People and communities

Auckland is New Zealand’s demographic dynamo. It continues to grow from 1,373,000 people in 2006 to 1,507,600 today, an increase of 9.8 percent or approximately two percent each year. Compared to the rest of New Zealand, Auckland’s population has a higher proportion of young people and a smaller proportion of over-65s, ten percent. It is marked by considerable ethnic diversity and its growth is influenced by migration patterns. Auckland households tend to be larger than elsewhere in New Zealand and fewer Aucklanders proportionately live in rural communities. Auckland also has a higher concentration of tertiary qualified and a smaller proportion of unqualified residents. More Aucklanders work fulltime in professional and clerical occupations.

Auckland Council has little direct influence over outcomes which are the primary responsibility of central government, but can exert indirect influence through Auckland Council planning processes. Aucklanders’ perceptions of the liveability of their city do not generally distinguish between the responsibilities of central government and those of the Auckland Council. The Super City is judged by whether daily living in Auckland is better or not. The vibrancy of Auckland’s communities is measured here by looking at quality of life, health, housing, crime and safety, and attitudes to the city. Auckland Council shares its responsibilities with a variety of other authorities: e.g. three District Health Boards (DHBs), Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau, service the Super City.

Quality of life

Nearly 80 percent of Aucklanders rate their quality of life positively.3

While the majority of Aucklanders rate their quality of life as extremely good or good, Wellingtonians were even more likely to do so, 88 percent. Those Aucklanders least likely to rate their quality of life positively were living in Henderson-Massey and Manurewa, were of Pacific, Māori or Asian/Indian ethnicity, or in households with an income under $70,000 per annum.

Just under a quarter, 23 percent, of respondents living in Auckland said their quality of life had increased compared to 12 months prior, with 3 percent saying it had increased significantly and 20 percent saying it had increased to some extent. Those more likely to say their quality of life had increased were living in Otara-Papatoetoe, 35 percent. Those less likely to say their quality of life had increased were living in Rodney, 14 percent, perhaps indicating they were previously satisfied.

Although Auckland households have substantially higher incomes, Aucklanders feel slightly less affluent than other New Zealanders.4

Aucklanders are slightly more deprived at both neighbourhood and household levels and are more likely to consider themselves as being in financial difficulties. Auckland street-areas in the most deprived category total 14 percent as opposed to 12 percent for the rest of New Zealand; 5.1 percent are in the highest category as opposed to 5.5 percent elsewhere in New Zealand. Having said that, in terms of the Economic Living Standard Index (ELSI), which has been developed to describe the living standards of New Zealanders, there is no major difference.5 Aucklanders tend to rate their standard of living slightly lower than other New Zealanders, 48 percent as high/fairly high versus 50 percent. A related measure of satisfaction with standard of living has a similar proportion, 80 percent versus 82 percent, and more Aucklanders claim they do not have enough money, 18 percent versus 14 percent.

Household income for Aucklanders averaged (mean) just under $100,000 for the 2008-2010 period, increasing very slightly from 2009 to 2010. Personal income remained fairly constant at $40,000. Household incomes, and to a lesser extent personal incomes, are considerably higher than those for non-Aucklanders. However, household income inequality increased for Aucklanders from 60 percent in 2008 to 62 percent in 2010 (Coefficient of Variation). For individual incomes, the increase was from 100 percent to 109 percent over the same period.6 This same pattern was evident across New Zealand.


The majority of Auckland adults, 82 percent, rate their overall health positively, but this figure masks significant inequalities.7

In 2012, those least likely to rate their health positively were of Māori, Pacific or Asian/Indian ethnicity; aged 65-plus; or had a household income below $40,000. For example, over 40 percent of adult residents in Auckland’s most deprived local board area, Mangere-Otahuhu, gave a negative health rating. Aucklanders’ self-ratings of overall health were similar to those from residents in four other New Zealand cities (Porirua, Hutt, Christchurch, Dunedin). However, Wellingtonians were more likely to rate their health positively, 86 percent. A negative rating of one’s health strongly predicts the use of health services in the future or of mortality8 and is strongly linked to overall quality of life.

Nearly one in five Aucklanders did not visit a general practitioner (GP)/doctor when they wanted to in the previous year, mostly because of cost.9

Some Aucklanders were more likely than others to not see a GP when they wanted to. For example, in Mangere-Otahuhu, the rate was one in three in 2012. Nearly half, 46 percent, of Aucklanders who did not visit a GP said it was because of the cost; around a third said the issue was minor or not serious enough to warrant visiting a doctor; one in five said they could not get an appointment. Rates of not seeing a GP were similar across Auckland, Porirua, Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.10 Having timely access to a GP is important in terms of treating and preventing poor health.11

Age-standardised suicide rates in the Auckland-region DHBs were below the national rate (2006-2010), but higher than in the Capital and Coast (Wellington-region) DHB.12

Over the five-year period from 2006-2010, the age-standardised suicide rates for the Auckland, Waitemata and Manukau DHBs were below the national rate (9.5, 9.3, 10.4 and 11.6 per 100,000 population respectively). Only Capital and Coast DHB (8.2) recorded a lower rate than Waitemata DHB. In the partly overlapping period of 2002-2006, the Auckland and Waitemata rates were similar to the more recent figures (9.2 and 9.7 per 100,000 population respectively), but the Counties Manukau rate was somewhat higher at 12.1. Across New Zealand, the 2010 suicide death rate was highest for males, Māori, male youth, residents in the most deprived areas and those in rural locations. The rates for Māori youth and Māori males were particularly high. Suicide is an indicator of a population’s mental health and social well-being.13

There were proportionally fewer births to teenage mothers in Auckland compared to the national rate.14

The age-specific fertility rate for teenage mothers in Auckland was below the national average of 27.8 births per 1,000 teenagers in 201115. However, the Auckland rate of 24.9 was higher than those for Wellington, 22.5, Canterbury,18.9, and the rest of the South Island, 19.3. As Auckland’s population is large, the actual number of births to teenage mothers is correspondingly high. For example, between 2005–2009, 30 percent of live births to teenage mothers in New Zealand were in the Auckland region. Teenage parenthood, and being the child of a teenage parent, is associated with a range of negative outcomes, for example, in terms of income, employment and educational achievement.16

The proportion of low birthweight babies in Auckland and Waitemata DHBs was similar to the national rate, but the Counties Manukau rate was slightly higher.17

In 2010, 1.8 percent of full-term babies born in New Zealand were low birthweight, weighing less than 2.5kg at birth. The rates in the Auckland region DHBs were similar to the national rates, but Counties Manukau was slightly higher, Waitemata 1.8 percent, Auckland 1.9 percent, Counties Manukau 2.2 percent. In the same year, the rates in, for example, Canterbury, 1.3 percent, and Capital and Coast, 1.6 percent, were below those recorded by Auckland DHBs. Low birthweight “is associated with fetal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, as well as inhibited growth and cognitive development.”18 The infant death rate, the number of infants who die before their first birthday per 1,000 live births in Counties Manukau DHB was markedly higher than the national rate in the 2005-2009 period, 6.9 and 5 respectively. By contrast, the Waitemata DHB rate was markedly lower, while the Auckland DHB rate hovered just below the national rate.19


The pace of housing construction in Auckland has slowed in recent years, and the proportion of apartments compared to single-dwellings has increased. The unaffordability of Auckland housing is high but has slightly decreased.

Aucklanders are generally satisfied with where they live in terms of their homes. Eighty-seven percent said they are very satisfied or satisfied. For non-Aucklanders, ratings were very similar (86 percent very satisfied or satisfied).

In 2006 there were 437,000 occupied private dwellings (and 465,500 dwellings), an increase of 45,000, 11.4 percent, between 2001 and 2006, compared with 12.4 percent population growth during that time. The 2011 estimate was 514,000 occupied dwellings and a population of 1,507,600, increases of 10.4 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. Occupied dwellings, as expected, slightly exceed population growth given that household size is falling.20

Separate, detached houses are the predominant type of housing at 75.6 percent in 2006, with the remaining 23.9 percent flats, townhouses and apartments. Auckland had a lower proportion of separate houses than the rest of the country at 81.2 percent in 2006.21

Within Auckland, the Waitemata local board area had the highest proportion of flats, townhouses and apartments at 65.5 percent. The local board areas on the edges of the urban area tended to have the highest proportions of stand-alone houses such as Waiheke Island, Waitakere Ranges, Rodney and Franklin.

About two-thirds, 62.3 percent, of the increase in the number of private occupied dwellings between 1996 and 2006 were separate houses, and about a third, 37.4 percent, were flats, townhouses and apartments. Since 2001 the proportion of new housing permits granted for apartments has been around 20 percent but with a peak of 30 to 40 percent in 2004–2005, which was also a period of particularly high construction, or at least permit issuance. In 2011 just over 3,500 permits were issued and the proportion for apartments was down to 10 percent. The number of apartments built in Auckland grew rapidly from 2001 to 2005 and has fallen dramatically since.22

Housing affordability in Auckland is an issue of considerable concern.23 According to the Demographia survey, the Auckland housing market, along with other New Zealand markets, is severely unaffordable with a “median multiple” of 6.7 in 2012. That is, the median house price ($506,800) is 6.7 times the gross median New Zealand household income of $75,200. However, the median multiple has come down slightly since 2008 when it was 6.9.24 Nonetheless, only slightly fewer Auckland residents own their own dwelling compared to other New Zealanders at 53 percent versus 55 percent.

Nine percent of Aucklanders lived in overcrowded housing in 2008 and 2010, but 17 percent of Auckland’s children were in this situation.25 More recent data showed that 17 percent of children in Mangere’s Harania West neighbourhood were living in overcrowded homes in 2011.26 A high proportion of children in overcrowded housing is of particular concern given the association between overcrowding and poor health.

Houses in Auckland are affordable, just not in the areas most would-be-first-home buyers seem to want to buy.

— Letter to NZ Herald, July 2013.

Crime and perception of safety

Reported rates of crime are steadily decreasing. Slightly fewer Aucklanders reported they were victims of crimes compared to residents in other New Zealand cities.

Reported rates of crime are steadily decreasing, as shown in Table 1.27

Table 1:
Reported offences per 10,000 population for the three Auckland Police Districts

  Waitemata Auckland Counties Manukau
2011 660.6  1,265.0 965.8
2012 570.2  1,098.5 845.5

Slightly fewer Aucklanders, 18 percent, than non-Aucklanders, 20 percent, reported they were victims of crimes. Compared to residents in other New Zealand cities, Aucklanders feel less safe in their city centre and safer at home or in public areas.28

Seventy percent of Aucklanders surveyed reported feeling safe or very safe awaiting public transport during the day, compared to 53 percent of other New Zealanders. Thirty-three percent of Aucklanders reported feeling safe or very safe while awaiting public transport at night-time, compared to 25 percent of non-Aucklanders. Perceptions of safety while walking in one’s neighbourhood during daytime was similar between Aucklanders, 94 percent felt safe or very safe, and non-Aucklanders, 95 percent felt safe or very safe. In contrast, only 54 percent of Aucklanders, and 58 percent of non-Aucklanders, felt safe or very safe walking in their neighbourhood at night. Finally, the perceived safety of children playing unsupervised concerns more Aucklanders, 25 percent, than city-dwellers elsewhere in New Zealand. In Porirua, Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, it was 21 percent.

Feelings of being safe are central to people’s wellbeing, but may be quite unrelated to reported rates of crime. Auckland Council can assist with keeping crime low through encouraging appropriate built environment design and supporting community organisations such as Neighbourhood Watch. Community Safety Auckland is an arm of Auckland Council that encourages support for crime reduction.

Attitudes to the city

Aucklanders’ attitude towards their city is more positive compared to residents in other New Zealand cities. However, Aucklanders’ attitudes towards their own neighbourhood are more negative.

That “Auckland is a great place to live” was a viewpoint agreed to by 77 percent of Aucklanders responding to the Quality of Life Survey, compared to 75 percent of non-Aucklanders living in other cities, and their sense of pride in the way their city looks and feels is considerably higher. Aucklanders have a slightly lower sense of community in their neighbourhood compared to non-Aucklanders, 52 percent versus 55 percent, and are less satisfied with the look and feel of their neighbourhood. However, of particular concern is the finding that only 46 percent of Aucklanders felt that cultural diversity makes their area a better place to live, compared with 62 percent of non-Aucklanders.

Auckland Council can encourage high quality design of public spaces and encourage high quality design of visible private spaces in order to enhance residents’ feelings about living in their community and also in the city more widely.

3. ACNielsen. (2013a). Quality of life survey 2012: Auckland. Retrieved from
4. Statistics New Zealand, General Social Survey, 2008; 2010.
5. For the ELSI scale see
6. There is a large international literature arguing that inequality can itself have a major effect on social outcomes even when controlling for income level (see e.g., the debate around Wilkinson, R. G., & Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level : Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane).
7. Self-reported health status. ACNielsen. (2013a). Quality of life survey 2012: Auckland (see endnote 3); (2013b). Quality of life survey 2012: Six councils report. Wellington: ACNielsen.
8. Ministry of Health. (2012). The health of New Zealand adults 2011/12: Key findings of the New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
9. Wanting to see a GP in the last 12 months but not doing so. ACNielsen. (2013a, b) (see endnote 7).
10. That is, there was no statistically significant difference at the 95% confidence level.
11. Quality of Life Project. (2007). Quality of life in twelve of New Zealand’s cities. Retrieved from
12. Age-standardised suicide death rates per 100,000 population. Ministry of Health. (2012). Suicide facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations 2010. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
13. Associate Minister of Health. (2006). The New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
14. Age-specific fertility rate (per 1,000) for 15–19 year old females. Families Commission. (2012). Teen births: Regional and national trends. Wellington: Families Commission; Families Commission. (n.d.). Teenage pregnancy and parenting: An Overview. Wellington: Families Commission.
15. Statistics New Zealand’s Demographic Trends: 2012 states that the 2011 teenage birth rate was 26 per 1,000.
16. Jaffee, S., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Belsky, J., & Silva, P. (2001). “Why are children born to teen mothers at risk for adverse outcomes in young adulthood? Results from a 20-year longitudinal study”. Development and Psychology, 13, 377–397.
17. Full-term, low birthweight babies. Ministry of Health. (2012). Report on maternity 2010. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
18. Ministry of Health. (2012). Reporting on maternity, 2010. Wellington: Ministry of Health (p.14).
19. Deaths before age one year per 1,000 live births. Ministry of Health. (2012). Fetal and infant deaths 2008 and 2009. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
20. Data from Statistics New Zealand, Population Censuses and population estimates.
21. Statistics New Zealand, Census 2006 and General Social Survey. Refer to p.23–24 for findings on the housing market.
22. Figures for new apartments are compiled from consents that have 10 or more attached new dwelling units (data at See also New Zealand Productivity Commission. (2012). Housing Affordability. Retrieved from
23. A December 2012 Television One Colmar Brunton public opinion poll found that New Zealanders want the government to act to lower housing prices. By an almost 2 to 1 margin, respondents indicated that the nation’s government should be “doing something” about housing affordability. The support for reforms to make housing more affordable was significantly stronger in the 18 to 34 age group.
24. Demographia. (2013). 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. Retrieved from
25. Figures calculated from Statistics New Zealand’s General Social Survey 2008; 2010. The figure for children living in overcrowded conditions relates to 2008.
26. The Salvation Army. (2011). The Mangere Housing Survey Report. Auckland: The Salvation Army.
27. Offence rate reported to Police. New Zealand Police statistics, retrieved from
28. Statistics New Zealand, General Social Survey, 2008; 2010.

People and communities 1