The number of New Zealanders who identify as having 'no religion' has surpassed the number of Christians in the country for the first time, latest census figures show.

The data from last year's census, released this week, shows that 48.59 per cent of New Zealanders indicated 'no religion' in 2018, up from 41.92 per cent in the 2013 census, while those identifying as Christian dropped dramatically from 47.65 per cent to 37.31 per cent.

Auckland NZ

Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. PICTURE: Kirsten Drew/Unsplash

Among Christian groups, the highest number of people identified as Anglican - 314,913, followed by Roman Catholic (295,734), Presbyterian (221,199), and Methodist (52,743).

The data also showed a rising number of the population identifies with other religions with the number of Hindus climbing from 89,319 in 2013 to 125,534 in 2018 and the number of Muslims rising from 46,149 in 2013 to 61,455. The number of Sikhs more than doubled from 19,191 to 40,908.

The findings have prompted lobby group Humanist NZ to call an end to "discrimination" that they claim non-religious New Zealanders face.

"Christianity has a privileged position in public policy today that is out of step with modern New Zealand," said Jolene Phipps, president of Humanist NZ. "From parliamentary prayers, to classrooms 'closing' during the school day so that Christian groups can run religious instruction, the concessions awarded to religious organisations clash with human rights and our concept of a free and fair society.”