NZ Herald May 10, 2008
New Zealanders are drifting slowly away from formal marriage – and the new option of a “civil union” seems to have made no difference. Statistics New Zealand said this week that the number of civil unions of NZ residents dropped from 374 in the first full year when they were legally possible (2006) to 316 last year – just 1.5 per cent of the number of traditional marriages. “The civil unions legislation has proved to be a white elephant,” trumpeted Bob McCoskrie of the conservative lobby group Family First.
But marriage is not faring too well either. A long-term analysis prepared for the Weekend Herald by Statistics NZ shows that by far the biggest trend in personal relationships in the past quarter-century has been a relentless rise in de facto partnerships. The proportion of New Zealanders of 15 and over living with their legally married spouses has dropped from 59.5 per cent in 1981 to just 47.5 per cent in the 2006 Census. The proportion living in de facto relationships has risen from 3.9 per cent to 13.1 per cent.
The 878 people who had had 439 civil unions between them by the time of the 2006 Census represented just three in every 10,000 people, or 0.03 per cent of those aged 15 or over. Marriage remains far more popular than either de facto relationships or civil unions, accounting for 78.4 per cent of all those living in partnerships of any sort.
READ The Facts Behind Cohabitation – Is it as Good as Marriage