Renting has become more common around the country, but the majority of households remain owner-occupied.

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show the proportion of households who own their dwelling, with or without a mortgage, has decreased from 74 percent in 1991 to 64 per cent.

A further 32 per cent of households are rented, which is an increase from 23 per cent in 1991. Four per cent of the population have their dwellings provided for free.

The figures, based on census data, have been updated based on building consents and lagged by six months to allow for completion of the dwelling.

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Meanwhile, population growth has exceeded dwelling growth.

Historically the number of dwellings and households in New Zealand has increased at a rate that exceeded the population growth rate.

However, in 2013-15 the trend has reversed, with population growth at an estimated 1.9 per cent in the year ended June 2015, compared with private dwelling growth of 1.2 per cent. There was a similar situation in 2002-03 and 2009-10.

Statistics NZ warned that the national census could conceal different trends at a local level.