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Over 400,000 Pacific People by 2021

Over 400,000 Pacific People by 2021

New Zealand's Pacific population is projected to reach 414,000 in 2021, according to Statistics New Zealand. This is an increase of 152,000 or 58 percent over the estimated resident population of Pacific ethnicity of 262,000 at 30 June 2001. This is according to series 6 of the latest National Pacific Population Projections (2001-base).

The Pacific population includes people who identify with a Pacific ethnicity, including those who identify with other ethnicities such as Mäori. Projections of the Mäori population were released on 15 May 2003. Projections of the Asian and European populations will be released during June 2003. People who identify with more than one ethnicity will be included in each ethnic population.

The annual growth rate of the Pacific population is projected to slow from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 2.2 percent in 2021. However, the Pacific population will still grow at a faster pace than the total New Zealand population. Consequently, the Pacific share of the total population is projected to rise from 7 percent in 2001 to 9 percent in 2021.

The faster growth of the Pacific population compared with the total population is mainly due to the much higher birth rates and younger age structure of the Pacific population. Although Pacific fertility rates are assumed to decline, Pacific births are projected to increase from 8,000 in 2002 to 10,700 in 2021 because of the increase in the number of Pacific women in the childbearing ages (15–49 years). The number of Pacific deaths will also increase, from 900 in 2002 to 1,300 in 2021.

The age structure of the Pacific population will undergo changes reflecting the combined impact of reduced fertility, gains in longevity and the ageing of the Pacific population. By 2021, half the Pacific population will be older than 24 years, compared with a median age of 21 years in 2001. This is still significantly younger than the total New Zealand population, which is projected to have a median age of 40 years in 2021, up from 35 years in 2001.

The most rapid growth among the age groups will occur in the number of Pacific people aged 65 years and over, which is projected to almost treble – from 9,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2021. Those aged 65 years and over will comprise 6 percent of the total Pacific population in 2021 compared with 3 percent in 2001.

The Pacific working-age population (defined as those aged 15–64 years) is projected to increase by 65 percent from 153,000 in 2001 to 252,000 in 2021. Within this group, the population aged 15–39 years is expected to increase from 106,000 in 2001 to 162,000 in 2021, an increase of 53 percent. The Pacific population aged 40–64 years is projected to increase 93 percent from 47,000 in 2001 to 90,000 in 2021.

The number of Pacific children (0–14 years) is projected to rise steadily during the 20-year projection period, increasing by 36,000 to 136,000 in 2021. Their share of the Pacific population is expected to decrease from 38 percent to 33 percent over this period. However, Pacific children will make up about 17 percent of all New Zealand children in 2021, compared with 11 percent in 2001. This increasing share reflects the higher birth rate of the Pacific population.

Series 6 of the Pacific population projections referred to above is one of 11 alternative series produced using different assumptions about future changes in fertility, mortality, migration and inter-ethnic mobility patterns. The projections are subject to uncertainty and should be used as an indication, rather than exact forecasts, of future changes in Pacific population size and structure. They are based on the concept of self-identification of ethnicity, and exclude those people who have Pacific ancestry but do not identify with the Pacific ethnicity.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician


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