New Zealand Population and Religion

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According to mathgeneral, New Zealand lies along the Ring of Fire, a volcanic belt that surrounds the Pacific Ocean on three sides. The longitudinal axis from north to south measures around 1,600 km. North and South Island are separated by the Cook Strait (23 km wide), South Island and Stewart Island by the Foveaux Strait (26 km wide). The largest width of the islands is 450 km. Located on the border between the Indian-Australian and Pacific plates, the main islands are characterized by young fold mountain formations, volcanic activity on the North and South Island and the resulting earthquakes.

North Island: The core of the North Island consists of a volcanic highland with active volcanoes, thermal springs and geysers. The highest volcanic mountains are Mt. Ruapehu (2,797 m), Taranaki / Mt. Egmont (2,518 m), Mt. Ngāuruhoe (2,287 m; one of the filming locations of “The Lord of the Rings”) and Tongariro (1,967 m above the sea level).

The volcanic area of ​​the North Island is rich in lakes (including Lake Taupō, Lake Rotorua, Lake Wairarapa). A mountain range joins the central highlands in the east and runs through the north island from south to northeast. In the west and south there are mountainous lands that are cut by numerous rivers.

South Island: The South Island is traversed by the glaciated mountain range of the Southern Alps (New Zealand Alps), in which 18 peaks are more than 3,000 m above sea level; the Aoraki / Mt. Cook, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, is the highest point in New Zealand at 3,754 m above sea level. The fjordland joins in the south, into which a large number of fjords and glacial valleys are deepened. The agriculturally used Canterbury plain extends to the east with wide alluvial fans of the mountain rivers. Mountain country separates them from the plains in the south.


The percentage of residents of European origin is 64.1% and has therefore decreased in recent years (2018). Compared to 2013, the proportions of the Māori (16.5%) and the Asian population (15%), especially from China, India and the Philippines, have increased significantly. Overall, New Zealand’s ethnic diversity is growing.

The Filipino ancestors of the Māori populated the New Zealand islands probably between 1200 and 1300 AD. According to the Māori myths, this is said to have happened 2-3 centuries earlier. Since the second half of the 18th century, the number of Māori fell rapidly due to imported diseases and armed conflicts with the British settlers. Around 1840 their number was estimated at 115,000; In 1896 they numbered only about 42,000. After decades of struggle, the successful claiming of property rights and compensation for lost land rights from the 1970s onwards led to the acceptance and finally to the recognition of the Māori language as the official language (1987) and to the incorporation of its cultural history in the school curricula. Since then, the Māori culture has been promoted by the state and has a visible status in the country. Despite social and political equality, the Māori are still disadvantaged in economic life. Although over 90% of them live on the economically prosperous North Island, unemployment is three times higher than that of the Pākehā, as the non-indigenous population is called.

The descendants of the Māori related Moriori received official recognition from the New Zealand government in 2020. They were considered extinct for over 200 years. In 2020 around 1000 people in New Zealand and on the Chatham islands belonging to it identify themselves as descendants of the Moriori.

Almost three quarters of the population are of European origin. In addition to the first groups of immigrants (English, Scots, Welsh and Irish), Germans came to New Zealand in the middle of the 19th century, Norwegians, Danes and Italians around 1900, and Dutch and Greeks after the Second World War. The proportion of residents of Asian origin (mainly Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and Indians) is around 11%. About 8% are Polynesians (especially from Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga).

With 18 residents per square kilometer (2018), New Zealand is less than a tenth as densely populated as Germany, but the population is distributed very differently from region to region. More than three quarters of all New Zealanders live on the North Island. The share of the urban population is almost 90% (2019). The largest cities are Auckland and Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch on the South Island.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, New Zealand experienced a net increase of more than 70,000 people per year. A change took place from the traditional countries of origin (Great Britain and other European countries) to Asia, especially China, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The government has therefore taken several measures to regulate immigration (including Immigration Act 2009, Immigration Amendment Act 2015).

Social: The state social benefits (including old-age pensions, unemployment benefits, child benefit) are financed exclusively from tax revenue. Health insurance consists of a mixed state-private system. The state offers basic insurance, private supplementary insurance is the rule. The health system corresponds to western standards. In 2019, there were more than 3 doctors and almost 3 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents.

The largest metropolitan areas in New Zealand

Largest metropolitan areas (2019)
city Population
Auckland 1 402 020
Christchurch 374 100
Wellington 209 420
Hamilton 165 850
Tauranga 144 670


There is freedom of religion. State and church are separate.

In 2018, 48.6% of the population said they did not follow any religion. Christian denominations belonged to 37.3% (Catholics 10.1%, Anglicans 6.8%, Presbyterians and Congregationalists 5.2%, Pentecostals 1.8%, Methodists 1.6%, Mormons 1.2%, others 10, 7%). Other faiths: Hindu 2.7%, Māori 1.3%, Muslims 1.3%, Buddhists 1.1%, others (including Jews, spiritualists) 1.6%. The respondents were able to name several denominations. Most Māori profess Christianity in the independent Māori churches, the Ringatu Church (founded in 1868) and the Ratana Church (founded in 1925). Traditional religious ideas and practices of the Māori are consciously adopted.

New Zealand Population and Religion

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