The number of New Zealanders getting married has dropped to an historic low.
The marriage rate was 12.5 marriages per 1000 unmarried adults in 2010, Statistics New Zealand said today.
That was less than one-third of the peak of 45.5 per 1000 recorded in 1971 and half the 1987 rate of 25 per 1000.
Factors that have contributed to the falling marriage rate include the growth in de facto unions, a general trend towards delayed marriage and more New Zealanders remaining single, Statistics NZ said.
There were 20,900 marriages registered to New Zealand residents in the year to December 2010, Population Statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.
A further 2200 marriages were registered to overseas residents.
"The highest number of marriages in any year was in 1971, when 27,200 couples tied the knot," Blackburn said.
Statistics NZ estimates that 35% of couples who married in 1971 had divorced by 2010.
Other statistics indicate that in the December 2010 year:
- Saturday, 20 February was the most popular day for a wedding, with 600 marriages celebrated.
- Sunday, 10 October, or 10/10/10 was also popular, with 260 marriages compared with an average of 30 on other Sundays in October.
- 273 resident civil unions were registered, of which 73% were same-sex unions.
- 65 civil unions were registered to overseas residents, of which 86% were same-sex unions.
- Wellington residents were more likely to register a civil union than couples in other areas of New Zealand. Between 2005 and 2010, 20% of civil union couples were resident in the Wellington area. In comparison around 115 of couples marrying were resident in the Wellington area which is consistent with their share of New Zealand's population.
- 8,900 orders for dissolution of marriage were granted in New Zealand, up from 8,700 in 2009. The 2009 figure was the lowest number of divorces since 1989.
- There were 10.2 divorces for every 1000 estimated existing marriages in New Zealand, the same as in 2009, and the lowest rate since 1980.