Māori Australians

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Māori Australians
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
mostly English, also Māori
Related ethnic groups
Other Māori people and Polynesian people

Māori Australians are Australians of Māori heritage. In 2013, there were approximately 140,000-170,000 people with Māori ancestry living in Australia. Māori Australians constitute Australia's largest Polynesian ethnic group.[3]


People with Maori ancestry as a percentage of the population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, as of the 2011 census


There was no known prehistoric contact between Australian Aboriginal people and New Zealand Māori, although the Māori's Polynesian ancestors were accomplished navigators. The first Māori known to have visited Australia travelled to Sydney in European trading ships from 1795 onwards.[4] Māori chiefs traded with Europeans in Australia, bringing back rare goods to New Zealand. An 1823 image of Sydney depicts the presence of Māori.[5]

Māori generally benefited from the same immigration and voting rights as white New Zealanders in Australia, making them a notable exception to the White Australia policy. In 1902, with the Commonwealth Franchise Act, Māori residents in Australia were granted the right to vote, a right denied to Indigenous Australians. During that same period, their right to settle in Australia was facilitated by their shared status as British subjects.[6]

In 1948, however, Australia's federal Minister of Immigration attempted to ban Māori from settling in Australia, in accordance with the White Australia policy. Invoking existing immigration law which excluded Polynesians from Australia, the minister argued that Māori were Polynesians, and could therefore be excluded on racial grounds. The attempt reportedly created a minor diplomatic incident with New Zealand, and the minister involved apologised. Further attempts to restrict Māori immigration in the 1950s were overturned as they violated Māori's rights as British subjects and as New Zealand citizens.[7]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Māori hit by a downturn in their home country's economy emigrated to Australia in search of work.[6]


In 1933, a census indicated there were 197 Māori living in Australia. That number increased to 449 in 1961, 862 in 1966, 26,000 in 1986 and 84 000 in 2001.[6]

Significant Māori communities may be found in certain suburbs of Sydney (Penrith, Parramatta, Bankstown, Minto) as well as Brisbane (Woodridge, Forest Lake, Wynnum, Redbank), Darwin, Melbourne and Perth. In 2001, there were 19,000 Māori living in Brisbane.[3]

In 2007, the co-leader of New Zealand's Māori Party, Pita Sharples proposed the creation of an additional overseas seat in the New Zealand Parliament, for Māori living in Australia.[8]


Language use[edit]

In 1986, it was found that only 22% of Māori Australians spoke Māori at home, and that very few children spoke the language. At present, Māori languages classes exist in Australia, in an attempt to preserve the Māori language there, and there is a Māori-language radio station in Sydney.[9]

Notable Māori Australians[edit]



Other notable Māori Australians[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]