Slight population decline in line with provincial trends

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21/10/2013 12:00:00 a.m.

21 October 2013

Although preliminary population statistics from the 2013 Census released last week show a slight decline in the Wanganui District’s population, Mayor Annette Main says the decrease is better than statistics for other provincial areas in the region.

The Wanganui regional population is 42,150. At the 2006 Census it was at 42,363. The 2011 Census was postponed until 2013 due to the Canterbury earthquakes. Compared with the 2006 Census, the 2013 figure represents a 1 per cent decrease.

Statistics New Zealand has advised care when comparing population trends, as the change in data from 2006 to 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. The census counts for regions and territorial authority areas are typically lower than the latest population estimates, which are produced annually.

Ruapehu District has had a 13 per cent decrease in population, while the Rangitikei District’s population has decreased by 9 per cent and Tararua District has had a 4 per cent decrease. The Horowhenua District has had a 1 per cent increase whereas the Manawatu region has had a 5 per cent increase.

Mayor Annette Main says although there is a slight decrease for the Wanganui District, the figure is encouraging in the circumstances.

“This isn’t a dramatic fall in population. The economic recession and the brain drain to larger areas in New Zealand and overseas have affected many provincial areas. For a medium-sized city we are doing well. Anecdotal evidence suggests families are moving here and our uptake of ultrafast broadband means that in the future we expect more people to choose to move to our district to take advantage of it.”

The data also shows an increase of population in some rural areas of the Wanganui District, although whether those people have moved from the urban area or from elsewhere in New Zealand is not yet known.

“It is likely people are moving to rural areas as a lifestyle choice. Living here provides ease of travel and accessible amenities with the kind of balance people are looking for in their lives. They enjoy the natural surroundings and a quieter pace of life with time for family. The challenge for us is to attract more of them to our district.”

The move to rural areas is mirrored in Palmerston North where people have moved out of the city and into other areas of Manawatu.

However, any increase in growth in both Palmerston North and the Manawatu has a positive flow-on effect for our district, Mayor Main said.

“With more people choosing to live in our wider region, there are opportunities for our own businesses to market their services and products to an easily reached audience, which extends their customer base and brings in more income from outside the district. We also know that our recreational opportunities, such as boating, cycling and tramping, are a huge attraction for people from neighbouring areas”.

More information about ethnicity, sex, age and dwellings will be available in December this year and the full breakdown of Census data will be available in June 2014.

Page reviewed: 21 Oct 2013 12:00am