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New Report on Pacific Peoples Released

Pacific Progress: 2002

The economic position of Pacific peoples in New Zealand is improving, according to a report released today by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. Pacific Progress uses data from the Census of Population and Dwellings and other sources to look at the social and economic position of Pacific peoples, focusing particularly on patterns of employment, income and housing. The report analyses changes since the 1980s and shows comparisons between the Pacific and total populations.

Change among the Pacific population is most evident in their patterns of employment, according to Government Statistician Brian Pink. Unemployment rates have declined markedly since the peaks of the early 1990s, while the proportion who are gainfully employed has increased. Pacific people are also moving into white-collar occupations in service industries in greater numbers, while there has been a decline in the proportion working in blue-collar manual jobs in manufacturing industries. These trends are most evident among younger Pacific people and those born in New Zealand.

In 2001, almost half of young Pacific people aged 15 to 24 worked in service and sales or clerical occupations, with relatively few working as plant and machine operators and assemblers, which is the most common occupational category for Pacific people aged 35 and over. Pacific people who were born in New Zealand were more likely than the overseas-born to work in all types of white-collar occupations. Education also has a significant influence on the employment patterns of Pacific people, with almost half of all Pacific people with university degrees working in professional occupations, which is similar to the national figure for people with degrees.

Despite these improvements, Pacific people still have higher rates of unemployment and are less likely to be in skilled white-collar occupations than is the case nationally. This is reflected in their income levels, with Pacific people being more likely than those in the total population to be in the lower income bands and less likely to be in the higher income bands. The 2001 Census showed that just 7 percent of Pacific people received an annual income of over $40,000 compared with 18 percent of the total population. However, among 15 to 24 year olds the Pacific and national populations have similar median annual incomes.

Pacific people also have lower rates of home ownership than the national population. In 2001, 38 percent of Pacific people lived in housing owned by a member of the household, compared with a national figure of 68 percent. Pacific people are less likely to live in homes owned by a member of the household than they were in previous censuses, following a national trend away from home ownership. However, Pacific people are more likely to live in households with access to motor vehicles than in the past.

The Pacific population is projected to grow to around 373,000 people or 8.3 percent of the population by 2021, and to around 599,000 people or 12.1 percent of the population by 2051. Pacific people may also make up around 13 percent of the working-age population by 2051. The social and economic position of Pacific peoples will therefore be of increasing significance to New Zealand as a whole. "Information of the type presented in Pacific Progress will play an important role in the monitoring and facilitating of economic development among Pacific peoples," said Mr Pink.

This report is now available free on the Statistics New Zealand website, A printed version of the report is available on request for a cost of $25.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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