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Livestock, Forestry and Horticultural Trends Region-by-Region

The final results of the 2002 Agricultural Production Census – a joint survey by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) – have recently been released.

This latest release of data includes regional information and some of the key regional trends and statistics (comparing the 2002 statistics with those of 1994) are covered in this document.


The census confirmed the dramatic rise in avocado plantings in Northland between 1994 and 2002. The area under avocados totalled 900 hectares in 2002, up 600 hectares from 1994. New Zealand-grown fruit is selling well on the Australian and USA markets. The emergence of avocado oil provides growers with another sales option and it makes use of smaller fruit that is more difficult to sell on the fresh fruit market.

Oranges totalled 100 hectares in 2002, down by 50 percent on 1994. The area in lemons increased to 200 hectares in 2002.

The lemon and avocado industries are now supported by supply chains with packhouses, processing plants and marketing structures that specialise in these crops. This development reflects the increasing maturity of the horticultural industry in Northland.

The area harvested in squash dropped by 90 percent from 1,000 hectares in 1994 to 100 hectares in 2002. Total land in horticulture declined by 17 percent from 1994 to 2002 to 5,000 hectares.

Pastoral farming is very significant in Northland, and the census showed that there were 516,000 hectares of grazing, arable, fodder and fallow land in 2002. Grazing land fell by 100,000 hectares from 1994, and some marginal grazing land was converted to planted production forest and native bush.

Planted production forest totalled 193,000 hectares as at June 2002, up 45,000 hectares on 1994. Other land, comprising mainly native bush, increased by 23,000 hectares from 1994 to 121,000 hectares in 2002.

Total beef cattle numbered 468,000 in June 2002, down 18 percent on 1994. Total dairy cattle numbered 405,000 in 2002, up 13 percent on 1994, while the breeding herd increased by 7 percent to 298,000 cows in June 2002.

The Northland sheep flock declined by 36 percent from 1994 to 522,000 in 2002. In contrast, deer numbers increased by 28 percent to a total of 23,000 as at June 2002.


Urbanisation has introduced significant changes to land use in Auckland. As a result, horticulture has moved towards more intensive, high value crops, while livestock numbers fell sharply.

Wine grape plantings leapt from 300 to 800 hectares - an increase of 167 percent.

Avocado plantings also increased in the Auckland region – up 100 percent, with the area planted increasing from 100 to 200 hectares.

Plantings of apples fell by 67 percent, from 600 to 200 hectares.

Auckland now has 300 hectares planted in olives.

The Auckland region has shown a drop in outdoor tomato plantings, but indoor hothouse tomato plantings rose by 54 percent, from 646,100 square metres to 994,000 square metres.

Planted production forest increased by 24 percent, from 42,000 hectares to 52,000 hectares.

Sheep numbers dropped by 26 percent, from 498,000 to 368,000. Dairy cattle numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 169,000 to 150,000, while beef cattle numbers dropped by 20 percent, from 214,000 to 172,000. The total deer population dropped by 38 percent, from 34,000 to 21,000.


Total dairy cattle numbers increased by 16 percent, from 1,438,000 to 1,663,000, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by 11 percent to 1,270,000 in 2002. Numbers of beef cattle dropped by 23 percent from 870,000 to 667,000.

Sheep numbers declined by 28 percent, from 3,606,000 to 2,592,000. Deer numbers dropped by 12 percent, from 162,000 to 142,000.

Wine grapes have proved to be a growth crop in the Waikato, rising from 100 hectares planted in 1994 to 200 hectares planted in 2002 – a jump of 100 percent.

Pipfruit plantings decreased, with apples down 57 percent to 300 hectares.

The Waikato is a significant producer of onions, with 1,800 hectares in 2002. The area in onions has remained relatively static between 1994 and 2002.

Bay of Plenty

The total land area in agricultural production in the Bay of Plenty decreased by 10 percent from 668 hectares in1994 to 600 hectares in 2002. Much of this former agricultural area is now being used for residential accommodation and recreational lifestyle blocks.

In 2003 some two-thirds of land in horticultural production was planted in two crops, kiwifruit and avocados. Further, the industry was now more diverse than in 1994, with new plantings in wine grapes, olives and onions.

Land under avocados doubled, from 800 to 1,600 hectares in 2002. The increase in avocado area has occurred on the back of strong export returns for avocados from Australia and the USA. The avocado industry is expecting a significant increase in exports as new trees come into production.

Kiwifruit plantings increased by six percent, up from 8,100 hectares in 1994 to 8,600 in 2002. This increase occurred despite vine removals because of poor returns in the mid-1990’s, and because of residential development.

Apple plantings remained roughly static at 100 hectares.

In 1994 some 500 hectares were devoted to squash, but by 2002 production had reached very low levels.

The area in grazing declined by 14 percent to 245,000 hectares in 2002, partly because of the expansion of production forestry which was up seven percent to 267,000 hectares.

Dairy cattle numbers increased by 16 percent, from 286,000 in 1994 to 331,000 in 2002, while beef cattle numbers dropped by 18 percent, from 165,000 to 135,000. The increase in dairy numbers reflects conversions from drystock farming to dairy production over the past eight years.

Sheep numbers dropped from 620,000 in 1994 to 389,000 in 2002 - a drop of 37 percent. Deer numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 82,000 to 73,000.


The total number of dairy cattle increased by 117 percent from a small base of 6,000 to 13,000. The total number of deer increased by 13 percent, from 23,000 to 26,000.

Total sheep numbers dropped by 20 percent, down from 2,089,000 to 1,679,000, while total beef cattle numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 351,000 to 313,000. These decreases probably reflect conversions to forestry.

Between 1994 and 2002, the area in planted production forest increased by 64 percent, from 89,000 hectares to 146,000 hectares.

Wine grape plantings in the Gisborne region went up 42 percent, from 1,200 hectares to 1,700 hectares.

The area under oranges fell by 25 percent, down from 400 hectares to 300 hectares.

Hawke's Bay

Between 1994 and 2002 the total area in vineyards in Hawke's Bay more than doubled from 1,800 hectares to 3,800 hectares. In 2002, this region accounted for some 22 percent of the wine grape area in New Zealand.

There has been an expansion in intensive vegetable crops because of the presence of two large operators in the region. As a result, onion plantings rose by 300 percent, from 100 to 400 hectares.


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