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Our Environment: Issue 14 Autumn 1998

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Big jump in Christchurch's Population

The number of people living in Christchurch increased dramatically in the first half of this decade. Between 1991 and 1996 the city's resident population rose from 289,077 to 309,028 people or 6.9 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand figures based on the last census. Nationally, the total population grew by 7.2 per cent.

The growth rate during this period was much higher than in previous years. For example, between 1986 and 1991, the number of Christchurch residents increased by 6,861 people or 2.4 per cent. Growth in the previous five years, from 1981-1986, was even lower at 6,243 people or 2.2 per cent.

Between 1991 and 1996, this city experienced the third highest numeric population growth of all the local authorities in the country, behind Auckland and Manukau cities. Significantly Christchurch grew more than North Shore and Waitakere cities, which are both regarded as key growth areas within Greater Auckland.

Reasons for high growth rate

Migration has been the main driving force behind the City's population growth this decade. Natural increase accounted for 37 per cent of population growth in Christchurch (7,361 people). The remaining 63 per cent (12,590 people) was a result of overseas migration, including departing and returning New Zealand citizens, and net migration from other parts of the country. In contrast, during the five years to March 1991, the city experienced a net migration loss of 400 people.

Future Population Growth

Population projections (medium projection) suggest that Christchurch's population will continue to grow over the next 25 years, reaching 352,100 people by 2021. This is an expected increase of 43,000 people. The base population for these projections only includes residents in New Zealand at census date and makes no allowance for a possible census undercount or for residents temporarily overseas.

Although the city's population is expected to grow substantially, the rate at which growth occurs will gradually decline from an annual average rate of 0.9 per cent in 1996-2001 to 0.3 per cent in 2016-2021. Slower growth will result from a gradual reduction in natural increase and also lower migration from other parts of the country and from overseas.

It is interesting to note that the projected reduction in migration is already being felt in the city. Overseas migration figures for the year to March 1997 show a significant decline in the number of migrants intending to settle in Christchurch. The decline in migration is also occurring at a national level and is largely attributable to tighter immigration qualifying criteria imposed by central government.

For further information on population trends or other aspects of the City's economic, social, natural or physical environments please contact the Information and Monitoring Section, Environmental Policy and Planning Unit, Christchurch City Council.

Corinne Macintyre
Planner, Information and Monitoring

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