This paper attempts to answer several questions about urbanization in New Zealand: (1) How have the paradoxical phenomena of a high level of urbanization and an agriculturally oriented economy coexisted in New Zealand? (2) How do the levels of urbanization in New Zealand and in the other “new countries” of British origin (Australia, Canada, and the United States) compare? (3) Why has New Zealand never had a single dominant metropolis as is commonly found in other countries of its size? (4) How have the sources or urbanization–reclassification, differential natural increase, and migration–influenced the process of urbanization in New Zealand? (5) How has New Zealand’s small population affected its urban proportion? (6) What factors underlie the phenomenal rate of urbanization of New Zealand’s Maori population during the past generation? The analysis covers the period from 1861 to 1971.

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