The problem with automatic cars is when they get over 10 years old and or around 150,000Km. The auto box might have over 200,000Km of life left, or it might be hanging by a thread and due to fail at any moment. And when you can easily spend over $5k to get a modern automatic gearbox fully rebuilt. It is hard to justify spending that on a car which is unlikely to sell for more than $10k in good condition.
So no surprise when you have a walk around a car wreckers yard. And you see cars that are around 10 years old, Bodywork and interior in good condition. Car looks far nicer and newer than alot of cars on the road, and definitely alot nicer looking than the cars parked on the street outside the wreckers yard. Almost certain that either the auto gearbox has failed. Or otherwise a failed head gasket due to not changing the coolant. An absolute waste of a car, especially the resources and carbon emissions from making it. And that it has multiple airbags and other safety features. While much older cars with almost no safety features remain on the road.
If the car was sold with both auto and manual gearbox options available. The failed auto box was often cheaply swapped with a manual gearbox by a backyard mechanic. And the car would be back on the road. No cert needed for auto to manual gearbox swaps assuming it is just a bolt in job.
I can understand not buying a brand new manual car when you intend to sell it after 3 to 5 years. But definitely worth considering if you intend keeping for 10+ years or well past 100,000Km. As the buyers in that price bracket have different wants from new / near new buyers.
But as with most things in NZ, it comes down to average buying power. New cars are expensive here, even allowing for exchange rates and GST. Combined with low wages and it is no wonder that there are so many old cars still on the road. It only makes sense to buy a new car if you are doing so for business purposes. I am going to be in that situation soon. But I can't face buying a brand new van that has worse fuel economy than my old one.