- Estimated population as of 31 December: 2,888,500
- Increase since 31 December 1970: 46,400 (1.63%)
- Males per 100 females: 99.7
Regal and viceregal
The 36th Parliament of New Zealand continued, with the second National government in power.
Main centre leaders
- The Manapouri Power Station, the country's largest hydroelectric facility, is completed. It wouldn't export any electricity until April 1972 when transmission lines to Invercargill were completed.
- 25 October – The Christchurch to Dunedin overnight express becomes the last revenue steam locomotive-hauled train service, as the New Zealand Railways completes dieselisation.
Arts and literature
See 1971 in art, 1971 in literature, Category:1971 books
See: 1971 in music
Radio and television
- Feltex Television Awards:
- Best Programme: Gallery and In View of the Circumstances
- Best Actor: Bruno Lawrence in Time Out
- Best Performance as Frontman: Brian Edwards in Post Office Dispute
- Best Entertainment: Dinah Lee
- TVPDA Award for Allied Crafts: Waynne Williams
See: 1971 in New Zealand television, 1971 in television, List of TVNZ television programming, Category:New Zealand television, Category:New Zealand television shows, Public broadcasting in New Zealand
See: Category:1971 film awards, 1971 in film, List of New Zealand feature films, Cinema of New Zealand, Category:1971 films
- The 78th National Chess Championship is held in Nelson, and is won by R.J. Sutton of Auckland (his second title).
- 23 January: Adam Parore, cricketer.
- 5 March: Cory Hutchings, surf livesaving and ironman competitor.
- 29 March: Julie Seymour, netball player.
- 11 April: Mark Cooksley, rugby union player.
- 12 April: Gregory Russ, field hockey player.
- 28 April: Hamish Carter, triathlete.
- 2 June: Dion Gosling, field hockey player.
- 11 June: Mark Richardson, cricketer
- 18 June: Blair Pocock, cricketer.
- 20 June: Josh Kronfeld, rugby union player.
- 25 June: Paul Gibbons, pole vaulter.
- 9 August: Jon Toogood, musician, songwriter.
- 15 August: Umesh Parag, field hockey player.
- 18 August: Jonathan Winter, swimmer.
- 24 August: Heremaia Ngata, soccer player.
- 27 August: Glen Osborne, rugby union player.
- 15 September: Nathan Astle, cricketer.
- 18 September: Tom Larkin, musician.
- 20 September: Todd Blackadder, rugby union player.
- 8 October: Marc Ellis, rugby union and rugby league player, television personality.
- 25 October: Martin Leslie, rugby union player.
- 31 October: Phil Tataurangi, golfer.
- 20 November: Dion Nash, cricketer.
- 30 November: Heath Davis, cricketer.
- 13 December: Vaughan Coveny, soccer player.
- 20 December: Simon O'Neill, opera singer.
- 24 December: Geoff Allott, cricketer.