Finding out Whanganui's population is not as straightforward as perhaps it should be.
Google and Wikipedia both say it is 40,300 — but those figures are at least a year old.
Stats New Zealand says it was more than that — 42,153 to be exact — back in 2013.
Then in January the latest test Census put the district population at 44,500.
Mayor Hamish McDouall greeted those figures saying previous government projections did not reflect the growth that most people could see around them.
"The population increase reflects what people are experiencing — a lot of Whanga-newbies, rising house prices, and a growing economy."
Things are no clearer when looking at population forecasts.
Stats NZ predicted a decrease of 3300 for Whanganui by 2043. Then it updated that to a decrease of 1000 people over 30 years. Conversely, population specialist ID forecasts growth, not decline. It says our population will grow to 45,230 by 2043.
This stuff is important. Because people looking to buy commercial property, establish business here, or simply move here to live, look at information like population to help with their decisions.
Forecasting decline is not necessarily the best look.
Short of everyone assembling on Springvale Park to be counted, its seems we are stuck with not really knowing for sure.
Perhaps council has access to more reliable data. If so, a population counter on the front page of its website might be helpful to combat the different figures quoted elsewhere.
That aside, Hamish is right. It just feels busier.
And the segment TVNZ's Seven Sharp did on us at the weekend won't hurt.
Even if they did call us a "Manawatu town".