Census shows ethnic changes in Palmerston North

Last updated 12:00 04/12/2013

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Palmerston North's changing ethnic diversity is one of the standout features of the latest census information.

The overall population has grown 3 per cent, from 77,724 at the last census in 2006, to 80,079.

The greatest change has been the increase in the number of people from Asia living in the city, up by 1317 to 5364, or a 36 per cent rise.

Palmerston North City Council economic policy analyst Peter Crawford said the increase confirmed observations and predictions about the significance of people born overseas in the city's makeup.

The figures mean people born in Asia now make up 9.7 per cent of the population, up from 7.2 per cent in 2006. The second highest growth rate has been among Pacific Island people, up 17 per cent from 1149 to 1350.

People born in Australia and Britain are the only national groups whose numbers living here have dropped, by 8 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. The population is still 78.9 per cent European.

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said the demographic results of the census were a good thing for Palmerston North, which faced residents leaving for more metropolitan centres.

"There is a pretty modest population growth but I still see that as quite positive because many places in New Zealand have been facing population decline," he said.

"There have been a few centres that have been growing rapidly and lots of New Zealand has been declining, so to be having modest population growth, I think, is a good thing for a regional centre." Mr Naylor said data on ethnic makeup of the city did not come as a surprise as "we are getting significant levels, particularly in Asian growth".

"Those changes in ethnic makeup are usually people who are immigrating here for a productive sense, to work or study, which is pretty positive," he said.

Mr Crawford said another feature of the new figures that was not so great for the city was that total personal income, while increasing, was not quite keeping up with neighbouring Manawatu, or the national growth rate. The median city income figure has grown from $23,300 to $27,000, up by 16 per cent. That lags behind the national figure of $28,500, and trails Manawatu's $28,400, which increased 19 per cent since the last census.

Across the region fewer people are employed in fulltime work, with a 7 per cent drop in the city, a 10 per cent decrease in Horowhenua, a 7 per cent decrease in Rangitikei and a 15 per cent decline in Tararua.

Manawatu was the only district in the region to buck the trend, with a 1 per cent increase.

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The findings also show the superannuitant population has grown.

In Palmerston North there was a 19 per cent increase of people over 65 years, from 8904 to 10,611. And there was a 35 per cent increase in people aged over 85, with 387 more of those people in the city. The Manawatu District had a 25 per cent increase in superannuitants, while Tararua and Rangitikei had a 17 per cent boost and Horowhenua jumped 20 per cent.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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