Our ageing population

Like most of the developed world, New Zealand has an ageing population.

By 2036, it’s projected:

  • Around one in 4.5 New Zealanders will be aged 65-plus
  • That's 1,258,500 million people
  • It's an additional 547,300 over 65's, up from a total of 711,200 in 2016.
  • Or a 77 per cent increase

Contrast that with the under 14s:

  • There will be 991,900 children by 2036
  • It's an extra 70,400 under 14s, up from 921,500 in 2016
  • It represents only a 7.6 per cent increase

This GIF shows the demographic changes projected to occur between 1996 to 2066.

*Click on the above graph to turn it into a GIF.

It goes from the classic pyramid shape to a much more even spread.

The over 65s will grow at a rate 10.5 times faster than the under 14s.


Comparison between under 14s and 65 plus

*Click on the graphs to increase their size


65 plus

The number of people aged 65 and over is increasing

  • At the end of 2016, 711,200 people were aged 65-plus
  • Those aged 65 years and older will roughly double, from 711,200 in 2016 to between 1.3 and 1.5 million in 2046
  • Or 23 per cent of the total population, up from 12 per cent in 2016.

so is the number aged over 80

  • At the end of 2016, 169,000 people were aged 80+
  • That number is projected to climb to 392,800 by 2036
  • It's an increase of 132.4 per cent

and the 95-plus numbers are increasing

  • At the end of 2016, 5,800 people were aged 95-plus
  • By 2036, it's projected the number will rise to 14,500. It's an increase of 150 per cent
  • By 2056, the number will climb to 42,400 aged 95-plus. That's a 631% increase from 2016.

Age group projections 2016 to 2066

*The graph shows the comparison of age groups in the next 50 years.


This is NOT A BULGE that will pass with time

This will be the NEW NORMAL

  • Significant changes in the age structure of the population will continue
  • Population ageing is not caused by the baby boomers, but by the transition to lower birth rates and lower death rates
  • It’s projected 22 per cent of our population will be 65-plus in 2036, while 25 per cent will be 65-plus in 2056.
  • The median age of New Zealand's population increased from 25.6 years in 1970 to 37.1 years in 2016
  • A median age of 40 years is likely to be reached in the early 2030s. By 2068, half the population could be older than 46 years
  • Population growth will slow as New Zealand’s population ages and the gap between the number of births and deaths narrows.

*Median age - half the population is younger, half is older.

  • It's projected a boy born in 2014 would have a life expectancy of 90
  • A girl is expected on average to live until 93
  • This is around 10 years longer on average than someone born in 1950
  • At the same time we are having smaller families
  • In 1963 there were four children per family, now it is fewer than two.

Our regional cities and districts are ageing quickly.

Map showing ageing populations in regions

  • In TWO council districts, ONE IN FOUR is aged 65 plus.
  • By 2033 there will be 48 such districts.
  • Thames-Coromandel is the OLDEST district with a median age of 51 years
  • The national figure is 37.5 years
  • By 2033, a number of districts will have median ages over 50:

This includes Hauraki, Central Otago, Kapiti Coast, Horowhenua, Kaipara, Kaikōura, Tasman, Central Hawke’s Bay, Carterton.


Our cities have large older populations.

Auckland - City of Sails

The future populations of our largest cities will be younger than the national average

But, they will still have the largest number of people aged 65-plus.

  • By 2033, the number of 65 plus is projected to increase:
  • From 170,000 to 350,000 people
  • a 106 per cent rise

(including Porirua and the Hutt Valley)

  • There are 43,000 people aged 65-plus
  • That will nearly double to 85,000 or a 96 per cent increase
  • Currently has 52,000 people aged 65-plus
  • By 2033 that will rise to 92,000, a 76 per cent increase

By 2033, population decreases are expected in 25 per cent of cities and districts

  • That reflects an ageing population with more deaths than births,
  • And more people moving out of the area than moving in.

Currently, most older people are New Zealand Europeans but our seniors are becoming more culturally diverse.

Of the total population aged 65-plus in the 2013 Census:

  • 88 per cent identified as NZ European
  • 6 per cent as Māori
  • 5 per cent as Asian
  • 2 per cent as Pacific

but that’s changing

While the older population will continue to be mainly New Zealand European, other ethnic groups will increase the diversity of seniors in the next 20 years.

It’s projected by 2036, among those aged 65-plus, the number of:

  • NZ Europeans will increase from 608,000 to 974,000 people, a 60 per cent rise
  • Māori will go from 44,000 to a population of 121,000, an increase of 115 per cent
  • Asian peoples ( comprising people who already live here and those migrating to NZ)will increase from 43,000 to 156,000, that's a 260 percentage rise
  • Pacific peoples will increase from 19,000 to a population of 50,000, a 160 per cent increase.

*Statistics are based on national population projections by age and sex (2016 base) from Statistics NZ.

Credit: the interpreted data on this page has been sourced from Statistics New Zealand http://www.stats.govt.nz/