| Information about the Deaths|
|Valid From: ..||12/31/1848 |
|To: .. || Ongoing|
Purpose: As the principal agency responsible for processing and publishing death statistics in New Zealand, Statistics New Zealand seeks to provide information that meets the legal, public policy and community requirements for up-to date official statistics at the local, regional and national level.
General Information ..Method of Collection
Under the provisions of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995, every death occurring in New Zealand must be registered. A 'Notification of Death for Registration' form (BDM28) must be completed (generally by the funeral director) and forwarded to the registrars at Births, Deaths and Marriages (a division of the Department of Internal Affairs) within three working days after the disposal of the body concerned.
Statistics New Zealand receives a monthly electronic file of registered deaths from Births, Deaths and Marriages which includes some but not all of the information collected on the BDM28. Statistics New Zealand has the responsibility for processing and publishing death statistics derived from the death registrations. Statistics New Zealand does not code all the information supplied by Internal Affairs. Death data are published quarterly and unless otherwise stated refers to deaths by date of registration not the date of death.
Requirements from the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995:
(i) Manner of Notification of Death (Section 47)
(1) A person notifying a Registrar of a death shall do so –
(a) By completing and signing the prescribed form and giving, sending, or posting it to the Registrar; or
(2) Subject to subsection (3) of this section, a person who completes and signs the prescribed form and posts it to the Registrar shall be deemed to do so at the time the form would be received by the Registrar in the normal course of post.
(3) Where –
(b) By sending the prescribed information relating to the death to the Registrar by an electronic means approved by the Registrar-General.
(a) Any person has notified a Registrar of a death by completing and signing the prescribed form and sending or posting it to a Registrar; but
a Registrar may authorise the person, or any other person required by any of sections 42 to 45 of this Act to notify a Registrar of the death, to do so as if the form had never been sent or posted; and in that case the person concerned may do so.
(ii) Time Within Which Death to be Notified (Section 48)
(1) A person required by section (42)1 of this Act to notify a death shall do so within 3 working days after the disposal of the body concerned.
(2) A coroner required by section 44 of this Act to notify a death shall do so within 3 working days of the completion of the inquest concerned.
(3) If the Registrar-General is satisfied that –
(b) It has not arrived or has been lost or destroyed, –
(a) Any death in New Zealand has not previously been registered; or
the death may be notified at any time; but (without limiting the generality of section 82 of this Act) the Registrar-General may decline to allow information relating to it to be recorded if not satisfied that its registration is appropriate.
(i) Prior to 1st September 1995
Deaths were classified as NZ Mäori, Pacific Islander or non-NZ Mäori/non Pacific Islander according to the combined ethnic fractions of the parents of the deceased. (Registration of deaths required information on the degree (fraction) of Mäori or Pacific Island blood of the deceased's mother and father and their tribe.)
e.g. ½ Mäori mother + Full Mäori father = Mäori (½ or more Mäori)
½ Mäori mother + non-Mäori father = non Mäori (less than ½ Mäori)
(ii) From 1st September 1995
Ethnicity refers to the ethnic group or groups that a person identifies with. Prior to June 1998, up to three ethnic groups were captured; after that date all responses have been captured.
The questions on the form are...
(b) The death of a person ordinarily resident in New Zealand occurred in a place outside New Zealand where..
(i) There was no system for recording information relating to deaths; or
(ii) The system for recording information relating to deaths did not apply to the person, –
Name of deceased
Living Children of Deceased
Name at birth (if different from above)
Date of death
Place of death in full*
Cause of death (as specified in doctor's certificate or coroner's order)+
Name of certifying doctor+
Date last seen alive by certifying doctor+
Sex of deceased
Date of birth and Age
Place of birth (town/city, country if not New Zealand)
If not born in New Zealand, number of years lived here
Usual home address
Usual occupation, profession or job*
Was the deceased descended from a New Zealand Mäori
Which ethnic group(s) did the deceased belong to? Tick the box(es) that apply
Date and place of disposal of body in New Zealand (or place outside New Zealand to which body proposed to be removed)*
Age of each daughter+
Parents of Deceased
Age of each son+
Mother's full name+
Marital Status of Deceased (from April 2005)
Mother's full name at birth (if different from above)+
Mother's occupation, profession or job+
Father's full name+
Father's full name at birth (if different from above)+
Father's occupation, profession or job+
Relationship status at time of death
Person Registering Death
Details of most recent relationship (if any)*
If previously in a relationship - list details of second most recent relationship*
If previously in a relationship - list details of third most recent relationship*
If previously in a relationship - list details of fourth most recent relationship*
Description or occupation+
Contact telephone number+
Business or residential address+
Was the deceased a Marriage Celebrant or Civil Union Celebrant?+
Was the deceased a Justice of the Peace?+
Did the deceased hold an honour or award (Do not include military decorations)?+
* Question on the death registration form supplied to Statistics NZ but not coded by Statistics NZ
+ Question on the death registration form but not supplied to Statistics NZ
Output variables are pieces of individual information that can be extracted from the survey/output data. Often output variables can be cross tabulated with other output variables, for example sales by industry classification. The list below contains all current and past output variables which have been released for this survey/output.
Changes in Output Variables over time
|Age||Age at death|
|Residence||Area in New Zealand where deceased usually resided (or if an overseas resident)|
|Sex||Male or female|
|Date of birth||Day, year and month of birth|
|Birthplace||Country of birth|
|Relationship status||Relationship status of deceased at time of death|
|Ancestry||Whether the deceased is descended from a New Zealand Mäori|
Date of Death
Years in New Zealand
|Ethnic group of deceased|
Day, year and month of death
Years in New Zealand for non-New Zealand born
Guide to Interpreting Data
Summary of Changes to Survey/Output ..Important Dates Relating to Death Statistics
1844 Vital Statistics first published as part of “Statistics of New Zealand” (blue book).
1847 Registration Ordinance Act.
This made provision for a record of births and deaths being kept by the state.
1848 Non-compulsory registration of births and deaths introduced. Notification of births and deaths was compulsory.
1858 The Registration Act.
This act provided for compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages.
1859 Compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages introduced.
1875 The Registration of Births and Deaths Act.
This act required further information regarding births and deaths to be provided at the time of registration.
1893 New Zealand's Official Yearbook first published in its present form.
1910 Collection of Vital Statistics entrusted to the Government Statistician (formerly the responsibility of the Registrar General).
1912 Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act.
Established regulations for the registration of Mäori births and deaths and also made provision for the registration of stillbirths.
1913 Compulsory registration of Mäori births and deaths established. Also compulsory registration of stillbirths established.
1914 Monthly Abstract of Statistics first published.
1921 Vital Statistics report first published. Previously vital statistics were published in the blue book.
1924 Births and Deaths Registration Act.
Consolidated and revised previous legislation regarding the registration of births and deaths.
1928 New Zealand Pocket Digest of Statistics first published.
1949 Medical Statistics Branch of National Health Institute was established. It was made responsible for compilation and analysis of mortality and morbidity statistics.
1951 The Births and Deaths Registration Act.
This act set down the regulations regarding birth and death registration.
1961 The Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act.
This act repealed the definitions of a Mäori with respect to birth and death registration.
1962 Abolition of Mäori births and deaths registers. The format of the Vital Statistics report was changed. All tables were now compiled for ‘Total Population’ and ‘Mäori Population’ rather than ‘Non-Mäori Population' and ‘Mäori Population'.
1984 Review Committee on Ethnic Statistics initiated by Government Statistician.
1986 Last year of coding burials versus cremation from death form. Nobody required the information except perhaps the funeral directors.
1987 Last year of publication of annual volume on vital statistics, some information incorporated into Demographic Trends.
1988 The Review Committee on Ethnic Statistics produced a report which had significant implications for the collection of birth and death registration information.
1993 Minor changes to the death registration form. Removal of the questions that were gender specific and replacement with gender neutral questions. Removal of “spinster”. (According to a letter from Brian Clarke, the Registrar General, changes authorised in March 1993, e.g. removal of spinster). Major effect on analysis of deaths by marital status.
1993 Department of Justice requested that the category for recording whether a deceased person was buried or cremated be removed from death registration form (RG28). Statistics confirmed that it was no longer necessary.
1994 The addition of a question on marital status at the time of death. This was as a result of problems caused by the removal of the term 'spinster' in 1993.
1995 Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationship Act 1995.
Introduced new birth and death registration forms. A major change was the introduction of new ethnicity and Mäori descent questions (consistent with those used in the 1996 Census).
1995 As part of government restructuring, the public registries group of Department of Justice was split up from October 1st. Internal Affairs was given responsibility for Births, Deaths and Marriages.
1996 Following the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings, Statistics New Zealand changed its standard statistical concept for deriving population estimates and projections from the de facto population to the resident population.
1998 Ministry of Health ceased requiring vitals data from Statistics New Zealand. As a result some information was no longer coded (e.g. locality of death, deceased's occupation).
1998 Internal Affairs computerised the vitals collection system from 1 January. Data now provided electronically to Statistics New Zealand and supply of birth, death and marriage registration forms phased out. Data from 1 July processed by Statistics New Zealand using new LAN-based system.
2005 The March quarter HOTP was last release containing provisional data. From June quarter final data only will be published.
From April 2005 the marital status question on the death registration form (BDM28) was changed to "relationship status at time of death". This means that de facto relationships and civil unions are now recorded. The ethnicity question was changed to that asked in the 2001 Census.
2006 From 1 January 2006 ethnicity will be coded according to the 2005 ethnicity classification.
2006 Banks Peninsula District amalgamated with Christchurch City on 6 March 2006. Births and deaths registered to people resident in the Banks Peninsula District prior to 6 March 2006 are included with the Christchurch City figures.
2008 The number of infant deaths registered in the March 2008 quarter is higher than expected due to changes in the procedures used by the Department of Internal Affairs. About 30 infant deaths registered in the March 2008 quarter occurred between 2004 and 2006.
Changes to ethnic statistics from the Death Registration Form
1. Pre September 1995
Prior to September 1995, the death registration form collected information on the degree of Mäori or Pacific Island blood and the tribe or island of the deceased's mother and father. If the parents were not of Mäori or Pacific Island descent no ethnic details were required. For statistical purposes this residual group was generally categorised as 'non-Mäori', 'non-Pacific Island'. Because next of kin were required to give details of the deceased's parents this question often proved difficult to answer and in many instances went unanswered.
The question produced two types of responses: Mäori or Pacific Island people (defined as those who had half or more Mäori or Pacific Island blood) and non-Mäori and non-Pacific Island people. It was recognised as limiting as there was no way of separately identifying other ethnic groups (eg Asian, European). Also, from 1986 (when the census ethnic question embraced the concept of self-identification), the inconsistencies between the scope of the ethnic vitals question and the ethnic census question became marked. The two data sets (registration-based vital events and census population) were based on different concepts and this added to the complexities of accurately measuring ethnic differentials in mortality.
2. Post September 1995
Changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Act and the introduction of a new death registration form in September 1995 marked a major milestone in ethnic statistics. The new death registration form included an ethnic question consistent with the concept of ethnic self-identification. In addition a question is asked regarding whether the deceased was descended from a New Zealand Mäori.
Initially, the ethnic question on the death registration form was the same as that asked in the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings. It asked the respondent to tick as many circles as needed to show which ethnic group the deceased belonged to. During 2005, the ethnic question was changed on the death registration form to be consistent with that in the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings. It asked the respondent to tick the box or boxes which applied to the deceased.
The ethnic question based on self-identification resulted in:
The implications of these results are:
- A large increase in the number of deceased being identified by respondents as belonging to one, or both, of the Mäori and Pacific ethnic groups.
- A much greater range of ethnic groups being identified by respondents for the deceased. Where previously the non-Mäori, non-Pacific Island category was large and ambiguous, it is now possible to identify specific ethnic groups, such as Chinese, Malaysian or South African, within this broad group.
- Multiple ethnic responses being generated as a result of respondents having the opportunity to select more than one ethnic group.
- The ability to monitor the level of non-response to the ethnic question.
These changes are an important outcome of the ongoing evaluation of statistical concepts and definitions designed to introduce consistency to ethnic questions and classifications across a range of statistical surveys.
3. Post January 2006
From 1 January 2006 ethnicity will be coded according to the 2005 ethnicity classification. The new classification consists of six broad ethnic groups (European, Mäori, Pacific, Asian, MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) and Other) compared with five under the previous classification (European, Mäori, Pacific, Asian and Other). In addition, a new ethnicity 'New Zealander' has been created within the Other group. Previously 'New Zealander' type responses (eg Kiwi) were coded to New Zealand European.
- It is now possible to generate ethnic-specific rates of mortality as well as to calculate population estimates and projections for a wider range of ethnic groups.
- It will be possible to more accurately gauge the specific needs of ethnic groups and, for the first time, detail on smaller ethnic minorities will be available.
Usage and Limitations of the Data ..Examples of Uses
Analysis of age, sex and ethnic-specific mortality rates
Related Data Sources ..Births
Sampling Errors ..not applicable
There is always the chance of processing errors happening but quality control measures are in place. These include:
a) Verification of outliers.
b) Checking for valid codes.
c) Removal of duplicate records.
c) Follow up missing responses.
Caveats on Release ..
Vital statistics provide local authorities, health authorities, and research institutions with valuable information needed to plan future and current services. Businesses whose existence is directly or indirectly related to vital statistics, such as funeral directors, trust companies, etc, make use of this information for predicting future demand for their products and services.
Areas (Residence of Deceased) ...
Urban Area (main, secondary, minor, rural)
Details of deceased...
Age at Death
Date at Death
Date of Birth
Country of Birth
Years in New Zealand (for non-New Zealand born)
Catalogue & Reference Numbers
AGE - Age - New Zealand Standard Classification
AU06 - Area Unit 2006
BIRTHDAY - Date of Birth - Day Classification
BIRTHMON - Date of Birth - Month Classification
BIRTHYR - Date of Birth - Year Classification
ETHNIC05 - Ethnicity New Zealand Standard Classification 2005
MAORIANC - Maori Ancestry Classification
REGC06 - Regional Council 2006
SEX - Sex - New Zealand Standard Classification
TA06 - Territorial Authority 2006
UA06 - Urban Area 2006
AGEGPS - Age - 5 Year Groupings
NZSCC2A99 - Country - New Zealand Standard Classification 1999 - 2 Alpha
Glossary of Terms
|Age-specific ||A measure relating to an age group. Age-specific rates are commonly calculated for fertility, mortality, marriage, marriage dissolution and abortion.|
|De facto Relationship||Two people usually living in the same dwelling, but not in a registered marriage to each other, who:
- share mutual concern for each other;
- have a degree of economic, social and emotional interdependence; and
- consider their relationship to be akin to marriage.
(Also referred to as de facto marriage, de facto union, consensual union, cohabitation.)
|Death||The permanent disappearance of all evidence of life at any time after live birth has taken place (post-natal cessation of vital functions without capability of resuscitation). This definition therefore excludes foetal deaths.|
|Ethnic Group||An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:
Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group. People can identify with an ethnicity even though they are not descended from ancestors with that ethnicity. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with an ethnicity even though they are descended from ancestors with that ethnicity. Ethnicity is not the same as birthplace.
In the case of births and deaths, ethnicity is identified by the person completing the registration form. For births this is usually the parent(s), while for deaths this is most likely to be the funeral director (on the advice of a family member).
(Also referred to as ethnicity.)
- a common proper name
- one or more elements of common culture which need not be specified, but may include religion, customs or language
- unique community of interests, feelings and actions
- a shared sense of common origins or ancestry, and
- a common geographic origin.
|Foetal Death||Death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of gestation, by either spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), induced abortion or stillbirth. Death is indicated by the fact that after such separation the foetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles.
The three major categories of foetal death recommended by the World Health Organisation are:
- early foetal deaths at less than 20 completed weeks of gestation
- intermediate foetal deaths at 20 but less than 28 weeks of gestation
- late foetal deaths at 28 weeks or more of gestation.
|The death of a child (who was born alive) before the age of one year. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births.|
(Also referred to as infant mortality.)
|Life Expectancy||The average length of life remaining at a given age. As derived from a period life table, it assumes that a person experiences the age-specific mortality rates of a given period from the given age onwards. It represents the average longevity of the whole population and does not necessarily reflect the longevity of an individual.|
|Life Table||A tabular numerical representation of mortality and survivorship of a cohort of births at each age of life. It comprises an array of measures, including probabilities of death, probabilities of survival and life expectancies at various ages.|
A complete life table presents life table functions for each single year of age, while an abridged life table presents life table functions for age groups.
Current, period or cross-sectional life tables are based on current mortality rates. These tables assume that as a cohort passes through life it experiences a given pattern of age-specific mortality rates which do not change from year to year. Although it is usually based on death rates from a real population during a particular period of time, these tables are a hypothetical model of mortality as they do not describe the real mortality which characterises a cohort as it ages.
Cohort, longitudinal or generation life tables are based on the actual mortality experience of a particular cohort (eg all people born in the year 1900). These tables require data over many years, from infancy to the oldest age lived by the cohort (ie until the death of the last survivor).
|Mäori Descent||A person has Mäori descent if they are of the Mäori race of New Zealand; this includes any descendant of such a person.|
|Mäori Ethnic Group||People who identify with the Mäori ethnicity with or without other ethnicities. Because ethnicity is self-perceived, people can identify with Mäori ethnicity even though they are not descended from Mäori ancestors. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with Mäori ethnicity even though they are descended from Mäori ancestors.|
(Also referred to as Mäori ethnicity.)
|Mortality||The death of individuals in a community.|
|Neonatal Death||The death of a child (who was born alive) before the age of 28 days. The neonatal mortality rate is the number of neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births. |
(Also referred to as neonatal mortality.)
|Occupation||A set of jobs which involve the performance of a common set of tasks.|
|Pacific Ethnic Group||People who identify with a Pacific ethnicity (eg Samoan, Tongan, Fijian) with or without other ethnicities.|
Because ethnicity is self-perceived, people can identify with a Pacific ethnicity even though they are not descended from Pacific ancestors. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with a Pacific ethnicity even though they are descended from Pacific ancestors. Ethnicity is not the same as birthplace.
(Also referred to as Pacific peoples, Pacific population, Pacific ethnicity, Pacific ethnicities.)
|Perinatal Death||These are stillbirths plus infant deaths under 7 days (early neonatal deaths). The perinatal mortality rate is the number of perinatal deaths per 1,000 births.|
(Also referred to as perinatal mortality.)
|Post-Neonatal Death||The death of a child (who was born alive) from age 28 days but before the age of one year. The post-neonatal mortality rate is the number of post-neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births.|
(Also referred to as post-neonatal mortality.)
|Registrar-General||A national birth, death and marriage registration service has been operating in New Zealand since the 1840s and is administered by the Registrar-General under the auspices of the Department of Internal Affairs.|
The Registrar-General is responsible for the compilation, maintenance and preservation of a national genealogical record and provision of a certificate service.
|Relationship Status||The relationship status of the the deceased at the time of death. The categories include; married or civil union, de facto, deceased partner (married, civil union, or de facto), divorced (marriage or civil union), permanently separated (marriage or civil union), permanently ended (de facto), and never partnered (married, civil union, or de facto)|
|Vital Statistics||Statistics of events such as births, deaths and marriages which influence the numbers of a population.|
Statistics New Zealand gives no warranty that the information or data supplied contains no errors. However, all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing and extracting the information. Statistics New Zealand shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the customer consequent upon the use directly, or indirectly, of the information supplied in this product.