Story: Atheism and secularism

Religious affiliation

Move the mouse over the lines on the graph to see the religious affiliation figures. Click on a religious group in the key to remove that line from the graph; click on the selection again to restore it.

The census collects information on religious affiliation. Christianity is on the decline and other religions are slowly rising. Secularism is rising faster which in part probably reflects the inclusion of 'no religion' as a census category from 1986. If these trends continue at current rates, those stating ‘no religion’ will outnumber those who state a religious affiliation by 2028.

There are problems with using religious affiliation as a measure of belief, as for many people religion is more of an inherited family tradition. Some who tick a Christian affiliation do not believe in God, and some who tick ‘no religion’ do believe in God. While religious affiliation is not the most accurate measure of religious belief, it is the only measure for which there is a long time series of data. Clearly a large and growing body of New Zealanders have no religion.

Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Source: New Zealand census, 1867–2006

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Atheism and secularism - Who is secular?', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 June 2024)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 4 Apr 2018