Region to house 100,000 people

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 09/10/2012

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The combined population of Nelson and Tasman is expected to break the 100,000 barrier by 2031, new figures show.

Statistics New Zealand projections issued yesterday show Nelson is expected to gain 7000 people between 2006 and 2031, to a total of 51,200, with Tasman's population jumping by 8100, to 53,900.

The increases contrast with a widespread shift away from rural communities towards urban centres, particularly in the North Island.

Most of New Zealand's population growth, up from 4.4 million in 2011 to 5.1 million in 2031, will be made up in the cities.

By 2031, nearly four in every 10 New Zealanders will live in Auckland, with other major cities also expected to make big gains.

The population of the South Island is projected to increase by an average of 0.6 per cent a year, from 1 million in 2011 to 1.2 million in 2031.

Statistics NZ's Kim Dunstan said the districts projected to lose people were contending with an ageing population combined with migration losses.

Young people were leaving rural districts to move to cities or overseas, and were not being replaced by new migrants, he said.

"It can be a double whammy because there is the loss of these adults, and also their potential offspring."

The two regions also stuck to national trends regarding the ageing population, with the median age for Nelson expected to rise from 40.7 years in 2011 to 44.2 in 2031, and the median age in Tasman going from 42.2 to 46.8 in the same period.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said the figures were not surprising, and growth had been accounted for in the council's long-term plan.

"It is encouraging, a lot of it doesn't happen just by default, you have got to keep giving people reasons to live in Nelson besides its natural beauty."

Next year's census would provide more detail about the trends, he said.

It was important to provide an environment that encouraged the creation of jobs and attracted people to come and raise families in the region, he said.

"You have got to give a compelling proposition as to why you would want to live in Nelson."

There was a definite "hollowing out" of the population as young people left the region at 18, and others arrived at about 35, but the region was in a better position than others to handle the ageing population.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the projections were in line with the district council predictions, with growth expected to be concentrated around Richmond and Motueka.

The projections underscored the importance of keeping infrastructure development ahead of growth.

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"It's one of the key things that drive our rates increases. We're very careful to try to stick to core services such as infrastructure and provide it at a manageable rate that is affordable."

The growth was encouraging, he said.

"It does reiterate what we're currently seeing, which is increases in building consents. There's steady growth."

GROWING UP

Population projections 2006-2031

Nelson 44,300; 51,200

Tasman 45,800; 53,900

- The Nelson Mail

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