Couples shun wedding vows

By Kiri Gillespie


Fewer Tauranga people are getting married as couples focus on home life and children and paying bills.

The number of marriages in Tauranga has steadily dropped over the past six years.

Figures obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times reveal only 511 marriages took place in the Tauranga region last year, compared to 610 in 2007 - a drop of 16 per cent.

Tauranga nurse Lianne Howell has been with partner Daniel Pepperell for more than six years and said they were in no rush to get married.

The couple, have a house, two dogs and a cat between them and were happy, Ms Howell said.

"I personally think marriage is still a good way to show everyone else that we are committed and together but we are quite happy in our relationship.

"We have no doubt that we will never be without each other. I don't really see the rush for it because it's like we are already married but just without the paperwork," she said.

"Of course, it would be nice to have a big diamond ring and big wedding dress, as any girl wants, but we're happy with the way things are."

Ms Howell said she and Mr Pepperell enjoyed spending money on doing up their house or trips away.

Marriage celebrant Wendy Barton said she had not experienced any drop in marriages but noticed some couples taking longer to tie the knot.

"Usually it's money or they find out they're pregnant and want to wear a beautiful dress. So they wait and have a baby, then they find out they're pregnant again so it gets put off," Ms Barton said.

"For young couples it's about building their future together. A lot of second-time-rounders have usually had big life events like cancer, etc, so it's much more about appreciation of what's in their life."

Ms Barton said she had also noticed more visitors to the region getting married.

The number of divorces and civil unions remained fairly constant during the past six years. About 60 civil unions were made in the North Island, excluding Auckland and Wellington, and about 350 divorces were filed in the Tauranga District Court a year.

Les Simmonds from Relationship Services said in the past, marriage was a social imperative but that was changing.

"Twenty to 30 years ago it was a social imperative to get married for a whole host of reasons, that's by and large gone. Also, church attendance has dropped off dramatically over the years, marriage is basically seen as a religious or spiritual thing to do that's less important for people now."

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said marriage had been on the decrease for a number of years and New Zealand's defacto relationship rates were some of the highest in the developed world.

"I think one of the main reasons that people don't get married is the cost, they reckon the average [wedding] costs around $30,000. A lot of couples are simply saying 'why pay that expense when we can put that towards a house?'."

By the numbers Marriages in Tauranga:

2007 - 610

2008 - 598

2009 - 558

2010 - 544

2011 - 536

2012 - 511

Divorces in Tauranga:

2007 - 453

2008 - 373

2009 - 320

2010 - 360

2011 - 338

2012 - 352

Civil unions in Tauranga (as part of the greater North Island outside of Wellington and Auckland):

2007 - 66

2008 - 64

2009 - 56

2010 - 55

2011 - 60

2012 - 50

- Statistics New Zealand

- Bay of Plenty Times

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