List of cities in New Zealand

From Academic Kids


How the term "city" is used in New Zealand

After the local government reforms of 1989, the term "city" began to take on two meanings in New Zealand. Before 1989, a borough council with more than 20,000 people could be proclaimed a city. The boundaries of councils tended to follow the edge of the built-up area, so little distinction was made between the urban area and the local government area.

In 1989 the local government structure was significantly rationalised. The new district and city councils were generally much larger and covered both urban and rural land. Many places that once had a city council were now being administered by a district council.

The word "city" began to be used in a less formal sense to describe major urban areas independent of local body boundaries. This informal usage is jealously guarded. Gisborne, for example, adamantly described itself as the first city in the world to see the new millennium. Gisborne is administered by a district council, but its status as a city is not generally disputed.

Places informally known as cities

The populations given are the Statistics New Zealand usually resident population estimates for 30 June 2003 and refer to the population of the main urban area unless otherwise stated.

CityPopulation (2003)
New Plymouth49,500
Palmerston North77,600


  1. The population figure for Hamilton refers to the Hamilton Urban Zone only. The outlying areas of Te Awamutu and Cambridge are not generally considered part of Hamilton and are excluded from the figure. The total population of all three zones is 179,000.
  2. The population figures for Napier and Hastings refer to the urban zones. The total population of the Napier-Hastings Urban Area is 118,400.
  3. Blenheim (27,900) is sometimes referred to as a city, especially by locals, although its (former) borough council was never proclaimed a city.
  4. Timaru (27,200) once had a city council, but it is now more often described as a town.
  5. Kapiti (35,900) is the only Statistics New Zealand Main Urban Area not listed, it includes the townships of Paekakariki, Raumati, Paraparaumu, Paraparaumu Beach, and Waikanae, and Pekapeka locality, in the Kapiti Coast District, and is not known as a city.

City Councils

The populations given are the Statistics New Zealand usually resident population estimates for 30 June 2003.

City CouncilPopulation (2003)First Proclaimed
North Shore205,0001989
Palmerston North77,1001930
Upper Hutt37,8001966
Lower Hutt99,9001941

Many cities were reorganised into districts by the Local Government Commission in 1989 under the Local Government Act 1974, for example, Timaru. The most recently proclaimed city is Tauranga, which became a city, for the second time, from 1 March 2004. Another former city is Rotorua. Some present cities, such as Christchurch (1862 and 1868) and Invercargill (1930 and 1991), have been cities more than once.

Under Section 27 of the Local Government Act 2002, a district may become a city by either a reorganisation scheme with the Local Government Commission, or it may, under Section 27(1), simply apply for a change in status under Schedule 3, Clause 7. Either way, the new city must have 'a population of not less than 50,000 persons', be 'predominantly urban' and 'a distinct entity and a major centre of activity within the region' (or regions) which it is encompassed by. Existing cities are grandfathered under Schedule 2, Part 2 of the Act. The only new city council so far under this section is the Tauranga City Council, from 1 March 2004.

Previously, under Section 37L of the Local Government Act 1974, new cities could only be formed from a reorganisation scheme. The same criteria were used. The last city to be constituted under this section was Invercargill, which was re-reorganised into a city in 1991.

In 1991, the Lower Hutt City Council became the Hutt City Council by a special Act of Parliament [1] (, which specifically did not change the name [2] ( of its city, Lower Hutt; as a result, the city's coat of arms still refer to a City of Lower Hutt.

Cities during provincialism, 1852 to 1876

During provincialism in New Zealand -- from 1852 until abolition in 1876 -- there was no uniform system of local authorities in New Zealand. There is thus some argument over which of the following cities were the first.

The Municipal Corporations Act 1876 had the first schedule of cities, with the dates they were constituted. Dunedin was the first city in New Zealand to be described in an Act of Parliament as 'City of...', something now automatic under the Local Government Act 2002.

Cities, 1877 to 1989

Up to October 1989, the Local Government Commission undertook a major reorganisation of local government. As a result, some cities were reorganised into other cities or changed to districts, and to this day some of these areas are still considered cities by many New Zealanders. This is a list as at circa 1986.

See also


  • Gordon McLauchlan (Editor), Illustrated Encyclopedia of New Zealand, The, Auckland: David Bateman, 1989 (second edition) (ISBN 1869530071) - confirmation, pre-1989 dates

External links

Template:Territorial Authorities of New Zealand


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