The effect of migration has made Auckland "quite different" from the rest of the country in its views on religion, a Massey University religious expert says.
New Zealand's largest city has the highest percentage of religious people, according to a regional breakdown of results from last year's Census, issued by Statistics New Zealand yesterday.
Throughout New Zealand, the number of people who claimed affiliation with a religion fell 5.5 per cent since the 2006 Census, and this trend was reflected in every region except Auckland, which went up 1.2 per cent.
"Auckland was the only region with more religious people in 2013 than in 2006," Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said.
"It also had the highest proportion of people with a religion, at 59.6 per cent, though this fell from 63.5 per cent in 2006. Nationally, 55 per cent of the population had a religious affiliation in 2013."
Associate Professor Peter Lineham, a historian of religion, said Auckland's number of believers had been fuelled by an increase in migration from Asia.
"We've seen an increase in the number of migrants from the Philippines and India who almost certainly have an affiliation with a religion, and most would have settled in Auckland," he said.
"Generally, old Pakeha New Zealand is showing signs of religious decline at a very high rate, and places of new migration are most religious."
About 10.7 per cent of all New Zealanders with non-Christian religions live in Auckland.
The majority of religious people in Auckland identified with a Christian religion, although overall the number of Christians in the region declined 3.2 per cent since the last Census.
Sikhism grew the fastest, rising from 6174 in 2006 to 11,712. Hinduism was up from 45,324 to 61,458 and the number of Muslims in the region also rose, from 23,688 to 31,158.
The total number of Christians fell from 636,405 to 615,936, although Catholic numbers went up from 169,881 to 172,110 and Christians (not further defined) rose from 63,717 to 78,480.
New migrant Meera Mathews, 25, who moved to Auckland from Kerala, India, three months ago, said she had been attending daily mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in the central city since she arrived.
"I was born a Catholic and have always identified myself as a Catholic and with the Church," said Ms Mathews. "Attending daily mass and receiving the eucharist gives me strength in my daily life and to adjusting in Auckland."
Taxi driver Narinder Singh, a Sikh, said his gurdwara or temple was "like a home away from home".
"The gurdwara is where I meet my friends, have social gatherings and sometimes even get my business from," said Mr Singh, a recent immigrant from Punjab.
But those in the Auckland region who professed to have no religion also grew, from 390,411 to 489,915.
Southland had the highest proportion of Christians overall, but the total number of Southlanders who identify with the faith has dropped 13.1 per cent since 2006.
In Canterbury, 9.6 per cent fewer people identified with a religion and 25.3 per cent more ticked "no religion" in the 2013 Census.
Nearly half of the population in Tasman did not have a religion, and Northland and East Coast were top for having the most people unwilling to state their affiliation.
The Auckland region has the second-smallest proportion of people who smoke, at a shade over 12.9 per cent.
This is several percentage points below the national smoking prevalence rate of 15.1 per cent in 2013, which was a marked reduction from the 20.7 per cent reported in the 2006 Census. Tobacco control groups believe that level of reduction puts the country on track to reach the Government's "mid-term target" of 10 per cent by 2018, and they hope that will lead to achieving the goal of a virtually smokefree country - less than 5 per cent - by 2025.
The most populous region is fractionally behind our national leader, numerically tiny Tasman, Nelson's rural hinterland, whose smoking rate came in at just under 12.9 per cent in the latest census.
Helped by its rapid population growth, Auckland experienced the greatest reduction nationally in its smoking rate in the seven-year interval - 30 per cent.
The Census found that the Auckland region last year had 130,257 people aged 15 or older who smoked at least one tobacco cigarette a day, down from 170,349 in the 2006 Census when the smoking rate was 18.5 per cent.
Smoking pipes, cigars and cigarillos was excluded from the count. The smoking rate excludes those who did not answer the smoking question.
Regions containing the larger cities mostly had smoking rates below the national rate, except for Waikato, on 17.2 per cent.
Other than Auckland and Wellington, North Island regions all had rates above the national rate. Gisborne's rate, 23.7 per cent (down from 29.7 per cent), remained the highest in the country.
That urban/rural disparity is thought to likely reflect higher proportions of Maori population in some areas and the much higher rate of smoking among Maori than among Pakeha - as well as higher rates of deprivation.
Public health specialist Dr Tony Blakely, of Otago University at Wellington, said much, but not all of the regional difference in smoking rates between, for instance, Auckland and Northland, was probably through differing ethnic compositions.
The remaining differences were probably because of differences between regions in income, education and deprivation. There was probably also a small direct effect of where you lived - "contagion, whereby living in proximity to a high density of smokers increases your likelihood of smoking. Indeed, we have evidence that by deprivation there is a contagion effect in New Zealand, whereby when people move between differently deprived neighbourhoods, their chance of smoking changes."
The same thing was probably occurring at a regional level, he said.
Pili Apulu knows smoking is bad for him, but says kicking the habit is hard when you're surrounded by smokers.
The 27-year-old Aucklander, of Samoan ethnicity, is trying to quit and has cut down to eight cigarettes a day, from 15. He has tried nicotine replacement gum but disliked it and is now planning to go cold turkey.
An indoor netballer, he wants to be fitter - and save the $9 a day he spends on tobacco.
Many of his friends and family smoke and he says this inevitably led to his starting, six years ago today, on his 21st birthday.
"When I first started smoking, it was a lot cheaper. More people were smoking and it was just a social thing. I was doing it just because lots of my friends were smokers and when they'd go outside for a smoke, I started going along with them."
Mr Apulu says he hopes to stop smoking soon. "I know it's not good for me. My mum and dad have been on my back and I just want to do it soon, even if it is hard."
More and more New Zealanders are taking up jobs in the healthcare and social assistance sectors, as well as positions in education and training facilities.
The latest Census figures show that since 2006, just over 31,000 Kiwis have been employed in jobs in the healthcare and social assistance sectors.
Back then, the number of people carrying out those kinds of jobs was 160,290. Last year, that figure shot up to 191,691 workers.
Nationally, there are more people working as managers and those dubbed "professionals" - made up of office workers and including teachers - with 426,699 people employed in these positions, compared to around 374,000 in 2006.
But there has been a drop in the number of technicians, trades and sales workers, labourers and clerical and administrative employees.
In Auckland, there are more people working in managerial roles - 116,301 last year, compared to 106,371 eight years ago.
There was also an increase in those in professional and office jobs and those working in community and personal service.
There was, however, a significant drop in those working as machinery operators and drivers - with 31,470 people employed last year.
Seven years before, the Census showed there were almost 36,000 people working in those roles in the City of Sails.
Interestingly, fewer women in Auckland were signing up to positions in public administration and safety, with a drop of 747 workers since the last Census.
There was also a slight drop in the number of women now working in rental, hiring and real estate.
Other industries were unsurprisingly popular with workers depending on where they lived.
In Canterbury, it seems many locals have put up their hands to help the region rebuild, following the major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
Unsurprisingly, figures of those now working in the construction industry had risen dramatically - with the number of residents in construction increasing by 53.8 per cent, since 2006.
Census general manager Sarah Minson said last year the construction industry accounted for 11.2 per cent of the employed population and was the region's second-largest form of employment.
Ms Minson said such figures would help various communities throughout the country.
"This local break-down of Census information is some of the most important, as it will help communities and service providers plan for the future."
On the West Coast, the mining industry increased from 630 workers in 2006, to 1134 last year - jumping from 4.2 per cent of workers to 7.3 per cent.
Nelson is the divorce capital of New Zealand. The South Island city has retained the title in the Census 2013 figures released by Statistics New Zealand after it showed the highest proportion of divorced, separated or widowed people in the country at 21.4 per cent.
It compares with 17 per cent nationally, Census general manager Sarah Minson said.
And it's the second time in seven years Nelson has been dubbed divorce destination after it also returned the highest proportion in the 2006 Census results.
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, a divorcee herself, said having the highest number of divorced, separated or widowed residents could be a reflection on the city's demographic.
"But if you're going to be on your own you might as well be somewhere gorgeous, to be perfectly honest."
Ms Reese, who is now in a long-term relationship, said Nelson was a supportive place where the people and scenery made up for other issues.
"We're a nice size, we're a nice welcoming, supportive community. And that's regardless of marital status, race or age."
Following closely behind was Northland on 20.8 per cent, and Hawkes Bay (20 per cent).
Meanwhile, Nelson was one of the few regions to record an increase in the proportion of married people, which rose slightly from 47.1 per cent to 47.2 per cent of the adult population.
Ms Minson said there had been some change in people's marital status over time, with minor increases, although that was largely due to a population increase.
Around the country Tasman had the highest proportion of married couples on 54.7 per cent followed by Marlborough (53.7 per cent) and Southland (51 per cent).
In Auckland the number of marriages had leapt from just under 450,000 in 2006 to 489,240 last year.
Gisborne had the lowest proportion of married couples than anywhere else in the country; where of residents aged 15 or over 42.5 per cent said they were legally married, down from 44.4 per cent in 2006.
Nationally, the proportion of legally married people in 2013 was just over 48 per cent.
And a higher proportion of Wellingtonians had never been married or in a civil union compared with the rest of the country 39.0 per cent compared with 35 per cent nationwide.
Kevin and Kirsten Robinson got married 10 days ago and said they had always planned to get married, despite waiting seven years.
The Auckland couple, both 24, said getting married was about formalising their relationship and taking it to the next level.
Mr Robinson said family and tradition played a part in their decision not to remain in a de facto relationship.
"I think it's 'cos we both grew up in houses where both parents are still together now.
"We grew up in that sort of environment and we want our kids to have the same thing."
Mrs Robinson said the novelty of calling each other husband and wife had not worn off yet, but she did not think the marriage would significantly alter their relationship.
"We'd already been living together two years and already had bank accounts together.
"It's just a name change [from McConchie] for me really."