One third of New Zealand marriages are ending in divorce, according to the Statistics Department.

Analysis of divorce statistics by year of marriage shows that about one-third of New Zealanders who married in 1983 had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary (25 years).

The Family Court granted 9700 divorces in 2008, slightly below the annual average of 10,000 for the last decade, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Half of marriages dissolved in 2008 had lasted 13.4 years or more, compared with 12.6 years for marriages dissolved in 1998.

The median age at divorce in 2008 was 44.5 years for men and 41.9 years for women.

There were 21,900 marriages registered to New Zealand residents in 2008, compared with 21,500 in 2007.

The increase was due to more first marriages, up from 14,400 to 14,800. The number of remarriages remained at 7100, the same as in 2007.

Last year, a further 2000 overseas residents got married, the same number as in each of the previous three years. These marriages include tourists and expatriates returning to celebrate their unions.

On leap day (February 29, 2008), 230 marriages were celebrated compared with an average of 130 on other Fridays in February.

Only 13 per cent of weddings occurred during the winter months of June, July and August, but Friday August 8, 2008 (or 08/08/08) was a popular day, with 290 marriages celebrated compared with an average of 40 on other Fridays in August.

The general marriage rate (marriages per 1000 unmarried adults) was 13.7 in 2008, down from 15.6 in 1998. The latest rate is less than one-third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1000 recorded in 1971.

There were 327 civil unions registered to New Zealand residents last year comprising 256 same-sex unions (111 male and 145 female) and 71 opposite-sex unions.

There were 78 civil unions registered to overseas residents, bringing the total number of registrations to 405. Up until 31 December 2008, eight civil unions had been dissolved.

- NZPA