New Zealand’s population reached three million in late 1973. The rate of natural increase then slowed as the contraceptive pill became more widely used and an economic downturn meant that young couples were less eager to start families. There were also more emigrants and fewer immigrants. The population had only reached 3.2 million by the end of the decade.
In 1975, the average weekly wage was $95 (equivalent to $920 in 2018). This rose to $157 by 1979, but because of inflation the average Kiwi was no better off. The minimum wage for adult workers was $1.95 an hour ($11.10 in 2018) and the average hourly rate was $4.52 ($26).
In 1970 the single state-run television channel (a second began broadcasting in 1975) broadcast 65 hours of programs each week. Color television arrived in 1973, but it was expensive. In 1975 a 26-inch set would set you back around $840 (more than $8000 in 2018) and its annual license fee of $35 ($340) was almost double that for a black and white set. With advertising restricted to weekdays for much of the decade, the license fee was an important source of revenue for television broadcasting.
The women’s movement grew in strength through the decade, influencing significant legislative and social changes. United Women’s Conventions attracted thousands in the main centers. The message of women’s rights was brought to the streets in marches and protests. Key issues for women included the right to safe legal abortion, pay equity, matrimonial property rights, and legislation to outlaw discrimination against women.