Kiwis contented but poor

Most New Zealanders say they live a contented life despite barely half of them saying they have enough or more than enough money to pay the bills, according to a new survey.

Findings from Statistics New Zealand's General Social Survey showed having good health, relationships, housing, and enough money strongly influenced how satisfied respondents were with their lives.

Last year, one-in-five of the 8500 respondents said they had good health, enough money, good housing and didn't feel lonely. Nearly all those people (98 per cent) were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives overall.

On the other hand, 1 in 20 New Zealanders said they had neither good health nor enough money nor good housing, and said they had felt lonely in the past four weeks.

Yet just over half (55 percent) of those people were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives overall.

Just over half the population (52 per cent) had enough money to pay for everyday items such as accommodation, food, clothing and other necessities, the survey found.

Aucklanders were the least likely to say they had more than enough or enough money.

About 47 per cent of people living in the Auckland region said they had more than enough or enough money, compared with 58 per cent living in Wellington or Canterbury.

The survey's manager, Philip Walker, said despite that, the majority of respondents felt satisfied with their lives.

"There's more to life than just money," he said.

"Most New Zealanders appear to be content with their lives, with 87 percent of the population reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives overall. This is above the OECD average, and similar to Australia, the United States, and Canada."

Mr Walker said the survey reflected that New Zealand was a first-world country.

"If you look at countries that are short of water or are war-torn, you'd expect to see a difference.

"I think one of the things this data does is remind us that, yes, we shouldn't ignore social problems in New Zealand and the fact that one in 20 have no good outcomes is significant, but nearly nine out of 10 people in New Zealand rate their lives as satisfied or very satisfied."

The survey was conducted over a year by interviewers visiting respondents.

Because of the data collection method, it was "reasonable" to conclude some respondents might have answered more positively about their lives, Mr Walker said.

Another survey finding was that New Zealanders were better prepared for emergencies than they used to be.

Last year, 52 per cent of people living in households had emergency water for three days, compared with 40 per cent in 2008.

The increase in the Canterbury and Wellington regions is even starker, with Canterbury increasing from 34 percent to 69 percent and Wellington from 51 percent to 68 percent,'' Mr Walker said.

Of the three centres, Auckland was least prepared with just 39.6 per cent of households holding enough water to last for three days.

One third of New Zealanders felt lonely a little, some, most or all of the time in the four weeks before being interviewed.

People most likely to feel lonely were in one-parent families, while couples without children were least likely to feel lonesome.

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