European New Zealanders

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European New Zealanders
Total population
2,969,391 (2013 census) [1]
74.0% of New Zealand's population
Regions with significant populations
North Island, South Island, Australia
Christianity 56.3%
  (Anglicanism 17.5%
  Catholicism 13.5%
  Presbyterianism 11.5%)
No religion 37.7%
Object to answer 6.0%
Related ethnic groups
Anglo-Celtic Australian · British (English · Scottish · Welsh) · Irish · other European peoples

The term European New Zealanders or Pākehā refers to New Zealanders of European descent.[2] Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry, with smaller percentages of other European ancestries such as Croatians, Germans (includes Poles due to Partitions of Poland), French, Dutch, Scandinavian and South Slav.[3]

Census statistics[edit]

2013 Census[edit]

The 2013 official census had 2,969,391 or 74.0% identify as European.[4]

Other census results[edit]

The 2006 Census counted 3,381,076 European New Zealanders, or 73.6% of those who gave their ethnicity. Most census reports do not separate European New Zealanders from the broader European ethnic category, which was the largest broad ethnic category in the 2006 Census. Europeans comprised 67.6 percent of respondents in 2006 compared with 80.1 percent in the 2001 census.[5]

The apparent drop in this figure was due to Statistics New Zealand's acceptance of 'New Zealander' as a distinct response to the ethnicity question and their placement of it within the "Other" ethnic category, along with an email campaign asking people to give it as their ethnicity in the 2006 Census.[6]

In previous censuses, these responses were counted belonging to the European New Zealanders group,[7] and Statistics New Zealand plans to return to this approach for the 2011 Census.[8] Eleven percent of respondents identified as New Zealanders in the 2006 Census (or as something similar, e.g. "Kiwi"),[9] well above the trend observed in previous censuses, and higher than the percentage seen in other surveys that year.[10]

In April 2009, Statistics New Zealand announced a review of their official ethnicity standard, citing this debate as a reason,[11] and a draft report was released for public comment. In response, the New Zealand Herald opined that the decision to leave the question unchanged in 2011 and rely on public information efforts was "rather too hopeful", and advocated a return to something like the 1986 approach. This asked people which of several identities "apply to you", instead of the more recent question "What ethnic group do you belong to?"[12]

Alternative terms[edit]


Main article: Pākehā

The term Pākehā, the etymology of which is unclear,[13] is often used interchangeably with European New Zealanders. New Zealanders who consider "European" to be anachronistic and inadequate often prefer Pākehā, feeling that this better describes their ethnic and cultural identity.


Main article: Palagi

The term "Palagi", pronounced Palangi, is Samoan in origin and is used in similar ways to Pākehā, usually by people of Samoan or other Pacific Island descent.

British and Irish New Zealanders[edit]

For residents of citizens that originate from New Zealand see New Zealanders in the United Kingdom

See also: British people, Irish people

The New Zealand 2006 census statistics reported citizens with British (27,192), English (44,202), Scottish (15,039), Irish (12,651), Welsh (3,771) and Celtic (1,506) origins. Historically, a sense of 'Britishness' has figured prominently in the identity of many New Zealanders.[14] As late as the 1950s it was common for New Zealanders to refer to themselves as British, such as when Prime Minister Keith Holyoake described Sir Edmund Hillary's successful ascent of Mt. Everest as "[putting] the British race and New Zealand on top of the world".[15] New Zealand passports described nationals as "British Subject and New Zealand Citizen" until 1974, when this was changed to "New Zealand Citizen".[16]

While "European" identity predominates political discourse in New Zealand today, the term "British" is still used by some New Zealanders to explain their ethnic origins. Others see the term as better describing previous generations; for instance, journalist Colin James referred to "we ex-British New Zealanders" in a 2005 speech.[17] It remains a relatively uncontroversial descriptor of ancestry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2013 Census results: New Zealand
  2. ^ Radio Australia - Pakeha" not a negative word for European New Zealanders
  3. ^ Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand: New Zealand Peoples
  4. ^ 2013 Census results: New Zealand
  5. ^ Statistics New Zealand Highlights: Ethnic groups in New Zealand
  6. ^ Middleton, Julie (1 March 2006). "Email urges 'New Zealander' for Census". New Zealand Herald (APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  7. ^ QuickStats About Culture and Identity: European, Statistics New Zealand.
  8. ^ Statistics New Zealand. (2009). Draft report of a review of the official ethnicity statistical standard: proposals to address issues relating to the ‘New Zealander’ response. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. ISBN 978-0-478-31583-7. Accessed 27 April 2009.
  9. ^ "A New Zealander response and like responses such as 'Kiwi' or 'NZer' are coded to a separate category, 'New Zealander', at level four in the Other Ethnicity group." Classification and coding process, New Zealand Classification of Ethnicity 2005, Statistics New Zealand. Accessed 2008-01-04.
  10. ^ "Who responded as 'New Zealander'?" (Press release). Statistics New Zealand. 3 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  11. ^ "Feedback sought on ethnicity statistics" (Press release). Statistics New Zealand. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  12. ^ "Editorial: A question to define who you are". The New Zealand Herald. 2 May 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Te Ara: New Zealanders: New Zealand Peoples: Britons
  15. ^ Population Conference 1997, New Zealand: Panel Discussion 3c - Population Change And International Linkages, Phillip Gibson, Chief Executive, Asia 2000 Foundation
  16. ^ Carl Walrond. 'Kiwis overseas - Staying in Britain', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13 April 2007.
  17. ^ The Pacific-ation of New Zealand. Colin James's speech to the Sydney Institute, 3 February 2005. Accessed 2007-06-05.

External links[edit]