New stats show fewer marriages, civil unions and divorces

New Stats NZ data shows fewer people are getting married, celebrating civil unions and being granted divorces.

In fact, the 2021 stats show New Zealand’s marriage and divorce numbers are the lowest since the 1970s.

Marriages and Civil Unions

Stats NZ says last year 15,657 marriages and civil unions were registered to New Zealand residents. Of these, 312 were same-sex marriages or civil unions.

These figures show a noticeable drop from previous years (16,779 in 2020 and 19,071 in 2019).

A closer look at last year’s marriages and civil unions shows 1,505 were first marriages or civil unions and 4,146 were remarriages or civil unions.

In addition, six couples (both same-sex and opposite-sex) transferred between a civil union and a marriage.

Besides these, an additional 231 marriages and civil unions were registered to overseas residents. Nine of them were same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Stats NZ says the number of marriages and civil unions has dropped significantly since its peak in 1971.

The general marriage rate was 7.7 marriages and civil unions per 1,000 people aged 16 years and over who are not married or in a civil union. (Transfers between a marriage and civil union are excluded.)

Stats NZ says this rate is below the average of 10.1 over the previous five years. It continues a long downward trend.

Even though the number of marriages is continuing to decrease, Stats NZ suggests it is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in even fewer marriages in 2021 than expected otherwise.


Stats NZ data shows in 2021 6,372 couples were granted divorces in New Zealand.

This is the lowest annual number of divorces since 1979.

“Divorces have been generally decreasing since the early 2000s, as has the divorce rate,” Stats NZ population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack says.

“The divorce rate, which shows the number of divorces per 1,000 estimated existing marriages, has also dropped back to mid-1970s levels.”

In 1974 there were 6.4 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

Last year there were 6.2 divorces for every 1,000 estimated existing marriages and civil unions, down from 9.7 in 2011.

Stats NZ also reports that 4,842 children under 17 years of age had parents who were granted a divorce last year. This number is down from 6,909 in 2011, and 8,748 in 2001.

In 1981 a change in law made it easier for couples to divorce.



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News category: New Zealand.

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