Population increase slows to a crawl

Last updated 12:06 20/11/2012

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With deaths up and births down, New Zealand has hit its lowest natural annual population increase in seven years, with the Christchurch earthquakes fingered as part of the reason.

Fewer live births were registered in the year ending September 2012, with 60,462, down 1799 (3 per cent) from the previous year, Statistics New Zealand said.

As deaths increased 249 to 29,956 there was a natural increase of 30,506, the lowest since 2005, when it was 29,889.

By region, the largest decreases were in Auckland (down 409, or 2 per cent) and Canterbury (down 390, or 6 per cent).

''Within Canterbury, Christchurch had the largest decrease, with 329 fewer births than in the September 2011 year,'' population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.

''Within Christchurch, the largest decreases occurred in the eastern wards, which include suburbs that were significantly affected by the Canterbury earthquakes.''

Births in post-earthquake Canterbury are at their lowest for almost a decade.

In August, New Zealand College of Midwives chief executive Karen Guilliland said she expected earthquakes and the "ongoing pressure and anxieties" were the major reasons for the drop in births.

''Even though it's two years later [since the September 2010 earthquake] the fundamental anxiety is still there and it's created an environment in which people aren't wanting to bring babies into.''

Nationally, deaths were increasingly concentrated in the older age groups, compared to previous decades.

The median age at death was 77 years for males and 83 years for females, compared with 72 and 79 years two decades ago.

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