Skip to main content

Population Policy

Kennedy Graham MP
kennedy [dot] graham [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Read the Population Policy Summary

Download the Population Policy as PDF

Spokesperson: Kennedy Graham MP

Updated 11-Aug-2014


Human impact on the environment is a function of population, affluence, and technology. If we wish to protect our environment so that it can continue to sustain future generations we must ensure that our environmental footprint is within limits that our environment can sustain. Gender equity is a necessary condition of that goal.


Ecological Footprint - a resource management tool that measures the resources (expressed in hectares of land) a human population consumes.

Carrying Capacity - the maximum population that a given area of land can support indefinitely. This will depend to a large degree on the per capita footprint of the population.


The Green Party's vision is for an Aotearoa New Zealand (or a world) where:

  • Humans are an integral part of the natural world in which ecological sustainability is paramount.

  • The natural, social and material resources needed to sustain and enhance human life are distributed fairly amongst the population.

  • Degradation of land, ocean and freshwater species and habitat is avoided, and previously degraded areas are rehabilitated.

Key Principles

  1. Māori, as tangata whenua, have a partnership role in determining the population policy.

  2. A self-sustaining population cannot be increased beyond the carrying capacity of the environment and its ability to assimilate waste and maintain essential ecosystems such as clean air, water, and soil.

  3. Any successful population policy is dependent on retaining the right of parental choice and the empowerment of women.

  4. A stable population will help minimise negative impacts on infrastructure and resources.

Specific Policy Points

1. Determining a sustainable population for Aotearoa/New Zealand

The Green Party recognises that a sustainable population level for New Zealand would not be 'final and fixed' but flexible. As we develop renewable energy resources and efficient, clean transportation our per capita footprint will become smaller and it may be possible to sustainably support a larger population. On the other hand, other factors such as changing weather conditions due to climate change may reduce the amount of useable productive land in New Zealand and this will also impact on the sustainable population level. Additionally, climate change will lead to more immigration and refugee pressure.

Our considerations include the need to accept refugees and a possible influx of New Zealanders returning from overseas. We will also need to take into account changing population demographics, such as an ageing population.

The Green Party will:

  1. Raise awareness about the need for sustainable population levels, both in New Zealand and globally, and the means by which a sustainable population might be achieved.

  2. Research what a sustainable population level might be for New Zealand in order to maintain both additional capacity and a decent standard of living.

  3. Plan to accommodate the settlement of returning citizens, immigrants, refugees, and those relocated through climate change up to the national capacity.

  4. Support continuing development of the Ministry for the Environment's Ecological Footprint modelling to incorporate best practice, as further information becomes available.

  5. Seek to reduce New Zealand's per capita and total ecological footprint by developing and supporting practices that curb unnecessary and wasteful production and consumption. (See our Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Sustainable Business, and Transport policies).

2. Aotearoa New Zealand as a responsible global citizen.

While New Zealand's population density is considerably less than the global average, we need to recognise the fact that global population places demands on natural resources and systems that cannot be sustained.

The Green Party will:

  1. Accept its share of people being relocated due to climate change from around the world with special regard to Pacific Island countries (see our Climate Change policy).

  2. Working cooperatively with other countries through international aid programmes and other means to address problems of over-population and carrying capacity, recognising that educating girls, including on birth control and gender rights, has been shown to be the most successful pathway to stabilising populations while respecting human rights.

  3. Promote a renewed focus on sustainable consumption and production practices as originally outlined in Agenda 21.


^ Back to Top