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Ethnic groups in New Zealand

New Zealand's major ethnic groups continue to grow

The European ethnic group was still New Zealand's largest major ethnic group at the 2013 Census. Nearly three-quarters of the population (2,969,391 people or 74.0 percent) identified with one or more European ethnicities. This compared with 67.6 percent (2,609,589 people) in 2006. The increase seems to be partly due to fewer people identifying themselves as 'New Zealander' in 2013.

Other major ethnic groups that increased in size included:

  • Māori – 14.9 percent of the population in 2013 (598,605 people), up from 14.6 percent in 2006 (565,329)
  • Asian – 11.8 percent of the population (471,708), up from 9.2 percent (354,552)
  • Pacific peoples – 7.4 percent of the population (295,941), up from 6.9 percent (265,974)
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African – 1.2 percent of the population (46,953), up from 0.9 percent (34,743). 
    Graph, Population of major ethnic groups, 2006 and 2013 Censuses.

Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and Asian ethnic groups on the rise

The Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and Asian ethnic groups increased by more than 30 percent over the seven years between the 2006 and the 2013 Censuses. Of the major ethnic groups, those with the largest percentage increases were:

  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African (up 35.1 percent)
  • Asian (up 33.0 percent)
  • European (up 13.8 percent)
  • Pacific peoples (up 11.3 percent)
  • Māori (up 5.9 percent).

Māori most likely to identify with more than one ethnic group

More than half of Māori (53.5 percent or 320,406 people) identified with two or more ethnic groups, compared with 46.5 percent who identified with Māori only. Māori was the only major ethnic group in which people were more likely to identify with two or more major ethnic groups than just one.

In other major ethnic groups, the proportions of people identifying with two or more major ethnic groups were:

  • European – 13.3 percent
  • Asian – 9.9 percent
  • Pacific peoples – 37.2 percent
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African – 16.8 percent.
Māori who identify with other major ethnic groups
2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses

Ethnic group(1)

2001 Census 2006 Census 2013 Census
Percent of Māori identifying with ethnic grouping
European  40.5 42.2 48.9
Pacific peoples 6.0 7.0 8.2
Asian 1.4 1.5 1.7
Middle Eastern/Latin American/African(2) 0.2 0.2 0.3
Other ethnicity(3) 0.0 2.3 0.4
1. Includes all people who stated each ethnic group, whether as their only ethnic group or as one of several. Where a person reported more than one ethnic group, they have been counted in each applicable group.
2. Middle Eastern/Latin American/African was introduced as a new category for the 2006 Census. Previously, Middle Eastern/Latin American/African responses were allocated to the ‘other ethnicity’ category.
3. Consists of responses for a number of small ethnic groups and for New Zealander. New Zealander was included as a new category for the 2006 Census. In 2001 New Zealander was counted in the European category.
Source: Statistics New Zealand

Younger people identify with more ethnic groups than older people

Children (0–14 years) were more likely than people aged 65 years and over to belong to more than one ethnic group. This difference has increased since the 2006 Census. In 2013, the proportions of these two age groups identifying with more than one ethnic group were:

  • children – 22.8 percent (19.7 percent in 2006)
  • 65 years and over – 2.6 percent (3.5 percent in 2006).

Overall, the proportion of the population identifying with more than one ethnic group increased across recent censuses. The proportions of people identifying with more than one ethnic group were:

  • 11.2 percent in 2013
  • 10.4 percent in 2006
  • 9.0 percent in 2001.

Graph, People with more than one ethnic group, by age group, 2013 Census.

European ethnic group older than other major ethnic groups

People who identified with European ethnic groups were generally older than people belonging to other major ethnic groups. The median age (half are younger, and half are older than this age) for each major ethnic group in 2013 was:

  • European – 41.0 years (38.1 years in 2006)
  • Māori – 23.9 years (22.7 years in 2006)
  • Pacific peoples – 22.1 years (21.1 years in 2006)
  • Asian – 30.6 years (28.3 years in 2006)
  • Middle Eastern/ Latin American/African – 28.6 years (26.6 years in 2006).
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