Figures show big fall in Anglicans

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014

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The religious makeup in Taranaki is turning into a melting pot of beliefs.

The latest results from the 2013 census have been released and show the province is filled with growing international faiths, while traditional religions, like Anglican, are suffering a decline.

Since the 2006 census, Anglican numbers across New Zealand have fallen by 95,142 people, including a drop in Taranaki by 2568 people.

While the number of Baptists in the province has stayed the same, the Catholic and Methodist churches have experienced a minimal decline. However, the numbers of people identifying as Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh have all increased.

Despite the changing face of faith, New Zealand Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson, who is also the Bishop of Taranaki, said church attendance numbers where slowly increasing in many areas of the country.

"The census numbers are not at all surprising, but the decline is slightly less than what we expected," he said.

He said there had always been a difference between the people who called themselves Anglican, and those who went to church on Sundays and were active members of the congregation.

New Zealanders were becoming more truthful when "ticking a box" for religion affiliation, he said.

"The gap is closing and these latest census figures are now pretty consistent with our actual attendance figures," he said.

Bishop Richardson also acknowledged an ageing population could have impacted on the census numbers as well.

The data was a bit of a "wake-up call" for the church and helped them to further understand that they were on the margin of society, and were there to serve those who were also on the margin, he said.

The latest census results also showed Taranaki was home to the highest proportion of managers in New Zealand.

Of the 52,620 employed people Taranaki, 21.3 per cent were managers. This compared with 18.7 per cent of employed people nationwide.

Managers made up the largest occupational group in Taranaki, followed by professionals at 17.1 per cent, labourers at 15.6 per cent, and technicians and trade workers at 13.7 per cent.

Of all 16 regions, Taranaki had the third-highest percentage increase in median household income - up 30.6 per cent, from $44,700 in 2006 to $58,400 in 2013.

In line with national trends, there was a decline in the number of smokers in the province.

The proportion of regular smokers in Taranaki decreased by 2595 people, to 13,968.

Among people aged 15 to 19 years old the change was particularly significant.

The proportion of regular smokers in this age group fell from 21.1 per cent in 2006 to 13.2 per cent in 2013.

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The 44.2 per cent decrease meant there were 639 fewer young people lighting up in Taranaki.

- Taranaki Daily News

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