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2023 Census Māori Descent Key Findings

Māori descent population 

• 19.6% or 978,246 of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population are Māori 1.

• The Māori population increased by 12.5% between 2018 and 2023 from 869,850 to 978,246 2

• In contrast, the New Zealand population increased by 6.3% over the same period. 

• The Māori proportion of the population continues to grow – in 2013 Māori were 15.8% of the population, which grew to 18.5% [3] of the population in 2018. A slower but marked increase between 2018 and 2023 sees Māori now representing 19.6% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population.

Māori descent and age distribution

• The median age of the Māori descent population is 27.2 years (this means half of Māori are younger and half are older than aged 27)

• This compares to a median age of 38.1 years for the total New Zealand population. 

• While 1 in 5 New Zealanders are Māori – almost 1 in 3 younger New Zealanders (aged under 25 years) are Māori.

Māori descent and geographical distribution

• In 2023, nearly a quarter (23.3%) of the Māori descent population 227,898 were living in the Auckland region. Māori made up 13.8% of the Auckland population.

• Waikato was the next most popular place for Māori to live, with 14.1% (137,742) of the Māori population living here. This was followed by the Bay of Plenty with 11.2% (109,953) of Māori living here.

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• The region where Māori make up the highest proportion of the resident population is Gisborne, where more than half (56.0%) of the total population are of Māori descent. This was followed by Northland region where 2 in 5 people (39.9%), are Māori and then the Bay of Plenty region where one third (32.9%) are Māori.

• Within Te Waipounamu, the South Island, Māori are most likely to reside in the Canterbury region - 79,647 Māori representing 8.1% of the total Māori descent population live here. Canterbury’s Māori population has increased by 19.6% between 2018 and 2023 [4]. In contrast, the total population in Canterbury only increased by 8.6% over the same period.

• The region in the South Island where Māori make up the highest proportion of the resident population is Southland, where close to 1 in 5 people (19.4%) in Southland are of Māori descent.

1 In these key findings, when using the term “Māori” without any further explanation, reference is being made to the Māori descent population. A person is of Māori descent if they are descended from Māori.
2 Caution using time series Time series data should be interpreted with care due to changes in census methodology and differences in responses rates between censuses. The 2018 and 2023 Censuses used a combined census methodology (using census responses and administrative data), while the 2013 Census used a full-field enumeration methodology (with no use of administrative data).
3 As above
4 As above

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