Definitions and data issues
As Statistics NZ points out there is no internationally recognised definition of a ‘rural’ area. Statistics NZ (2013) defines rural areas as those that are not specifically designated as ‘urban’, which means rural areas are defined as places outside centres of population with 1,000 or more people. Defining rural New Zealand in this way locates 14% of the population in rural areas, and 23% of businesses in rural areas. However, when rural is defined as places outside centres of population of 10,000 or more people (which is also the Australian definition), so including minor urban areas within the rural sector, 22% of the population is rural.
Statistics NZ defines minor urban areas as centres of population of 1,000 to 9,999 people. As at the 2013 census there were 103 minor urban areas. In this study 23, or 22 percent, of New Zealand’s minor urban areas are analysed. Rural centres have no administrative or legal status, but are statistical units. They were created by Statistics NZ to enable the separation of rural dwellers living in open countryside from those living in small settlements or villages (Statistics NZ, 2013). They are defined as centres of population with between 300 and 999 people. There are approximately 133 rural centres in New Zealand. For various reasons1 some of these are recorded as rural districts in this report. This study looks at 27, or 20 percent, of them. As noted in Report One, some rural centres are smaller than the target size of a minimum of 300 people.
Summary of the rural components of ten territorial authorities
There is marked variation between the size of the rural settlements in the ten territorial authorities in this study, whether minor urban areas, rural centres or rural districts, and considerable variation in the pattern of growth and/or decline between the area units in each settlement type. Nevertheless, over half of the minor urban areas and rural districts grew (or held steady) between 1996 and 2013 (52 and 54 percent respectively), while 70 percent of the rural centres declined in numbers. The median age of the New Zealand population was 38 years in 2013. While the median age in the study areas’ rural locations was older than the New Zealand median, people living in the rural districts were younger than those living in minor urban areas and rural centres (and similarly have fewer people in the 65+ years age group). The median of the median ages of rural districts was 39.8 whilst that of rural centres was 40.9 and minor urban areas 43.2 years. Minor urban areas’ and rural centres’ age medians are raised by the retirement to these centres of older people from the districts. The exceptions are the districts of Porangahau and Clarkville which both had median ages over 50 years.
There is considerable variation in the numbers of employed people who were usually resident in the rural districts and settlements compared to those who worked there. Large proportions of people commuted elsewhere for work: sometimes from a centre to a rural district, but usually to larger settlements. Some key locations attract people. These were predominantly the location of meat or dairy processing plants. The dominant occupation of people living in minor urban areas and rural centres was labourer due to the dominance of manufacturing in those locations. Managers (a group which includes farmers and farm managers) dominate in rural districts. Rural districts had fewer paid employees and more employers/selfemployed than the minor urban areas and rural centres. Unsurprisingly, given their higher proportion of retired people, minor urban areas and rural centres had more people who were not in the labour force, compared to rural districts.
Comparing Taranaki’s territorial authorities with seven others
Map 1.1 showed that between 2001 and 2013 the three Taranaki territorial authorities had different growth trajectories. One grew slightly (New Plymouth); one more or less stayed the same (Stratford); and one lost a small proportion of its population (South Taranaki). The territorial authorities chosen to compare with Taranaki reflect the same range except for Waimakariri which had strong growth (influenced not only by Christchurch but also by the Canterbury earthquakes), and Hurunui which had moderate growth. Both Waitomo and Gore lost a small proportion of their populations, Central Hawke’s Bay was stable, while Southland and South Wairarapa had slight growth. The Taranaki centres and districts vary in size, as do those in the comparable territorial authorities. Like most centres and districts without significant tourism sectors, Taranaki’s census night populations were similar to their usually resident populations.
Of interest is the difference between the numbers of usually resident employed people over 15 years and the numbers of people who work in minor urban areas, rural centres and rural districts. Like the other seven territorial authorities, most of Taranaki’s centres and districts had more employed people living in each area unit than people working in those area units, indicating that there is considerable commuting of residents elsewhere. On the other hand, locations with major manufacturing (especially meat or dairy processing plants) attracted workers. Thus, Taranaki’s Eltham and rural districts Tawhiti and Ohawe Beach attract additional people to work in these locations, as does Edendale in Southland. The Taranaki centres and districts had similar age structures to those in equivalent locations in the other territorial authorities. Taranaki’s minor urban areas and rural centres tended to have slightly fewer people in the 65+ years age group.
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Background to the selected territorial authorities
- Chapter 3: Population change in the ten study areas
- Chapter 4: Age Structure
- Chapter 5: Employment, labour force and occupation
- Chapter 6: Industry
- Chapter 7: Socio-economic status
- Chapter 8: Summary of the rural components of ten territorial authorities
- Chapter 9: Comparing Taranaki’s territorial authorities with seven others
- Abbreviations and definitions
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Rural Taranaki compared with a selection of other rural areas in New Zealand