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Youngest mums, most babies

GISBORNE, along with Northland, has the highest fertility rate in the country at 2.3 births per woman in 2020, according to statistics released by Stats NZ.

Gisborne also recorded the youngest median age of mothers at the time of birth at 28.4 for births during 2017–19.

Stats NZ said the median age was lower than on average in a region such as Gisborne. Women from these regions were having children earlier in their reproductive lives. They therefore have the potential to have more children than women who start having children later in their reproductive lives.

Otago and Wellington had the lowest total fertility rate at 1.4 and 1.5 respectively.

The median age of mothers from these areas at the time of giving birth was the highest in New Zealand, at 31.4 years for both regions.

As well, regions with large tertiary education providers, such as Otago and Wellington, have large numbers of young women who are within childbearing ages but generally not having babies while studying.

This often means that these regions are likely to have lower fertility rates than other regions.

There were 663 births in Gisborne last year compared to 675 in 2019 and 711 in 2018.

The 663 births was the second lowest number of Gisborne births in data provided by Stats NZ dating back to 2007.

New Zealand's total fertility rate in 2020 was down to 1.61 births per woman, its lowest recorded level, and well below the population replacement rate of 2.1.

This means that based on birth rates in 2020, New Zealand women would average 1.61 births over their lifetime.

“Fertility rates in New Zealand were relatively stable between 1980 and 2012, but have generally decreased since then,” population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack said.