Quality of Life Report 2007

Triennial report released May 2008
Every few years Nelson City Council gathers information from a range of sources on social indicators, and puts it together as the Quality of Life Report. The 2007 Quality of LIfe Report is available in summary below, or as a download in PDF format.

Triennial report released May 2008

Every few years Nelson City Council gathers information from a range of sources on social indicators, and puts it together as the Quality of Life Report. The 2007 Quality of LIfe Report is available in summary below, or as a download in PDF format.

Purpose of the report

The report helps the Council with planning and prioritising, and also provides guidelines for implementing our Social Wellbeing Policy. Read more about the Council's Social Well-being Policy.


Quality of life indicators are chosen because the data is:

  • ongoing and consistent
  • robust
  • can be compared with previous studies
  • relevant to Nelson.

Even though indicators on eight areas of activity don’t tell the full story about the quality of life for every Nelsonian, they are still good tools for monitoring and decision making.


The Quality of Life Report 2007 is available for download in PDF format (684KB PDF).



Aging population

Nelson Tasman has continued with rapid population growth, most noticeable in the Tasman District. The region has an ageing population, with older couples moving to the region, a reduction in the birth rate and a trend for young people to leave for tertiary education and employment opportunities.

Inward migration

Much of the region’s growth has been through inward migration with two thirds coming from other regions in New Zealand and a third from overseas, most notably, the United Kingdom.

In the 2006 census 8.4% of the Nelson population (3,615 people) identified as M&#257ori. Between 2001 and 2006 the M&#257ori population in Nelson increased by 12.3%, in Tasman by 10.3% and in Marlborough by 9.8%.

Smaller households

The Top of the South follows an international western trend for smaller households. Couple-only and one-person households are the fastest growing household types and are projected to increase, driven by the ageing population, combined with later marriage, divorce, rising numbers of couples without children and changing lifestyle preferences.


Education is important to individuals and to the wider community. It can affect life and career choices, opportunities and the ability to participate in society. In today’s ‘knowledge economy’ qualifications have a significant impact on employment and income.

Interesting facts in this Quality of Life Report:

  • Tasman has traditionally had more students leaving school early. Those students, however, are still finding it easy to get a job in agriculture and fishing.
  • Nelson has a high number of high decile schools (based on the socio economic status of families enrolled), but this doesn’t translate into higher Year 13 student leaving qualifications.
  • Māori students are over-represented in stand-downs and suspensions.
  • There has been a steady increase in the numbers of children attending early childhood services across the region. Research shows that quality early childhood education prepares children for primary school and enhances their future ability to learn.

Employment and Economy

The region has a very low unemployment rate of 2.7% and plenty of job opportunities. In December 2007 there were only 39 registered unemployed persons in Nelson, 203 in Tasman and 29 in Marlborough. There is a skill shortage in the region, particularly in technical areas.

Youth unemployment remains a concern

Even though overall unemployment is low, youth unemployment is still a concern. One in five unemployed people is aged between 18 and 24 years old.

Nelson Tasman Connections is a local program started under the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs with the goal of ensuring that all school leavers under 20 years are engaged in appropriate education, training, work or other options that will lead to their long-term economic independence and wellbeing.

Income levels are below average

Across the region, average median incomes (wages, salaries, rents etc) are below the national average, with Tasman slightly lower than Nelson.

It’s a common belief that incomes in this region are relatively low because employees are paid ‘sunshine dollars’. However, statistics don’t support this belief revealing instead that the median income in Nelson is higher than in eight other regions and lower than in six other regions.

Median incomes in Wellington and Auckland are considerably higher than all other regions, raising the national median.


Where you live affects your health. Diet, housing, education, employment, safe neighbourhoods, access to transport, clean air and water are some of the factors contributing to well-being and life expectancy.

Nelson’s life expectancy is pretty much exactly the same as that for the whole of New Zealand at 76 for men and 81 for women. A Ministry of Health Study has shown a strong link between life expectancy and the levels of deprivation in which people live. Māori continue to have lower life expectancy than non-Māori.

Nelson residents becoming less physically active

There has been a significant decrease in the number of Nelson residents who are physically active and have been for longer than 12 months.

Not surprisingly this links to an upward trend in people being overweight or obese. Obesity is an increased risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer. It is estimated that 19% of the population is obese and an additional 36% is overweight (Nelson-Marlborough, 2002/03).

In Nelson-Tasman, in 2007 it is estimated that about 2,800 adults have diabetes (approx 3-4%), and this is increasing due to adverse nutrition and physical activity trends and a growing and ageing population. Māori and Pacific peoples have even higher prevalence rates.

The World Health Organisation has identified the lack of physical activity as one of the main contributors to the global burden of disease. Nationally, 40% of NZ residents are physically active every day.


House prices in Nelson increased a massive 70% between 2002 and 2004, without a similar increase in wages. This has led to housing issues being a major concern for the residents of the region.

Rental rates steadily rising

Median weekly rentals across the region have been rising steadily. For those earning the lowest wages in the region, this requires a significant part of their income. It is also a factor in the recruitment and retention of the workforce.

Home affordability at issue in Nelson Tasman

Home affordability is worked out on average house cost, household income and interest rates. Homes are significantly less affordable in the Top of the South than in New Zealand as a whole. Home affordability in Nelson is lower than the national average. In February 2008 Central Otago Lakes had the least affordable homes in the country (55.38), followed by Auckland (38.73) and Nelson (37.02).


Air quality in Nelson improving

Nelson has a record of poor air quality, which has a direct impact on the health of the population, including hospitalisations, days off work and premature deaths. It is encouraging that the measurements for 2007 are far better than previous years.

Air quality readings run continuously and are compiled to show the average air quality over a 24 hour period. The number of readings that exceeded the NZ National Environmental Standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre were far fewer than prior years.

Clean Heat, Warm Homes

Eighty percent of the poor air quality particles come from burning wood or coal in domestic open fires or enclosed burners. Nelson has run a ‘Clean Heat, Warm Homes’ project for the last few years to address air quality issues and, from 1 January 2008 onwards the use of open fireplaces has been banned in urban Nelson, including the Glen. Older enclosed burners have to be progressively phased out in some parts of the city as well.

Drinking water quality

Drinking water quality in Nelson has improved since the opening of the new filtration plant, while changes to drinking water standards will lead to changes in rural areas.

Recycling schemes are increasingly popular

Recycling is being taken up by increasing numbers of households and is reducing waste to landfill. Nelson and Tasman have kerbside recycling schemes. In Nelson, two thirds of residents put their recycling out every week and almost 9 out of 10 put it out at least every two weeks. Nelson also reclaims 50% of the gas at York Valley landfill.


Nelson is a relatively safe place to live although six out of ten Nelson residents feel that the inner city is less safe than it was three years ago. Problems with youth, violent crime, and drugs and alcohol are the main contributors to this perception.

One in five residents felt that their neighbourhood is unsafe for children to play unsupervised, with traffic and stranger danger being the main reasons. Other problem areas highlighted by Nelson residents relate to dangerous driving and traffic safety.

Nelson's crime rate remains low

Nelson has a lower recorded crime rate per 10,000 people than the whole of New Zealand. (The Tasman Police area includes Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast.)

Cycle and pedestrian injuries

In Nelson city, pedestrians featured in 11 percent and cyclists featured in 19 percent of total injuries between 2002 and 2006. Although cyclist injuries do not feature highly in the total road injury picture in the city, representing 19 percent of all injuries, they make up 13 percent of all fatalities.

Social Cohesion

An increasing number of Nelson residents rate their overall quality of life as good or extremely good (95% compared with 89% in 2003). We’re also feeling less isolated or lonely than in 2000. Three quarters of us feel a sense of pride in the way Nelson looks and feels, but this is down a little from 2003.

Although the majority of people think community is important, about 20% of residents do not feel a sense of community in their neighbourhood.

Migrant numbers increase

The region continues to attract a high number of overseas migrants and has the third highest population of immigrants (people born overseas) in New Zealand. The national average is 23% with Auckland at 37%, Wellington at 23% and Nelson at 18.6% - i.e. first after our two biggest cities.

For people born overseas who are now living in the Nelson region, the most common birthplace was England. Nelson’s population is increasingly made up of immigrants from the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States of America.

Areas for improvement based on resident's surveys

Nelsonians feel there are some areas where we could make improvements. Last year’s survey of residents identified key areas for improvement:


  • Especially the lack and cost of public transport, the need to improve roading, increased traffic congestion, limited car parking and the need to improve air quality. Over the past three years there has been a significant increase (from 38% - 57%) in the number of residents dissatisfied with performance in this area.

Community Facilities

  • A perceived lack of suitable facilities and need for upgrading of existing facilities, especially so we can attract big events.

Environmental Management

  • Air and water quality, lack of long term town planning, too much development and the need to protect environment for future generations.

More information

Call the Community Liaison Adviser Social Development on +64 3 546 0448 for more information.


quality-life-report-07.pdf (pdf, 684 KB)