23 October 2015
NEW population gains for the Whakatane and Kawerau districts stand in contrast to an expert’s view that the Eastern Bay’s population is in inexorable decline.
Whakatane’s population grew by 400 to 34,600 in the year to the end of June – an increase of 1 percent on the previous year, according to provisional figures released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand.
Kawerau’s population increased by 50 (a rise of 0.8 percent) to 6660, to finally reverse a 30-year trend of a declining population.
In 2013, Waikato University professor of demography Natalie Jackson said the Eastern Bay population had peaked and would decline by 1000 people every five years for the next 20 years.
She told a local government conference that territorial authorities needed to accept their populations were about to enter a sustained period of decline.
She argued that young people were leaving rural provinces to work in the major cities and the birth rate would fail to outnumber deaths among older people in the baby-boomer age bracket in years to come.
Whakatane’s population increase has been attributed to a natural increase of 300 and 100 migrants.
In Kawerau, migrants accounted for 20 more people, the balance being natural increase.
Opotiki has registered a marginal decline in population with a loss of 20 people. The natural increase in Opotiki was 50 but this was more than offset by 70 people leaving the district.
Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said he was pleased to hear Whakatane’s population was now increasing.
“There is a lot of positive stuff happening in the background.”
Mr Bonne said he was expecting a positive outcome from the Environment Court in the next few months regarding the proposed residential and retirement village at Piripai, and that would encourage growth and development.
Mr Bonne said Whakatane was benefitting from migration from Auckland.
He said he thought Opotiki could expect population growth once the mussel farm was further developed.
In the Bay of Plenty population growth was greatest in Tauranga, where 2400 migrants and a natural increase of 500 had boosted the city’s population to 124,600, a rise of 2.4 percent.
Even Rotorua, which has experienced slow population growth for decades, has experienced a strong population rise.
The natural increase in Rotorua was 500 and with 300 migrants the city’s population rose 1.1 percent to 69,200.
Only three North Island districts experienced declines – Opotiki, Wairoa, and Stratford.
Statistics New Zealand said of New Zealand’s 16 regions, 15 experienced higher population growth in the year to the end of June 2015 than in the previous year.
Auckland had the fastest population growth, increasing by 2.9 percent (43,500) and accounting for half New Zealand’s total growth.
Canterbury (2.1 percent) and Waikato (1.9 percent) also recorded growth rates above the national average.
Statistics New Zealand population statistics manager Joel Watkins said New Zealand experienced a rise in net migration in the June 2015 year, with more people arriving and fewer departing.
In 2013 Dr Jackson, the director of the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, said it was time to accept the days of growth driven by an excess of births over deaths would end for all but 11 of the country’s largest and most dynamic territories.
She said all population growth in 56 of the country’s 67 territorial authorities – including the three Eastern Bay councils – would be attributable to the 65-plus age group. Over the same period, all younger age groups would decline.
The two smaller Easter Bay councils experienced population falls from 1996 to 2006 – Kawerau’s fell 14.7 percent and Opotiki’s 7.1 percent.
The Whakatane district’s population was projected to fall by 300 between 2011 and 2016.
Source: Whakatane Beacon
Another similar article can also be found here courteousy of the NZ Herald.