AOTEAROA in 2O
Our country and its people in 2020

Trustworthy, accurate and reliable news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsrooms by making a contribution.

Contribute Noworange-arrow

In 2020, Aotearoa New Zealand is home to a vibrant mix of people.

For better or worse, we’re not the same group of people as we were 50 years ago. Or five years ago. Or even, five months ago.

Each one of us has a unique story about what brought us to this moment in our nation’s life.

Aotearoa in 20 shares the stories of a representative sample of Kiwis.

We have analysed population data held by Statistics NZ and come up with the profiles of 20 people who represent the nation as a whole. Stuff reporters have found Kiwis who fit those profiles and who had a story about themselves they were willing to share.

Read the stories

Aotearoa in 20 has been deliberately published prior to the election, and two referendums, on October 17.

The stories of our people should help inform how we vote. New Zealanders share the nation with each other. The Government we choose impacts not only ourselves and our families, but everyone else who lives here, too.

This is who we are: Aotearoa in 20.

Most New Zealanders live in the North Island.
One third live in Auckland.

RACHEL
PATTEMORE

A solo mother of three,
Aucklander Rachel Pattemore
has a story of struggle and pride.

Read her story button.
A solo mother of three, Aucklander Rachel Pattemore has a story of struggle and pride.

Over time, more of us have congregated in cities and towns.

Now, 84 per cent live in an urban centre.

Four out of five people are in urban centres.

JEREMY
ROBERTSON

Jeremy Robertson was raised
on a Southland sheep and
beef farm. He has ambitions
to join the police force
and solve murders.

Read his story button.
Jeremy Robertson was raised on a Southland sheep and beef farm. He has ambitions to join the police force and solve murders.

We’ve also become much more diverse.

Asian New Zealanders and Pacific people make up a growing portion of the population.

New Zealand will continue to grow in diversity.

KOKO TAO

Koko Tao misses China’s night
markets and ever-changing
cuisine, but she likes the kindness
of New Zealanders, the country’s
emphasis on family, and the
luxury of a house and garden.

Koko Tao misses China’s night markets and ever-changing cuisine, but she likes the kindness of New Zealanders, the country’s emphasis on family, and the luxury of a house and garden.

This change will continue - and accelerate - in the coming decades.

RACHEL AFEAKI-
TAUMOEPEAU

A move, four kids, work, and
losing a parent – it all came in
the first 10 years of Rachel
Afeaki-Taumoepeau’s marriage.

Read her story button.
A move, four kids, work, and losing a parent – it all came in the first 10 years of Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau’s marriage.

New Zealanders now have fewer children, later in life.

The declining birth rate.
Average number of live births per woman at age-specific fertility rates, 1955-2019.

Outside of periods of economic downturn, migration is the main driver of population growth.

Net migration as a percentage of population growth.
Net migration as a percentage of population growth.

MALKIAT
SINGH

From engineer, to software developer,
to project manager, to immigration
advisor to organic farmer, the Sikh
religion has driven Malkiat Singh’s
lifelong love of learning.

Read his story button.
From engineer, to software developer, to project manager, to immigration advisor to organic farmer, the Sikh religion has driven Malkiat Singh’s lifelong love of learning.

In education, Māori and Pacific people are about half as likely as New Zealand Europeans to achieve a diploma-level qualification, or higher.

Māori and Pasifika diploma attainment still lags behind in New Zealand.
Māori and Pasifika diploma attainment still lags behind in New Zealand.
Māori and Pasifika diploma attainment still lags behind in New Zealand.

The median income of Māori and Pacific people is 10 per cent lower than nationally.

For New Zealanders with a Middle Eastern, Latin American or African background, it’s closer to 20 per cent lower.

A pay gap between men and women also persists across every ethnicity.

ZAHEDA
DAVIES

Zaheda Davies managed
to escape a life of abuse
in Russia after getting
married against her
parents’ wishes.

Read her story button.
Zaheda Davies managed to escape a life of abuse in Russia after getting married against her parents’ wishes.

There is also a 38 per cent gap between the employment rate of disabled and able-bodied people.

Disabled New Zealanders less likely to have jobs.
Disabled New Zealanders less likely to have jobs.
Disabled New Zealanders less likely to have jobs.

MAURICE
FLYNN

After a rocky time in high school
and living off the false perception
that life would come easy because
he was disabled, Maurice Flynn
faced the reality he needed
to make it on his own.

Read his story button.
After a rocky time in high school and living off the false perception that life would come easy because he was disabled, Maurice Flynn faced the reality he needed to make it on his own.

There are differences in how we work too.

Māori more likely to be manual labourers than professionals or managers.
Māori more likely to be manual labourers than professionals or managers.
Māori more likely to be manual labourers than professionals or managers.

RUE-JADE
MORGAN

The trajectory of Rue-Jade
Morgan’s life seemed set until
he embraced his Māori culture
and turned his life around.

Read his story button.
The trajectory of Rue-Jade Morgan ​’s life seemed set until he embraced his Māori culture and turned his life around.

For many years, life expectancy in New Zealand has increased.

But health outcomes are very different for different groups of New Zealanders.

Geography has an impact. People who live on the West Coast of the South Island have much higher death rates from cancer than people who live in nearby South Canterbury.

And again, ethnicity matters.

Considering all causes of mortality, Māori have a fatality rate that’s 83 per cent higher than the rest of the population.

Māori are three times more likely to be killed by diabetes, and two-and-a-half times more likely to die from lung cancer.

All adult New Zealanders have the right to vote. But not everyone exercises that right.

ALEX KER

After years of feeling
disconnected from his
body, Alex Ker realised he
was transgender when talking
to a teacher at high school.

BARBARA
HENLEY

Catholic nun Barbara
Henley has kept her
promises for over
five decades.

Read more stories

Reporting: Andre Chumko, Benn Bathgate, Carly Gooch, Chloe Blommerde, Deena Coster, Donna-Lee Biddle, Esther Ashby-Coventry, Evan Harding, Florence Kerr, Georgia Forrester, Jo McKenzie McLean, Jody O’Callaghan, Libby Wilson, Liz McDonald, Maxine Jacobs, Sophie Trigger, Steve Kilgallon, Torika Tokalau

Visuals: Abigail Dougherty, Braden Fastier, David Unwin, David White, John Kirk-Anderson, Joseph Johnson, Kavinda Herath, Kelly Hodel, Kevin Stent, Lawrence Smith, Mark Taylor, Mytchall Bransgrove, Robyn Edie, Ross Giblin, Scott Hammond, Simon O'Connor, Tom Lee

Design and Illustrations: Kathryn George

Development: John Harford

Data: Felippe Rodrigues

Editors: John Hartevelt and Olivia Shivas

Become a Stuff supporter today for as little as $1 to help our local news teams bring you reliable, independent news you can trust.

Contribute Noworange-arrow