New Zealanders are only half as busy having babies as they were 40 years ago, but with today's larger population a similar number of babies - nearly 65,000 - were born last year.
The 63,900 live births registered in 2010 was up 2 per cent from the 62,550 in 2009, and the 28,440 registered deaths was down slightly from 28,960 in 2009, Statistics New Zealand said today.
The highest number of births recorded was 65,390 in 1961, when New Zealand's population was just 2.5 million, compared to 4.4 million in 2010.
In 1961 the birth rate reached 4.3 births per woman, nearly twice last year's rate of 2.1. The rate is calculated by how many babies a woman might have over her lifetime, based on the number of births that year.
The 54,020 babies in 2002 was the lowest recorded number of births.
"Annual fluctuations in births, in part, reflect changes in the size and age of the population, the age at which women have children, and the number of children they have," population statistics manager Bridget Hamilton-Seymour said.
"In turn, the number of births influences the future size of the population."
The statistics show older women were now having the most babies, compared with their predecessors 40 years ago.
Last year women aged 30-34 had 126 births per 1000 women, followed by 109 for those aged 25-29 and 77 for the 20-24 age bracket.
In the early 1960s, women aged 20-24 had 265 babies per 1000, followed by 259 for those aged 25-29 and 152 for the 30-34 age bracket.
The median age of New Zealand women giving birth was 30 years, compared with 26 years in the early 1960s.
Other statistics from birth and death registrations released today indicate that in the December 2010 year:
* 15 out of 1000 women who gave birth had a multiple birth, and 910 sets of twins and 20 sets of triplets were born.
* The median age at death was 77 years for men and 83 years for women, compared with 72 years for men and 78 years for women in 1990.
* Infant deaths (under one year of age) numbered 320.
* The infant mortality rate, or infant deaths per 1000 live births, was 5.1, down from 8.3 per 1000 in 1990.