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Subnational Ethnic Population Projections: 2013(base)–2038
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  30 September 2015
Commentary

Important advice for using these projections

Subnational ethnic population projections give an indication of the future population usually living in New Zealand's 16 regional council areas (regions), 67 territorial authority areas (TAs), and 21 Auckland local board areas (LBAs) for four broad and overlapping ethnic groups: 'European or Other (including New Zealander)', Māori, Asian, and Pacific. These groupings of ethnicities are not mutually exclusive because people can and do identify with more than one ethnicity. People are included in each ethnic population they identify with.

The projections indicate probable outcomes based on different combinations of fertility, mortality, migration, and inter-ethnic mobility assumptions. Users can make their own judgement as to which projections are most suitable for their purposes.

These projections are not predictions. They should be used as an indication of the overall trend, rather than as exact forecasts. The projections are updated every 2–3 years to maintain their relevance and usefulness, by incorporating new information about demographic trends and developments in methods.

At the time of release, the medium projection is considered suitable for assessing future population change and is consistent with the median projection (50th percentile) of the National Ethnic Population Projections: 2013(base)–2038 (released 21 May 2015) and the medium projection of the Subnational Population Projections: 2013(base)–2043 (released 19 February 2015).

The following results highlight the main trends from the projections, based on the medium projection results unless otherwise stated.

See population projections tables for links to more detailed projection assumptions and results in NZ.Stat.

Graph, Projected Asian average annual population change, by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.Graph, Projected Pacific average annual population change, by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Note: This Pacific graph has been changed since first published. See Correction page for more information.

Ethnic populations growing in most areas

The broad Māori, Asian, and Pacific ethnic populations will grow in all regions between 2013 and 2038, while the 'European and Other' population is expected to grow in 11 of the 16 regions. Under the medium projection, fewer people will identify with a 'European or Other' ethnicity in Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, West Coast, and Southland by 2038.

The Asian and Pacific ethnic populations will grow in all TAs between 2013 and 2038, while the 'European and Other' population is expected to grow in 37 of the 67 TAs. Five TAs are expected to have fewer people of Māori ethnicity in 2038 – Kawerau, Opotiki, Wairoa, and Ruapehu districts and Chatham Islands territory, all areas with projected overall population loss.

The Māori ethnic population will grow in all Auckland LBAs between 2013 and 2038, while the 'European and Other' population is expected to grow in 14 of the 21 Auckland LBAs. By 2038, the Asian population in Manurewa and the Pacific population in Waitemata are projected to be slightly lower than in 2013 under the medium projection.

Despite the increases, all ethnic populations in all areas are projected to experience declining rates of population growth as their populations gradually age. This will result in lower rates of natural increase (births minus deaths) over the projection period.  

Māori, Asian, and Pacific shares increasing in nearly all areas

The Māori, Asian, and Pacific populations will all increase their share of the total population in all regions, most TAs, and most Auckland LBAs between 2013 and 2038 because of their higher growth rates. In contrast, the 'European or Other' population is likely to reduce its share of the total population in all regions, most TAs, and all Auckland LBAs because of its lower growth rates.

The Māori population will make up about 61 percent of the Gisborne population in 2038, up from 49 percent in 2013. Other regions with a significant increase in the Māori share include Northland (up 12 percentage points to 45 percent in 2038), Taranaki (up 10 percentage points to 28 percent in 2038), Hawke's Bay (up 9 percentage points to 34 percent in 2038), and Manawatu-Wanganui (up 9 percentage points to 31 percent in 2038).

In Auckland, 1 in 3 people are likely to identify with an Asian ethnicity in 2038, up from about 1 in 4 in 2013. Other regional increases in the Asian share include Wellington (up 8 percentage points to 19 percent in 2038), Bay of Plenty (up 7 percentage points to 12 percent in 2038), and Nelson (up 7 percentage points to 12 percent in 2038).

The Pacific population will make up about 18 percent of the Auckland population in 2038, up from about 15 percent in 2013. Other regional increases in the Pacific share include Hawke's Bay (up 5 percentage points to 10 percent in 2038), Northland (up 5 percentage points to 8 percent in 2038), and Gisborne (up 5 percentage points to 9 percent in 2038).

The 'European or Other' population share in Auckland is projected to drop from about 59 percent in 2013 to 47 percent in 2038. Other regional decreases in the 'European or Other' share include Otago (down 8 percentage points to 83 percent in 2038), Marlborough (down 7 percentage points to 84 percent in 2038), Wellington (down 6 percentage points to 72 percent in 2038), and Canterbury (down 6 percentage points to 82 percent in 2038).

For comparison, the mid-range national level projections indicate the:

  • Māori population will make up nearly 20 percent of the total New Zealand population in 2038, compared with nearly 16 percent in 2013
  • Asian population will make up 21 percent, compared with 12 percent in 2013
  • Pacific population will make up 11 percent, compared with 8 percent in 2013
  • 'European or Other' population will make up 66 percent, compared with 75 percent in 2013.

The ethnic shares do vary across different age groups, reflecting different age structures and dynamics of population growth.

In addition, about 1 percent of New Zealand’s population identified with Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African (MELAA) ethnicities in 2013. National and subnational projections are not available for this small, albeit growing, ethnic group with an estimated resident population of 53,000 at 30 June 2013. About 28,000 or 53 percent of the MELAA population lived in Auckland in 2013.

Map, Projected change in ethnic proportions, medium projection by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Asian and Pacific concentration in Auckland

The projections indicate that almost two-thirds of New Zealand's Asian population will continue to live in Auckland. The proportion was 64.5 percent in 2013 and under the medium projection this drops slightly to 63.5 percent in 2038. The proportions living in other regions also change only slightly. For example, Canterbury will increase its share of the Asian population from 7.7 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2038.

The Pacific population is similarly strongly represented in Auckland. The proportion was 65.9 percent in 2013 and under the medium projection this drops to 62.3 percent in 2038. The proportion living in Wellington drops from 11.8 percent in 2013 to 8.9 percent over the same period. This is offset by small increases in every other region.

In 2013, roughly one-quarter (26.8 percent) of the 'European and Other' population lived in Auckland. Auckland is expected to slightly increase its proportion to 27.9 percent in 2038. Similarly, 1 in 4 (25.2 percent) Māori will live in Auckland in 2038, a small increase from 24.5 percent in 2013. Overall, Auckland is projected to be home to 38.6 percent of New Zealand's population in 2038, compared with 33.6 percent in 2013.

The projections also indicate changes within Auckland. By 2038, the broad Asian population is projected to become the largest group in the Whau, Puketapapa, and Howick local board areas. The broad Pacific group will become the largest group in the Manurewa local board area, and remain the largest group in Mangere-Otahuhu.

There will be a relatively even spread of the four major ethnic groups in the Henderson-Massey, Maungakiekie-Tamaki, and Papakura local board areas. In these areas, each ethnic group will account for between 15 and 45 percent of the local population in 2038.

Under the medium projection, Auckland will account for about three-fifths of New Zealand's total population growth between 2013 and 2038. Partly reflecting the current ethnic distribution of population, Auckland is projected to account for a similar share of both Asian and Pacific population growth over the same period, about two-fifths of the 'European or Other' population growth, and about one-quarter of the Māori population growth.

Graph, Projected 'European or Other' population change, medium projection by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Graph, Projected Māori population change, medium projection by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Graph, Projected Asian population change, medium projection by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Graph, Projected Pacific population change, medium projection by regional council area, 2013(base) to 2038.

Note: This Pacific graph has been changed since first published. See Correction page for more information.

Different drivers of ethnic growth

The different rates of population growth largely reflect past and likely future differences in fertility, the effect of intermarriage, different age structures, and different migration patterns.

Māori and Pacific population growth will be mainly driven by their high rates of birth and natural increase (births minus deaths). For example, assumed medium regional 'total fertility rates' for 2014–18 for Māori range from 1.7 births per woman in Otago to 3.0 births per woman in Northland. For the Pacific ethnic group they range from 1.7 births per woman in Tasman to 3.2 births per woman in Hawke's Bay. In contrast, for the 'European or Other' ethnic group they range from 1.7 births per woman in Otago and Wellington to 2.2 births per woman in Hawke's Bay and Taranaki. For the Asian ethnic group they range from 1.2 births per woman in Otago to 2.2 births per woman in Taranaki.

Ethnic intermarriage (parents with different ethnicities) also makes an important contribution to Māori and Pacific population growth. Nationally, in about one-quarter of Māori births (ie where the child is identified as Māori), the mother is non-Māori and the father is Māori. Similarly, in about one-quarter of Pacific births (ie where the child is identified as Pacific), the mother is non-Pacific and the father is Pacific.

In addition, the Māori, Asian, and Pacific populations have a much younger age structure, with relatively high proportions at the child and childbearing ages, and low proportions at the older ages. These age structures provide greater built-in momentum for future growth compared with the 'European or Other' population. Half the 'European or Other' population is aged over 41 years, compared with median ages of 24, 31, and 22 years for the Māori, Asian, and Pacific populations, respectively, in 2013.

The increase in the Asian population share will be largely driven by net migration (arrivals minus departures). The medium projection assumes a net inflow of about 360,000 migrants nationally over the 25-year period. Natural increase will account for about 260,000 (two-fifths) of the projected Asian population growth.

In contrast, the projected lower 'European or Other' population growth largely reflects the combination of lower fertility rates and an older age structure. The increasingly older age structure means fewer births (because fewer women will be in the childbearing ages), more deaths (because more people will be in the older ages where most deaths occur), and lower momentum for future population growth compared with the Māori and Pacific populations.

In summary, natural increase is projected to be the main component of population growth for the 'European or Other', Māori, and Pacific populations during 2013–38. Net migration plays a more important role in the projected growth of the Asian population, while inter-ethnic mobility plays a relatively minor role for all ethnic populations.

All ethnic populations are ageing

The projections indicate that all four broad ethnic populations will gradually age over the coming decades. Increasing numbers and proportions of people in the older ages reflect the combined effect of gradually reducing fertility rates – people having fewer children – and people living longer.

Generally, the Māori and Pacific populations will continue to have a much younger age structure than the 'European or Other' and Asian populations in each area. In Auckland, for example, the median age is projected to increase for the:

  • Māori population from 24 years in 2013 to 29 years in 2038
  • Pacific population from 23 years in 2013 to 28 years in 2038
  • 'European or Other' population from 39 years in 2013 to 43 years in 2038
  • Asian population from 31 years in 2013 to 37 years in 2038.

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box. Go to our population projections tables page for links to more detailed projection assumptions and results in NZ.Stat

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