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Pacific peoples ethnic group

Growth in Pacific peoples ethnic group slows

The Pacific peoples ethnic group was the fourth-largest major ethnic group in 2013, behind the European, Māori, and Asian ethnic groups.

Since 2006, this group has grown in both number and proportion of the population. In 2013, 7.4 percent of the New Zealand population (295,941 people) identified with one or more Pacific ethnic groups, compared with 6.9 percent (265,974 people) in 2006.

However, the rate of growth for the Pacific peoples ethnic group slowed across recent censuses, growing 14.7 percent between 2001 and 2006 but only 11.3 percent between 2006 and 2013.

The Pacific peoples ethnic groups whose growth slowed between 2006 and 2013 included:

  • Tongan (19.5 percent growth for 2006–2013, 24.0 percent growth for 2001–2006)
  • Samoan (9.9 percent for 2006–2013, 14.0 percent for 2001–2006)
  • Cook Islands Maori (6.6 percent for 2006–2013, 10.4 percent for 2001–2006)
  • Niuean (6.3 percent for 2006–2013, 11.6 percent for 2001–2006)
  • Tokelauan (5.2 percent for 2006–2013, 9.9 percent for 2001–2006).

In contrast, the Fijian ethnic group grew by a bigger percentage between 2006 and 2013 (46.5 percent) than between 2001 and 2006 (40.1 percent). 

Graph, Change in selected Pacific ethnic groups, 2001 to 2006 Censuses and 2006 to 2013 Censuses.

More children in Pacific peoples ethnic group than in any other

Pacific peoples remained the major ethnic group with the highest proportion of children (aged 0–14 years), at 35.7 percent. In comparison, children made up the following proportions of other major ethnic groups:

  • European – 19.6 percent
  • Māori – 33.8 percent
  • Asian – 20.6 percent
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African – 25.5 percent.

Although the median age of Pacific peoples (22.1 years) slightly increased since 2006 (when it was 21.1 years), Pacific peoples remained a youthful population. A little under half (46.1 percent) were less than 20 years old (compared with 27.4 percent for the total population), and the majority (54.9 percent) were younger than 25 years old.

Samoan remains largest Pacific peoples ethnic group

The Samoan ethnic group remained the largest Pacific ethnic group in 2013, at 48.7 percent of the Pacific peoples population (144,138 people). Other Pacific ethnic groups with large populations included:

  • Cook Islands Maori – 61,839 people (20.9 percent of Pacific peoples population)
  • Tongan – 60,333 people (20.4 percent)
  • Niuean – 23,883 people (8.1 percent).

Almost two-thirds of Pacific peoples are born in New Zealand

In 2013, 62.3 percent of people (181,791 people) who identified with at least one Pacific ethnicity were born in New Zealand. In comparison, the proportion of New Zealand-born Pacific peoples in previous censuses was 60.0 percent (157,203 people) in 2006, and 58.2 percent (133,791 people) in 2001.

In 2013, the Pacific ethnicities with the highest proportions of New Zealand-born people included:

  • Niuean – 78.9 percent born in New Zealand
  • Cook Islands Maori – 77.4 percent
  • Tokelauan – 73.9 percent
  • Samoan – 62.7 percent
  • Tongan – 59.8 percent.

Most Pacific peoples live in North Island

Most Pacific peoples (92.9 percent or 274,806 people) lived in the North Island in 2013. Almost two-thirds (65.9 percent or 194,958 people) of those who identified with at least one Pacific ethnicity lived in the Auckland region, and 12.2 percent (36,105 people) in the Wellington region.

In contrast, only 7.1 percent of Pacific peoples (21,135 people) lived in the South Island in 2013. This was, however, a slight increase from 2006 (6.6 percent). Canterbury was the South Island region where the largest number of Pacific peoples lived (12,723 people or 4.3 percent of all Pacific peoples).

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