Key Points:

For Auckland resident Goretti Lewis, speaking six languages doesn't mean the end of squinting at subtitles while watching foreign movies.

"I always read the subtitles because I need to make sure they match what the people are saying. It's just a reflex ... I know other multilingual people who do the same thing," said Ms Lewis, who lives in Beach Haven.

The 50-year-old - who speaks Portuguese (her native language), English, German, Spanish, Italian and French - can add her name to the list of 633 people living in Auckland who can speak six languages.

According to the 2006 Census figures for the Auckland region, 633 people speak six languages, 2397 speak five, 9309 speak four, 44,712 speak three, 274,863 people speak two and 867,825, people speak one language.

Ms Lewis, who moved to New Zealand in April (after the 2006 Census information was collected), was born in Portugal but grew up in Angola before moving to Australia when she was 18.

She studied French, English and German at high school and Spanish and Italian at university. "I just like languages. I always have," she said.

"I like going to a country and being able to blend in as much as I can and understand the language to the point where I can understand the colloquialisms.

"Being multilingual helps you understand different cultures much better."

Ms Lewis taught Spanish and Italian in Australia before moving to New Zealand. "I like the way you develop particular accents depending on the language you speak and how your body language changes. When I speak Italian then I'll move my body a certain way."

Wellington region has the second largest number of people who can speak six languages, after Auckland, with 213. Canterbury region comes in third with 168 people who can speak six languages.

West Coast region has the least number of people who can speak six languages with only three.

The linguistic ability of Aucklanders is reflected in the cultural make-up of their region.

A total of 698,622 people identified themselves as European, 234,222 as Asian, 177,936 as Pacific people, 137,133 as Maori, 18,555 as Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and 57 as Other. Just over 145,000 people described themselves as "New Zealander".

The total population for the Auckland region is 1,303,068 - of which 634,491 are male and 668,577 female.

On the technological side of things, 313,902 households have access to a mobile phone, 380,256 have access to a telephone and 269,142 have internet access.

There are 43,896 big earners in the Auckland region pulling in more than $100,001 a year, accounting for 3.3 per cent of its population.

At the other end of the scale, 63,426 people - including children - had zero income.


Aucklanders at a glance

* Around 25 per cent of the population speak at least two languages.
* Around 25 per cent of households have access to a mobile phone.
* Just 3.3 per cent of Aucklanders earn more than $100,000 a year.