Statistics NZ on Monday said New Zealand’s population passed 5 million in March as the country went into lockdown.
“This is a significant event for New Zealand,” said population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers.
“It is also the fastest million in our history, taking 17 years after reaching 4 million in 2003.”
At the end of March there were 5,002,100 people living in New Zealand. The exact date we crossed the threshold won’t be known until more analysis is done, Statistics NZ said.
The agency had previously predicted we’d reach 5 million sometime in 2020.
The milestone was reached partly thanks to tens of thousands of Kiwis rushing home before the borders were closed.
“It is most likely the 5 million milestone was reached by a migrant arriving by plane, but could have been reached by a newborn baby,” said Theyers.
Since the census in 2013, we’ve added about half-a-million people – an average increase of 1.8 percent a year, half of it migration and the rest natural increase.
“The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused unusual international travel and migration patterns in recent months,” said Theyers.
“Net migration has been boosted by more New Zealand citizens returning home after living overseas. At the same time, New Zealand citizens may have been unable or reluctant to head offshore.”