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Why 80% of New Zealand is Empty

Exploring New Zealands Population and Geography

  • New Zealand is the 12th and 14th largest island in the world
  • It shares an oceanic and temperate climate with other densely populated places
  • However, New Zealand’s population is significantly smaller than other countries due to its extreme isolation from the rest of the world
  • Most of New Zealand’s population is concentrated on the North Island, with Auckland as its primary city
  • On the South Island, population density is nearly barren, with only 5.4 people per square kilometer
  • New Zealand was first visited by Polynesian explorers in the 13th century and Europeans in 1769.

Exploring New Zealands Changing Population Dynamics Through the Centuries

  • New Zealand’s human population was zero when first discovered in the 13th century
  • Maori population numbered around 200,000 individuals by 1769
  • European immigrants from Britain and Ireland began to arrive in 1840, with Maori population crashing to 40,000 by 1890
  • North Island is more populated today than South Island due to easier development – less mountainous & warmer temperatures on North Island
  • East side of South Island is flatter yet receives too little rain for sustainable agriculture while West receives too much rain
  • North Island has active volcanoes producing fertile soils not present on South.

New Zealand Diversifies Its Economy Through Agriculture and Immigration

  • New Zealand’s geography limits its ability to grow crops and have a competitive manufacturing sector
  • As a result, it has become an offshore European Ranch with sheep and cows as its primary exports
  • While only two percent of its land is suitable for crop growth, 55 percent is used for agriculture, largely through animal ranching
  • New Zealand produces enough food to feed 40 million people annually, 95 percent of which gets exported
  • Immigration has long been the main driver of population growth in New Zealand
  • Racist policies artificially capped immigration numbers until very recently.

New Zealand Immigration Boom Causes Housing Market Stress

  • Immigration to New Zealand has increased rapidly, particularly since the early 2000s
  • The majority of new immigrants come from Asia, primarily China, India and the Philippines
  • Most settle around Auckland due to better flight connections
  • This is straining the city’s housing market as house prices have risen to 25 times average salary in the area
  • Natural constraints limit how much of New Zealand can be inhabited
  • Brilliant’s interactive courses allow a smooth transition in learning math and science.

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this is New Zealand and this is wherepeople actually live in New Zealand asyou can see nearly 80 percent of thecountry's land area is completelyuninhabited by humans which is kind ofweird when you think about it at firstbecause New Zealand is both probablybigger than you think it is and has avery good climate for people to live inthe south island and the North Islandare respectively the 12th and 14thlargest islands in the world and haveplaced over the United States they wouldstretch across the East Coast fromFlorida up through Pennsylvania togetherthe two main islands of New Zealand areeven larger than the United Kingdom andjust like the UK they share an almostidentical climate with similartemperatures all throughout the year andsimilar levels of rainfall the copendesignated climate type for the UKIreland and the vast majority of NewZealand is oceanic and temperatetypically consisting of no dry seasonwarm Summers and Mild Winters if youlook at a worldwide map of where thisclimate type and similar climates can befound they include several of the mostdensely populated places in the worldlike most of Western Europe VancouverMexico City Lima and Cusco Johannesburgand the actually settled parts ofSoutheastern Australia one of thelargest outlier here is of course NewZealand who despite having an overallclimate that is nearly identical to theUnited Kingdom and is even larger insize it's also vastly less populated theUK is a population today that is nearing69 million people while New Zealandbarely has a hair more than 5 million ornearly 14 times fewer people in fact NewZealand's combined land mass as a lowerpopulation than a ton of other smallerislands around the world all despitetheir larger size and more ideal climatemost evidence of all by the smallerislands like Java Honshu and GreatBritain all of which are smaller thanNew Zealand and yet have orders ofmagnitude more people living on them toreally hit the point home here thepopulation density in the UK is onaverage 281 people per square kilometerwhile in New Zealand it's only 18 peopleper square kilometer the UK is therefore15 times as densely populated as NewZealand is so why is New Zealand so muchmore comparatively empty despite thesimilar size and similar climate theanswers are complex and fascinating butthe thing about New Zealand's populationpattern is that it only appears to geteven stranger the more and more youactually look at it remember thatsomething like 80 percent of the countryis just totally uninhabited but note thedifference in that amount of uninhabitedland between the two main islands thevast majority of New Zealand'spopulation more than three quarters ofthem all live more cluster together upon the North Island while less than aquarter of them live much more spreadout across the geographically largerSouth Island so the smaller North Islandhas a lot more people than the SouthIsland does but even then almost half ofall the north Islanders just live aroundthe primary city of New Zealand Aucklandthis is by far the biggest city the NewZealand has got strategically locatedalong in Isthmus with good naturalHarbors to the North and the South andplaced over a dormant volcanic fieldwith fairly fertile soils the Aucklandregion alone is home to some 37 percentof all modern new zealanders and is fastapproaching a population of two millionpeople this High concentration of peoplearound just one city makes New Zealandone of the most highly centralizedcountries anywhere in the developedworld for the sake of comparison theseare the percentages of a few othercountries populations and their biggestcities from around the world soincluding Auckland the north island ishome to four out of five in NewZealand's largest cities with thelargest down in the South Island beingChristchurch placed upon the flat Plainsof Canterbury but if you exclude theurban area around Christchurch thepopulation density across the rest ofthe South Island an island that'sroughly the same size as the Netherlandsplus another half of Belgium isbasically almost Barren at only about5.4 people per square kilometer onaverage about as empty as the states ofNorth and South Dakota in the UnitedStates and this is actually strangetoday because historically back there inthe 19th and early 20th centuries it wasactually the south island that had morepeople on it than the North Island nowof course the biggest and most obviousFactor explaining New Zealand's relativeemptiness is simply its sheer isolationaway from the rest of the world thereare some cartographers who prefer todivide the planet into two separatehalves the land Hemisphere and the waterHemisphere and within the waterhemisphere New Zealand is placed almostdirectly within the center the closestother large landmass to them is ofcourse Australia but they are separatedby nearly 2 000 kilometers across theopen ocean of the Tasman Sea and otherthan that it's all just scatteredIslands Antarctica or open empty oceanfor thousands of kilometers away inevery single Direction even todaybecause they're simply so little a notedown here air and Maritime trafficaround the South Pacific is the mostempty spot on the globe it still takes anearly four hour flight just to hopbetween Auckland and Sydney which isroughly comparable to a flight betweenLondon and Athens across the whole ofEurope Europe and that's just NewZealand's closest neighbor for most ofEurope New Zealand is quite literallythe furthest place away they can getwithout leaving the planet itself in aspace because New Zealand existsprecisely on the opposite side of theworld from much of modern day Spain andPortugal it simply takes time for peopleto get to or get off New Zealand even inthe 21st century and it is because ofthis extreme isolation from the rest ofthe world the New Zealand was alwaysfated to be calm the final largehabitable landmass on the Earth'ssurface to ever be discovered by humansit remained an isolated perfectlyUntouched by humans ecosystem throughoutall of history and civilization until agroup of Polynesian explorers likelyhappen to stumble upon it by mere chantssometime during the 13th century atabout the same time as Genghis Khan andthe Mongols were rampaging acrossEurasia from there over the span ofcenturies the initial Polynesiansettlers developed a unique culture oftheir own the Maori and they remainedundisturbed on the islands by any otherhumans from the outside world until themid 17th century when a Dutch sailorbegan the first non-polynesian to everdiscover and visit them but sustainedand Lasting European contact with theislands didn't really begin later until1769. when the British sailor CaptainCook visited the Island's nearly fivecenturies after the Maori had firstdiscovered and settled though simply putother islands around the world likeGreat Britain Java Honshu and manyothers have just had far more time todevelop and expand their populationsthan New Zealand has many of theseislands have been settled by humans fortens of thousands of years simplybecause they exist nearer to the edgesof major Continental land masses andwere thus discovered by people Millenniabefore New Zealand ever was as recentlyas the 13th century New Zealand's humanpopulation was literally zero whereasother medieval islands like Japan andGreat Britain already numbered in themillions about where New Zealand is onlyat today in the 21st century having morepeople to start with simply means havingmore people later on as more people areavailable to reproduce and the Maori ofNew Zealand were starting completelyfrom scratch just 800 years ago whichreally isn't that long ago historicallybased on several assumptions and notrooted in anything really other thanbasically guesswork modern demographersusually estimate that the Maoripopulation on New Zealand likelynumbered around 200 000 individualsafter five centuries of living there bythe time the British arrived andsubsequently their population began tocrash significantly by 1840 the BritishEmpire being formally incorporating NewZealand into a colonial possession and aflood of immigrants to the islandscoming from Britain and Ireland beganthrough a combination of various factorslike European introduced diseases thatthe Maori lacked any immunities toWarfare and violence between thecolonizers and the indigenous Maori andthe forced introduction of a brand newlegal and justice system that wasunfamiliar to them the Maori populationof New Zealand plummeted from around 200000 at the time of contact in 1769 toonly around 40 000 it had more than acentury later in 1890 but by that pointaround 500 000 white European colonistsmostly coming from Britain and Irelandhad arrived to the islands and mostlyreplaced them now initially during thecolonization process most of the newEuropean settlers who came decided toset up shop down on the south islandbecause the North Island was a lot moreinhabited by the indigenous Maori and somore of the colonial wars and violencewere taking place up there and alsobecause gold got discovered down on thesouth island it wouldn't be until the20th century that the North Island wouldrecover its larger share of thepopulation but it was basically alwaysdestined to happen and get to the pointwhere we are today we're overthree-fourths of everyone live up on theNorth Island because as it turns out thesouth island is actually prettydifficult to build any civilization onfor starters the south island issignificantly more mountainous than theNorth Island is this is because beneaththe surface New Zealand exists preciselyalong the intersection of the Pacificand Australian tectonic plates butbeneath the South Island the westwardmoving Pacific Plate is crashing intoand subducting beneath the Northwestmoving Australian plate over the past 45million years the Collision of these twoplates here has thrust up 20 kilometersworth of rocks to form the Southern Alpsrunning along nearly the entire lengthof the whole South Island and their nameis fitting because this mountain rangereally is about On a par with the scaleof the original Alps in Europe therewere 18 peaks in this range that exceed3 000 meters in elevation while thetallest of them stands in more than 3700 meters and is nearly as high as theiconic Mount Fuji in Japan forcomparison's sake these mountains Towerover anything that can be found over inAustralia the tallest mountain thatAustralia has to offer is MountKosciusko and it's about 1500 meterslower than this tallest mountain on NewZealand's South Island economicallydeveloping humongous mountains is achallenging task because buildinganything around them or through them isjust more expensive and labor intensivethan it is on more ideal flatter landsbut taking up a lot of otherwiseavailable little space on the southisland isn't the only problem todevelopment that the mountains here posethey extend for about 500 kilometersacross the whole island and carve outonly a narrow strip of land to theirWest that is actually exposed to theprevailing Westerly winds that blowAcross The Tasman Sea so as aconsequence moist air blowing with theprevailing winds will almost immediatelyhit the Southern Alps which will formclouds that dump a torrential amount ofrainfall all across the narrow WesternCoastal strip but as the winds travelfurther over the mountains they losetheir moisture and get warmer as theycross over and then descend down towardsthe Mountain's Eastern side where theythen become hot and dry winds that blowacross the Island's Eastern side as aresult not only do the mountains on thesouth island take up a lot of theavailable space away from developmentbut they cast a deep rain shadow acrossthe flat Plains of the Island's easternhalf that turns them generally into aridPlains it often subjugates them todrought-like conditions so essentiallyland on the Eastern side of the islandis generally flatter and easier todevelop but it also receives too littlerainfall to make growing crops asustainable Venture while the westernside of the island is extremely ruggedwith far less available flat space andprobably too much rain conversely whilestill fairly mountainous in its ownright the north island is a lot lessmountainous than the South Island isthere's more available flat land upthere that's easier to develop rainfallacross the north island is more evenlydistributed and predictable than theSouth Island since there aren't as manybig mountains to disrupt weatherpatterns and since New Zealand is in theSouthern Hemisphere and the north islandis further north closer to the Equatorespecially extending into the Isthmuswhere Auckland is located temperatureson the North Island are warmer onaverage than further down in the Southcloser to the pole and while there's alot of volcanoes on both islands all ofthe volcanoes on the south island arecurrently dormant and none of them haveerupted in centuries converselyvolcanoes on the North Island are stillactive and there have been a few smalleruptions out of them from time to timeover the past several decades which haveproduced a limited amount of fertilevolcanic soils on the island that arecompletely absent down on the southisland altogether so flatter land morereliable and evenly distributed rainfallwarmer temperatures and marginallybetter soils all mean a better abilityto conduct Agriculture and a betterability to Simply sustain more people onthe North Island and so after the Goldon the south island ran out and theviolence in the North Island ended itwas only really a matter of time beforethe North Island ended up with more thanthree-fourths of the total populationbut nonetheless it's not like the NorthIsland possesses a huge ability to hosta lot of people either while activevolcanism introduces some amounts ofminerals to the North Island soils theseeruptions don't really happen that oftenand they're usually pretty minor eventsthere have only been a grand total of 13significant volcanic eruptions acrossall of New Zealand over the entirety ofthe past 1800 years of History the NorthIsland itself has only seen four veryminor eruptions over the past Centurywhile the south island of course hasseen exactly zero conversely Japanexperiences an average of 15 volcanicevents every single year while just asingle volcano out of dozens of activevolcanoes on the Indonesian island ofjava has erupted six times only since2018. as a result the soils of severalIndonesian and Japanese Islands get moreminerals deposited within them morefrequently from all the ash that fallsfrom volcanoes and so they are thereforejust more fertile and easier to growcrops in than New Zealand wherevolcanism is more dormant and rarelyeven happens and so where the soils areconsequently far less frequentlyfertilized naturally so ultimatelybecause of all the mountains dormantvolcanoes Hills and arid planes takingup most of the space accompanied byweird rainfall patterns and a lack ofvery good soil the vast majority of NewZealand is simply not very good forcommercial crop growing less than twopercent of the country's total land massis actually considered arable andsuitable for crop cultivation apercentage that is actually comparableto countries like Jordan and Somaliathat each largely exists in a much morehostile desert environment but unlikethose countries in the desert while NewZealand's land is mostly not verysuitable for crop growing its temperedclimate easily available water in somelocations and plentiful grasses make itlargely perfect for grazing and ranchingso instead of growing crops New Zealandjust brought in a ton of cows and sheepand built its entire agriculturalindustry off of animals instead the memeabout there being more sheep in NewZealand than humans is very true becauseof this Factor there are nearly 27million sheep on the islands today incomparison to just 5.1 million humansand with sheep New Zealand found itsperfect niche in the World Marketbecause they are now the number onelargest exporter of sheep products likewool and mutton in the world but that'snot even their largest export NewZealand also has more than twice as manycows on their Islands as they do peopleand so it's actually dairy product thatthey produce from all these cows thenmake up their largest single export sodespite only two percent of their landbeing considered arable 55 of NewZealand's land is still being used foragriculture anyway it's just pretty muchall being used for raising animalsinstead of growing crops in a way NewZealand's geography sort of forced itinto basically becoming an offshoreEuropean Ranch after the Gold ran out inthe late 19th century there weren'treally any other lucrative mineralsaround to dig up or any oil and gas toextract and sell to World Markets itsvery limited ability to grow crops andremoteness from the rest of the world iscentrally ensured that despite theirlarge Geographic size the islands wouldalways have a fairly small populationand a small population plus the very fardistance away from the primary threeGlobal consumer markets in Europe EastAsia and North America meant that NewZealand would never be able to develop acompetitive manufacturing sector likehappened in the other Island States likeJapan and the United Kingdom who canboth grow a lot more food to sustainmore people and or closer by to Majorconsumer markets to export theirfinished goods to thus New Zealand'sonly ability to generate Capital throughexports was by raising biological animalresources like sheep and cows which theyare very very good at producing andtrade in exchange for things onmanufactured products and oil and gas infact New Zealand now produces so muchfood through this process that theyproduce enough to feed around 40 millionpeople a year or around eight timestheir own population obviously theydon't really need that much food so 95percent of it gets exported to over ahundred different countries around theworld which in 2019 earned them over 46billion New Zealand dollars in Revenueanimal agriculture is the primary pillarof New Zealand's exports it has beenthat way for nearly 200 years and willlikely continue being that way in thefuture because it's really the onlycompetitive export that geographyactually Grants New Zealand but becausethat's the case animal agriculture takesup over half of New Zealand's totalavailable land and so limits the abilityfor people to spread out and settleacross the islands even further and thenjust like in the rest of the developedWorld New Zealand's birth rates havealso dropped beneath the naturalreplacement level but they haven't beenthere for as long as they have been inother countries as recently as 2010 thebirth rate to New Zealand was still 2.1children per woman on average preciselyat the level required to keep thepopulation stable as of 2022 the rateshas slightly decreased beneath thereplacement level to 1.8 children perwoman but that is still higher than inmany other developed countries likeGermany Italy Japan and South Korea andunlike Japan and South Korea New Zealandhas and continues to have a very longhistory of immigration to the islandsfrom abroad New Zealand itself is asettler Society where no human beingthere today has any direct ancestry fromthe islands going back Beyond 800 yearsand when nearly all of the Europeandescended population doesn't even haveancestry there going back 200 yearsthroughout its history since 1840 whenthe British began the period of massimmigration most of New Zealand'spopulation growth has always come fromimmigrants but the pace of immigrationhas recently begun growing even fasterfor about a century after the Britishbegan Mass migration to New Zealandracist policies were put into place thatdeliberately restricted the numbers ofnon-white immigrants allowed to come tothe islands which kept the numbers ofimmigrants coming in artificially cappedin limited growth and density after allthere were only really so many whiteEuropeans who wanted to uproot theirlives and travel to the opposite end ofthe world for a new life in New Zealandit therefore took centuries after itsinitial Discovery by the Maori for NewZealand to even hit one million peoplearound 1911. the racist policiesrestricting the numbers of non-whitescoming in were only relaxed after WorldWar II and so it took another 45 yearsfrom 1 million people for them to hit 2million then another 20 years to hit 3million and then another 30 years to hit4 million but after 4 million peoplewere reached into 2006 it only took amere 14 more years to add in anothermillion people and reach 5 million by2020 and the vast majority of all thatrecent growth came from immigration fromnew places beginning in 2008 the NewZealand government set a target of 45000 new immigrants to the country a yearplus an additional tolerance of up tofive thousand more between 2013 and 2018alone 270000 new immigrants came to New Zealandfrom abroad the United Kingdom stillrepresents the largest single countrythat immigrants come to New Zealand fromas former UK residents still representroughly 1 in 20 people in the countrybut most immigrants today don't comefrom Europe as a whole any longerthey're coming from Asia instead andprimarily from China India and thePhilippines today over 27 of the wholeNew Zealand population were bornsomewhere else outside of the country arate that is among the highest seenanywhere in the world and a rate that islike to continue increasing even furtherin the future but the new immigrants whoare coming to the country aren'tsettling everywhere all at once for themost part they're basically justsettling around the largest city withthe best flight connections to theoutside world where they originally camefrom Auckland between the 20 yearsbetween 1996 and 2016 more than half ofall New Zealand's total populationgrowth took place exclusively around theAuckland region a growth rate that manyin the city are concerned is not verysustainable by 2022 the average houseprice in Auckland had swelled to over1.1 million US Dollars all in a citywhere the average annual salary remainsjust 44 000 US Dollars that's a ratiowhere the average house price in thecity costs 25 years worth of the averagesalary making Auckland one of the leastaffordable cities to own a home in inthe world so while it is true that mostof New Zealand remains pretty empty mostof it simply isn't possible to inhabitfor all of the reasons explained in thisvideo and the small parts of the countrythat actually are inhabited are alreadystruggling with providing enough housingfor the people who are already there inthe future who knows how much morepopulated these fascinating and isolatedIslands will becomebut New Zealand's quotas on the numbersof people they allow in each year arerooted in logical and scientificthinking they understand better thananyone today the natural limitationsthat their Islands provide and therealities they actually have to workwith and if you're anything like me thenyou're probably just as curious aboutwhy our planet in reality works the waythat it does but the world is acomplicated and sometimes difficult tounderstand plays science and math serveus as the primary Tools in helping usunderstand this complicated reality butfor myself and perhaps you as wellscience and math are each subjects thathave never come easy and may even seemimpossible to truly grasp at timeswithout a personal teacher to explainthings to me and walking through theproblems almost everything that was anymore complicated than just basic mathwas going right over my head I simplydidn't know what I didn't already knowwhich always makes asking the rightquestions online a difficult task butthen I went through brilliant's courseon beautiful geometry which took methrough from the very Basics Iunderstood tested my understanding alongthe way and explained to me the correctanswers in detail anytime I gotsomething wrong one of the mostdifficult Parts about learning anythingnew is simply knowing what the rightquestions are to ask but brilliantremoves this barrier for you withcurated and guided courses that aredesigned to steadily level up yourknowledge base it's the best way tolearn math and science interactively andyou can take the course I did onbrilliant geometry or one of brilliant'sthousands of other lessons fromfoundational and advanced math toartificial intelligence data scienceneural networks and so much more withnew lessons being added every singlemonth and best of all you can try outeverything brilliant has to offercompletely for free for a full 30 Daysby clicking this button that's here onyour screen right now or by real life lore down in thedescription and if you find it usefulwhich I'm sure you will the first 200people to use my link can continue onwith 20 off of an annual premiumsubscription and as always thank you somuch for watching