Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

NZ population growth may be dependent on immigration - study

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

New Zealand will be made made up of a people of multiple "national" identities and its population growth may be entirely dependent on immigration, says a new study.

The report - Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti - released today by an expert panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand, analysed data from the 2013 Census and other sources.

It said New Zealand had an ageing but increasingly active older population.

Auckland accounted for half the population growth between 2006 and 2013, but rural areas faced dwindling populations.

Seven key themes from the Census data and analyses were identified for the report -- diversity, population growth, tangata whenua, migration, households and families, regional variation and work.

Authors of the report said the country had become more diverse in new ways over the last twenty years, through increasing migration from Asia and an increasing proportion of the population born overseas.

"The implication for New Zealand is that it is, increasingly, a country with multiple cultural identities and values," the authors said.

Professor Gary Hawke, chairman of the panel, said the review was multi-disciplinary and focused on the big picture for the country's future.

"We wanted to highlight what an evolving New Zealand society might look like, what is underlying these changes and the challenges and opportunities these present," he said.

"What we have brought together should enable a more informed approach to both policy debate and political discussion."

Kiwis were also living and staying active longer, and the proportion of the population in the older age groups will continue to increase.

This would mean that people will need income for longer.

Maori culture and institutions have managed to endure and evolve along with the demographic change, but the report said maintenance of Te Reo Maori will be a challenge.

There are now more two-family households and many children live in households that have limited income and assets.

Between 2006 and 2013, Auckland accounted for over half the population growth while internal migration had decelerated between regions.

Employment ways are also changing along with labour supply partly as a result of the ageing population, contraction in entry level cohorts and reliance on immigrant labour.

"The implications...are that the growing diversity of the nature of paid employment will continue, so that there will be less security and participation will be more precarious."

Society president Sir David Skegg said the report would be of interest to anyone who cared about the future of New Zealand.

"I would like to see it in the hands, or on the screens, not only of decision-makers but also of the Year 13 students who will be our future leaders," he said.

- NZ Herald

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