Ageing population an issue for region

Last updated 13:00 25/10/2012

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OPINION: The average age of residents in Nelson region is going up.

For many that statement won't be a surprise. You don't have to be a statistician to know that the region is a mecca for retired people and holds insufficient appeal for young professionals.

On the plus side, the Nelson region's population grew 0.8 per cent, slightly above the national average of 0.6 per cent, in contrast to most areas that had low growth, according to the latest information from Statistics NZ.

Compare our median age with some and we are looking decidedly old. Hamilton has the lowest median of 31.7 years, while Nelson at 41.3 years and Tasman at 42.7 years are among the highest. West Coast and Marlborough take top spot at 44.5.

The Nelson region has benefited from the Christchurch earthquake effect with an estimated 270 extra people living in Tasman. That's made up of 170 natural increase and 100 net migration. In Nelson city it has increased by 370, with 220 by natural increase and 150 by net migration.

Although the figures are not of great concern, there is a need for authorities to get together to formulate plans for enticing young entrepreneurs to the region. There is an acknowledgement by many that for the region to truly grow, we need more businesses to move to Nelson. In an ideal world that would be the headquarters of a major company which would bring with it workers earning well above the "sunshine wage" which the region is renowned for. Failing that, more small and medium size companies would be a start.

As Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Bill Findlater says, there is an opportunity for the region to look at how it engages with youth.

Enticements are needed to keep the young here to ensure the region continues to grow.

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- Nelson

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