Fact sheet

Marriages, civil unions, and divorces: year ended December 2013

Marriage Same-sex marriage Marriage equality New Zealand
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Statistics NZ is responsible for releasing marriage and civil union registration data. Data refers to marriages and civil unions that have occurred and been registered with Births, Deaths, and Marriages. Provisional civil union and marriage quarterly data will be available from Statistics NZ within five weeks of the end of the quarter. Data includes the number of marriages and civil unions between same-sex male, same-sex female, and opposite-sex couples; and transfers from civil unions (as explained below).

For more information about final annual data see Marriages, civil unions, and divorces – information releases (65).

Civil unions

The Civil Union Act 2004 came into force on 26 April 2005 and the first ceremonies were celebrated on 29 April 2005. This Act introduced a new form of legal relationship. Two people, whether of opposite or the same sex, can enter into a civil union provided they are not currently married to or in a civil union with someone else. A married couple can transfer their relationship to a civil union. From 19 August 2013, any couple in a civil union can transfer their relationship to a marriage (before this date, only opposite-sex couples could transfer their civil union to a marriage).


The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 came into force on 19 August. This Act specifies that two people can marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The first same-sex marriages were celebrated on 19 August 2013.

In 2013:


  • 19,237 marriages were registered to New Zealand residents – of these, 209 were same-sex marriages.
  • There were 13,312 first marriages, 5,825 remarriages, and 100 couples (both same-sex and opposite-sex) who transferred their civil union to a marriage.
  • The general marriage rate was 10.9 marriages per 1,000 not-married population aged 16 years and over.
  • An additional 2,416 marriages were registered to overseas residents – of these, 146 were same-sex marriages.


  • 8,279 married couples were granted divorces in New Zealand.
  • There were 9.4 divorces for every 1,000 estimated existing marriages.

Civil unions

  • 187 civil unions were registered to New Zealand residents – of these, 121 were same-sex unions.
  • 46 civil unions were registered to overseas residents.
  • 40 couples dissolved their civil union. 
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