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Human settlement and population

New Zealand has a shorter human history than any other country. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first humans arrived from Polynesia in the 13th century (Wilson, 2013). It was not until the late 18th century that the first Europeans settled in New Zealand.

In March 2013, New Zealand’s population was 4,242,048. It grew 35 percent in the 32 years between 1981 and 2013 (Statistics NZ, 2013a). Most New Zealanders (87 percent) live in urban areas. New Zealand has 138 towns and cities, most of which are located close to the coast. About three-quarters of New Zealanders live in the North Island. In comparison, only about 14 percent live in rural areas (Statistics NZ, 2013b). In 2013, the most highly populated regions were Auckland (1,415,550), Canterbury (539,436), and Wellington (471,315) (Statistics NZ, 2013a).

For more information on New Zealand’s population see Statistics NZ Population statistics.