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Projections indicate increasing ethnic diversity

Embargoed until 10:45am – 2 April 2008
Projections indicate increasing ethnic diversity

New Zealand's Māori, Asian and Pacific populations are projected to continue growing faster than the 'European or Other (including New Zealander)' population, Statistics New Zealand said today. All four broad ethnic populations are projected to increase under mid-range series 6 of the respective 2006-base national ethnic population projections. The Māori population is projected to increase by an average of 1.4 percent a year from an estimated 620,000 in 2006 to 820,000 in 2026; the Asian population by 3.4 percent a year from 400,000 to 790,000; the Pacific population by 2.4 percent a year from 300,000 to 480,000; and the 'European or Other' population by 0.3 percent a year from 3.21 million to 3.43 million.

The ethnic population projections are derived to provide information about New Zealand's changing demographic structure. They provide information for ethnic communities to understand changes in their population size and composition. In addition, the projections assist a variety of planning purposes.

The relatively rapid growth of the Asian population is mainly driven by migration, with a net inflow of about 240,000 migrants assumed over the 20-year projection period. Natural increase (births minus deaths) will account for about 160,000 of the projected Asian population growth.

The growth of the Māori and Pacific populations is driven by births, which can be attributed to their higher fertility rates and a young age structure. The latter also provides a built-in momentum for future growth. By comparison, the slower growth of the 'European or Other' population largely reflects lower fertility rates and an older age structure.

Because of the different population growth rates, the projections indicate that the proportion of New Zealand's population that identifies with a European or Other ethnicity will drop from 77 percent in 2006 to 69 percent in 2026. By comparison, the proportion identifying with Māori ethnicity will increase from 15 percent to 17 percent, with a Pacific ethnicity from 7 to 10 percent, and with an Asian ethnicity from 10 to 16 percent. About 1 percent of New Zealand's population identified with ethnicities outside of these four broad ethnic groups in 2006. People who identify with more than one ethnicity are included in each ethnic population that they identify with. As a result, the ethnic populations overlap.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician
2 April 2008


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