The idea of colonial New Zealand as a man’s country is supported by statistics. In 1864 there were far more males than females living in the four main cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin). The proportion of males to females was even higher for the whole colony.
By 1891, while males continued to outnumber females overall, there were more females than males living in the cities. Women were particularly attracted to city life because it provided greater work, social and cultural opportunities than rural areas. In 1906 there were 49 males to every 51 females in the cities. Except for the interwar period (1921–36), this ratio remained relatively constant until 1996.
Nationally, a more balanced sex ratio was emerging by 1921. In 1981 there were slightly fewer males than females in New Zealand, and by 1996 the overall gender balance paralleled that of the four main cities. Women’s longer life expectancy partly explains the difference.
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Source: Statistics New Zealand