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  Community » Waikato Progress Indicators - Tupuranga Waikato » Report cards » Rural subdivision

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worsening trend    WORSENING TREND


The percentage of rural land being subdivided each year in the Waikato region has been increasing steadily over the past two decades.

This indicator is the average annual area (hectares) of rural land subdivided in the Waikato region between censuses.

Why is this indicator important?

When rural land is subdivided for more intensive use, highly productive land may be removed from production. Rural subdivision also increases land prices above agricultural production values. Rates of rural subdivision can influence people individually in terms of their decisions on where to live based on the character of their surrounding environment. For example, whether people wish to move into or out of an area is likely to be affected by a property’s proximity to neighbours and/or the impacts of nearby land use activities at the time or if this changes. Collectively, increased rural subdivision can affect a region’s (and New Zealand’s) economy when low density productive land (such as farms) are divided up for high density less productive uses (such as urban use).

Monitoring rural subdivision rates provides information for councils, land developers and communities about which areas in the region are experiencing increasing pressures through urbanisation or intensive use. This helps councils manage rates of rural subdivision through policies and plans. Councils can also identify where increased demand for services or improved infrastructure might be needed in the subdivided area as a result of increased population density and land use activity.


What is this indicator telling us? 

  • Rural subdivision has been increasing across the three census periods noted above. Between 1991 and 1996, an average of 373 hectares of land per year changed from a low-density rural land use to a more intensive use.
  • Between 1996 and 2001, this figure rose to 436 hectares before decreasing to 414 hectares average per year between 2001 and 2006.
  • Over the most recent 2006 to 2013 census period, this figure has again risen to an average of 527 hectares per annum.
  • The greatest amount of subdivision has been occurring on the land classed as having higher productive capabilities (LUC classes II, III and IV).
  • In decreasing order, rural subdivision is occurring most rapidly in Waikato district, Thames-Coromandel district, Taupō district and in Matamata-Piako District. Lower rates of rural subdivision are also occurring within Hamilton City, South Waikato district and Otorohanga district.

Check out related information on our website and other organisations’ websites listed on our Waikato Progress Indicators’ Useful Links page.

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Rural subdivision refers to the amount and type of low density rural land that has been subdivided into smaller blocks, mainly for urban use (and possibly for intensive agriculture or horticulture uses). Low density land is defined as land that has less than one house per four hectares.

Census statistics relating to an increase in rural subdivision in the Waikato region are drawn from three of the last four census periods: 1991-1996; 1996-2001; 2001-2006, and 2006-2013. Average between previous censuses is based on denominator of five years; average for the interim figures calculated by WRC for the 2006-2013 period used a denominator of seven years.

Update details: The next census results required to update this indicator are expected to become available in 2019.

Customised data request requirements: Contact Waikato Regional Council Spatial Analyst for Census-based rural subdivision data (for consistency with earlier data).


Territorial Authority (TA) disaggregation: No

Other regions: No

New Zealand: No

Other countries/ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):  No



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