By Thomas Mead
Birth rates have dropped as much as 24 percent in some quake-hit suburbs of Christchurch, according to new figures released today.
Statistics New Zealand says the figures show both a drop in population after the earthquakes and that fewer women are having babies.
Population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn says the drop is most noticeable in areas heavily damaged by the February 2011 quake.
"Within Christchurch, the largest decreases occurred in the eastern wards, which include suburbs that were significantly affected by the Canterbury earthquakes,” she says.
The biggest drop came out of the Burwood-Pegasus ward, which recorded a 24 percent decrease in new births for the year ending September 2012.
Banks Peninsula ward had a drop of 22 percent, Hagley-Ferrymead and Spreydon-Heathcote were down 16 percent while Shirley-Papanui was down 13 percent.
Ardas Trebas, manager of a local woman’s centre, says many of the quake's social consequences have gone undetected.
“In the east, we’re having aftershock after aftershock – not with the earth, but with the social consequences,” she says.
The women’s centre employs 12 free councillors for women and has a waiting list that continues to grow.
“We keep being shocked every day with the changes that are still occurring,” says Ms Trebas.
In comparison to eastern figures, the birth-rate across the whole city dropped 6 percent over the course of the year. That is double the national average, with birth rates dropping New Zealand-wide at a total of 3 percent.