Skip to main content

NZ Statistics: Historical Statistics

Find statistical information and data from historic to current, using databases, online data sources and publications

New Zealand Official Year-books

Complete set at Central Government Publications 3T5ws N; latest edition is also on Library Reserve. Each library will have recent copies.

  • Predecessors: official handbooks by Julius Vogel and Francis Dillon Bell. Library has 1892
  • 1893: first "New Zealand official year-book"
  • Annual: except for the combined volumes for 1921/22, 1947/49 and 1951/52
  • 1990 edition: a sesquicentennial special issue included historical material & cumulated tables
  • 1991: none published
  • 1993 edition: commemorated women's suffrage
  • 1999: condensed print-out of the Web version, no paper copy
  • 2000 web version "Profile of New Zealand"  
  • 2000-2010: print edition to be published every 2 years, not annually
  • Each yearbook provides a summary of statistics and also refers to other sources. From 1980 each chapter lists sources of further data.
  • Digitised yearbooks 1893-2012 so far...

Source: Statistics NZ

Māori Population

Browse current Māori population statistics.

  • Early official statistics on Māori are generally more difficult to find than those for the European population
  • 1859: first official census of Māori: Fenton,F.D. "Observations on the state of the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand". Central Reference HA3184.FA63
  • 1874 to 1926: Māori data appeared as an appendix to the census
  • 1926 Census: more precise data on Māori
  • 1951: figures fully integrated into the main tables
  • Pool, Ian, Te iwi Māori: a New Zealand population, past, present and projected, 1991 - Central Library Main DU465.P66 PT448 - brings together official and non-official data on the Māori population, including estimates of the pre-1856 Māori population
  • Mako, Cyril, A directory of the location of statistics on the New Zealand Māori population, 1991 - Hocken Library DU465.P66 M683
  • From 1976 - Census data books on Māori and Iwi populations

Useful Books

Bateman New Zealand Historical Atlas: ko papatuanuku e takoto nei - Central Library Atlases G 2796 .S1 B3 1997; copies also at Maori Resources, Hocken, Robertson and Science Libraries

Te Ara: the encyclopedia of New Zealand - comprehensive guide to New Zealand, its natural environment, history, culture, economics and government

Guide to New Zealand official statistics - Central Library Main HA 3184 .NA 74 1955; also at Hocken Reference

New Zealand, a handbook of historical statistics 1984 GT Bloomfield - Central Library Main HA 3184 .BM71; also at Hocken Collections

Statistical publications 1840-2000 - Central Library Main HA 3184 .ZN52 2000; also at Hocken Collections. Brief history of official NZ statistics, plus subject lists of statistical series with title changes of publications in chronological order.

Understanding Aotearoa/New Zealand: historical statistics D Thorns (ed.) 1997 - Central Library Main HA 3184 .TG528; also at Hocken

Series of statistical publications are shelved at Central Library Government Publications; often online now:

Business activity statistics 1991-2000 - 3T5ws B; online

Consumer expenditure 1990-1998 - 3T5ws C; also at Hocken; online

Demographic trends 1987-2006 - 3T5ws D; online

Exports - 3T5ws E - data on external trade & shipping under varying titles, from 1962; online via Infoshare and Statistics NZ

Labour market statistics 1991-2008 - 3T5ws L; online

Vital statistics 1964-1987 - 3T5ws V; also at Hocken & Medical; online via Infoshare

Birth, Death and Marriage historical records

New Zealand Government records for births, deaths and marriages. The historic data is limited to protect people who might still be alive. Information available includes:

  •  Births that occurred at least 100 years ago
  •  Stillbirths that occurred at least 50 years ago
  •  Marriages that occurred 80 years ago
  •  Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased's date of birth was at least 80 years ago.

Time Series data

Treat time series tabulations with caution. Some have been compiled without adequate recognition of  changing definitions or notes to explain how the series were derived. Retrospective tabulations in the Yearbooks are prone to this problem.

The introduction of new methods and publications in the mid 1920s means that retrospective tables from the present are rarely possible beyond 1926. In the sesquicentennial 1990 NZ Official Yearbook a special effort was made to produce tables with historically compatible time series.

Statistical methods can change to improve accuracy, but such changes have a drawback in the loss of ccomparability e.g. compilation of the Consumer Price Index was altered radically in 1974.

Blue Books - statistical information from 1840-1855

Statistics have been collected officially in New Zealand since it became a Crown Colony in 1840. During the Crown Colony period the Colonial Secretary was responsible for compilation. From 1853 to 1910 it was the duty of the Registrar-General; from 1910 onwards the Government Statistician.

Statistical information from New Zealand’s early Colonial period (1840-1855), was handwritten and based on the magistrates counting people in each settlement.

1840-1847 and 1853-1855: annual Blue Books for the colony of New Zealand

1848-1852: statistics for the Province of New Ulster

1849-1852: statistics for the Province of New Munster

The original 1851 Blue Book is held at the National Archives in Wellington. Check the exhibition or view the Blue Books online.

Statistics of New Zealand - 1856-1920

1856: Statistics of New Zealand, at Central Govt Pubns 3T5ws S, in black, replaced the Blue Books.

1853-1856: first volume; thereafter annual until 1920

Title varies: Statistics of the colony of New Zealand and Statistics of the Dominion of New Zealand

Statistics - 1921-1981

1921: Statistics of New Zealand was succeeded by a series of annual subject reports, e.g. Population and buildings and Trade and shipping. The series continues with changes of name, frequency, and sub-divisions.

Monthly updates to the annual subject reports appeared in the Monthly abstract of statistics (1914-1988) then Key statistics (1988-2010) then online

Other historic statistical sources

Data Archive contains previously published statistics on business, health, industry, people and communities, migration, work, income and spending.

1982-: series collected by the Department of Statistics are available via Infoshare

1990's-: Statistics New Zealand website provides access to many statistics

1858-: Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives - Central Library Government Publications 3OC5 - early volumes included statistical data in annual reports, e.g. Police (G6)

1858-1950: Online AtoJs - digitisation project is growing; also in Papers Past

NZ Parliament - Questions for written answer can provide a helpful source of statistical data

Government agencies, other than Statistics New Zealand (formerly Dept. of Statistics), publish statistics e.g. the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Individual books may include statistics e.g. Geoff Rice's Black November: the 1918 influenza epidemic in New Zealand, 2nd ed. 2005, Central Library Main DU 441 .RG31 2005, has detailed statistics not all available in published official sources.

There are also one-off official statistical publications e.g. Profile of women: a statistical comparison of females and males in New Zealand 1945-1984 - Central Library Main HQ1865.6.PY63, and separate titles published in the New Zealand now series.