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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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Southern's people


This indicator is about the people living in the Southern district*.

Why is this important?

  • When we know about people and where they live, health and social services can plan services to better meet their needs. 

What is the picture showing?

  • Southern covers a big area – from south of the Waitaki River to Rakiura/Stewart Island.
  • Of the 5 million people who live in Aotearoa/New Zealand, about 334,000 people (about 7% or 1 in every 14 New Zealanders) live in Southern.
  • About half of Southern’s people live in Ōtepoti/Dunedin or Waihopai/Invercargill. Half are spread out across the district.

What does this mean for Southern?

  • Half of Southerners live in smaller, spread out communities.  This is important to know when developing health services to make sure everyone has access. 

Southern’s population structure: age and sex


Why is this important?

  • Knowing the age and sex of Southern’s people helps planners best meet their health needs. 

What are these pictures showing?

  • The first population pyramid shows in the Southern region that:
    • there are slightly more females than males.
    • around 16% of the population (or 4 out of every 25 Southerners) are aged 65 years and over.
  •  The second population pyramid shows, that when compared with the rest of Aotearoa/New Zealand the Southern population:
    • is similar to the rest of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
    • has a slightly larger group of 20-24 year olds.

What does this mean for Southern?

  • As Southern’s people grow older, they may need more healthcare services for a longer time.
  • The group of 20-24 year olds in Southern may be bigger because of students at University and Polytechnics. Students often have specific health needs. 

Southern’s population structure: ethnicity


This indicator shows Southern’s people by their identified ethnicity (Māori, Pacific, Asian, NZ European/Other) compared to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Why is this important?

  • Different ethnicities have different cultural needs related to health.
  • Understanding the ethnicities of Southern’s people is important when planning and designing health services to make it fair (equitable) for all the people.

What do these pictures show?

  • 34,630 people identify as Māori.
  • 8,705 people identify as Pacific.
  • 27,200 people identify as Asian.
  • 299,190 people identify as NZ European/Other.
  • The ethnic make-up of each local district (territorial authority*) differs from its neighbours.

What does this mean for Southern?

  • Southern’s people are from lots of different ethnic backgrounds.  
  • Māori make up an important group in Southern. The number of Māori people in Southern (34,630) is more than Tairawhiti DHB (26,370). 

Why is this important?

  • Different age groups have different health and social needs. Knowing the age of our people is useful for understanding patterns around health and well-being and being able to provide the right services.

What does this picture show?

  • In Southern: 
    • Māori have twice as many people under the age of 15 years compared to non-Māori.
    • Māori and non-Māori have similar numbers of people between ages 25-49 years.
    • Non-Māori have twice as many people aged 55 years and over compared to Māori.

What does this mean for Southern?

  • Our Māori population is youthful.
  • More of our non-Māori live to an older age than Māori.
  • Supporting the needs of Māori is important to prevent inequity (unfairness) in health.

Southern’s population structure: forecast projections

2018 - 2038

This indicator shows how the number and age of people are predicted to change in Southern between 2018 – 2038.  The projections are based on recent population trends

Why is this important?

  • Different age groups and ethnicities have different health and social needs.  
  • Knowing the age, ethnicities and speed of growth of our people is helpful for understanding and planning for patterns of health and well-being.

What do these pictures show?

  • The number of people in Southern is growing.  
  • Ōtepoti/Dunedin city and Tāhuna/Queenstown Lakes will probably grow faster than other towns in Southern.
  • By 2038:
    • We think there will be just over 395,000 Southerners. 
    • Ōtepoti/Dunedin will still be our biggest city with approximately 149,800 people.
    • Tāhuna/Queenstown Lakes is expected to double in size from approximately 29,720 to 60,580 people.
    • Maruawai/Gore will remain the smallest town with approximately 13,550 people.

Place of residence

Forecast population growth in Southern by Territorial Authority (place of residence)

What do these pictures show?

  • By 2038, the pyramid shape looks more like a rectangle:  
    • Southern will likely have more people aged 65-plus.
    • We predict there will be more people living for longer.

Age and ethnicity now and in the future

What do these pictures show?

  • By 2038:
    • Māori will continue to have a youthful population.
    • Māori populations are expected to age but at a slower rate than non-Māori.
Ethnicity - watch the population grow

What does this picture show?

  • By 2038, the population is predicted to grow: 
    • Māori – from 34,630 to 62,060
    • Pacific – from 8,705 to 19,050
    • Asian – from 27,200 to 64,310
    • New Zealand European/other – from 299,190 to 368,160 
  • The Asian population is predicted to grow at the fastest rate.  

What does this mean for Southern? 

  • People have different health and cultural needs, depending on their age and ethnicity. These needs will change over time.  
  • As people live longer, they may have more complicated health needs for a longer time.
  • Thinking about our people in 2038 can show where and when groups of people will grow. Services can plan ahead to meet these changing needs; this can help stop inequity (unfairness). 

Older Southerners living in their own home


This indicator is about people aged 65 and over living in their own home*. These homes may be rented or owned. 

Why is this important?

  • Supporting older people who are able, to stay active and connected with their whānau and communities is a way of keeping up their well-being, hauora and quality of life. 
  • A high percentage of adults aged 65 years and older live in their own home independently or with support. This finding has not changed much over time.

What does this picture show?

  • Around 95 out of 100 Southerners age 65 years and older live in their own home (rented or owned). This includes retirement villages and living with relatives in a family home.
  • Some of these people have support, like carers and cleaners, at home and some do not.

What does this mean for Southern?

  • Southern has a lot of older people well supported to stay at home.
  • Southern needs to keep supporting older people to stay independent for as long as possible.  This may mean helping people stay living in a home setting.
  • For older people who require care in supported accommodation e.g rest homes, it is important that they are still supported to be positive members of whānau and communities.
  • Our services will need to adapt to the increase in elderly people.

Southern Households

2013 and 2018

This indicator shows how people and whānau/family live in Southern according the makeup of their households*

Why is this important? 

  • The makeup of people’s households may have an impact on their health needs and wellbeing.
    • For example, families with children or single parent households may face different challenges to getting health care than people living alone or couples without children.

What does this picture show?

  • The number of households in Southern has grown from 117,036 in 2013 to 125,028 in 2018. 

  • The majority of households in Southern were occupied by couples, couples with children or one person living alone. 

  • Ōtepoti/Dunedin has the most households occupied by unrelated people.
  • Ōtepoti/Dunedin and Waihōpai/Invercargill have the most single parent households.

The infographics and analysis were done by the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SUPERU). 






































What does this mean for Southern? 

  • Southern has many types of households.   

  • In Southland and Otago:
    • Between 42-46% (42-46 out of 100) households have children under the age of 18

    • About 35% (35 out of 100) households where all the occupants are over 50 years of age.

    • Consideration needs to be given to household make up across the district when supporting whānau/family. 

For more information on Families and Whānau see -  Research-Summary