The Kiwi Nest: 60 years of change in New Zealand families

The Kiwi Nest: 60 years of change in New Zealand f…
01 Jun 2008

This Families Commission report contributes to a broad view of the complexity and importance of families, and how they can be supported to enhance their wellbeing.

Family form and structure have changed over the past 60 years, raising questions about how families can meet contemporary functions. Because the family is an economic entity, a critical social group, and a building block of communities, society itself can be affected when families come under pressure.

Global influences, the economy, social norms, our capacity to work, and our expectations about being a parent are often different today than for previous generations. This report examines the factors that affect the formation and existence of families, and how families adapt to changes. If families are adaptable, society benefits.

Alongside a demographic description of New Zealand families over six decades, the report examines three important dimensions of family life – work, income, and housing. It also discusses themes that transcend these topics.



This report does not set out to discuss all aspects of the evolution of family life in New Zealand. This would require several volumes, and one has recently been completed It focuses on the family experiences of people born before 1943 (the pre World War II era), between 1944 and 1970 (the post-war baby boomers) and between 1971 and 1993 (the children of the baby boomers). People from these different eras will readily recognise themselves in this report. Juxtaposing their experiences may also contribute to a greater appreciation of each other’s experiences.

Alongside a demographic description of families in these eras, the report examines three important dimensions of family life – work, income and housing. A number of themes that transcend these topics are also discussed.

In this report we see how change has been constant for families over the last 60 years and we can appreciate the resilience of the family in the face of these changes. We see the relationship between family form and the influences on their working life, their home life and their income. We are also able to better contemplate the evolving relationships between state, society and family.

This report is set out in a way which will make it possible for people to see the evolution of their own family and understand the differences between themselves and those of families from a different era. Our intention is for this report to be useful in discussion and debates how best to further the interests of the family.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018