Year Ended March 1955
Frozen meat22272323
Miscellaneous (including breweries)13191339
    All industrial groups13581389
Loan and agency26822850
    All finance, etc., groups20492102
    All groups combined17031745

Monthly statistics for the first five months of 1955 are given below, together with figures for the corresponding months of 1954.


Industrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll GroupsIndustrial GroupsFinance GroupsAll Groups


Wage-rates (pp. 912–915).—Index numbers of average nominal wage-rates of wage-earners in 1953 and 1954 are as follows.

Industrial GroupBase: All Groups 1926–30 (= 1000)
Adult MalesAdult Females
Average for YearAverage for Year
Provision of—    
  Food, drink, etc.2416259323672531
  Clothing, footwear, and textiles2311247125812765
  Building and construction22272385....
  Power, heat, and light22982472....
  Transport by water25132767....
  Transport by land22382410....
  Accommodation, meals, and personal service2161234427833022
Working in or on—    
  Wood, wicker, seagrass, and fibre23332506....
  Stone, clay, glass, and chemicals21782344....
  Paper, printing, etc.2459264723882953
  Skins, leather, etc.21332293....
  Mines and quarries22852483....
  The land (farming pursuits)21502299....
    All groups combined2284245926112826

Effective Weekly Wage Rates (p. 916).—The following table shows nominal and effective weekly wage rates of adult workers for the years 1953 and 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

Revision of Nominal Wage Rate Index Numbers.—The 1954–55 revision of the wage rate index numbers has resulted in adjustments being made to the weights for occupations, occupational groups, and industrial groups. It has been found necessary to introduce some new occupations and occupational groups, but the framework of the existing industrial groups has been maintained. A full account of the revision is included as an appendix to the “Report on Prices, Wages, and Labour Statistics” for 1954. The base of the new index has been taken as the calendar year 1954 and the linking of the old series has been made through 1954 also. The all-groups index numbers of average weekly wage rates of adult wage-earners for the calender year 1954 and for adult males as at 31 March 1955 are as follows. The linked series for 1950 to 1953 are also included.


Base: All Groups 1954 (= 1000)

As at 31 March 19551032..

The following table shows a comparison of nominal and effective weekly wage rates of adult male and female workers in each of the years 1950–54 and for adult males for the first quarter of 1955. The base of the index numbers is in each case the calendar year 1954 (= 1000).

YearRetail Prices (All Groups)Nominal Weekly Wage RatesEffective Weekly Wage Rates
  March quarter10161032..1016..

Average Rates of Wages (pp. 918–921).—The following table gives the prescribed minimum average weekly wage rates as at 31 March 1955, the series being confined to adult males.

OccupationAverage Wage (Four Principal Districts) at 31 March 1955

NOTE.—The following perquisites (as assessed for statistical purposes), as at 31 March 1955, 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 shopmen2478
  Second shopmen2306
Butter-factory employees—Churning and butter making: General hands2511
  Assistant smuttermen2143
Meat freezing—  
  Slaughtermen, per 100 sheep1055
  General hands2392
Meat preserving—s.d.
  General hands2392
Sausage-casing making: General Hands2469
Aerated water and cordial making—  
  Cordial makers20611
  Bottle washers1972
  Brewing: Labourers2204
  Factory hands2260
  Boot operatives2260
Woollen mills—  
  General hands2053
  Carpenters and joiners2337
  Plumbers (competent)2430
  Builders' labourers2140
  General labourers19310
  Engine drivers2404
  Yardmen, head2404
  General hands2202
  Boatbuilding: Shipwrights2393
Metal works, etc.—  
  Boilermakers, journeymen2309
  Iron and brass moulders2356
  Tinsmiths, journeymen2370
  Engineering fitters, etc.23710
  Electrical workers2387
  Motor mechanics2438
  Linotype operators (day)2469
  Letterpress machinists (day)2374
  Skin and leather workers—  
  General hands19510
  Mineral and stone workers—  
  General hands2020
Mining (coal)—  
  Screen worker22711
  Miners (on day wages, per shift)479
  Quarry men2005
Agricultural and pastoral workers—  
  General farm hands1560
  Threshing-mill hands, per hour54*
  Shearers (per 100 sheep shorn)726
  Wool pressers2622
  Dairy-farm hands1900
  Engine drivers, average third and sixth years2618
  Firemen, average second and ninth years2339
  Guards, average first and third years2505
  Shipping and cargo working—  
  Assistant stewards, first grade2181
  Assistant stewards, second grade2149
  Chief cooks2674
  Second cooks2416
  Able seamen2342
  Ordinary seamen, first class1813
  Waterside workers: Ordinary  
Hotel workers—  
  Soft-goods assistants (male)2209
  Grocers' assistants2161
  Warehouse storemen21011

Aggregate Weekly Wage Payment in Industry (pp. 922–924).—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.

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
1950 October457,0284,016,4858159
1951 April463,8884,526,7279152
1951 October465,7284,729,1591031
1952 April475,9754,945,72410710
0952 October474,3165,050,68910130
1953 April487,9135,401,4991115
1953 October487,2665,409,8591120*
1954 April502,4426,089,62412 5
1954 October502,4476,206,0361270
1955 April516,5736,590,48712152

Estimated Distribution of the Labour Force (p. 981).—The following table supplies an estimated distribution of the total labour force at 15 October 1954 and 15 April 1955.

Industrial GroupMalesFemalesTotals
October 1954April 1955October 1954April 1955October 1954April 1955
Primary industry138.5137.512.212.8150.7150.3
Manufacturing industry145.8152.446.546.4192.3198.8
Power, water, and sanitary services10.91100.70.811.611.8
Building and construction65.967.91.21.367.169.2
Transport and communication67.969.08.38.576.277.5
Distribution and finance86.988.640.742.2127.6130.8
Domestic and personal services19.
Administration and professional54.755.050.251.6104.9106.6
    Totals, in industry589.7600.6185.9190.1775.6790.7
Armed forces9.
    Totals, labour force599.4610.3186.6190.9786.0801.2

Half-yearly Surveys of Employment (pp. 984–986). Following is a summary of the employment statistics as returned for 15 April 1955.

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 employees10,234134,65510,95547,59050,44865,31811,22341,439371,862
Male working proprietors3048,48955,4651,6308,8102,93649128,130
Female employees22643,0807881,1277,98936,14013,62841,733144,711
Female working proprietors..1,204..3352,8051,8252016,073
Number of establishments60312,3752435,1872,48514,1534,4013,63543,082

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 employees29,39512,27724,58050,78217,621
Male working proprietors1,0499971,7973,764882
Female employees6,57123,5391,4445,1776,349
Female working proprietors468543317488
Number of establishments1,8681,9802,6004,5671,360

Limitations in the coverage of the figures shown above are noted on page 984.

Summary of Vacancies, Placements, and Disengaged Persons.—This table gives additional figures to those presented on page 993.

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


Shipping and Cargo Handled (pp. 334–342).—Statistics of entrances and clearances of vessels in the foreign trade in 1953 and 1954, 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 vessels673751
   Net tonnage2,767,5573,160,132
   Number of vessels676735
   Net tonnage2,804,0203,132,934
Total calls made—  
   Number of vessels1,8412,049
   Net tonnage7,257,7758,332,107
   Number of vessels13,69613,502
   Net tonnage4,451,4654,782,208
   Number of vessels15,53715,551
   Net tonnage11,709,24013,114,315
Tonnage of cargo handled—  
Total manifest tonnage9,271,95110,217,928

Statistics of shipping movement and cargo handled at New Zealand ports in 1953 and 1954 are given below.

Total Shipping MovementTotal Cargo Handled
1953: Net Tonnage1954: Net Tonnage1953: Tons1954: Tons
Other ports5,6876,4382,4042,750

Railway Transport (pp. 346–354).—Summarized statistics of railway transport in the years ended 31 March 1953, 1954, and 1955 follow.

UnitYear Ended 31 March

* Including road motor and other subsidiary services.

Passenger journeys—    
  Railway road motor services(000)24,12022,62719,956
Tonnage of goods carried—    
  TimberTons (000)819772785
  LivestockTons (000)647631647
  Other goodsTons (000)8,5608,2318,904
  TotalsTons (000)10,0269,63510,336
Net ton-miles runMillions1,0631,0341,109
  Railway operation£(000)22,58923,68227,009
  Railway operation£(000)22,75523,62125,542

Road Transport (p. 367).—Statistics of motor vehicles licensed at 31 March 1954 and 1955 are as follows.

ClassAs at 31 March
Contract vehicles2,1642,174
Rental cars1,7061,839
Private-hire cars289257
Service cars723699
Vehicles exempted from payment of licence fees (other than exempted Government-owned vehicles)47,28749,256
Government vehicles14,63214,905
Motor cycles25,75426,244
Power cycles3,9724,114
Dealers' cars2,4432,653
Dealers' motor cycles128147
    Grand totals578,459623,951

FIRE LOSS STATISTICS, 1953 (pp. 845–852)

A classification of insured property losses through fire during the calendar year 1953 is given below. The figures are comparable with those covering the year 1952 shown in Section 34c.

Type of Fire DistrictNumber of Separate FiresGross Amount of Insurance Cover on Risks AffectedGross Amount of Loss Paid on Risks AffectedPercentage of Loss Paid to Amount at Risk
United urban fire districts5,06717,646,888592,3223.36
Urban fire districts6,56016,686,306647,5293.88
Secondary urban fire districts7911,618,514136,6398.44
Remainder of New Zealand (including floating risks)1,8293,984,328273,9006.87

The principal causes of outbreaks during 1953 are set out in the following table.

Causes of FiresNumber of Separate FiresInsurance Cover on Risks AffectedAmount of LossAverage Loss Per Fire
Naked lights169325,2599,10754
Defective chimneys, etc.6571,502,89934,19152
Smoking and careless use of matches2,2105,087,722109,24349
Sparks from fireplaces5,1035,754,76482,27916
Heating, boiling-down343906,28823,06167
Inflammable spirits and materials3475,510,617150,089433
Incendiarism and arson34147,06558,3011,715
Outside causes251583,43621,69186
Other causes5682,5847,330131
Unknown causes1,62510,757,048999,786615

REHABILITATION (pp. 256–264)

The following table gives particulars of rehabilitation-loan authorizations for the years ended 31 March 1954 and 1955, and the totals to 31 March 1955.

Class of LoanNumberAmount
1953–541954–55Total to 31 March 19551953–54*1954–55*Total to 31 March 1955*

* Excludes suspensory loans.

Purchase of farm, etc.68547210,6066,4174,62357,402
  Erection1,2891,54121,9605,5795,48367 284
Tools of trade1031,47210.149

Included in the foregoing total figures are 22,735 supplementary housing loans for £2,928,838. 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 7,936 suspensory loans (5,742 residential and 2,194 farm), amounting to £3,309,458 (£961,165 residential, £2,348,293 farm), made up to 31 March 1955.

EDUCATION (p. 152)

The following table shows the number of scholars and students receiving instruction in the educational institutions of New Zealand during the years 1953 and 1954. Registered private schools are included.


* Exclusive of students taking part-time courses with the Correspondence School, 1,179 in 1953, and 2,085 in 1954.

† Includes 636 students taking short courses at the agricultural colleges in 1953 and 707 in 1954.

Primary schools359,537374,657
Post-primary schools67,478*75,247*
Technical classes (part-time)30,63735,152
Teachers' training college2,7692,834


Radio Licences (p. 401).—The number of radio licences for receiving stations in force on 31 March 1955 was 508,943, and for all classes of radio licences 513,715, compared with 501,756 and 506,323 respectively at 31 March 1954.

Horse Racing (p. 737).—The number of racing days in the calendar year 1954 was 362. Totalizator investments totalled £43,616,000 in 1954 (£38,611,000 in 1953), while Government taxation totalled £4,034,000 in 1954 (£3,563,000 in 1953).

Land Transfers (pp. 407–410).—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 1954–55 was £1,889, as compared with £1,739 in 1953–54 and £1,665 in 1952–53.

Year Ended 31 March
Town and suburban properties—   
  Consideration    £65,461,00075,503,00088,761,000
Country properties—   
  Area    Acres1,616,7811,675,6172,123,500
  Consideration    £35,241,00038,915,00047,964,000
All properties—   
  Consideration    £100,702,000114,419,000136,725,000

Mortgages (pp. 809–819).—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 1954–55 figure of £85,258,000 showed an increase on the total of £70,910,000 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. 230–235): 1953, 1,115, or 5.44 per 10,000 of population; 1954, 1,223, or 5.83 per 10,000 of population.

Registration of Aliens (pp. 41–42).—The number of aliens on the register at 1 April 1955 totalled 24,066 (15,770 males, 8,296 females), compared with 1 April 1954 figures of 23,148 (15,304 males, 7,844 females).

Naturalizations (p. 40).—The number of certificates of naturalization issued to former aliens during the year ended 31 March 1955 was 220, compared with a total of 136 in the previous year. Certificates of registration as a New Zealand citizen were granted to 364 citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or of former aliens (250 in 1953–54), and 115 certificates of registration (65 in 1953–54) to minor children (either citizens of other countries of the Commonwealth or former aliens).

LIFE ASSURANCE BUSINESS 1954 (pp. 834–841)

During 1954 further striking progress was made in life assurance business, the number of new policies issued (116,866) exceeding those for the previous year by 9,112. The total value of the new assurances amounted to £88,083,000, compared with £73,137,000 during 1953. The average amount per policy issued in 1954 was £997 for ordinary life assurance and £135 for the industrial type.

Policies in force at 31 December 1954 numbered 1,429,756 (882,018 ordinary and 547,738 industrial). The comparative figure for twelve months earlier was 1,383,709 (827,321 and 556,388). The average face value per policy in force at the end of 1954 was £625 for ordinary and £74 for industrial.

Premium revenue during 1954 totalled £19,053,000, an increase of £1,824,000 over the previous year.

LIVESTOCK ON FARMS (pp. 489–508)

Livestock figures as at 31 January 1955 on farm holdings of one acre and over outside borough boundaries were as follows, the previous year's figures being also given.

 31 Jan. 195431 Jan. 1955
Dairy cattle3,110,4243,079,053
Beef cattle2,634,4542,807,724
Total cattle5,744,8785,886,777
Sheep shorn (season 1953–54)35,542,83637,361,303
Lambs shorn (season 1953–54)8,355,9478,115,998
Lambs tailed (season 1953–54)23,594,80524,239,189


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, are situated the Kermadec Islands. These islands lie between the 29th and 32nd degrees of south latitude and the 177th and 180th degrees of west longitude.

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

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

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

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

New Zealand:—

(a) Exclusive of Island Territories—Area in Square Miles
  North Island44,281
  South Island58,093
  Stewart Island670
  Chatham Islands372
  Minor islands— 
    Kermadec Islands13
    Campbell Island44
   Uninhabited (areas in parentheses)—263
    Three Kings (3). Snares (1). 
    Solander (½). Antipodes (24). 
    Bounty (½). Auckland (234). 
    Total New Zealand, exclusive of Island Territories103,736
(b) Island Territories— 
  Tokelau Islands, comprised 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′ S. lat.; on the south, 47° 10′ S. lat.; on the east, 179° 0′ E. long.; on the west, 166° 5′ E. long. These limits excluded small portions of the extreme north of the North Island, and of the extreme south of Stewart Island.

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

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

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

By Imperial Order in Council of 30 July 1923 the coasts of the Ross Sea (in the Antarctic regions), with the adjacent islands and territories between the limits specified earlier, were declared a British settlement within the meaning of the British Settlements Act 1887. This region was named the Ross Dependency, and placed under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand. The dependency is 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, etc. In this manner efficient ports, capable of accommodating overseas vessels, have been formed in Lyttelton, Otago, and Bluff harbours. On the west coast of both Islands the strong ocean drifts and high seas cause shoaling at river mouths and harbour entrances, while on the east coast of the South Island similar circumstances prevail, due to the large quantities of shingle brought down by the rivers being spread along the coast by ocean currents. The mountainous nature of the country makes the haulage of goods to and from the better equipped natural harbours both costly and difficult, and the construction and maintenance of further ports at various points along the coasts of both Islands has been necessary, either by dredging river mouths or by harbour-construction work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
Te Anau3361321,32012,660694906

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 1835–1954, 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 1954 were as follows.

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

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

1925768719421989 +9
19307488719472338+7 +
1931432101019481278 +8
193231398 +1949916–76
193423098 +195122687–8

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

Summary of Earthquake Activity in New Zealand During the Year 1954.—Seismic activity was unusually low in 1954, although there was relatively more activity than usual in the South Island.

The maximum felt intensity reported was M.-M. 6. This occurred during swarms of shallow local shocks in the thermal regions from August to October. Detailed reports of these disturbances were furnished by Geophysical and Geological Survey officers in the Rotorua area. The earthquakes were associated with frequent rumblings and explosive sounds.

In January and February several strong earthquakes centred in the vicinity of Auckland Islands were perceptible in the southern parts of New Zealand. The maximum intensity reported was M.-M. 5 at Stewart Island.

A shock on 4 May was felt widely in the southern districts, with maximum intensity M.-M. 5 at Queenstown.

On 20 July a shock was felt extensively in the northern parts of the South Island, with maximum intensity M.-M. 5 at Murchison.

Ninety-four shocks were reported felt during the year. Eighty of these were in the North Island and seventeen in the South Island, while three 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)

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 1848–1954 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 980 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 1950. Current statistics appear monthly in a climatological table included in the New Zealand Gazette.

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


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

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

† Normals relate to present site.

 Ft.In. Hrs.      
Te Paki, Te Hapua20056.711692,16972.859.265.957.045.952.0
Hamilton East13145.951612,05674.655.965.551.737.144.7
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana2,10076.90183..68.147.658.042.037.745.0
New Plymouth16061.161862,21169.154.862.255.242.949.3
“Hiwi”, Taihape2,15736.93179..
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North11039.051701,83970.553.162.254.339.146.9
Waingawa, Masterton34038.011422,09174.353.363.750.535.843.4
Kelburn, Wellington41547.471662,04567.651.259.854.441.548.3
Lake Coleridge1,19531.54114..
Milford Sound20253.50194..64.448.357.
Musselburgh, Dunedin529.741611,71565.249.359.

Brief Review of 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.

Brief Review of 1954.Year.—Over the districts of Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury (except North Canterbury), and Otago rainfall was mainly 15 to 25 per cent below normal. Over the remainder of the country it was about normal, except in northern Hawke's Bay and the Gisborne district, where there was a surplus of 15 to 30 per cent.

Temperatures were well above normal over the whole country, mainly by about a degree. The departure reached 1½° in the National Park - Wanganui area and in Central Otago and western Southland.

It was a cloudy year for the North Island, with sunshine deficiencies mainly exceeding 100 hours. The South Island fared better, sunshine being mainly close to normal. The Ashburton-Christchurch area was specially favoured, with a surplus of over 100 hours. In parts of South Canterbury, however, sunshine was more than 100 hours below normal.

Seasonal Notes.—The first two months of the year were both warm and dry, February being, in fact, the hottest month since February 1938. The combined effect of two to four months of dry weather and unusually high temperatures caused a serious shortage of green feed in most North Island districts. Although the warm weather continued into March, the dry spell was broken by considerable rain, especially in the North Island, and it was a month of good pasture growth. The Auckland district suffered damage from north-easterly gales and flooding from 6–8 March.

In contrast to the three previous months, April was appreciably cooler than usual. However, May and June were both mild months; in fact, in the South Island it was the warmest June for at least forty-five years. For a large part of the country these two months were also somewhat drier than usual, and the combination proved beneficial to pasture growth. There was serious flooding in parts of the Auckland district as a result of four days of continuous rain from 17 May, the Hauraki Plains suffering most damage. Serious flooding also occurred in the Wairau River, Marlborough, on 16 and 17 June.

The mild weather of autumn and early winter gave place to dull, unsettled, and colder weather early in July, and similar conditions persisted in August. These months were notable for three or four rather extensive falls of snow. In the first, from 8–10 July, low levels as far north as the King Country were affected, some areas receiving their first snowfall for twenty-five years. About a fortnight later there was a rather heavy fall on the central plateau of the North Island. The third extensive fall occurred in the middle of August in Central Otago and the Canterbury high country, and it led to considerable losses of lambs in these districts. On 14 and 15 August strong gales affected many parts of the country, several hundred trees being blown down in the Nelson-Buller-Westland area. On 26 and 27 August heavy rain caused extensive surface flooding in the Manawatu-Rangitikei-Wanganui area.

In marked contrast to July and August, the spring season was very dry; in fact, the total rainfall from September to November was the lowest in over fifty years. The first two months were sunny, but November was cloudy and also exceptionally warm. The dry weather proved beneficial at first, but growth slowed up during October, and dairy production soon declined. Hay crops were everywhere very light. A severe frost in Hawke's Bay on 16 October spoilt a considerable part of the fruit crop. There were several falls of snow on the high country, the last about the middle of November.

December was a dull, wet month in most eastern districts, but comparatively warm and sunny in Westland. Most parts of the country received sufficient rain to restore pastures to good condition.


The observations from which the following summary was compiled for the year 1953 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 1953Extremes*
Maximum and MonthMinimum and MonthAbsolute MaximumAbsolute MinimumTotal Fall (Inches)No. of Rain Days

* Highest and lowest temperatures for duration of records.

Te Paki, Te Hapua66.952.459.777.5 Mar.30.3 July80.227.02,116.653.83176
Auckland66.353.760.080.9 Dec.36.1 July90.431.91,800.954.63182
Tauranga66.048.757.382.1 Dec.28.2 July91.922.52,200.249.19156
Hamilton East64.945.955.480.9 Dec.23.5 July94.414.21,734.953.60179
Rotorua63.545.854.782.8 Dec.26.7 July98.021.31,832.960.37153
Onepoto, Lake Waikaremoana58.345.051.679.8 Nov.26.3 July88.122.2..64.78190
Gisborne66.646.956.789.0 Nov. & Dec.25.9 July95.825.92,176.430.20142
New Plymouth62.250.356.376.0 Feb.32.5 June86.029.11,870059.21182
Napier65.949.157.586.6 Mar.28.4 July96.527.52,188.324.47120
Wanganui63.250.156.683.2 Dec.28.6 July88.028.61,824.741.63175
Plant Research Bureau, Palmerston North63.147.355.282.0 Dec.28.2 July87.021.21,585.846.62194
Waingawa, Masterton63.143.853.583.0 Dec.23.0 July95.419.51,837.552.60188
Kelburn, Wellington59.348.854.175.9 Dec.34.4 Aug.88.028.61,797.858.25166
Nelson Airfield61.944.753.378.8 Dec.24.0 July92.022.42,261.442.71144
Blenheim63.844.654.286.8 Dec.26.1 July94.616.12,317.135.38130
Hanmer60.238.949.685.0 Feb.17.2 July97.08.21,794.456.46162
Hokitika59.344.451.877.0 Jan.27.4 July84.525.01,790.3118.94209
Lake Coleridge59.740.750.287.0 Feb.22.6 June92.010.0..34.22132
Christchurch61.543.852.688.2 Mar.24.8 July95.719.31,864.329.23133
Timaru61.042.551.786.6 Nov.26.2 June99.019.81,810.926.25120
Milford Sound57.842.650.272.8 Feb.27.2 July79.823.1..227.63180
Alexandra61.539.750.688.1 Feb.19.0 June94.411.02,072.311.2194
Musselburgh, Dunedin58.544.151.385.2 Nov.27.8 June94.023.01,651.228.56171
Invercargill58. Feb.24.0 June90.019.01,601.636.79172

For 1953 the mean sea-level pressure values in millibars at 0900 hrs. New Zealand Standard Time were: Auckland, 1015.8; Wellington, 1013.5; Nelson, 1013.8; Hokitika, 1013.9; Christchurch, 1011.9; and Dunedin, 1011.2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The European discovery of many of the islands of the Cook group was made by Captain Cook in 1773. Rarotonga and Mauke were not officially discovered for another fifty years, although there were records of earlier visits by the Bounty under the control of the mutineers in 1778 and later, in 1814, by the Cumberland. Niue Island was discovered by Cook in 1774. The first recorded discovery of the Tokelau Islands was made by Quiros in 1606. Of the remaining islands of the group, Atafu was discovered in 1765, Nukunono in 1791, and Fakaofa in the 1840's.

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

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

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

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

It was hoped that, by producing a proper balance of capitalists and artisans, self-contained communities could be successfully established. However, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the land-purchases, considerable difficulty was experienced in these initial settlements, and friction grew up not only between the settlers and the Maoris, but also between the Governor and the settlers. Before his death in 1843 Governor Hobson had transferred his capital from Russell to Auckland, but this transfer was of little assistance to the colonists, who had extended their settlements to Wanganui, New Plymouth, and Nelson. In 1865 the seat of government was removed to Wellington.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The general climate of opinion and gradual maturity of outlook furnish the background in which certain distinctive trends appear in legislation passed from 1936 to 1955.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the gradual development of the country's economy, the acquisition of political and administrative experience, and the increasing desire for self-reliance in political matters, the stage was set for more complete self-government. Accordingly the country ceased to be a colony and was raised to the status of a Dominion, this change taking place from 26 September 1907.

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

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

CONSTITUTION OF NEW ZEALAND: General.—New Zealand is a monarchical state; it is also a constituent member of the Commonwealth. It is in this context that the preamble to the Royal Titles Act 1953 is significant … whereas it is expedient that the style and titles at present appertaining to the Crown should be altered so as to reflect more clearly the existing relationships of the Members of the Commonwealth to one another and their recognition of the Crown as the Symbol of their free association and of the Sovereign as the Head of the Commonwealth …

Constitutional elements besides that of the titular head, the Monarch, can be reviewed under the categories of legislative authority, the executive and administrative structure, and the judiciary. This division is a convenient one, even though there is no absolute line of demarcation between the three phases (e.g., legislation may and often does arise through the day to day experience of those responsible for administration and execution of policy, or through difficulties or anomalies made explicit in the course of dispensing justice or interpreting law). Conversely, in the exercise of the powers and functions of industrial and other tribunals, commissions, authorities, etc., both administrative and judicial elements may be discerned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting of Parliament.—A meeting of Parliament is summoned, and at the expiry of the life of Parliament is dissolved, by proclamation issued by the Governor-General. A session is that period between the meeting of Parliament (whether after a dissolution and subsequent general elections or prorogation) and the date on which it is prorogued. Prorogation implies the termination of all affairs on hand until such time as Parliament is summoned (e.g., bills not passed would have to be re-introduced); an adjournment, on the other hand, does not affect any matters which have not been completed. The length of a session varies, but is usually from autumn to late November or early December.

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

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

Parliamentary Procedure.—The House of Representatives has its Standing Orders, but the main means by which Parliament does its work is through the system of debate and Committees. The Speaker's prime function is to control debates, having power to set limits on members' times, and his rulings and points of order are followed.

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

Financial control is exercised by the fact that expenditure of public money must be authorized by the House of Representatives in the form of an Appropriation Act, which authorizes or grants money to the Government for the purposes approved. The authority for the raising of revenue by taxation or borrowing must also be given by Parliament. The functions of Parliament are of course the passing of legislation and taking action to make available finances or funds as required for State expenditure, while it also controls the Government. Legislation can be initiated from any member of Parliament, but in practice almost all Bills are introduced by the Government in power as a result of policy decisions taken in Cabinet, sometimes at the instigation of those Government Departments which will be responsible for their administration when the Bills become law. The chief exceptions are private Bills, which relate usually to some matter of individual interest or individual, and local Bills which relate largely to matters of local (as distinct from central) government business. The process of passing a public Bill is as follows: it receives a formal first reading on introduction, is then printed, and after some time may be given a second reading as a result of a debate on its general merits or principles. It is then referred either to one of the Standing Committees, or it may be the whole House sitting in Committee, and during this stage members may suggest appropriate amendments which can be incorporated in the Bill if the majority so decide. After this stage the Bill is reported to the House and a further debate takes place. Finally, it is submitted for a third reading, and if passed it is sent to the Governor-General for assent. The Bills providing for receipt of moneys, such as the Finance Bill, and expenditure of moneys, such as the Appropriation Bill, are initiated only by a Minister of the Crown, normally the Minister of Finance.

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

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 Island.

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, etc.—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. Since the general election of November 1954, no appointments or reappointments have been made.

The Civil List Act 1950 provided that, on a recommendation of a Royal Commission, the salaries and allowances of Ministers and Members of Parliament may be fixed by Order in Council, in which event the salaries and allowances so fixed will be payable instead of those specified in the Civil List Act 1950. In conformity with the recommendations of the Royal Commission issued in 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 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, etc.

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.

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

In the legal sense those members of Parliament who have been appointed Ministers, together with the Governor-General, comprise the Executive Council; for purposes of prior and informal discussion on executive or administrative action, deliberation on proposed policy, they, with the exclusion of the Governor-General, become what is known as Cabinet.

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

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

At present (January 1955) the Executive Council consists of sixteen members in addition to the Governor-General. Two members, exclusive of His Excellency or the presiding member, constitute a quorum.

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

Cabinet.—There is a very close relationship between the Cabinet, in itself not a legal entity, and the Executive Council, a statutory body. Cabinet, as stated previously, consists of the Ministers of Crown but does not include the Governor-General, being virtually the same body. Where certain Cabinet decisions have to bear the imprint of legal form to become effective, it is the Executive Council which, in the shape of Orders in Council or regulations, confirms these decisions. The preliminary review of proposed policy or of current administrative developments which take place in the informal discussion atmosphere of Cabinet meetings implies both deliberate or selective and administrative procedures on the part of this body. Consequently, as a result of the device of Cabinet, a general consensus of agreement can exist on any proposed line of action by either an individual Minister, or by the Government as a whole, which enables (a) the Executive Council confirmation to proceed smoothly and expeditiously, (b) the Minister in introducing legislation into the House of Representatives or on other occasions to be confident that his measure will have the unqualified support of the Government no matter what divergences of opinion may have individually been apparent before the general agreement in Cabinet was made, (c) a consistent and agreed upon course of action or attitude can be followed on any particular issue. Thus the concept of collective responsibility of the Government is introduced and exemplified in the workings of Cabinet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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, etc., camps:

  7. Patients in public hospitals.

Provision exists for an allowance by way of addition or subtraction of ½ 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.

Legislative provisions exist enabling persons to vote as absent voters (those away from electorates on polling day) and postal voters (those ill or infirm), and for voting on declaration (those persons qualified to be enrolled as electors but whose names are not on the rolls due to becoming qualified after the date of the issue of the writ), etc.

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.

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 Nine Island, 19,632; Tokelau Islands, 1,580; Trust Territory of Western Samoa, 84,909. The total census population of New Zealand and Island Territories was 2,045,593. 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, 10 (males); and Campbell Island, 5 (males).

New Zealand—    
(a) Exclusive of Island Territories—    
  Europeans30 September 1954990,926982,1161,973,042
  Maoris30 September 195466,24363,295129,538
  Totals, New Zealand (excluding Island territories)30 September 19541,057,1691,045,4112,102,580
(b) Island Territories—    
  Tokelau Islands30 June 19548469401,786
  Cook Islands31 March 19548,1587,49915,657
  Niue Island30 September 19542,3152,4484,763
  Totals, New Zealand (including Island territories)..1,068,4881,056,298*2,124,786
Trust Territory of Western Samoa30 June 195447,62445,19392,817

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*1,702,298128,4888.160.83
September 19451,747,679173,86911.051.11
April 1951*1,939,472237,17413.932.37
April 19511,941,366193,68711.081.91

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

* 1.77 for a full year.

1954 (9 months)27,5051.33*

The increase in the rate of population growth, after an upward movement from 1950 to 1952 (the highest gain in the history of New Zealand), showed a downward trend in 1953 which has continued in the first nine months of 1954 to an even more marked degree.

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 Mow unity a falling population.

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

YearGross RateNet Rate

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

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

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

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

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


YearEstimated Population

Population Projections by Age-Groups.—Population projections are used for many purposes, but the practical uses generally have one objective in common—planning for the future. It is therefore necessary that careful studies of trends in fertility, mortality, longevity, immigration, etc., should be made in order that population projections can be made on the bases of reasonable assumptions. However, such estimates must not be construed as predictions of what the population will be at any given future time, they merely show the effect on the existing population of the stated assumptions, without implying that these assumptions will necessarily be fulfilled. If any one wishes to predict the future population of New Zealand, the figures given and the validity of the assumptions made should be examined.

Before commencing the current projections careful investigation was made of the basic data used. Sources of population increase in New Zealand are excess of births over deaths (natural increase) and excess of arrivals over departures. Briefly stated, the basic material used was as follows:

  1. The existing population, by quinquennial age groups at the end of December 1952, was taken as the starting point.

  2. Chances of surviving were taken from the New Zealand Life Tables, 1950–52, for non-Maori and Maori lives and were applied to births and the net inflow from migration as well as the existing population.

  3. Expected births have been calculated with reference to the average number of women of child-bearing age, using an average annual birth rate for each quinquennial age group of mothers based on the period 1949–52. In the case of Maoris it was necessary to assume that ages of mothers would be more or less the same as in the non-Maori population, as Maori birth registrations have not included provision for age of mothers to be stated.

  4. Age and sex distribution of the net inflow from migration was assumed to be the same as for the period 1934–53. It has not been necessary to include any figures for migration in the Maori estimates.


(a) Assuming No Net Inflow from Migration

 1957 1962
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15352,550336,500689,0500 and under 15376,700358,500735,200
15 and under 65650,700640,4501,291,15015 and under 65701,050687,0001,388,050
65 and over90,060106,420196,48065 and over90,410112,360202,770
    Totals1,093,3101,083,3702,176,680    Totals1,168,1601,157,8602,326,020

 1967 1972
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15395,100375,150770,2500 and under 15430,800408,850839,650
15 and under 65760,750745,5001,506,25015 and under 65816,750800,6001,617,350
65 and over95,860118,810214,67065 and over104,810127,270232,080
    Totals1,251,7101,239,4602,491,170    Totals1,352,3601,336,7202,689,080

(b) Assuming 5,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Migration

 1957 1962
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15355,950339,500695,4500 and under 15384,250365,450749,700
15 “ 65662,800647,9001,310,70015 and under 65726,100702,4001,428,500
65 and over90,260106,870197,13065 and over90,860113,260204,120
    Totals1,109,0101,094,2702,203,280    Totals1,201,2101,181,1102,382,320
 1967 1972
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15407,400386,500793,9000 and under 15447,850424,750872,600
15 and under 65799,100769,5001,568,60015 and under 65869,200833,9001,703,100
65 and over96,560120,260216,82065 and over106,060129,420235,480

(c) Assuming 10,000 Per Annum Net Inflow from Migration

 1957 1962
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15359,400342,500701,9000 and under 15391,850372,350764,200
15 and under 65674,950655,3001,330,25015 and under 65751,100717,7501,468,850
65 and over90,460107,370197,83065 and over91,210114,260205,470
    Totals1,124,8101,105,1702,229,980    Totals1,234,1601,204,3602,438,520
 1967 1972
 MalesFemalesTotal MalesFemalesTotal
0 and under 15419,650397,950817,6000 and under 15464,900440,700905,600
15 and under 65837,500793,3501,630,85015 and under 65921,600867,1001,788,700
65 and over97,310121,760219,07065 and over107,360131,620238,980
    Totals1,354,4601,313,0602,667,520    Totals1,493,8601,439,4202,933,280

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 Africa1946–512.18
India 1941–511.26
United States of America1940–501.36

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

The next highest rate of increase is that shown for New Zealand, 2.37 per cent. This however would be reduced to 1.91 per cent if members of the Armed Forces absent overseas in 1945 and 1951 were added to the totals at census dates and not regarded as population gains in the intercensal period.

The Commonwealth countries, Union of South Africa (2.18 per cent), Canada (1.72 per cent), and Ceylon (1.51 per cent), show the next highest rates of increase. On the other hand, European countries show the lowest rates of increase—France and Hungary actually show decreases—with the United Kingdom countries recording very low figures.

SEX PROPORTIONS.—Latest available figures (September 1954) show that males outnumber females by 8,810 in the European population, 2,948 in the Maori population, and 11,758 in the total population. Females per 1,000 males were: European, 991; Maori, 955; 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—

19269571945 (including Armed Forces abroad)991
194510441951 (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
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
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, 117,648 persons from overseas arrived in New Zealand during the year ended 31 March 1954, which, compared with 1952–53, shows a decrease of 3,823. During the same period 102,601 persons departed. This figure, compared with the corresponding one for 1952–53, shows an increase of 1,464.

In addition to the figures just quoted there were also 7,448 “through" passengers who called at a port of New Zealand en route to their destination.

The excess of total arrivals over total departures for 1953–54 was 15,047, compared with a similar excess of 20,334 during 1952–53.

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

Year Ended 31 MarchArrivalsDeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures

The number of arrivals in 1952–53 was the highest in the history of New Zealand migration statistics. However in 1953–54 arrivals showed a substantial drop of 4,395. The number of departures, after showing a decrease for two successive years, showed in 1953–54 an increase of 2,196. These two factors, in conjunction, were responsible for the large decrease of 6,591 in the figure for excess arrivals over departures.

In the nine-year period ending 31 March 1954 the net gain from passenger migration was 83,857, while if movement of crews is taken into account this is increased to 86,596.

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 residence17,70118,23424,92229,00524,896
New Zealand residents returning18,46319,97620,42618,57017,443
  On business1,9362,4062,8462,5022,834
  Theatrical, entertaining, etc.1,117634582785686
  Educational purposes97111133199128
  Others, officials, etc.3134696131,0351,198
  In transit485631651835802
Through passengers2,4892,9232,7445,6457,448

The succeeding table gives a similar analysis of departures.

New Zealand residents departing—     
Temporary residents departing16,00817,96318,44419,62221,079
Through passengers2,4892,9232,7445,6457,448

Ages.—The following table gives the age-distribution of immigrants and emigrants for the twelve months ended 31 March 1954.

Age, in YearsPermanent ArrivalsPermanent DeparturesExcess of Arrivals Over Departures
60 and over4158291,244192317509735

Of the permanent arrivals during the year 1953–54, 19 per cent were under fifteen years of age, 42 per cent under twenty-five years, 72 per cent under thirty-five years, and 86 per cent under forty-five years. Permanent departures represented a similar age distribution with percentages of 17, 26, 69, and 82 respectively.

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

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

Country of BirthImmigrants Intending Permanent ResidenceNew Zealand Residents Departing Permanently
Commonwealth Countries      
England and Wales8,51011,41610,7251,3791,3251,677
Northern Ireland227490507814361
United Kingdom (undefined)16022124017835
Republic of India3593473701068778
Cook Islands and Niue245345314303129
New Zealand3,4393,8663,6224,0873,3423,359
Other Commonwealth countries in the Pacific268250218555361
Other countries within the Commonwealth3153523876356101
      Totals, Commonwealth countries16,65821,61321,2136,9595,8726,537
Other Countries      
Republic of Ireland305597601505771
Russia (U.S.S.R.)2352032111214
Rumania69419174 5
United States of America230170248117132133
      Totals, other countries8,2547,3713,663336399506
At sea121......
Not specified919195..5
      Grand totals24,92229,00524,8967,3006,2717,048

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  3. The acceptance, after negotiation and conclusion of agreements with the countries concerned, of a number of single non-British men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years. 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, 2,108 males and 601 females in 1952–53, and 495 males and 193 females in 1953–54.

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 MarchNumber

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Persons not of British birth and parentage, unless in possession of permits issued by the Department of Labour. (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 Secretary of Labour, Wellington. The application must be made in the prescribed form and must be supported by documents duly attested in the country of origin, in which country the applicant must have resided for at least twelve months prior to the date of application. Each application is considered individually on its own merits.

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

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

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

Declaration by Persons Arriving in New Zealand.—Every person of and over the age of fifteen years who lands in New Zealand must, unless exempted by the Minister of Immigration, make and deliver 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 1954 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....753965
Union of South Africa....1....1
Republic of India....1114146
Western Samoa1....1....
Republic of Ireland....6......
Russia (U.S.S.R.)....121..
United States of America2....4....
Other countries3..11..2

Of the certificates of registration granted to adult males, 108 were to British subjects or Irish citizens who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, and 3 to British subjects generally resident outside New Zealand who were registered as New Zealand citizens by virtue of their close associations by way of descent, residence, or otherwise, with New Zealand.

The certificates of registration granted to adult females were 51 to British subjects who acquired New Zealand citizenship by virtue of one year's residence in the country immediately preceding the date of application, 17 to British wives of New Zealand citizens, and 71 to alien women married to New Zealand citizens by birth or naturalization.

Certificates of registration granted to minor children were 62 (35 males, 27 females) to children of New Zealand citizens, by naturalization or registration, and 3 to males 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 1954 was 23,148, comprising 15,304 males and 7,844 females. This is not the complete number in New Zealand, as certain classes are not required to register, including the following: (a) children under sixteen years of age; (b) persons holding diplomatic status, Consuls, or employees of Embassies, Legations, and Consulates who are resident in New Zealand solely for the purpose of performing official duties; (c) certain temporary visitors to New Zealand; (d) Western Samoans, except in special circumstances. Under the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, though not possessing the status of British subject (or, in alternative phraseology, Commonwealth citizen), is nevertheless not classed as an alien and is not required to register.

The following table shows the numbers on the register at 1 April 1953 and 1 April 1954.

Country of Nationality1 April 19531 April 1954
Russia (U.S.S.R.)1288921713087217
United States of America548238786536267803
Other countries652994573188

The number of aliens on the register as at 1 April 1954 shows an increase of 1,422 as compared with twelve months earlier. The only country which contributed a substantial increase in the number of aliens at 1 April 1954, as compared with twelve months earlier, was Netherlands, the increase being 1,326. Other countries showing increases of note were Austria, 66 and Switzerland, 36.

Decreases were shown by several countries, the largest being Yugoslavia, 26.

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. I—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 1954 the North Island population was estimated as 1,428,976, inclusive of 123,070 Maoris; and the South Island population as 658,764, inclusive of 4,314 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 1954
Hawke's Bay4,26098,000
  Otago portion14,050167,100
  Southland portion11,48080,800
New Zealand103,7402,087,740

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

Urban and Rural Population.—On 17 April 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—    
1,000– 2,500104,36088,532102,20186,560
2,500– 5,00086,408123,59685,430114,757
5,000– 10,00082,662107,25182,144115,666
10,000– 25,000186,545251,812185,580236,930
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—    
1,000– 2,5007.454.587.644.76
2,500– 5,0006.176.396.396.31
5,000– 10,0005.905.556.146.36
10,000– 25,00013.3113.0213.8813.03
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 Urban Area increase of 0.84 per cent between 1945–51 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, 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 1954. 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 1954 the five largest urban areas had a total population of 870,700, this being equivalent to 41.71 per cent of the New Zealand total. The total for urban areas at the same date was 1,158,400, or 55.49 per cent of the total population of New Zealand.

Urban AreaPopulation (Including Maoris)
Auckland City134,500
  East Coast Bays Borough7,800
  Birkenhead Borough5,270
  Northcote Borough3,550
  Takapuna Borough17,250
  Devonport Borough12,000
  Henderson Borough2,390
  Glen Eden Borough3,220
  New Lynn Borough7,120
  Mount Albert Borough26,700
  Mount Eden Borough19,450
  Mount Wellington Borough9,490
  Newmarket Borough2,580
  Ellerslie Borough4,060
  One Tree Hill Borough13,000
  Mount Roskill Borough23,300
  Howick Borough2,830
  Onehunga Borough17,750
  Otahuhu Borough8,580
  Papatoetoe Borough9,880
  Manurewa Borough3,780
  Papakura Borough4,190
  Panmure Township Road District750
  Remainder of urban area22,160
Lower Hutt City47,800
  Upper Hutt Borough10,200
  Petone Borough10,600
  Eastbourne Borough2,790
  Remainder of urban area11,510
Wellington City127,700
  Tawa Flat Borough3,350
  Remainder of urban area9,350
Christchurch City141,000
  Riccarton Borough8,480
  Lyttelton Borough3,660
  Heathcote County4,700
  Remainder of urban area28,660
Dunedin City71,900
  Port Chalmers Borough3,130
  West Harbour Borough2,050
  St. Kilda Borough7,440
  Green Island Borough3,960
  Mosgiel Borough3,470
  Remainder of urban area7,350
New Plymouth27,300
Palmerston North36,400

Counties.—The following table gives the estimated population (including Maoris) of individual counties at 1 April 1954, together with the approximate area of each. It should be noted that “Administrative Counties” do not include boroughs or town districts independent of county control, but include town districts which form parts of counties.

Administrative CountyPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Square Miles
North Island—  
  Bay of Islands11,890823
  Great Barrier Island280110
  Hauraki Plains5,390233
  Hawke's Bay17,8001,671
  Waimate West2,87083
  Hawera 191
  Wairarapa South3,110440
South Island—  
  Mount Herbert59066
  Chatham Islands480372
  Stewart Island560670
      Grand totals733,840102,597

During the year ended 1 April 1954 nine counties are estimated to have gained population to the extent of 500 persons or more. However, during the year several large boundary changes between boroughs and surrounding counties must be considered as abnormally affecting increases or decreases of certain counties. For instance, the population of Waimairi County decreased by 8,500 (due to transfer of area to Christchurch City) and that of Waitemata by 8,100 (due to constitution of East Coast Bays Borough). Other decreases of over 1,000 as a result of boundary changes were shown by Heathcote County 2,960, and Waitaki County 1,230.

With the constitution of Kawerau Borough, Whakatane County showed a drop of 500. The rapid expansion of population in this county owing to the paper and pulp project was responsible for the relatively small decrease considering a new borough had been formed from a portion of the county.

Four other counties—namely, Bay of Islands 400, Mackenzie 300, Waimarino 230, and Buller 100—registered decreases.

Of the nine counties showing increases, Makara County headed the list with an increase of 1,290. This was chiefly attributable to the development of the State housing area at Titahi Bay. Matamata County then followed with an increase of 1,200. A major factor in this increase was the development of the forest industry, particularly at Tokoroa, a township built to house the employees of the timber mills at Kinleith, 4½ miles away. Next in order was Hutt County with a population increase of 1,000.

Other counties with increases of over 500 were Rotorua 850, Ohinemuri 820, Manukau 650, Levels 650, Rangitikei 600, and Paparua 590.

The increase in Ohinemuri County was caused by the transfer of the Waihi Beach portion of Waihi Borough to the county, while Levels County increased as a result of Pleasant Point Town District being merged into the county.

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

BoroughPopulation (Including Maoris)Approximate Area, in Acres
North Island—  
  East Coast Bays7,8003,850
  Glen Eden3,2201,244
  New Lynn7,1201,393
  Auckland (City)134,50018,253
  Mount Albert26,7002,430
  Mount Eden19,4501,476
  Mount Wellington9,4903,770
  One Tree Hill13,0002,430
  Mount Roskill23,3004,605
  Hamilton (City)33,3006,145
  Te Awamutu4,3601,162
  Te Kuiti3,5401,668
  Te Aroha2,8002,783
  Mount Maunganui2,8403,475
  Te Puke1,6901,047
  Napier (City)21,8003,007
  Havelock North2,3801,165
  New Plymouth (City)24,0004,132
  Wanganui (City)29,5005,731
  Palmerston N. (City)34,2006,943
  Upper Hutt10,2002,165
  Lower Hutt (City)47,8007,688
  Wellington (City)127,70017,798
  Tawa Flat3,350799
South Island—  
  Nelson (City)18,2505,550
  Christchurch (City)141,00024,737
  Timaru (City)23,1003,524
  Port Chalmers3,130714
  West Harbour2,0502,181
  Dunedin (City)71,9003,536
  St. Kilda7,440462
  Green Island3,960878
  Invercargill (City)28,4006,571
  South Invercargill1,2702,204
        Grand totals1,329,400328,075

During the year 1953–54 it was estimated that Christchurch City, with a gain of 14,400 persons, had the highest numerical increase in population of all cities and boroughs. This large increase was mainly owing to the transfer to the city of nine areas of Waimairi County with a population of 9,000, and five areas of Heathcote County with a population of 3,000. Thus with an estimated population of 141,000 Christchurch becomes the largest city in New Zealand, exceeding Auckland by 6,500.

Auckland City increased by 3,100 for the same period, then followed Takapuna Borough with an increase of 2,500, chiefly owing to the inclusion in the borough of a portion of Waitemata County. Another borough largely affected by boundary changes was Oamaru with an increase of 1,450, the majority of this increase being gained from the transfer of part of Waitaki County to the borough Seven other cities or boroughs each gained 1,000 or more.

A large population decrease of 770 was shown by Waihi Borough, principally owing to the transfer of the Waihi Beach portion of the Borough into Ohinemuri County.

Devonport 150, Petone 150, South Invercargill 60, and Newmarket 50 were the only other boroughs to show decreases of fifty or more.

During 1953–54 several boroughs were newly created or constituted. Most important of these was the constitution of East Coast Bays Borough, with an estimated population of 7,800, from Waitemata County. Although much smaller in size, of similar importance was the constitution of Kawerau Borough with a population of 1,560 from Whakatane County. The development of the pulp and paper project in Whakatane County will centre on this borough, whose future growth will be bound up in the progress of this scheme.

New boroughs created from existing town districts were those of Tawa Flat, Taradale, Taupo, and Otorohanga.

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 Acres

* Parent county shown in parentheses.

(a) Town Districts Not Forming Parts of Counties
North Island—  
South Island—  
      Grand totals16,09018,549
(b) Town Districts Forming Parts of Counties*
North Island—  
  Kohukohu (Hokianga)2301,020
  Rawene (Hokianga)500280
  Russell (Bay of Islands)6401,066
  Onerahi (Whangarei)1,100990
  Mercer (Franklin)3101,000
  Te Kauwhata (Waikato)6901,290
  Ohaupo (Waipa)3101,281
  Kihikihi (Waipa)510523
  Te Karaka (Waikohu)410700
  Patutahi (Cook)2201,275
  Kaponga (Eltham)450558
  Normanby (Hawera)410260
South Island—  
  Havelock (Marlborough)290210
  Southbridge (Ellesmere)390531
  Outram (Taieri)360886
  Edendale (Southland)520696
      Grand totals7,34012,566

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 8,410 people at 1 April 1954.

Of the islands concerned, Waiheke, estimated at 2,020 for 1 April 1954, was the only one with a population of any size.

AGE DISTRIBUTION.—The following table shows the estimated age distribution of the population at 31 December 1953 and of the mean population for the year 1953. The figures are based on the 1951 census data and brought up to date from statistics of births, ages of persons dying, and ages of persons arriving in or departing from New Zealand.

Age, in YearsEstimated Numbers. Excluding MaorisEstimated Numbers. Maoris
Age Distribution at 31 December 1953
Under 5113,196107,999221,19512,19211,45923,651
5 and under 10101,70097,700199,4009,5209,13018,650
10 and under 1580,60077,200157,8008,3607,99016,350
15 and under 2063,80061,900125,7007,0906,98014,000
20 and under 2566,20062,900129,1005,480511,080
25 and under 3074,20068,900143,1004,5204,0009,120
30 and under 3570,90070,400141,3003,6203,6307,250
35 and under 4066,20067,500133,7002,9303,0706,000
40 and under 4566,60065,200131,8002,9502,6705,620
45 and under 5059,90057,400117,3002,2301,8504,080
50 and under 5551,70050,100101,8001,8001,5603,360
55 and under 6040,50044,00084,5001,2609602,220
60 and under 6536,10040,10076,2009907901,780
65 and under 7033,10036,60069,7007206201,340
70 and under 7526,50029,40055,900440390830
75 and under 8016,50018,91035,410240190430
30 and over10,94013,79024,730165220385
      Totals, adults (21 and over)606,840613,3001,220,14026,12524,98051,105
      Totals, minors (under 21)371,796356,699728,49538,38236,65975,041
      Grand totals, all ages978,636969,9991,948,63564,50761,639126,146
Age Distribution of Mean Population, Year 1953
Under 5112,451107,259219,71011,94311,24323,186
5 and under 1098,30094,300192,6009,3208,95018,270
10 and under 1578,90075,900154,8008,3007,95016,250
15 and under 2063,00061,000124,0006,9306,75013,680
20 and under 2566,40063,000129,4005,4305,53010,960
25 and under 3073,50068,600142,1004,4604,5108,970
30 and under 3569,70069,600139,3003,5203,5507,070
35 and under 4066,10067,200133,3002,9503,0706,020
40 and under 4565,90064,300130,2002,9102,6005,510
45 and under 5059,10056,500115,6002,2001,8304,030
50 and under 5550,80049,600100,4001,7701,5103,280
55 and under 6040,00043,50083,5001,2409502,190
60 and under 6536,20040,00076,2009807901,770
65 and under 7033,20036,40069,6007306101,340
70 and under 7526,30029,10055,400435380815
75 and under 8016,14018,36034,500240180420
80 and over10,66013,41024,070160225385
      Totals, adults (21 and over)611,500607,5701,209,07025,82524,57550,400
      Totals, minors (under 21)365,151350,459715,61037,69336,05373,746
      Grand totals, all ages966,651958,0291,924,68063,51860,628124,146

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

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

There are no large areas of good land still to be brought into occupation, and most of the land remaining will require special methods or heavier capital expenditure to bring into use. Ultimately many such areas will be developed, and, in addition, 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 about double that of the European.

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

YearMaori Population.Intercensal IncreaseIntercensal IncreaseAverage Annual Increase

* Includes members of Armed Forces overseas at census date.

  NumberPer CentPer Cent
1951 *115,74015,69615.72.7

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 1953 shown below afford a better illustration.

Birth rate24.1244.54
Death rate8.8410.84
Natural-increase rate15.2833.70

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 (1002 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 practically complete. All subject volumes (listed below) have been published, and the only remaining volume is the General Report.

  • Volume I—Increase and Location of Population.

  • Volume II—Ages and Marital Status.

  • Volume III—Religious Professions, etc.

  • Volume IV—Industries, Occupations, and Incomes.

  • Volume V—Birthplaces and Duration of Residence of Overseas Born.

  • Volume VI—Maori Census.

  • Volume VII—Dwellings and Households.

  • Appendix A—Census of Poultry.

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

  • Interim Returns of Population and Dwellings.

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



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

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

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

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

Birth statistics are compiled from the records of the Registrar-General. The births covered by a year's statistics are those registered during the year irrespective of the year of birth. The figures do not include still-births, except in the tables on pages 60–61. A special classification of still-births is given on pages 67–68.

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

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 59 and to the table on page 57, 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. This record was not maintained, however, and a very small decrease was shown in 1953. The numbers and rates of births (children born alive) for each of the last twenty years are given in the following table.

YearNumberRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

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

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

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

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

* Per 1,000 married women.


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

The “crude" birth rates have fluctuated more so than the refined rates, but the decline in 50 years has not been great, the 1951 figure being equal to a fall of 7 per cent on the 1901 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 15.28 in 1953. 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. A further decrease in the death rate was recorded in 1953, but it was insufficient to counterbalance the decrease in the birth rate, with the result that natural increase for the year was lower than in 1952. 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 higher on the basis of natural increase than it is on that of the birth rate. The rates, which are the average of the five years 1949–53, are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of Population
BirthsNatural Increase
Costa Rica49.237.2
Puerto Rico37.327.7
Union of South Africa25.616.8
New Zealand24.615.4
United States of America24.214.6
Republic of Ireland21.68.9
United Kingdom16.14.3
Germany (Western)16.05.5

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 562 cases of twin births registered in 1953. There were also one case of quadruplets, four cases of triplets, and one case where one of triplets was still-born.

The total number of confinements resulting in living births was 45,840, and on the average one mother in every 81 gave birth to twins (or triplets).

When still-births are taken into account, the total number of confinements for the year 1953 is increased to 46,675, and the number of cases of multiple births to 619. On this basis the proportion of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets is increased to one in 75.

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.

Average of five years5424495955..1..660113.3

The proportion of multiple births has been consistently high during recent years, while the rate of 14.2 experienced in 1944 was a record figure. The number of cases of 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 years1.738.98

During the five years 1949–53 there were 2,712 cases of live twin births (including ex-nuptial), and of these in 889 instances, or 32.8 per cent, both children were males; in 852, or 31.4 per cent, both were females; and in the remaining 971, or 35.8 per cent, the children were of opposite sexes.

The four cases of triplets in 1953 comprised two of three females, one of one male and two females, and one of two males and one female. The one case of quadruplets comprised all females.

AGES OF PARENTS.—Information as to the relative ages of parents of legitimate living children whose births were registered in 1953 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 43 legitimate cases where twins would have been registered had not one child been still-born.

† Including 1 case of quadruplets, 4 cases of triplets, and 1 case where one of triplets was still-born.

Single Births
Under 212881,3368791484210412..2,710
21 and under 25933,0455,4951,546342941492110,641
25 and under 3086676,4415,1431,60140979299314,389
30 and under 351551,0444,0362,9621,034274672949,506
35 and under 40..91005871,9381,37145315855104,681
40 and under 45....8242215093611275171,308
45 and over......261036199..82
Multiple Births
Under 21199..............19
21 and under 25545631631........133
25 and under 30..376571852..1..162
30 and under 35..113674012103....146
35 and under 40....373516921..73
40 and under 45........3812....14
45 and over......................
    Totals65816414799422272 547
      Grand totals3965,17014,13111,6337,2113,4791,2434171592543,864

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 1953 is here summarized.

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

* This number represents 43,317 single cases and 547 multiple cases.

Under 212,0845419311..........2,729
21 and under 255,6663,4011,24936283121....10,774
25 and under 303,7245,0193,5141,52850319766....14,551
30 and under 351,4212,3662,6901,71075337332811..9,652
35 and under 405538231,11494355634337844..4,754
40 and under 451451632342081671192315411,322
45 and over461411119205282

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 1953 registrations, who are also taken into account in the computation of the averages.

Age of Mother, in YearsTotal MothersTotal IssueAverage Issue
Under 212,7293,4891.28
45 and over824825.88

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 1953) 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: 1949,242; 1950, 2.45; 1951, 2.46; and 1952, 2.49. In 1915, the earliest year for which reliable comparative figures are available, the average issue was 3.11. This fall in the average issue of women giving birth to children is some indication of the tendency towards smaller families. The 1943 average, for the first time since these figures were compiled, reversed the trend, and a further increase was recorded in 1944, but with the increase in the proportion of first births in the three following years the average declined. A slight improvement has been noted for each year since 1948, this being accounted for by decreases in the proportion of first births.

OCCUPATIONS OF FATHERS AND AVERAGE NUMBER OF CHILDREN.—The following table shows the average issue, in conjunction with the occupations of fathers who had children born to them during the year 1953. A similar analysis was made for the year 1938 and a summary of the results obtained for the two years are given in comparison below.

Occupation GroupAverage Number of Children*

* Relates to fathers who had children born to them during the years specified.

Fishermen and trappers2.832.93
Agricultural and pastoral occupations2.612.44
Forest occupations2.773.11
Miners and quarrymen2.612.78
Workers in stone, clay, earthenware, lime, and cement2.032.87
Workers in chemical, animal, and vegetable products2.281.88
Workers in non-precious metals, electric fittings, etc.2.082.23
Workers in precious metals, jewellery, scientific instruments, etc.1.852.12
Workers on ships, boats, and conveyances2.072.35
Workers in fibrous materials and textiles, other than clothing or dress2.312.28
Workers in clothing and dress2.012.17
Workers in harness, saddlery, and leatherware2.922.67
Workers in food, drink, and tobacco2.252.77
Workers in wood2.132.51
Workers in paper, printing, and photography1.942.17
Workers in other materials1 .702.29
Workers in building, construction, and maintenance of roads, etc.2.532.57
Workers in production or supply of gas, water, electricity, or power2.522.77
Workers in transport or communication2.362.61
Financial and commercial occupations2.032.42
Persons engaged in public administration1.992.20
Clerical and professional occupations1.942.25
Entertainment, sport, and recreation2.082.64
Personal and domestic occupations2.242.44
Other or ill-defined occupations2.852.66
Persons not actively engaged in gainful occupations4.623.77

The figures of average issue quoted above should not be regarded as a criterion of the average number of children in a New Zealand family, representing, as they do, only the average family to date of those parents who had children born to them during the years specified. Nevertheless, they may serve as an index for a comparison of the relative reproductivity of different occupational groups.

An analysis of the 1953 figures by individual occupations reveals some interesting variations, although the differences are somewhat small. The general average number of issue for all fathers in 1953 was 2.51, but amongst the individual occupations are found the following instances with figures higher than the general average; surfaceman, 3.60; bushman, 3.25; fisherman, 3.03; freezing worker, 3.01; engine-driver, 2.95; coal-miner, 2.71; watersider, 2.70; shopkeeper, 263; and civil servant, 2.63.

Among the low averages, on the other hand, may be found the following: manager-director, 2.49; policeman, 2.39; cabinetmaker, 2.37; solicitor, 2.22; hairdresser, 2.21; teacher, 2.15; fitter, 2.12; printer, 203; and marine engineer, 1.99. These figures, when considered in conjunction with wage-rates and other economic factors, make interesting reading. Apart from the selection of only those occupations represented by 100 cases or over, no allowance has been made for any anomalies such as variations in age-constitution of fathers as between the various occupational groups.

FIRST BIRTHS.—Of a total of 255,694 confinements resulting in legitimate births during the six years 1948–53, the issue of no fewer than 83,647, or 33 per cent, were first-born children. In 34,007, or 41 per cent, of these cases the birth occurred within twelve months, and in 61,372, or 73 per cent, within two years after the marriage of the parents. In the remaining 27 per cent of cases where there was any issue to the marriage two years or more had elapsed before the birth of the first child.

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 years255,69483,64732.7134,00740.6661,37273.37

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 1953 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 year52.9550.0646.2538.4742.02
1 and under 2 years28.6226.6426.7926.3031.43
2 and under 3 years9.0210.4310.2411.2811.83
3 and under 4 years3.435.516.167.885.97
4 and under 5 years1.883.033.967.182.98
5 and under 10 years3.263.365.497.364.86
10 years and over0.840.971.111.530.91

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 1953, 1.76 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 1953.


Age of Mother, in YearsFirst Births, Proportion Per Cent at Each Age Group to Total First Births
Under 206.737.558.907.338.35
20 and under 2535.8938.1640.3941.7948.65
25 and under 3035.0132.5932.7929.5427.39
30 and under 3515.6114.6813.1014.6110.45
35 and under 405.525.333.795.364.07
40 and under 451.161.590.991.341.06
45 and over0.

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 1953, 25.33.

EX-NUPTIAL BIRTHS.—The numbers of ex-nuptial births registered during each of the years 1943–53, 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 1943–45.

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 1,997 ex-nuptial births in 1953 were twenty-one cases of twins, the number of confinements being thus 1,976. From the following table it will be seen that of the 1,976 mothers 587, or 30 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age.


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

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

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

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

YearNumber of Children Legitimated
Previously RegisteredNot Previously RegisteredTotal
1950401 401
1951394 394
1952415 415
1953449 449
      Totals from 1894 to 195312,1753,29415,469

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 1,445 adoptions registered in 1953, 866 were children under the age of one year, 225 were between one and five years, 188 were between five and ten years, and 166 were aged ten years or over. In addition, 240 Maori children (128 males and 112 females) were adopted in 1953.

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 1949–53 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 1953 being 1,185 males per 1,000 females as compared with 1,054 for living births.

The percentage of ex-nuptials among still-born infants was in 1953, 5.19, and among infants born alive, 2.30.

Of the living legitimate births registered in 1953, 31 per cent were first births, while of legitimate still-births 34 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 887 European still-births in 1953, there were 122 Maori still-births registered, comprising 63 males and 59 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 evening. Marriage before a Registrar can be celebrated at any time during the hours the office of the Registrar is open for the transaction of public business.

Notice of intended marriage must be given to a Registrar of Marriages by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, 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 Population

* Inclusive of Maoris.


Both the marriage rate and the number of marriages in 1946 were the highest on record, The main reason for this was the return from overseas of many thousands of men in the most prolific marriage age groups. An appreciable decline, however, in both the number of marriages and in the marriage rate took place in 1947 and 1948 and continued until 1951. Separate figures for European marriages are not available after 1951, but the total of all marriages in 1953 showed a small increase on the 1952 figure.

Comparison with Other Countries.—Marriage rates for certain countries for 1953 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 Population
United States of America9.9
Puerto Rico8.9
New Zealand8.4
United Kingdom7.8
Republic of Ireland5.3

MARITAL STATUS.—The total number of persons married during the year 1953 was 34,448, of whom 30,433 were single, 1,593 widowed, and 2,422 divorced. The figures for the five years 1949 to 1953, 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 1949–53 was 8,331, as compared with 4,907 in the five years 1936–40, an increase of 70 per cent. The large number of divorced people remarrying is therefore not surprising. The number of widowed persons remarrying, which was 39 per 1,000 in 1940, rose to 46 per 1,000 in 1953.

The relative marital status of bridegrooms and brides for each of the five years 1949 to 1953 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 1951–53 the respective numbers were 3,697 males and 3,748 females, and the corresponding rate 99 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 1951–53 there were 2,603 widowers and 2,325 widows who remarried, the number of widowers per 100 widows being 149 in the former period and 112 in the latter period.

AGES OF PERSONS MARRIED.—Of the 34,448 persons married in 1953, 5,318, or 15 per cent, were under twenty-one years of age; 12,719, or 37 per cent, were returned as twenty-one and under twenty-five; 8,471, or 25 per cent, as twenty-five and under thirty; 4,777, or 14 per cent, as thirty and under forty; and 3,163, or 9 per cent, as forty years of age or over. The following table relates to the year 1953.

Age of Bride, in YearsAge of Bridegroom, in YearsTotal Bridegrooms
Under 2121 and Under 2525 and Under 3030 and Under 3535 and Under 4040 and Under 4545 and Over
Under 21666170163......855
21 and under 252,4103,03948951102..6,001
25 and under 301,1472,7071,355295531365,576
30 and under 351805786383531322981,918
35 and under 40451532552371935825966
40 and under 4510507510915710764572
45 and over521671211792007431,336
    Total brides4,4636,7182,8951,16972440984617,224

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

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

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 1949–53 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 1946–53 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 1953, 50 were under twenty-one years of age, while 259 in every 1,000 brides were under twenty-one.

In 666 marriages in 1953 both parties were given as under twenty-one years of age, in 3,797 marriages the bride was returned as a minor and the bridegroom as an adult, and in 190 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 (1953) 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.


MARRIAGES BY MINISTERS OF VARIOUS CHURCHES.—Of the 17,224 marriages registered in 1953, Church of England clergymen officiated at 4,313, Presbyterians at 4,657, Roman Catholics at 2,501, and Methodists at 1,405, while 3,246 marriages were celebrated before Registrars.

The following table shows the proportions of marriages by ministers of the largest churches and before Registrars in each of the years 1947–53.

ChurchPercentage of Marriages

* Inclusive of Maoris.

Church of England26.5326.5525.8025.9525.8325.4025.04
Roman Catholic12.2511.8112.1711.9312.6713.2314.52
Before Registrars18.2018.0318.9918.8419.5519.8418.85

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 per cent Presbyterian, 13.6 per cent 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 1954) 2,765, and the churches to which they belong are shown hereunder.

Roman Catholic Church602
Church of England504
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand460
Methodist Church of New Zealand329
Ratana Church of New Zealand150
Salvation Army147
Seventh Day Adventist51
Ringatu Church46
Associated Churches of Christ35
Latter Day Saints33
Congregational Independent30
Commonwealth Covenant Church26
Assemblies of God21
Jehovah's Witness18
Apostolic Church16
Liberal Catholic Church14
United Maori Mission11
Evangelistic Church of Christ10
Churches of Christ8
Spiritualist Church of New Zealand8
Church of Te Kooti Rikirangi7
Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Conference7
Church of God6
Hebrew Congregations5

The Ratana Church of New Zealand, the Ringatu 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 Stales 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 and the immediate post-war years witnessed a marked increase in divorce. The peak year occurred in 1946, when 2,133 decrees absolute were granted. The following two years, 1947 and 1948, saw a falling off in numbers, that of the latter year being much larger than the former. A small increase was shown in 1949, after which a substantial decrease was recorded in 1950, with a smaller one in 1951. In 1952, however, an increase of 102, or 6.4 per cent, was shown, followed by a decrease in 1953 of 144, or 8.6 per cent. This is the lowest number of decrees absolute recorded since 1943.

It is worth noting that there was one divorce for every ten marriages solemnized in 1952, while the ratio in 1953 was one divorce to every eleven marriages.

The next table gives the grounds (dissolution or nullity cases) of petitions and decrees during 1952 and 1953.

GroundsPetitions FiledDecrees Absolute Granted
Husbands' PetitionsWives' PetitionsHusbands' PetitionsWives' Petitions
Drunkenness with cruelty, failure to maintain, etc.2158..216
Non-compliance with order for restitution of conjugal rights13613749481341344543
Separation for not less than three years415382555536386300527454

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

Mention should be made here of the fact that over a period of five years, 1949–53 inclusive, the average percentage of decrees absolute granted on wives' petitions was greater than those granted to husbands. The figures are—wives 88.9 per cent, husbands 84.2 per cent.

The principal grounds on which decrees absolute were granted during 1953 showed the following increases compared with 1938, a normal pre-war year: adultery, 168 (107 per cent); desertion, 57 (28.1 per cent); non-compliance with restitution order, 81 (84.4 per cent); and separation, 182 (31.8 per cent).

In 462 of the 1,540 cases where decrees absolute were granted during 1953 there was no living issue of the marriage. The number of living issue was 1 in 430 cases, 2 in 324 cases, 3 in 163 cases, and 4 or more in 161 cases.

The table which follows shows the duration of marriage in all cases for which decrees absolute were granted in the five years 1949 to 1953.

Duration of Marriage, in YearsHusbands' Decrees Absolute GrantedWives' Decrees Absolute Granted
Under 5202165165156126140132140110111
5 and under 10296256222259231301219228242255
10 and under 15194170171177173196185161206178
15 and under 201031098090109123102114115101
20 and under 3013210510912491124109118113102
30 and over43454053353536323928
Not stated2..2....1........

The number of living issue affected by the decrees absolute of their parents during each of the last five years was as follows: 1949, 2,626; 1950, 2,385; 1951, 2,178; 1952, 2,497; and 1953, 2,348.


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 was in evidence for some years, the figures recorded during the war years being the highest for a long time. It is possible that the absence overseas of considerable numbers of men of early adult age, at which mortality experience is the most favourable, would have some effect on the rates established. The strains of wartime would also have some effect on deaths in the older age groups; in fact, the high rate of 1942 disclosed a sharp rise in deaths resulting from diseases of the heart and nervous system. For four years following 1945 a downward trend was again in evidence and, although small increases were recorded in 1950 and 1951, the 1952 and 1953 rates again showed decreases; the figure of 8.84 for 1953 being the lowest recorded rate since 1936 (8.75).

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 1949–53 and are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the United Nations.

CountryRates Per 1,000 of Population

* European population only.

Union of South Africa*8.8
New Zealand9.2
United States of America9.6
Puerto Rico9.6
Germany (Western)10.5
United Kingdom11.8
Costa Rica12.0
Republic of Ireland12.7

DISTRIBUTION OF DEATHS OVER THE YEAR.—An examination of the total number of deaths registered in each quarter of the period 1943–53 gives the following averages: March quarter, 3,511; June quarter, 3,919; September quarter, 4,723; and December quarter, 4,078.

A classification according to month of death shows that in 1953 the months during which the greatest number of deaths occurred were August, July, and September, with totals of 1,675, 1,670, and 1,506 respectively. Excluding December, a proportion of deaths occurring in that month not being registered till January, February had the least number of deaths, 1,126, followed by January and March, with 1,240 and 1,241 respectively.

The lowest number of deaths on any one day, again excluding December, was 24, this number occurring on 16 February and 10 March. The greatest number (67) occurred on 21 and 31 July and 21 August.

AGE AT DEATH.—The deaths registered during the year 1953 are tabulated below according to age.

Under 1 month396268664
1–2 months533184
3–5 months404181
1 year454186
2 years382664
3 years272552
4 years171229
5–9 years473986
10–14 years403272
15–19 years9029119
20–24 years10543148
25–29 years11245157
30–34 years11173184
35–39 years12397220
40–44 years215160375
45–49 years316247563
50–54 years449296745
55–59 years5954171,012
60–64 years8575631,420
65–69 years1,2098402,049
70–74 years1,4711,1472,618
75–79 years1,3951,1732,568
80–84 years1,0011,0102,011
85–89 years4775511,028
90–94 years149230379
95–99 years355186
100 years..33
101 years112
105 years112

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 19249901,0089317.576.936.035.47
1 and under 53272051992312.681.441.191.36
5 and under 101679887861.370.690.520.51
10 and under 1510510864720.860.760.380.42
15 and under 202221511201191.821.060.720.70
20 and under 253152471581482.581.730.950.87
25 and under 303372701421572.761.890.850.92
30 and under 353372901911842.762.031.141.08
35 and under 403743202752203.072.241.651.29
40 and under 454783623283753.922.531.962.21
45 and under 506404725225635.253.303.123.31
50 and under 557947986977456.515.594.174.38
55 and under 608811,1451,0211,0127.
60 and under 651,0031,4611,5031,4208.2210.238.998.35
65 and under 701,0771,6972,1702,0498.8311.8812.9812.05
70 and under 751,1711,7722,5362,6189.6012.4115.1715.39
75 and under 801,2421,5562,3162,56810.1810.8913.8615.10
80 and over1,8052,3403,3783,51114.8016.3820.2120.64

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 1953 figures again reflect a declining tendency. Of special significance are the low rates recorded in the childhood and early adult life age groups in recent years and the high percentage reduction effected during the entire period. The female rate for the various age groups is almost invariably lower than the male rate. The increase in the death rate (per 1,000 of population) at successive age groups is well exemplified.

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

*Per 1,000 live births in this case.

Both Sexes

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

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.


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)65.0770.63
Union of South Africa (1945–47)63.7868.31
England and Wales (1950–52)66.4771.48
United States of America (1951)66.672.6
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 1953.

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 1943–53 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 19 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1953, as compared with New Zealand's 20 for the same year. In the case of the Union of South Africa and New Zealand the European population only has been taken into account.

CountryQuinquenniumDeaths Under 1 Year Per 1,000 Births
New Zealand1949–5322
United States of America1949–5329
United Kingdom1949–5332
Union of South Africa1949–5335
Republic of Ireland1949–5345
West German Federal Republic1949–5352

The male rate of infant mortality is considerably above the female rate, the average for New Zealand over the five-year period 1949–53 being 24.8 male deaths per 1,000 male births and 19.5 female deaths per 1,000 female births.

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


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

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

The next table shows that, whereas in the quinquennium 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 1 YearUnder 1 MonthBetween 1 and 12 Months

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

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

Causes of DeathNumber of Deaths
Tuberculosis, all forms685635..142
Congenital syphilis522..14....1..
Enteric fever and other salmonella infections............3......
Dysentery, all forms....1....1........
Meningococcal infections58924..25107
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life73617280748553967973
Pneumonia of the newborn19322725312622302224
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life28182921211715261012
Diarrhoea of the newborn6565233..15
Congenital malformations165182181190159163198151205163
Birth injury103115130154167158142146118127
Asphyxia and atelectasis647793100102111128164174152
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)34293437353050383437
Immaturity unqualified284274311276193238225191191162
Other and undefined causes150174142162130137122131129136
Causes of DeathRates Per 1,000 Live Births

*Less than 0.1.

Tuberculosis, all forms0.*0.1*
Congenital syphilis0.20.10.1..*0.1....*..
Enteric fever and other salmonella infections............0.1......
Dysentery, all forms....*....*........
Meningococcal infections0.20.20.2*0.1..
Influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis after the first four weeks of life2.
Pneumonia of the newborn0.
Gastro-enteritis after the first four weeks of life0.
Diarrhoea of the newborn0.*0.1
Congenital malformations4.
Birth injury3.
Asphyxia and atelectasis1.
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)
Immaturity unqualified8.
Other and undefined causes4.

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 1953. It would appear that diseases which can be combated openly, such as epidemic diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases due to faulty nourishment, etc. (i.e., diseases of the digestive system), have shown a definite response to the strenuous campaigns launched against them. If a comparison be made between the averages of the first and last five-yearly periods given —i.e., 1872–76 and 1947–51—it is found that the general infant-mortality rate shows a decline of 74 per cent, while even greater decreases are recorded for tuberculosis (98 per cent), convulsions (99 per cent), gastric and intestinal diseases (95 per cent), epidemic diseases (92 per cent), and respiratory diseases (78 per cent). The rate for epidemic diseases still continues to decline, and it is interesting to note that over 40 per cent of the total under this heading in the years 1947–51 were due to whooping-cough, while an additional 27 per cent were assigned to influenza. During the five-year period 1949–53 there were only two deaths of infants from diphtheria and three deaths due to scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat.

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

PeriodEpidemic DiseasesTuberculosisInfantile ConvulsionsRespiratory DiseasesGastric and Intestinal DiseasesMalformationsEarly InfancyOther CausesTotals

*Less than 0.1.


It is convenient to consider still-births and neo-natal deaths together, as they are largely the result of common causes. The combined group may be termed perinatal mortality. The term is particularly appropriate when we consider how deaths in the newborn crowd closely towards the day of birth. This effect is clearly shown in the table on page 89. Still-births and neo-natal deaths are considered together in the next table and are computed as rates per 1,000 total births.

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

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

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

The registration of still-births has been effected in New Zealand since 1913, but no information regarding the causes of still-births was required for registration purposes until 1947. As from 1 July 1952 a certificate of the cause of death in cases of intermediate foetal deaths—i.e., deaths after the end of the twentieth but before the end of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy—was also required to be furnished. There were 43 such cases recorded during 1953. The certificates of causes of still-birth and foetal death provide for both maternal and foetal causes to be entered.

The following table shows the 887 still-births registered during 1953 classified (a) according to maternal causes and (b) according to foetal causes.

Causes of Still-birthNumber of Cases
(a) Maternal Causes   
Chronic disease in mother151631
Acute disease in mother628
Diseases and conditions of pregnancy and childbirth11093203
Difficulties in labour6049109
Other causes in mother4711
(b) Foetal Causes   
Placental and cord conditions12087207
Birth injury235
Congenital malformation of foetus4956105
Diseases of foetus and ill-defined causes11593208
      Totals, all causes481406887

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 85 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 1953 are set out in accordance with the International List of 1948.

Causes of DeathUnder One DayOne Day and Under One WeekOne Week and Under Two WeeksTwo Weeks and Under Three WeeksThree Weeks and Under One MonthTotal Under One Month
Congenital malformations17461581298
Injury at birth35358..179
Injury at birth with prematurity20231....44
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis222921..54
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis, with prematurity43313....77
Pneumonia of newborn..712717
Pneumonia of newborn, with prematurity1311..6
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia43......7
Disorders arising from maternal toxaemia, with prematurity1271....20
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis)161411..32
Haemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis), with prematurity131....5
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn25......7
Haemorrhagic disease of newborn, with prematurity111....3
Diarrhoea of newborn....12..4
Diarrhoea of newborn with prematurity....1....1
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy23......5
Ill-defined diseases peculiar to early infancy, with prematurity55..1..11
Immaturity with mention of any other subsidiary condition..1......1
Immaturity, unqualified896472..162
Pemphigus neonatorum....1....1
Umbilical sepsis..........1
Other sepsis of newborn..1..1..2
Other sepsis of newborn, with prematurity..11....2
External causes..1......1
Other causes3738..22

A total of 163, or 25 per cent, of all neo-natal deaths are directly attributed to prematurity (immaturity) and a further 169 deaths are given as associated with it. The principal conditions of early infancy with which prematurity was associated were (i) asphyxia in 77 cases (11.6 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), (ii) birth injury in 44 cases (6.6 per cent of all neo-natal deaths), and (iii) all other causes peculiar to early infancy, 48 cases (7.3 per cent of all neo-natal deaths).

In the case of still-births, out of 887 there were 471 cases, or 53 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 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.

† Less than one.

‡ These figures and rates are not comparable with those given for later years (see letterpress).

Tuberculosis of respiratory system36535131922518320719517412095
Tuberculosis, other forms70616447554034352528
Syphilis and its sequelae71916762614051373332
Typhoid fever32....221....1
Dysentery, all forms3532..2321..
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat..1112..11
Meningococcal infections791419204581010
Acute poliomyelitis13215426712913
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic55857566673147413535
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues2,5882,6522,8362,7992,7861,4691,4771,5491,4921,448
Benign and unspecified neoplasms46553642362631202219
Diabetes mellitus355228244221242202127133118126
Vascular lesions affecting central nervous system*1,8242,0632,1652,252*1,0161,1271,1541,170
Non-meningococcal meningitis151815234191081221
Rheumatic fever9141781758949
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease258233204220219146130111117114
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease}4,7754,9604,6574,849}2,6592,7092,4822,519
Other diseases of the heart}5,744595591660528}3,261331323352274
Hypertension with heart-disease}653676632559}364369337290
Hypertension without mention of heart*162154165144*90848875
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum1471461501401588381827582
Intestinal obstruction and hernia1151271181101116571645958
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of newborn858611575794848634041
Cirrhosis of liver56546457463230353024
Nephritis and nephrosis*212199188178*11810910092
Hyperplasia of prostate1061491541401176083847561
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium45403133252622171813
Congenital malformations217299202255234123166110136122
Birth injuries, post-natal asphyxia, and atelectasis}270310292260}150169156135
Infections of the newborn}64025302536}36314161319
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified}318296274258}177162146134
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined and unknown causes2061862091771191171041149462
All other diseases3,0141,3341,4261,5351,4651,711742778818761
Motor-vehicle accidents195212269252279111118147134145
All other accidents547501549550558311279300293290
Suicide and self-inflicted injury171165182189192979299101100
Homicide and operations of war202014191011118105

TUBERCULOSIS.—The death rate from tuberculosis of the respiratory system has shown a declining tendency for many years, but the reduction by over one-half in the space of the five years 1949–53 is a noteworthy achievement. The rate for 1953, 95 per million of population, is a record low rate for this country.

In addition to the 183 deaths from tuberculosis of the respiratory system during 1953, there were 55 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis, comprising—

Tuberculosis of meninges and nervous system17
Tuberculosis of intestines, peritoneum, and mesentery3
Tuberculosis of bones and joints5
Tuberculosis of skin1
Tuberculosis of lymphatic system2
Tuberculosis of genito-urinary system8
Tuberculosis of adrenal glands3
Disseminated tuberculosis15
Tuberculosis of other organs1

The following table shows the number of deaths from tuberculosis in 1953, classified according to sex and age groups. Of those dying from this cause in 1953, persons under the age of 45 years formed 34 per cent.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 58614
5 and under 10134
10 and under 15112
15 and under 20 22
20 and under 25123
25 and under 30257
30 and under 355914
35 and under 4011516
40 and under 4513821
45 and under 5011516
50 and under 5512820
55 and under 6017623
60 and under 6522729
65 and under 7018624
70 and under 7518321
75 and under 8010414
80 and over358

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 1953 there were 2,786 deaths from cancer in New Zealand, a proportion of 14.48 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 1953 is given in the following table.

Site of DiseaseNumbersRates Per Million of Mean Population
Buccal cavity and pharynx391655401729
Intestine, except rectum140187327145195170
Trachea, and of bronchus and lung not specified as secondary2363527124437141
Cervix uteri..7777..8040
Other and unspecified parts of uterus..4747..4924
Bone and connective tissue171431181516
All other and unspecified sites291300591301313307
Leukaemia and aleukaemia6849117705161
Lymphosarcoma and other neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic system7236108743856

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 1953 is now given.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 5161026
5 and under 105712
10 and under 156410
15 and under 20628
20 and under 256713
25 and under 30111122
30 and under 35151631
35 and under 40132538
40 and under 45275380
45 and under 506892160
50 and under 5591100191
55 and under 60133124257
60 and under 65174141315
65 and under 70250153403
70 and under 75275199474
75 and under 80227168395
80 and over172179351

Ninety-one per cent of the deaths from cancer during 1953 were at ages 45 years and upwards, and 58 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 1953 of 0.54 being a new record. This low rate has been achieved mainly by a reduction in the number of deaths from septic abortion and puerperal sepsis. Deaths from complications of childbirth have also been unusually few since 1949.

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

Details of deaths from deliveries and complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puer-perium for the three years 1951 to 1953 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 pregnancy79131.571.942.79
Placenta praevia31..0.670.22..
Other haemorrhage of pregnancy11..0.220.22..
Ectopic pregnancy..1.. 0.22..
Other complications arising from pregnancy1....0.22....
Abortion without mention of sepsis or toxaemia3310.670.640.22
Abortion with sepsis2410.450.850.22
Delivery complicated by placenta praevia or antepartum haemorrhage13..0.220.64..
Delivery complicated by retained placenta..12..0.220.42
Delivery complicated by other post-partum haemorrhage4430.900.850.64
Delivery complicated by disproportion or malposition of foetus....1....0.22
Delivery with trauma3310.70.40.22
Delivery with other complications of childbirth....1....0.22
Sepsis of childbirth and the puerperium1110.220.220.22
Puerperal phlebitis and thrombosis..11..0.220.22
Puerperal pulmonary embolism31..0.670.22..
Puerperal eclampsia1....0.22....
Other and unspecified complications of the puerperium1....0.22....
      Totals, including septic abortion3133256.927.105.39
      Totals, excluding septic abortion2929246.476.255.17

A summary of maternal mortality from all puerperal causes, in triennial periods since 1927 is now given.

Causes of Death1927–291930–321933–351936–381939–411942–441945–471948–501951–53
Puerperal sepsis12858394446301263
Eclampsia and other toxaemias1019793948058624230
Septic abortion47859168586133207
Accidents, haemorrhage, and other mortality12412410491135941107349
      Total maternal mortality40036432729731924321714189
      Maternal mortality, excluding septic abortion35327923622926118218412182

DEATHS FROM EXTERNAL CAUSES.—Deaths from external causes, apart from suicide, claim approximately 4 per cent of the total deaths. The following table shows deaths from external causes for the three years 1951, 1952, and 1953 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 accidents269252279147134145
Other transport accidents1159097634850
Accidental poisoning293027161614
Accidental falls139168182769095
Accident caused by machinery193529101915
Accident caused by fire and explosion of combustible material192123101012
Accident caused by hot substance, corrosive liquid, steam, and radiation17118964
Accident caused by firearm2217141297
Accidental drowning and submersion908178494341
All other accidental causes9997102545253
Homicide and injury purposely inflicted by other persons (not in war)1418108105

The number of deaths recorded from all accidental causes in 1953 was 839, corresponding to a rate of 4.36 per 10,000 of population. By comparison with 1936, there was an increase of 141 in the number of deaths, but the death rate has decreased by 0.32 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

It should be noted that deaths occurring as a result of the Tangiwai railway disaster were not registered till 1954, and consequently were not included in the 1953 totals.

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 1953, with the exception of a small decline in 1952.

The figures given in the above table for deaths from motor-vehicle accidents (which do not include deaths of Maoris) are exclusive of accidents where persons have been killed in collisions between motor vehicles and trains or trams, these being assigned to the heavier vehicle. For 1953 there were 10 deaths from such accidents, bringing the total number of deaths in cases where a motor vehicle was involved up to 279. The corresponding figure for 1952 was 252.

Non-transport Accidents.—The 1948 Revision of the International List makes provision for non-transport accidents (excluding therapeutic misadventure in treatment, complications following vaccination or inoculation, and late effects of injury and poisoning) to be grouped according to the place where the accident or poisoning occurred. The following table shows the deaths, both numbers and rates, for each of the three years 1951, 1952, and 1953 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)222195244121104127
Farm (including buildings and land under cultivation, but excluding farm and home premises)294743152522
Mine and quarry7107454
Industrial place and premises1918910105
Place for recreation and sport789445
Street and highway101217569
Public building (building used by the general public or a particular group of the public)1356733
Resident institution (homes, hospitals, etc.)233219131710
Other specified places839489455046
Place not specified1632810174

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 119 deaths from non-transport accidents on farms in the period covered, while fatal non-transport accidents in industrial plants, factories, and workplaces totalled 46.

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 1953 numbered 190—males 135, females 55—the death rate per 10,000 of mean population being 0.99.

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
1950–53 (4 years)1.430.520.98


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 1953 was 5,529 (2,884 males, 2,645 females). The Maori birth rate in 1953 was almost twice the European birth rate (24.12 per 1,000). Registrations of Maori births in each of the last eleven years were as follows.

YearNumber of Maori BirthsRate Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Prior to 1946 there was reason to believe that the number of Maori births was somewhat understated, and this view was confirmed by the registration figures for 1946, the year in which the provision of family benefits under the Social Security scheme was extended to cover all children under sixteen years of age irrespective of the income of the parents. Of the 5,776 Maori births registered during 1946, no fewer than 1,447, or 25 per cent, had actually occurred before 1945—i.e., over a year before registration.

For the purposes of the Maori Births and Deaths Registration Regulations 1935 a Maori is defined as “a person belonging to the aboriginal race of New Zealand, and includes a half-caste and a person intermediate in blood between half-castes and persons of pure descent from that race”.

Only registrations relating to persons possessing half or more Maori blood are made in the register of Maori births or Maori deaths. All registrations in respect of persons possessing less than half Maori blood must be made in the European register.

MAORI MARRIAGES.—In the 1953 and preceding issues of the Year-Book a brief statement of the legislative position relating to Maori marriages was given. The Maori Purposes Act 1951, however, brought about a complete change to that hitherto existing. The view was taken that the Maori race had reached a stage where such special dispensations were no longer justifiable. From 1 April 1952 all Maori marriages are subject to the ordinary laws affecting European marriages, and no marriage according to Maori custom subsequent to that date will be held valid. As a result it is not now possible to distinguish marriages of Maoris from those of Europeans, and Maori marriage statistics as a separate feature will lapse.

The Maori marriage figures for each of the ten years (1942–51) were as follows.

YearUnder 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, and is fast approaching equality with the European rate. Further improvement in the infant mortality rate for Maoris could result in such equality in the near future.

Apart from mere numbers by sex, statistics of Maori deaths are not available prior to 1920, but annual tabulations are now made on the bases of age and cause of death. The ages of Maoris whose deaths were registered during the year 1953 were as shown in the following table.

Age, in YearsMalesFemalesTotals
Under 1243161404
1 and under 5485098
5 and under 10172138
10 and under 15172138
15 and under 20171027
20 and under 25341953
25 and under 30161531
30 and under 35151328
35 and under 40211435
40 and under 45243155
45 and under 50422163
50 and under 55322355
55 and under 60373269
60 and under 65362965
65 and under 70513081
70 and under 75412970
75 and under 80351449
80 and under 85121426
85 and under 90101828
90 and under 953811
95 and under 100639
100 and over279
Not specified123

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 1951 to 1953 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 system1291117911.089.236.36
Tuberculosis, other forms3938403.353.153.22
Syphilis and its sequelae4480.340.330.65
Typhoid fever2..30.17..0.24
Dysentery, all forms2340.170.250.32
Scarlet fever and streptococcal sore throat..1....0.08..
Meningococcal infections8270.690.170.56
Acute poliomyelitis1310.090.250.08
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic1114190.941.161.53
Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues771061036.618.828.30
Benign and unspecified neoplasms2150.170.080.40
Diabetes mellitus55110.430.420.89
Vascular lesions affecting central nervous system5144404.383.663.22
Non-meningococcal meningitis1217151.031.421.21
Rheumatic fever614160.521.161.29
Chronic rheumatic heart-disease4036403.432.993.22
Arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart-disease19114114916.4011.7312.00
Other diseases of the heart8344457.133.663.63
Hypertension with heart-disease1921201.631.751.61
Hypertension without mention of heart1570.090.420.56
Ulcer of stomach and duodenum11030.090.830.24
Intestinal obstruction and hernia139101.120.750.81
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of the newborn5076584.296.324.67
Cirrhosis of liver1110.090.080.08
Nephritis and nephrosis923150.771.911.21
Hyperplasia of prostate2510.170.420.08
Complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium51470.431.160.56
Congenital malformations2340281.973.332.26
Birth injuries, postnatal asphyxia, and atelectasis4847574.123.914.59
Infections of the newborn1214121.031.160.97
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy, and immaturity unqualified6582645.586.825.16
Senility without mention of psychosis, ill-defined and unknown causes3221152.751.751.21
All other diseases731041046.258.658.38
Motor-vehicle accidents2944392.493.663.14
All other accidents6168815.245.666.53
Suicide and self-inflicted injury6960.520.750.48
Homicide and operations of war9270.770.170.56

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 1953 the number so certified was 1,295 out of 1,345 registrations, equivalent to 96 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 76 per 1,000 births in the case of Maoris for the five years 1949–53, as compared with 22 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. 99).

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 1953 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
Dysentery, all forms..........1......2..3
All other diseases classified as infective and parasitic....1..2....146216
Non-meningococcal meningitis......1........5129
Pneumonia, except of newborn......1..265412223100
Intestinal obstruction and hernia................1..12
Gastritis, duodenitis, enteritis, and colitis, except diarrhoea of newborn............2516151149
Congenital malformations81231..2..43..24
Birth injuries138101..............32
Post-natal asphyxia and atelectasis11833..............25
Infections of the newborn21315221......17
Immaturity unqualified23691....1........40
Other diseases peculiar to early infancy42221....132219
Other diseases........1..4..77423

Of the total of 17 deaths in the above table due to infections of the newborn, 4 were defined as diarrhoea and 8 as pneumonia. Immaturity unqualified accounted for 40 infant deaths, but in a further 35 deaths due to diseases peculiar to early infancy, prematurity was an associated condition.

The great achievement in reducing the infant-mortality rate for the European population has been accomplished during the period after the first month of life up to the end of the first year. Conversely, the causes of the extremely high Maori mortality rates are to be found in the same period of life. This is indicated in the next table, which contrasts the mortality rates per 1,000 live births for European and Maori infants respectively for the last twenty years.

Under One MonthOne and Under Twelve MonthsTotal Under One YearUnder One MonthOne and Under Twelve MonthsTotal Under One Year

The principal causes of death of Maori infants responsible for the high mortality rates after the first month of life are diarrhoea and enteritis, broncho-pneumonia, pneumonia, and other diseases of the respiratory system.


IT is desirable that a complete coverage of the vital statistics of a country as a whole should be available, and the statistical data presented in this subsection cover the entire population of New Zealand.

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

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

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

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

The abnormal increase in the number of Maori births shown for the year 1946 is mainly accounted for by the late registration of births which occurred prior to 1946 (see page 99).

The inclusion of Maoris raises the level of the birth rate all through the period covered, but in no case does it reverse the trend of the rate on the normal published basis—i.e., the birth rate of New Zealand, exclusive of Maoris. In an international comparison for the quinquennium 1949–53 the inclusion of Maoris raises New Zealand's position from twelfth to eleventh in a total of twenty-eight countries covered.

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

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

In the ten years 1944–53 New Zealand has gained by natural increase of the population a total of 299,507, comprising 263,433 Europeans and 36,074 Maoris.

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

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

* Not available, see following paragraph.


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

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

YearNumbersRates Per 1,000 of Mean Population

Although the Maori death rate is consistently higher than the European rate, the inclusion of Maoris does no