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Asian mobility in New Zealand
Overview of Asian migration

Historical context

People of Asian ethnicities have a long history of settlement in New Zealand. The majority of migration from Asia throughout the Nineteenth Century contributed to Chinese and Indian populations in New Zealand. Ongoing migration from Asia has become more diverse and now people from all parts of Asia, from Afghanistan in the west to Japan in the east, make up this very diverse sector of the population. The communities have settled throughout New Zealand. A significant proportion of the Asian population are New Zealand-born.

How many Asian people moved?

More than 35 percent of people of Asian ethnicities have moved within New Zealand between 2001 and 2006.

In 2006, there were 354,552 people who identified with one or more ethnicities in the Asian ethnic grouping. Of these, 346,977 people told us where they had lived five years earlier at the time of the 2001 Census.

Table 1

People of Asian ethnicities
By address five years ago
2006 Census
Number of people of Asian ethnicities
Address five years ago Male Female Total
Same as usual residence 38,991 44,208 83,199
Elsewhere in New Zealand or no fixed abode 54,234 59,601 113,835
Not born five years ago 12,372 11,538 23,910
Overseas 60,057 65,976 126,033
Not stated 3,720 3,855 7,575
Total 169,374 185,178 354,552

 

Among the people aged five years and over who gave us this information, 35 percent had moved at least once in NZ within the previous five years, 26 percent had not moved and 39 percent had arrived or returned from overseas.

The Asian population in New Zealand is a very mobile population and the dynamics of internal migration within New Zealand is strongly affected by recent migration.

Table 2

People of Asian ethnicities
Percentage distribution by address five years ago
1986–2006 Censuses
Census year
Address five years ago 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006
Percent of Asian population
Same as usual residence 41.0 26.7 26.7 28.0 25.8
Elsewhere in New Zealand or no fixed abode 33.2 24.6 28.7 30.7 35.2
Overseas 25.8 48.7 44.7 41.3 39.0
Total 100 100 100 100 100
Percent of Asian internal migrants
Stayers 55.3 52.1 48.2 45.2 42.2
Movers within New Zealand 44.7 47.9 51.8 54.8 57.8
Total internal migrants 100 100 100 100 100

 

The Asian population living in New Zealand for more than five years is increasingly mobile. This population is more mobile than people of Pacific and European ethnicities, but less mobile than Māori. The overseas-born component of the population is more mobile than the younger New Zealand-born component, as preferred locations for settlement and opportunities for family formation and employment change.

Table 3

People of Asian ethnicities
Percentage distribution by address five years ago and birthplace
1986–2006 Censuses
Census year
Address five years ago 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006
percent born in New Zealand
Same as usual residence 58.8 56.9 55.6 52.5 50.8
Elsewhere in New Zealand 41.2 43.1 44.4 47.5 49.2
Percent born overseas
Same as usual residence 51.6 48.4 44.3 45.9 39.5
Elsewhere in New Zealand 48.4 51.6 55.7 54.1 60.5
total
Same as usual residence 55.3 52.1 48.2 45.2 42.2
Elsewhere in New Zealand 44.7 47.9 51.8 54.8 57.8
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