Faith in god remains an important part of life for many in Hawke's Bay, with the region placed second nationwide for its residents' religious adherence.

The 2013 Census regional summary tables give a new insight into the Hawke's Bay region and its districts.

Despite its second placing nationally, the number of residents identifying with a religion declined, as did the number of smokers.

"While the region followed the national trend of fewer people identifying with a religion in the census, Hawke's Bay had the second-highest proportion of religious people in the country, behind Auckland," Census statistics manager Gareth Meech said.


The proportion of Hawke's Bay residents who affiliated with a religion was 56.4 per cent, compared with 55.0 per cent nationally.

Anglican was the highest reported religion in Hawke's Bay, accounting for 16.5 per cent of the population, followed by Catholic at 11.4 per cent.

Anglican Bishop of Waiapu David Rice said he was "delighted" to see people following the Anglican faith despite a falling total number of religious believers.

"I think we have really emphasised our work in the community and have extended our hand far beyond the walls of the church."

He said in post-modern times, the days of simply opening the church doors and expecting people to flock in were over.

"Those days, for now at least, appear to be at an end ... I'm not surprised at the national averages. Typically in a New Zealand context, the number of people going to church in New Zealand are down but I think the number of people who feel they are spiritual are very high, and that is the most important thing.

"Times change all the time and if we are not modernising and if we are not excited about what is happening we may as well close the doors."

American-born Bishop Rice was farewelled as the Anglican Bishop of Waiapu at Napier Cathedral yesterday after five and a half years to become the Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, in eastern California.

The Diocese of Waiapu stretches across the mid North Island to Gisborne and Tauranga.

The total number of Christians in the region declined 11.9 per cent since 2006, while the number of people who said they have no religion increased 28.7 per cent.

The number of smokers in Hawke's Bay has also declined since 2006, with 6303 fewer people identifying themselves as regular smokers in the 2013 Census. The proportion of regular smokers in the region dropped from 24.8 per cent of the adult population in 2006 to 18.2 per cent last year.

Among people aged 15 to 19, the change was particularly significant. The proportion of regular smokers in this age group dropped from 24.1 per cent in 2006 to 15.6 per cent last year, a 40.4 per cent decrease, which equates to 945 fewer young smokers. Smokefree Programme Manager for Hawke's Bay District Health Board Penny Thompson said the smokefree team was celebrating the news that there were 945 fewer 15 to 19 year olds using tobacco.

She believed the reason for a 40.4 per cent drop in smoking rates was the collaborative approach taken from a number of organisations in Hawke's Bay to tobacco control.

"From councils supporting smokefree parks, the work health professionals did supporting people to become smokefree and the strong push from Ngati Kahungunu Iwi to encourage whanau to become smokefree all played a role in driving down the numbers of people who were regular smokers."