Census 2016

Information about the upcoming national Census being held in December 2016

Census 2016

Census of Population & Dwellings 2016

The Census of Population and Dwellings is a five yearly stock take of people in the Cook Islands and their housing. It is the primary source of information on the size, composition, distribution, economic activities and state of well being of the population. The Census of Population and Dwellings 2016 is being conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act 2016. The particular provisions relating to this census is set out in sections 18 and 19 of the Act. Other sections of the Act that apply are the secrecy provisions that provide against the release or publication of any individual particulars.



On 1 December 2016 the Cook Islands total population count was 17,459, decreasing by 2 per cent when compared to the 2011 Census.  This figure consists of residents and non-residents (mostly tourists) in the Cook Islands on Census night. 


Rarotonga remains the most populous island of the Cook Islands with 75 per cent of the population residing there.  The Southern Group islands account for 19 per cent of the population while 6 per cent were in the Northern Group islands on Census night. 

On Census night there were 8,597 males and 8,862 females in the Cook Islands, a decrease of 218 males and a decrease of 117 females since 2011.  In a change from the previous years, prior 2011, there is now parity in the gender makeup of the Cook Islands, whereas previously males made up a slightly larger proportion of the population.

Table 1 Total Population by Island and Age Groups and Sex 2016

Table 2 Total Population and Male Female Ratio 1936 2016Table 3 Total Population by Island and Age Groups and Sex


census 2016


Describing the total population of a country and its geographical distribution within the country are common and essential elements of all censuses. However, the definition of what constitutes the population of an area varies from country to country and largely depends on the requirements of users. The total population may be defined to include or exclude foreigners in the country and its own nationals in other countries. It may or may not include certain population groups within the country.While the definitions of total population vary among countries, those definitions are nevertheless categorized under either of the two principal concepts commonly adopted for a census enumeration, namely:

a) Place of enumeration (de facto);

b) Place of usual residence (de jure).

The “De facto” population concept which allocates persons according to their location as of the time of enumeration.This category includes all persons physically found present in a country on the date or time of the census. The total population will comprise all persons present in the country when the census is taken and enumerated at the place where they are at census time, regardless of their usual place of residence. In practice, and for operational convenience, the concept is applied to the place where the person slept on the night preceding census day or was present at a defined census hour.


The “de jure” population is a concept under which individuals are recorded (or are attributed) to a geographical area on the basis of the place of usual residence.All persons present at their place of usual residence will be enumerated, as well as those who may be temporarily absent from their place of usual residence, irrespective of where they are at the time of the census. Enumeration is carried out on the basis of place of usual residence, irrespective of whether the person is, or is not, present at that place at census time.The Cook Islands uses the “de jure” population concept because it provides a better indication of permanent population and household composition of an area.


The Statistics Office has mobilized additional 150 Census Enumerators around the Cook Islands to deliver census forms and conduct the collection of data.

Enumerators Table