Marriage and divorce rates down

It’s not surprising to see that marriage rates are down, and it is inevitable that with fewer people getting married, there are also fewer divorces.

NZH: New Zealand marriage rates are falling, Statistics NZ figures show

Despite a steadily rising population, the general marriage rate has dropped, according to Statistics NZ.

In 1992, the marriage rate was 18.3 couples per 1000 people eligible to marry (or form a civil union from 2005). This has dropped to 10.9 couples in 2017.

“The highest number of marriages and civil unions in the last 25 years was in 2008, when 22,275 couples celebrated,” said population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers.

“The lowest number was in 2013, when 19,425 couples celebrated.”

But the number of divorces had also dropped over the past 25 years.

In 2017, 8001 couples split up and the number of divorces per 1000 existing marriages was 8.4.

This was in comparison to a divorce rate of 11.9 in 1992.

Marriage rates are falling in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The declining divorce rate has lagged the drop in marriages, but if less people are married it follows that less will divorce. And if relationships don’t work out couples will tend to break up before getting married. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In today’s society fewer marriages on it’s own means little. Many couples live in virtual married arrangements, without the ceremony and certificate.

It is possible (and common) to make a long term commitment to a partner, and to a family and children, without legal marriage.

Disgraceful sermon, disgraceful pastor

The US seems to be heading down a slippery slope of intolerance and violence, greased by President Trump.

But we are not immune from exteme rhetoric here either. It’s very sad to see this sort of un-Christian preaching in New Zealand.

NZH:  West Auckland pastor preaches gay people should be shot

A West Auckland pastor has delivered a sermon calling for gay people to be shot.

Westcity Bible Baptist Church pastor Logan Robertson agrees his comments are hate speech but is unapologetic.

Footage posted online at the end of July shows Robertson making highly offensive comments against homosexuals.

My view on homo marriage is that the Bible never mentions it so I’m not against them getting married,” Robertson says.

“As long as a bullet goes through their head the moment they kiss … Because that’s what it talks about – not homo marriage but homo death.”

Bullets weren’t mentioned in the bible either Marriages as they are today didn’t exist then either.

WestCity is independent and has no association with the Baptist denomination of New Zealand.

I expect this is isolated religious nuttery.

As they should.

Stuff: Auckland police look to speak with pastor who made violent anti-gay remarks

Detective Senior Sergeant Marcia Murray said on Wednesday police intend to speak with Robertson.

“We recognise that members of our communities will be concerned and fearful about those comments and we would like to make it very clear that we are treating this matter very seriously.”

This is not an isolated outburst.


In the most recent video, published on Sunday, Robertson said he did not believe women should be allowed to vote.

He also said newly appointed Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should leave parliament and “get in the kitchen where women belong”.

Religious positions abused can be dangerous as well as disgraceful.

Marriage versus De Facto relationships

Family First claims that a drop in marriage rates is one of the main drivers of child poverty. I’m not sure they have this right.

Stuff: Lobby group Family First blames unmarried couples for child poverty

An unmarried couple with children is highly likely to be struggling in poverty, a conservative lobby group claims. 

The claim comes from a new report by researcher and artist Lindsay Mitchell, who said there was “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence that a drop in marriage rates was one of the main drivers of an increase in child poverty.

The glossy report, funded by conservative Christian lobby group Family First, looked at household income and family structures from the 1960s to the current day.

A heck of a lot has changed in New Zealand society since the 1960s. I have major doubts over marriage rates being such a big factor.

It states that with people having fewer children than in the past and people delaying birth until they were older, families should be better off financially, but that was not the case.

A lot of families are better off financially, especially those that have fewer children and have families when they are older.

“Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

“But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.”


A stable family with two parents in a relationship and with a steady and reasonable level of income are certainly significant factors.

Whether the parents are married or not is largely irrelevant. Marriage is a legal document and a social custom but it has become optional and unnecessary for a good family environment.

Unsurprisingly, single-parent families were described as the poorest in New Zealand.

Single parent families are naturally going to find things tougher financially generally – although no always, a married couple with one partner an alcoholic or drug addict or in prison will tend towards being poorer.

But currently, 27 per cent of registered births were to cohabiting, or de facto, parents.

Mitchell said these relationships became less stable over time, the parents were poorer than married parents and separation by the time a child was aged five was four to six times greater than married parents.

I don’t see any reason why a de facto relationship should become more unstable over time than a marriage relationship.

A legal marriage will have little effect on the strength of a relationship.

Citing an Australian study, the report suggests married men earned a substantially higher wage than a cohabiting man and worked substantially longer hours.

But that could mean that higher earners were more likely to get married.

The cost of marriage can be a deterrent to poorer people.

I know of stable two parent families that put more priority on providing for their current needs than forking out thousands of dollars on a wedding that they would quite like but are happy to postpone.

But The Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldergrave said that to simply say that married people’s children were better off was a misuse of statistics.

“You can’t just correlate things and then start talking about causality, you just can’t do it that way.

“The fact that married people and people in de facto relationships earn different amounts of money doesn’t make it causal in terms of child poverty.”

That’s right.

Middle-class people were more likely to get married while de facto relationships were more common in lower-income households, but factors such as the economy affected both.

The main causes of child poverty was not a lack of marriages, but things like low incomes, the casualisation of work and the benefit system, he said.

“Poverty is essentially the access to resources and in a capitalist society that depends on income.”

And something that has changed significantly since the 1960s (fifty years ago) is we have become a far more consumerist society. This affects families whether parents are married or not.

The cost of weddings – how many people want to get married – is huge for lower income earners. Without the social pressure to get married it’s easy to postpone a spending spree that is actually unnecessary.  It’s an optional extra.

Mitchell said her aim with the research was not to ruffle feathers, but present information so it could be debated.

Many of those in de facto relationships were in their second and third relationships, supporting children from previous partners.

Remarriage and blended families with marriage involved are also common.

While cohabiting parents were more likely to have only one child, they were also more likely than married couples to have four or more.

Which means?

They were also much less stable than married couples, although Mitchell was unsure why.

That’s very poorly stated.

Many de facto relationships are as stable as many married relationships.

Of course some de facto relationships will be less stable than many married relationships, they can (but far from always) involve far less commitment.

If marriage was made compulsory it wouldn’t transform poor partners into reliable partners.

Poor partners are less likely to get married. It may be no more than that.

“Child poverty has become a really big issue and everyone is concerned about it…but we don’t hear anyone talking about the change in family structure.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie described the link between a drop in marriage and rise in child poverty as the “elephant in the room”.

“People would like to believe that there isn’t [a link] but unfortunately. the research shows de facto or cohabiting relationships are less stable.”

But in the 1960s it is very likely that shotgun weddings – or rushed marriages precipitated by pregnancy – would have had a higher proportion of  unstable relationships than carefully planned marriages and families.

As far as marriage is concerned probably all that has changed as the relationships least likely to endure never involve marriage any more.

A forced marriage with a dysfunctional relationship in which society puts pressure on for the  marriage to continue regardless of obvious problems – sometimes quite serious problems – is not a good solution.

Family First has raised some important issues – but if they really wanted debate rather than simply to promote their ideal of Marriage First then they would have presented their research without jumping to poorly supported solutions that simply fitted their last century world view.

New Zealand society has changed enormously over the last half century. Trying to force things back to some idealistic model of marriage is not a good way to address the obvious issues we currently have.

Encouraging and supporting better relationships and more responsible parenting- whether married or de facto – is surely a far better approach.

A stunning statistic

Yesterday Alan posted this comment, it’s worth exploring some more:

Rodney Hide cites a pretty stunning statistic in his NBR column this weekend. In 1961 95% of children were born to married parents. Now it is 53%. For Maori children it is 22%.

This perhaps is stunning but it’s no surprise to me at all. Attitudes to having babies and to marriage have changed enormously in my lifetime.

In the sixties and still into the seventies it was normal for girls and boys to marry young, often still as teenagers. This was in part because it was the done thing, and in part seen as a necessity when girls became pregnant.

Having children soon after getting married was very common – within 9 months give or take a few months.

Having children ‘out of wedlock’ was widely frowned on. It was commonly seen as a disgrace.

I know of two girls 2-3 years older than me who had children while I was at school. One was in the open, she had to stay away from school but was allowed to sit school certificate (I sat some of the same exams as her). In both cases their parents raised the babies.

I later learned it was common for girls to disappear ‘up north’ for a while. I know of one from Invercargill who went to Auckland for six months, but who returned with her baby refusing to adopt it out, as was common then. Her parents were quite upset about the family disgrace.

In Dunedin there was a ‘wayward girl’ hospital, where they went (usually sent by parents) to hide their pregnancies and had their babies.

Adoption was common and was often done under pressure, sometimes extreme pressure.

But things changed dramatically in the seventies and eighties. It was a combination of a major attitude change plus the introduction of financial support for single parents.

And now we have only about a half of children born to married parents. And often first children are born before parents get married. It simply doesn’t matter to most people now whether a couple is legally married or not.

There’s pros and cons with this change.

Largely gone now is the shaming of girls and women who get pregnant (usually with the help of a male).

Virtually forced removal of new born babies from mothers is now seen as abhorrent.

Most children are now raised by at least one of their natural parents, which in general is a positive thing.

But there are major downsides, including the lack of commitment in many relationships, the poverty trap that many young parents find themselves in, and families with multiple fathers – this can work out ok but it can also end in disaster due to parental conflict and a lack of care for other people’s children.

Regardless, there is no going back. For most people being a parent and getting married are seen as two separate issues, two unconnected decisions.

The child in wedlock tradition is history, or at least simply one option.

A pragmatic Pope, to an extent

The current Pope continues to surprise with his proclamations. He is proving to be one of the most progressive and controversial pontiffs.

His latest surprise – Pope says it can be ‘morally necessary’ for couples to split.

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that it may be acceptable or even “morally necessary” for married couples to split up if they are at war with each other.

“There are cases in which separation is inevitable,” the Argentinian pontiff said during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square.

“Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from more serious injuries caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation, neglect and indifference.”

The insistence that couples remain married no matter what is ridiculous, and can be dangerous and debilitating for spouses who are victims and for children living in dysfunctional married households.

I think commitment to marriage is an important part of our culture, but if a relationship has broken down irreparably then it makes no sense to insist on maintaining a charade – been there, done that until giving it up.

This is a significant and pragmatic shift in Catholic thinking – from the Pope. But it seems that the church as a whole is slower to change from in impractical ideal.

But the Vatican released a working paper earlier this week which suggested that reformists will be disappointed.

The document, a sort of road map which sets out the key topics to be debated, indicated that there will be no change to the current ban on receiving communion for Catholics who have divorced and then remarried.

In the eyes of the Church, their divorces are not valid and they are therefore living in sin with their new partners in adulterous relationships.

It should be pointed out that those insisting on broken down marriages continuing and refusing to accept re-partnering have never experienced a marriage themselves, nor have they experienced a normal one to one committed relationship.

The document also suggested that the Vatican will not alter its view of homosexual sex as a sin nor soften its opposition to gay adoption and gay marriage.

Yeah, that would be a bit too modern to the old men of the church.

Colin Craig: My soulmate’s sacrifice

It could be quite some sacrifice. When high profile people make serious errors of judgement the fall can be hard. And it can especially hard on those closely associated with the fallen, their close family members.

A Woman’s Weekly article in April last year – Colin Craig: My soulmate’s sacrifice

He’s one of the more controversial figures in New Zealand politics, often maligned for his traditional views and provocative statements.

But throughout his turbulent journey into the political sphere, which included a battle against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act that passed into law last year, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has managed to weather the storm with the help of his biggest supporter and wife of 23 years.

I’m editing out Craig’s wife’s name.

“It’s hard to see someone you love being criticised unfairly,” says stay-at-home mum [his wife]. “But I’m with him all the way. We need someone who has a different point of view to represent us, and I think he does it really well.”

Some of that may have now changed.

Colin’s journey into politics has shaken up the Craig family since he formed the Conservative Party in 2011 – [his wife]’s initial reaction was, “Do you have to?” before deciding, “Actually, someone’s got to do it, so it may as well be you!”

It may have shaken up the family somewhat more.

Colin says it’s still family first, and he knows how much Colin says it’s still family first, and he knows how much Helen has sacrificed in order for his political dreams to be realised.h

His political dreams weren’t realised and may have turned into a family nightmare.

Craig seems to have been somewhat distracted from both his family and his party during the campaign. The party secretary resigned two days before the election.

“I wouldn’t want to live and breathe politics every moment of my life,” he says. “I want to make sure I’m not exposing my family to the more corrosive elements.”

it looks like he wasn’t living and breathing poiitics.

What carries the pair through, they say, is a strong foundation and unbreakable bond.

This was published five months before the election and the resignation of the party secretary.

Throughout their relationship [his wife] has been the rock for Colin’s pursuits…

While she stayed at home it appears as if he was pursuing.

“He’s action man,” she says fondly. “That’s one of the things that attracted me to him. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”

Or in some cases gets tripped up.

And though Colin’s new role sees him travelling the length of the country, he always tries his best to be home for breakfast and bedtime – “and to catch up with [his wife]!”

“She’s the most generous person I know,” Colin smiles. “She’ll go to the supermarket and shout someone their groceries. It’s those random acts of kindness [I admire].

“She’s a great mum. I know how lucky I am!”

She doesn’t seem to have ended up being so lucky.

Colin Craig: My soulmate’s sacrifice

McCoskrie’s broken marriage

Bob McCoskrie thinks that marriage is broken in New Zealand.

Rejecting the State’s appointment to ‘marry’ people

Because I completely reject the definition of “marriage” which was rammed through by the politicians last year – what I call an ‘act of cultural vandalism’ – I have resigned as a State-sanctioned Marriage Celebrant.

I WILL STILL PERFORM MARRIAGE CEREMONIES FOR COUPLES. I completely believe in the purpose and sanctity of marriage – but it will be marriage as defined by culture, history and nature; not by politicians and political correctness. The couple can simply go to the local Registry Office if they wish to register their marriage in the eyes of the State and receive the State’s recognition and benefits (if there’s any benefits left!)

But it would be wrong of me – and perhaps even hypocritical of me – to allow myself to be appointed by the State to carry out that duty while rejecting the distorted definition that the State has adopted. In my view, marriage will always maintain its cultural, natural and historical definition of the lifetime commitment of one man one woman. The real meaning will never change.

I’m not against anybody. I’m simply FOR the institution of marriage which has stood the test of time – and which we ‘play with’ at our peril.
Bob McCoskrie

He doesn’t want to marry some people, fair enough. I doubt any of those people would be interested in asking him to marry them, they will find someone appropriate and willing to do that.

Everyone should be happy with that.

Perhaps even McCoskrie when he finds out how happy it makes people who are now able to get married like the rest of us.

Craig wants smacking change but would leave gay marriage

Colin Craig still wants to change the smacking bill due to a four year old referendum but is happy move on after opposing this year’s marriage bill.

Conservatives would seek repeal of anti-smacking law, says Craig

It was a response to a 2007 act which abolished the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children, although police have the discretion not to prosecute in the use of force against a child when it is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in prosecuting.

“I do think there is a mandate from the people to change that and I do think that is something we could reasonably ask for a change.”

There is no current mandate to change it. The referendum was four years ago, in 2009. Labour don’t still have a mandate to govern from 2008.

Mr Craig said the smacking law was clearly not working because child abuse rates had not gone down.

I haven’t seen any evidence that it “was clearly not working”. It’s possible publicity over the bill and referendum may have lead to less abuse but more reporting of the abuse that still occurs.

It’s interesting that Craig is fixated on the smacking bill, still.

On the questions of same-sex marriage, he said it would be “rather naive to think you are going to change the redefinition of marriage” given the overwhelming vote in the House on it in April, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.

He is already dropping opposition to the marriage bill which passed with a far smaller majority than the smacking bill. This is inconsistent.

A very special wedding day for some

Today is a special day for some couples – for the first time in New Zealand they will be able to get legally married. The same-sex marriage law changes come into effect today.

This won’t affect most of us, those of us who are not gay, and those of us not invited to attend a gay marriage.

But it is a major step towards equality for those who are no included in the freedom of choice on marriage.

And the sun will rise again tomorrow, and the next day, when people of any sexual orientation will have the choice to get married.

Congratulations to all those who get married today. I treasure my marriage, and I’m glad that you have that option now too.

Charity ruling on Family First

Accompanying  a letter to Family First dated 26th April from Internal Afairs Charity Services…

FamFirst Letter

…the reasons for deregistering Family First as a charity were detailed. Curiously this was sent about two weeks ago, Family First only publicised it this week claiming they were being punished for opposing the marriage bill.

The Marriage Bill passed it’s third and final vote on April 17th.

Here is the main part of the decision summary:

FamFirst Ruling

Link to full ruling document: