How religious is Christchurch?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Culture, Documentation, Research | 0 comments

While driving around Christchurch I noticed a church on almost every corner. The name of the city could have already given me that hint, but it is better to check the facts first before jumping to conclusions. Christchurch was named after the Christ Church College at Oxford University.

There does not seem to be any register for churches in New Zealand and hence I searched the Charities Register for charities that provide religious services. The results contain more than 7000 charities, but many of them are no longer registered and/or have stopped operation. After some cleaning of the data I was left with 5590 records for New Zealand. It is important to note that not every religious charity is a church and not all churches are registered as a charity. One charity could also operate several churches. But for what it is worth, this approach does seem like a good approximation. The various Anglican parishes, for example, are listed individually.

Mapping these religious charities on a map would be slightly misleading since bigger cities will naturally have a higher number of charities. To create a density map of the religious charities in New Zealand I had to take the population distribution into account.

InfoShare from StatsNZ allows you to download the download the Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas. It contains population estimates for many of New Zealand’s cities. Unfortunately, this list does not contain all the small cities, such as Akaroa.

After cross referencing the charities with the population information I created this density map of religious charities in New Zealand. Christchurch has 517 registered religious charities and a population of 404,600 in 2018 which results in 0.0012 people per charity. This puts Christchurch in the lower half.

You can have a look at the full visualization over at Tableau Public where you can also download the source data.

Click on the image to go to the full interactive graph.


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