The New Caledonian office ISEE has published the population tallies from the August 2014 census for all the communes (municipalities) of New Caledonia.
Here is the map showing population growth in each commune between the 2009 and 2014 censuses. Some significant changes compared to the 1996-2009 intercensal period (2nd map below).
Note that the maps show the average yearly
population growth. Anything above +1% would be considered high in Europe. Also, for an idea of dimensions, the distance from the southern tip to the northern tip of the main island is the same as between Strasbourg and Ghent (Belgium). New Caledonian communes are very large.
In a nutshell: the Loyalty Islands have stopped losing population, the western coast (predominantly inhabited by Melanesian Kanaks) has also recovered demographically (less outmigration), and on the eastern coast (where most people of European ancestry live), a new urban area centered on Voh-Koné-Pouembout is now emerging in the North Province (a stronghold of the pro-independence Kanak parties), challenging the utter domination of Nouméa.
The Greater Nouméa metropolitan area (communes of Nouméa, Le Mont-Dore, Dumbéa, and Païta) reached a population of 179,509 inhabitants at the 2014 census, up from 163,723 inhabitants at the 2009 census. That's a population growth of +1.83% per year (+3,106 inhabitants per year) between 2009 and 2014.
Some aerial views showing urbanization in the metro area:
Greater Nouméa is now barely growing above New Caledonia's average (+1.83% per year for Greater Nouméa vs +1.79% per year for New Caledonia). This is a significantly lower growth rate than during the 1996-2009 intercensal period. In fact +1.83% per year is the lowest relative growth rate experienced by Greater Nouméa since the 1956 census.
The reason for that is probably in a large measure the end of the great migration of Kanak people from the Loyalty Islands and the mainland's west coast to Nouméa. Kanak youths from these rural areas swelled the population of Nouméa till the late 2000s, but this movement has apparently been halted to some degree, which explains why the Loyalty Islands are growing again, and the western coast is also recovering.
Another reason that explains the lower growth rate of Nouméa is of course the emergence of a new urban area around Voh-Koné-Pouembout, in the North Province. Koné was selected as the capital of the North Province created in 1989 to appease the pro-independence Kanak parties. The pro-independence Kanak parties are a minority in the Congress of New Caledonia (a majority of New Caledonia's population is neither Kanak nor in favor of independence), and have no chance to be in power in Nouméa. The North Province was carved especially for them, with essentially Kanak-inhabited communes, so they could win a majority of votes there and rule the province. Basically, the pro-independence Kanak parties have accepted European rule in Nouméa in exchange for Kanak rule in the North Province + the promise of an independence referendum in the late 2010s.
In the past 10 years, Koné and its neighboring communes Pouembout and Voh have become more and more the focus of Kanak politics and economy (some nickel mines in the area were ceded to the Kanak provincial authorities), replacing the west coast as the main focus of Kanak politics. These 3 communes (known as VKP in New Caledonia) have sort of become a showcase for the pro-independence cause. Between the 2009 and 2014 censuses, the three communes of VKP registered a population growth of +6.11% per year (+670 inhabitants per year), and their population at the 2014 census reached 13,091 inhabitants.
This is the first time a city emerges in New Caledonia outside of Nouméa. Don't know how big it can grow. Probably if the independence referendums fail (as they probably will), the Kanak parties will keep pouring money and people in VKP to establish it as a rival of Nouméa. If, on the other hand, New Caledonia becomes an independent Kanak Republic (very unlikely), VKP will probably fall into oblivion as the Kanak politicians resettle in Nouméa.
Some aerial views of the emerging VKP conurbation:
The nearby nickel mines transferred to the Kanak authorities of the North Province: