Prolonged loneliness has hit high levels in New Zealand, particularly among young people, according to a new report.

A Loneliness New Zealand charitable trust report found loneliness in youth increased from 5.8 per cent before Covid-19 struck to 20.8 per cent during the lockdown, and remains high at 17 per cent.

"It is disheartening that after lockdown, one in six of our youth feel lonely most or all of the time," the report's author Dr Spencer Scoular said.

Report author Spencer Scoular. Photo / RNZ
Report author Spencer Scoular. Photo / RNZ

Youth loneliness levels are far higher than those of seniors, which were 3.9 per cent after lockdown.

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Loneliness among adults increased from 3.5 per cent before the lockdown to 10.6 per cent during the lockdown.

Other groups that continue to suffer more from loneliness since the lockdown has ended include sole parents at 18 per cent, the unemployed at 16 per cent, and Asians at 13 per cent.

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People with no qualifications, in a household with an income of less than $30,000 a year, and those with disabilities also suffered high levels of loneliness, the report stated.

"Conquering prolonged loneliness requires high quality meaningful relationships, rather than a large number of low quality superficial relationships," Scoular said.

Loneliness could remain a problem while higher unemployment, lower incomes, border restrictions, and working from home reduced people's meaningful connections with others, he said.