Story: Contraception and sterilisation

New Zealand's fertility rate

New Zealand's fertility rate began decreasing in the 1870s. The main reasons were an increase in the age of women marrying, fewer women marrying, and social changes such as more women working in cities. The declining birth rate concerned the government, which allowed the Post and Telegraph Department to destroy packages containing references to contraceptives in 1906, and banned publication of contraceptive advice in 1910. The fertility rate climbed in the 1940s and peaked in the early 1960s. Following the introduction of the pill in 1961 and with societal attitudes toward contraception changing, the fertility rate dropped sharply and stabilised at around the population replacement level of two children per woman in the early 21st century. By 2017 it had fallen below two children per woman of childbearing age. 

Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Source: Statistics New Zealand and Ian Pool, Arunachalam Dharmalingam, and Janet Sceats. The New Zealand family from 1840: a demographic history. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007, p. 19

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How to cite this page:

Jane Tolerton, 'Contraception and sterilisation - 19th-century contraception', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 August 2022)

Story by Jane Tolerton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 7 Dec 2018