Love and marriage: Many can't find romance

Some women lucky but many seeking

BEN HEATHER AND PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2014
Mid Thomas and Peter Savelio
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
BIG DAY: Mid Thomas and Peter Savelio will marry at a Lower Hutt gym on Saturday.

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Many single women looking for love could be out of luck, as a man drought turns severe.

Census 2013 figures show the number of men to go around is at an all-time low - and it's especially grim for those of a prime marrying age.

For every 100 women looking to snag a New Zealand chap aged between 25 and 49, on average about nine will miss out.

And on the Kapiti Coast the chances are even lower, with only 82 men for every 100 women.

If you're looking for a little older or younger gentleman the chances are better - 51 per cent of the total population is female.

None of the figures take into account sexual preference.

Wellington economist and social researcher Paul Callister says the figures show New Zealand has yet to shake its man drought.

Historically, the country has had the opposite problem. Kiwi men of the 1800s and early 1900s often struggled to find a partner.

But since the 1980s there have been more women than men and the imbalance is now as bad as it's ever been.

Mr Callister says while the gender skewing is small overall, it's more severe for particular groups.

The gender imbalance was likely due to migration and an ageing population.

Immigrants, particularly from Asian countries, were more likely to be women. Conversely, Kiwis moving overseas, particularly to Australia, were more likely to be men.

Professor Philip Morrison, a demographer at Victoria University, says while more Kiwi boys are being born, they are also more likely to die young, further skewing the balance.

But some women struggling to find the right man, or any man, could just be living in the wrong place. The gender imbalance varies markedly throughout the country.

The small central North Island district of Kawerau has the lowest proportion of men between 25 and 49, followed closely by the Kapiti Coast.

Conversely, the Clutha and Southland districts are among the few places where men outnumber women.

Men are outnumbered in all the major cities, with Christchurch coming closest to an even balance.

Mr Callister says there's usually a higher proportion of men in rural areas dependent on male-dominated industry, such as farming or mining.

Areas where the population was skewed more heavily towards women were more difficult to explain.

Large migrant populations and a high density of university students, which were more likely to be women, probably played a part in some cities.

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FOR SOME, IT'S NO SWEAT

A Lower Hutt couple can't wait to get on the marriage treadmill - they are preparing to wed at a gym.

Les Mills Hutt City club manager Mid Thomas, 38, will tie the knot with her partner, Peter Savelio, 41, at the gym today.

"I looked at beaches, and looked at some churches, but I thought this isn't really us. Then I thought that one thing we have in common is fitness."

Sexually abused as a young girl, Ms Thomas has found refuge in fitness since she was 15.

"If someone asked me to give a colour that described my childhood it would be grey with strong undertones of black," she said. "I've spent the past 20 years trying to make sense of it, and I found the more people I helped, the more I was able to be free of it. It's given me a place where I can come and feel good."

Mr Savelio says he was content to go along with the wedding plans. "I haven't thought about it too much, I'm just happy that Mid gets her day."

The couple have been together for 20 years, with a six-year hiatus along the way. They have twin daughters, Waiatawhai and Waimarino, aged 13.

The gym will remain open during today's ceremony, which will take place in a fitness room.

Entertainment will include a free concert by Handmade Records featuring rapper Scribe.

Ms Thomas planned to take a body attack class in the morning. "There's no way I'm not exercising on my wedding day."

She expected up to 300 people at the ceremony. A private reception was planned in the evening at a more traditional venue - a local golf club.

Ms Thomas wants to help more people get healthy, amid a rising tide of obesity, depression and diabetes. "Fitness has really helped me. I'm not sure where I'd be today without it."

WHERE ARE ALL THE MEN?

Pip Truscott is looking for a man but is finding the pickings slim on the Kapiti Coast.

The 41-year-old retail worker moved to Paraparaumu from Taupo about six months ago. She has been single for 3 years but said even the options in Taupo were better than on the coast.

"There is definitely a shortage. And the guys here just want to go to the pub and pick up."

Kapiti has the second biggest gender imbalance in the country, behind only Kawerau in the central North Island. For every 100 women between 25 and 49 years old, there are only 82 men living on the coast.

Why there is an imbalance is not clear but it has been suggested sole parents, usually mothers, moving from Wellington could partly explain it.

Several of her colleagues at Coastlands shopping centre have noted the man drought. One woman says she had to go online to find her husband after despairing of meeting a local.

Working in a fashion shop, Ms Truscott says she often meets men but they are usually with their girlfriends or families. Since moving to the coast, she has dated a few friends of friends, and signed up to internet dating.

"But I'm not going to settle for someone because they are there and single."

Now she is considering looking further afield for men.

SHE NEEDN'T DRINK SPEIGHT'S

Clutha District is a lonely place for shy but nevertheless red-blooded rural bachelor blokes such as Pete Walker.

Clutha stands out in the 2013 census as going through a woman-drought, with a top-heavy population of men at 51.1 per cent.

"There certainly does seem to be a lack of younger females around here," says Mr Walker, 38. "I guess a better range of employment opportunities and travel draws them away."

But he isn't panicking yet, believing fate will take its course.

A farm manager and tutor at the relatively isolated Telford Rural Polytechnic, near Balclutha, he doesn't class himself as desperate - yet. "I'm not worried about it at all. You never know, it could just happen anytime, and it could. But I guess for the single male or female the older you get you probably do think about it more."

Mr Walker travels a lot and is pinning his hopes on that helping him meet someone special, rather than online dating or moving out of the area. "I feel there's a better chance of meeting someone when I'm overseas or out of the district, yeah definitely."

His ideal woman doesn't necessarily have to drink Speight's but . . . would have a sense of humour, be laidback, easy going, keen on the outdoors, and like to travel - just like him.

BALANCE OF THE GENDERS

AUCKLAND

Female - 52.6%

Male - 47.4%

KAWERAU

Female - 55.6%

Male - 44.4%

KAPITI COAST

Female - 55%

Male - 45%

UPPER HUTT

Female - 51.3% Male - 48.7%

LOWER HUTT

Female - 52.7% Male - 47.3%

PORIRUA

Female - 53.4%

Male - 46.6%

WELLINGTON

Female - 51.6%

Male - 48.4%

KAIKOURA

Female - 54.8%

Male - 45.2%

CHRISTCHURCH

Female - 50.8%

Male - 49.2%

CLUTHA

Female - 48.9% Male - 51.1%

NEW ZEALAND'S TOTAL

Female - 52.4% Male - 47.6%

- The Dominion Post

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