Historical de facto population estimates

PDF Data Dictionary

Series Description


Historical de facto population estimates

Alternate Title

De facto population estimates


Statistics New Zealand


The historical de facto population estimates consist of national population estimates for de facto populations of New Zealand available for the period 1936–1995 and sub national population estimates for the de facto population of regional council areas, territorial authority areas, main and secondary urban areas, available for the period 1986–1995.

The historical de facto population estimates are counts of all people present in an area at a given time. However, increased geographic mobility means people are more likely to move between New Zealand and overseas, and between areas of New Zealand, for work, study and holidays.

There is therefore a need for data on people who usually live in an area at a given time, as this is more relevant for many planning purposes (eg housing, schools).

The de facto population estimates where replaced by the resident population estimates in 1996 and the de facto population was then discontinued.

National population estimates by sex are available back to 1926 and includes 'as at' and 'mean' year estimates, as well as population change and sex ratio data.


Historical de facto population estimates are used in many administrative, statistical and research applications. They are used by Government, regional planning authorities, local bodies, private organisation and individuals to look at longitudinal time series data to produce past trends.

Usage and limitations of the data


The historical de facto population estimates 1926-95 are used to create longitudinal time series data for populations extending pre 1991, the de facto population estimates are used by researchers, various government departments, and others interested in past trends.


No de facto population estimates after 1995 have been produced.

Following the 1996 Census, national and subnational population estimates and projections have only been produced for the resident population concept.

The base population for de facto population estimates is the census night population count shown by the most recent Census of Population and Dwellings.

The base population was updated using registered births, registered deaths and total external migration.

De facto population estimates do not include an adjustment of the base population for census undercount, as the first Post-enumeration Survey measuring census undercount was conducted after the 1996 Census.

Main users of the data

Statistics New Zealand, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Government Planners/Local Body Planners, Researchers

Significant events impacting this study series

This series was discontinued in 1996 due to the change from de facto population to resident population


3 Quarterly


Effects of changing from de facto population estimates to resident population estimates



Population and migration, De facto, Historical estimates
De facto, Historical, Estimates

Extra Metadata