21 April 2020
The changing face of New Zealand can be seen in the 2018 Census data released recently, Stats NZ said today.
Twenty-three tables, which cover the themes of ethnicity, culture, and identity, were released on 9 April 2020 (see 2018 Census – NZ.Stat tables
“The data in the tables reflects New Zealand’s very diverse population,” senior manager census data delivery Susan
“The tables draw from across the three most recent censuses (2006, 2013, 2018) and across the geographic space of New
Zealand, showing the richness in histories, origins, ethnicities, languages, and religions in New Zealand.”Number of people born overseas increasing
“In an era of increasing globalism, people born in almost every country in the world are making New Zealand their home,”
Mrs Hollows said.
In 2018, among the census usually resident population, more than a quarter (27.4 percent) were born overseas, following
the upward trend from 22.9 percent in 2006 and 25.2 percent in 2013.
Source countries of migrants have changed, however, with people born in the Pacific prominent among migrant labour flows
from the 1950s to 1970s, and people born in Asian countries being more prominent since the 1980s.
The Auckland region is home to one third (33.4 percent) of the total New Zealand population and just over half (50.7
percent) of New Zealanders who were born overseas.
According to the 2018 Census, 3,370,122 of the people living in New Zealand on 6 March were born here.Ethnic diversity of Kiwis also increasing
“The data shows people not only arriving for work and education opportunities, but also staying and raising families
here,” said Mrs Hollows.
By 2018, two thirds (66.4 percent) of New Zealand’s Pacific population was born here, contrasting with under one quarter
(23.0 percent) of people of Asian ethnicities. Notably, people in younger age groups are much more likely to have been
born in New Zealand; 86.2 percent of Pacific children aged 10 to 14 years were New Zealand-born, with 58.0 percent of
children of Asian ethnicities in the same age group born in New Zealand.
Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnicities (MELAA) are a small but fast-growing, diverse group, totalling
70,332 people in 2018. Members of this group are putting down roots in New Zealand, with 23.0 percent of people who
identified in this group in 2018 born in New Zealand, compared with 18.9 percent in 2006.
There were 775,836 people who identified as Māori in 2018, with 98.0 percent born in New Zealand. Among the growing
number born overseas, more than two thirds (68.1 percent) were Australian-born, with a further 11.8 percent born in the
United Kingdom.A melting pot of people of multiple ethnicities
It is not uncommon for people to change their ethnic identification, adopt additional ethnicities as their lives and
families broaden or they learn more about their heritage, or locate themselves within multi-ethnic environments. New
Zealand is no exception to this.
The 2018 Census showed that 13.0 percent of the population identified with more than one ethnicity, for example: Niuean
and Samoan. A person who answered this way would have had their ethnicity counted once for Niuean and once for Samoan,
but would only have been counted once in the Pacific grouping. Groupings of ethnicities are used to place people into
broad categories such as Pacific, Asian, or European.
In the 2018 Census, 11.4 percent of people reported ethnicities in more than one of the major groupings, for example,
both European and Māori.
The simplicity of these figures understates the underlying diversity among the New Zealanders represented by them. More
than half (54.5 percent) of people of Māori ethnicity identified with at least one other ethnicity, and over two thirds
(69.8 percent) of Māori children aged 0 to 4 years were identified as having at least one other ethnicity.
This contrasts with our Pasifika communities, which have two major components: the longer established Polynesian
communities with high proportions of people with multiple ethnicities, and the newer labour migration flows from other
parts of the Pacific such as Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and Kiribati.
The Asian population illustrates a pattern typical of new migration flows, with most of the people indicated as having
multiple ethnicities being children and young adults.Ethnic make-up of New Zealand
New Zealand has a very diverse population with many intersecting cultures. Groupings of ethnicities, such as Pacific or
Asian, are often described as though they are separate populations, when the reality presented by the data is that they
clearly are not. Each of the groupings of ethnicities are made up of many diverse communities with diverse histories.
As we have seen from these tables, these communities overlap in important ways, reflecting inter-ethnic partnering and
child-bearing, and ethnic mobility as social environments change. People may have more than one ethnicity and these
connections extend both within and across different groupings of ethnicities.
“The information we can draw from this rich data set is fundamental to our understanding of the ethnicity and culture of
New Zealand’s current population, and will become an important tool for the future,” Mrs Hollows said.Mapping our diversity
We have also used information from the 2018 Census to create an interactive map of ethnic density in New Zealand. The
new tool uses dot density mapping to visualise how many census respondents have identified with any of the five major
groupings of ethnicity in New Zealand: Asian, European, Māori, Middle Eastern/Latin American/African (MELAA), and
The maps use publicly available 2018 Census data that has been confidentialised. The dot density technique places dots
randomly within a geographic area (in this instance, our smallest unit of geography, Statistical Area 1). The dots
reflect the counts of responses people have given in each of the five represented ethnic groups. One dot represents no
fewer than three individual responses and does not imply an actual location.
to view and interact with the map.About the 2018 Census dataset
We combined data from the census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats
NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.
We added real data about real people to the dataset where we were confident the people should be counted but hadn’t
completed a census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources and statistical imputation
methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people and dwellings.
provides more information on the quality of the 2018 Census data. An independent panel of experts has assessed the
quality of the 2018 Census dataset. The panel has endorsed Stats NZ’s overall methods and concluded that the use of
government administrative records has improved the coverage of key variables such as age, sex, ethnicity, and place. The
, assessed the methodologies used by Stats NZ to produce the final dataset, as well as the quality of some of the key
variables. Its second report
assessed an additional 31 variables.
In its third report,
, the panel made 24 recommendations, several relating to preparations for the 2023 Census. Along with this report, the
panel, supported by Stats NZ, produced a series of graphs summarising the sources of data for key 2018 Census individual
outlines the key changes we introduced as we prepared for the 2018 Census, and the changes we made once collection was
The geographic boundaries are as at 1 January 2018. See
.Definitions and metadata
The birthplace variable is rated as high quality.
has more information eg definitions, and data quality.
The ethnicity variable is rated as high quality.
has more information eg definitions, and data quality. Where a person reported more than one ethnic group, they were
counted in each applicable group.
provides information about methods, and related metadata.
provides information about the variables and their quality.
provides information on data quality ratings.