The post-earthquake exodus from Christchurch has bottomed out, according to latest figures which show just 2800 people leaving the wider city area in the last year.
Councils in the Greater Christchurch areas say that the quarterly estimates through to June 2012 show "clear signs of the expected return to growth.''
'Middle of the range' estimates for Greater Christchurch's resident population show a drop of 2800 in the year to June 2012, but the loss appears to have happened in the last part of 2011.
The figure for the previous year, to June 2011, was 6500.
Continuing gains to Waimakariri and Selwyn districts during the year were offset by a loss in Christchurch City, which is estimated to have declined by around 4700.
Statistics New Zealand estimates for the year to June 2012 - the official annual snapshot - are due out later in October.
However, because Greater Christchurch councils are facing unprecedented patterns of change, they have commissioned quarterly estimates to indicate clearly what is happening in the sub-region.
"It's now over five years since the last Census, and the upcoming March 2013 one was delayed due to the earthquakes with results not available until late 2013 at the earliest,'' said Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers.
"For good planning we need to be monitoring change more closely than that.''
Mr Ayers is deputy chairperson of the Urban Development Strategy Implementation Committee charged with overseeing growth management planning for Urban Development Strategy partners.
Statistical analyst James Newell, who developed the methodology from which the quarterly estimates are derived, said there would be inevitable differences when these estimates are compared with official numbers later this month.
"What's more important is to understand the reasons for, and the directions of, population change on a regular basis, and this work contributes to that understanding,'' he said.
Royal commission report completed
Meanwhile, a royal commission document on the failure of 21 buildings that killed 42 people in the Christchurch earthquake disaster has been completed.
The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission has today delivered the second part of its final report, Volume 4 Earthquake-prone Buildings, to the Governor-General in Wellington.
It contains the findings of the commission's investigation into the failure of 21 buildings and a free-standing masonry wall that caused 42 of the 185 deaths in the magnitude-6.3 quake of February 22, 2011.
It does not determine legal rights and liabilities, but instead recommends practice, policy and legislative changes to help minimise the risks to public safety from earthquake-prone buildings in earthquakes.
Volume 4, of 7, has relevance for cities and towns in New Zealand that have earthquake-prone buildings, particularly unreinforced masonry buildings.
Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson, who is the minister responsible for the Royal Commission of Inquiry, confirmed the Government has received the report from the Governor-General.
Ministers will consider the second part of the report and its recommendations and make an announcement about the Government's response and the public release of the report later.
The commission delivered part one of its final report in June 2012. Part one consisted of volumes 1, 2 and 3 and contained the results of the investigation into the PGC building in which 18 people died, as well as 70 technical recommendations.
The commission will report on the remainder of its terms of reference, including the failure of the CTV building, in the third and final part of its final report to be delivered to the Governor-General in November 2012.
Neither the royal commission, or the Government, are making further comment.