Table 1 shows the percentage of the population in each New Zealand region who were able to speak English, Māori and ‘Other’ languages.

Table 1: Language spoken by region, 2013 (%)

Region

English

Te Reo Māori

Other languages

Northland

89 8 7

Auckland

87 2 33

Waikato

91 5 11

Bay of Plenty

90 8 9

Gisborne

89 14 5

Hawke's Bay

91 6 8

Taranaki

92 4 6

Manawatu-
Wanganui

92 5 9

Wellington

91 3 20

Tasman

94 1 8

Nelson

93 2 8

Marlborough

93 2 8

West Coast

92 2 6

Canterbury

92 2 12
Otago 92 1

11

Southland 93 2

6

Total New Zealand

90 3 18
 
Source: Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings 2013

Table 1 includes all of the people who stated each language spoken, whether as their only language or as one of several languages. Where a person reported more than one language spoken, they have been counted in each applicable group. The source data for this table has been randomly rounded to protect confidentiality. Percentages may not add up to 100 per cent. Percentages have been rounded to the next whole figure. The ‘Area outside regions’ category has been omitted for clarity as it had fewer than 1000 people. Results for New Zealand Sign Language have been omitted for clarity as those who can speak it make up less than 1 per cent of the population in every region.

English is, by far, the most prevalent language in New Zealand. Around 90 per cent of the total New Zealand population speaks it. This is also true for most regions in New Zealand, with only Auckland (87 per cent), Northland (89 per cent) and Gisborne (89 per cent) having less than 90 per cent of the population able to speak English.

People able to speak ‘Other’ languages are concentrated in the regions containing New Zealand’s largest cities.  A third of Auckland’s population (33 per cent) can speak a language that is not an official New Zealand language.  This is far ahead of the percentage in the next highest regions; Wellington (20 per cent), Canterbury (12), Waikato (11), Nelson (11) and Otago (11). It’s also much higher than the national percentage of 18 per cent of the population able to speak a language that is not an official New Zealand language. 

The regions with the highest percentage of people who speak Te Reo Māori are Gisborne (14 per cent), Bay of Plenty and Northland (both 8 per cent).

Since 2006, there has been a slight increase (between 1 and 6 per cent) in every region of the percentage of the population that can speak an ‘other language’.  The largest increase occurred in Auckland, with the percentage of people able to speak an ‘other language’ growing from 27 per cent (in 2006) to 33 per cent in 2013. There has also been a drop in all but two of the regions (Tasman and Marlborough) of the percentage of the population able to speak English (between 1-2 per cent).

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