New Zealanders

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New Zealanders
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Regions with significant populations
New Zealand New Zealand
c. 4,400,000
 Australia 566,815[1]
 United Kingdom 58,286[2]
 United States 22,872[2]
 Canada 9,475[2]
 Netherlands 4,260[2]
 United Arab Emirates 4,000[3]
 Japan 3,146[2]
 Hong Kong 3000[4]
 Germany 2,631[5][6]
 Ireland 2,195[2]
English · Māori · NZ Sign Language · Others
Predominantly Christianity, mostly Protestantism, but also Roman Catholicism. Other religions include Māori traditional beliefs, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. Agnosticism and atheism are also prevalent.[7]

New Zealanders, colloquially known as Kiwis,[8][9] are citizens of New Zealand. New Zealand is a multiethnic society, and home to people of many national origins. Originally composed solely of the indigenous Māori, the ethnic makeup of the population has been dominated since the 19th century by New Zealanders of European descent, mainly of Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish ancestry, with smaller percentages of other European ancestries such as French, Dutch, Scandinavian and South Slavic. New Zealand had an estimated resident population of around 4.47 million as of June 2013,[10] although around 220,000 of those have been resident in the country for less than five years.[11]

Today, the ethnic makeup of the New Zealand population is undergoing a process of change, with new waves of immigration, higher birth rates and increasing interracial marriage resulting in the New Zealand population of Māori, Asian, Pacific Islander and multiracial descent growing at a higher rate than those of solely European descent, with such groups projected to make up a larger proportion of the population in the future.[12]

While most New Zealanders live in New Zealand, there is also a significant diaspora, estimated in 2001 at over 460,000 or 14% of the international total of New Zealand-born people. Of these, 360,000, over three-quarters of the New Zealand-born population residing outside of New Zealand, live in Australia. Other communities of New Zealanders abroad are concentrated in other English-speaking countries, specifically the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, with smaller numbers located elsewhere.[2] This diaspora has reportedly surged as of 2010, with well over 650,000 New Zealanders living abroad. According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, an estimated 640,770 New Zealanders lived in Australia on 30 June 2013.[1]


The majority of New Zealanders or their ancestors immigrated within the past three centuries, with the exception of the Māori population who settled New Zealand from Eastern Polynesia. Despite its multi-ethnic composition, the culture of New Zealand held in common by most New Zealanders can also be referred to as mainstream "New Zealand culture", a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of British and other Northern European colonists, settlers, and immigrants. It also includes influences of Māori culture. Large-scale immigration in the 20th and 21st centuries from Asia such as Chinese and Indians introduced a variety of elements.


One set of arrows point from Taiwan to Melanesia to Fiji/Samoa and then to the Marquesas Islands. The population then spread, some going south to New Zealand and others going north to Hawai'i. A second set start in southern Asia and end in Melanesia.
The Māori settled New Zealand from Eastern Polynesia, concluding a long chain of voyages.

Polynesian settlers[edit]

The Māori people are most likely descended from people who emigrated from Taiwan to Melanesia and then travelled east through to the Society Islands.[13] After a pause of 70 to 265 years, a new wave of exploration led to the discovery and settlement of New Zealand in about AD 1250–1300,[14] making New Zealand one of the most recently settled major landmasses. Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50–150; these people then either died out or left the islands.[15][16][17]

Over the following centuries the Polynesian settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.[18][19]

Due to New Zealand's geographic isolation, 500 years passed before the next phase of settlement, the arrival of Europeans. Only then did the indigenous inhabitants need to distinguish themselves from the new arrivals, using the term "Māori" which means "normal" or "ordinary".

The establishment of British colonies in Australia from 1788 and the boom in whaling and sealing in the Southern Ocean brought many Europeans and Americans to the vicinity of New Zealand. Some settled—for economic, religious or personal reasons.

Racial and ethnic groups[edit]

1961 New Zealand Census[20][21]
Self-identified Ethnic group Population % of New Zealand population
European 2,247,898 93.1 93.1
Māori 167,390 8.4 8.4
Asian 0.6 0.6
Pacific Islander 0.7 0.7
Other 0.6 0.6
Total 2,414,985 ..
2013 New Zealand Census[22][23]
Self-identified Ethnic group Population % of New Zealand population
European 2,969,391 74.0 74
Māori 598,602 14.9 14.9
Asian 471,708 11.8 11.8
Pacific Islander 295,941 7.4 7.4
ME/LA/African 46,956 1.2 1.2
Other 67,752 1.7 1.7
Total 4,242,048 ..


People of European descent, constitute the majority of the 4.2 million people living in New Zealand, with 2,969,391 or 74.0% of the population in the 2013 New Zealand Census.[23][24] Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry, with smaller percentages of other European ancestries such as Croatians, Germans, Poles (historically noted as German due to Partitions of Poland), French, Dutch, Scandinavian and South Slav.[25] In the 1961 census, over 90% self-identified as people of European descent.

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642.[26] Māori killed several of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768–71.[26] Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans and Māori traded goods for sex.[27]

The potato and the musket transformed Māori agriculture and warfare, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population, although their initial inroads were mainly among the more disaffected elements of society.[28]

Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and of increasing French interest in the territory, the British government appointed James Busby as British Resident to New Zealand in 1832. Busby failed to bring law and order to European settlement, but did oversee the introduction of the first national flag on 20 March 1834, after an unregistered New Zealand ship was seized in Australia. The nebulous United Tribes of New Zealand later, in October 1835, sent the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand to King William IV of the United Kingdom, asking him for protection. Ongoing unrest and the legal standing of the Declaration of Independence prompted the Colonial Office to send Captain William Hobson RN to New Zealand to claim sovereignty for the British Crown and negotiate a treaty with the Māori.[i] The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840.[29] The drafting was done hastily and confusion and disagreement continue to surround the translation. The Treaty however remains regarded as New Zealand's foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights.

In response to New Zealand Company attempts to establish a separate colony in Wellington, and French claims in Akaroa, Hobson, now Lieutenant-Governor, declared British sovereignty over all of New Zealand on 21 May 1840. The two proclamations published in the New Zealand Advertiser and Bay Of Islands Gazette issue of 19 June 1840 "assert[s] on the grounds of Discovery, the Sovereign Rights of Her Majesty over the Southern Islands of New Zealand, commonly called 'The Middle Island' (South Island) and 'Stewart's Island' (Stewart Island/Rakiura); and the Island, commonly called 'The Northern Island', having been ceded Sovereignty to Her Majesty." The second proclamation expanded on how sovereignty over the "Northern Island" had been ceded under the treaty signed that February.[30]

Following the formalising of sovereignty, the organised and structured flow of migrants from Great Britain and Ireland began, and by 1860 more than 100,000 British and Irish settlers lived throughout New Zealand. The Otago Association actively recruited settlers from Scotland, creating a definite Scottish influence in that region, while the Canterbury Association recruited settlers from the south of England, creating a definite English influence over that region.[31] By 1870 the non-Māori population reached over 250,000.[32]

Other settlers came from Germany, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe as well as from China and the Indian subcontinent, but British and Irish settlers made up the vast majority, and did so for the next 150 years.

Plaque commemorating the first meeting of the Canterbury Association in Charing Cross, London. The Association would go on to found Canterbury, New Zealand in 1850.

Between 1881 and the 1920s, the Parliament of New Zealand passed legislation that intended to limit Asiatic migration to New Zealand, and prevented Asians from naturalising.[33] In particular, the New Zealand government levied a poll tax on Chinese immigrants up until the 1930s, when Japan went to war with China. New Zealand finally abolished the poll tax in 1944. An influx of Jewish refugees from central Europe came in the 1930s. Many of the persons of Polish origin in New Zealand arrived as orphans from Eastern Poland via Siberia and Iran in 1944 during World War II.[34]

Post-Second World War European immigration[edit]

With the agencies of the United Nations dealing with humanitarian efforts following the Second World War, New Zealand accepted about 5,000 refugees and displaced persons from Europe, and more than 1,100 Hungarians between 1956 and 1959 (see Refugee migration into New Zealand). The post-WWII immigration included more persons from Greece, Italy and the former Yugoslavia.

New Zealand limited immigration to those who would meet a labour shortage in New Zealand. To encourage those to come, the Government introduced free and assisted passages in 1947, a schema expanded by the National Party administration in 1950. However, when it became clear that not enough skilled migrants would come from the British Isles alone, recruitment began in Northern European countries. New Zealand signed a bilateral agreement for skilled migrants with the Netherlands, and a large number of Dutch immigrants arrived in New Zealand. Others came in the 1950s from Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Austria to meet needs in specialised occupations. By the 1960s, the policy of excluding people based on nationality yielded a population overwhelmingly European in origin. By the mid-1960s, a desire for cheap unskilled labour led to ethnic diversification.


Main article: Māori people

In the 2013 Census, 598,602 people identified as being part of the Māori ethnic group, accounting for 14.9%[35] of the New Zealand population, while 668,724 people (17.5%) claimed Māori descent.[36] 278,199 people identified as of sole Māori ethnicity, while 291,015 identified as of both European and Māori ethnicity (with or without a third ethnicity), due to a high rate of intermarriage between the two cultures.[37] Under the Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1974, a Māori is defined as “a person of the Māori race of New Zealand; and includes any descendant of such a Māori."

According to the 2006 Census, the largest iwi by population is Ngāpuhi (125,601), followed by Ngāti Porou (71,049), Ngāi Tahu (54,819) and Waikato (40,083). However, over 110,000 people of Māori descent in the 2013 Census could not identify their iwi.[36] Outside of New Zealand, a large Māori population exists in Australia, estimated at 155,000 in 2011.[38] The Māori Party has suggested a special seat should be created in the New Zealand parliament representing Māori in Australia.[39] Smaller communities also exist in the United Kingdom (approx. 8,000), the United States (up to 3,500) and Canada (approx. 1,000).[40][41][42]

The most common region this group lived in was Auckland Region (23.9 percent or 142,770 people). They are the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European New Zealanders ("Pākehā"). In addition, more than 120,000 Māori live in Australia. The Māori language (known as Te Reo Māori) is still spoken to some extent by about a fifth of all Māori, representing 3% of the total population. Many New Zealanders regularly use Māori words and expressions, such as "kia ora", while speaking English. Māori are active in all spheres of New Zealand culture and society, with independent representation in areas such as media, politics and sport.


In the 2013 Census, Asian ancestries total was 11.8% of the population, Chinese remained the largest Asian ethnic group in 2013, with 171,411 people while Indian was the second-largest Asian ethnic group in 2013, with 155,178 with Filipino a distant third with 40,350 people.[43] The Asian component, actually predates the Pacific component. There had been people of Asian ethnicity living in New Zealand from the early days of European settlement, albeit in very small numbers. During the period of gold rushes later in the nineteenth century the number of Chinese temporary settlers both from China and from Australia and America increased sharply. This was an interlude in many respects, though there was a small population which remained and settled permanently. However, a century later in the 1980s and 1990s the number of people of Asian ethnicities grew rapidly, and they are likely to exceed the Pacific population within the next few years.

Pacific Islander[edit]

In the 1950s and 1960s, New Zealand encouraged migrants from the South Pacific. The country had a large demand for unskilled labour in the manufacturing sector. As long as this demand continued, migrants were encouraged by the government to come from the South Pacific, and many overstayed. However, when the boom times stopped, some blamed the migrants for the economic downturn affecting the country, and many of those people suffered dawn raids from 1974.


This component was 1.2% of the total population in the 2013 census.[44] The Latin American ethnic group almost doubled in size between the 2006 and 2013 Censuses, increasing from 6,654 people to 13,182. A more recent component comprises refugees and other settlers from Africa and the Middle East, most recently from Somalia. While there had been previous settlers from the Middle East, such as Syrians, people from Equatorial Africa have been very few in the past.

  • Middle Eastern ethnic group – 20,406
  • African ethnic group – 13,464

‘Other’ ethnic group[edit]

In 2013, 67,752 people or 1.7% self-identified with one or more ethnicities other than European, Māori, Pacific, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African. The vast majority, 65,973 people, identified as ‘New Zealander’.[45][46]

National personification[edit]

A national personification is an anthropomorphism of a nation or its people; it can appear in both editorial cartoons and propaganda.

Zealandia is a national personification of New Zealand. In her stereotypical form, Zealandia appears as a woman of European descent who is similar in dress and appearance to Britannia, who is said to be the mother of Zealandia.[47]

Zealandia appeared on postage stamps, posters, cartoons, war memorials, and New Zealand government publications most commonly during the first half of the 20th century. Zealandia was a commonly used symbol of the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, which was held in Wellington in 1939 and 1940. Three large Zealandia statues exist in New Zealand towns or cities; one is in Waimate, one is in Palmerston, and one in Symonds Street, Auckland. The first two (in stone) are Second Boer War memorials and the latter one (in bronze) is a New Zealand Wars memorial. Some smaller statues exist in museums and in private hands. The woman who appears on the left side of the coat of arms of New Zealand is Zealandia.[47][48]


Religious affiliation in New Zealand (2013)[49]
Affiliation % of New Zealand population
Christian 47.65 47.65
Anglican 12.61 12.61
Presbyterian 8.47 8.47
Christian (not further defined) 5.54 5.54
Catholic 12.61 12.61
Methodist 2.64 2.64
Pentecostal 1.90 1.9
Jehovah's Witnesses 0.46 0.46
Māori Christian 1.36 1.36
Jewish 0.18 0.18
Muslim 1.18 1.18
Buddhist 1.50 1.5
Hindu 2.11 2.11
No religion 41.92 41.92
Object to answering 4.44 4.44
Other Religions 0.88 0.88

Just under half of the population at the 2013 New Zealand Census[49] declared an affiliation to Christianity. However, regular church attendance is probably closer to 15%.[50] Before European colonisation the religion of the indigenous Māori population was animistic, but the subsequent efforts of missionaries such as Samuel Marsden resulted in most Māori converting to Christianity.

Religious affiliation has been collected in the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings since 1851. One of the many complications in interpreting religious affiliation data in New Zealand is the large proportion who object to answering the question, roughly 173,000 in 2013. Most reporting of percentages is based on the total number of responses, rather than the total population.[51]

In the early 20th century New Zealand census data indicates that the vast majority of New Zealanders affiliated with Christianity. The total percentages in the 1921 non-Māori census were 45% Anglicans, 19.9% Presbyterians, 13.6% Catholics, 9.5% Methodists and 11.2% Others. Statistics for Māori were only available from 1936, with 35.8% Anglicans, 19.9% Ratana, 13.9% Catholics, 7.2% Ringatu, 7.1% Methodists, 6.5% Latter Day Saints, 1.3% Methodists and 8.3% Others recorded at this census.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (2 January 2014). "Fact Sheet 17 – New Zealanders in Australia". Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g John Bryant and David Law (September 2004). "New Zealand’s Diaspora and Overseas-born Population: The diaspora". New Zealand Treasury. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Matthew Chung (6 November 2009). "From F1 to Fifa, the show rolls on". The National. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland (Stand: 31. Dezember 2014)". 
  6. ^
  7. ^ See the article entitled Religion in New Zealand.
  8. ^ Gary Morley (24 June 2010). "Kiwis hope to take flight at World Cup". CNN. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Kiwi and people: early history". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "National Population Estimates: At 30 June 2013". Statistics New Zealand. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity". Statistics New Zealand. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Gillian Smeith and Kim Dunstan (June 2004). "Ethnic Population Projections: Issues and Trends". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Wilmshurst, J. M.; Hunt, T. L.; Lipo, C. P.; Anderson, A. J. (2010). "High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (5): 1815. Bibcode:2011PNAS..108.1815W. doi:10.1073/pnas.1015876108. 
  14. ^ Irwin, Geoff; Walrond, Carl (4 March 2009). "When was New Zealand first settled? – The date debate". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  15. ^ Mein Smith (2005), pg 6.
  16. ^ Lowe, David J. (2008). Lowe, David J., ed. Guidebook for Pre-conference North Island Field Trip A1 ‘Ashes and Issues’ (28–30 November 2008). Australian and New Zealand 4th Joint Soils Conference, Massey University, Palmerston North (1–5 December 2008) (PDF). New Zealand Society of Soil Science. pp. 142–147. ISBN 978-0-473-14476-0. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  17. ^ Sutton et al. (2008), pg 109. "This paper ... affirms the Long Chronology [first settlement up to 2000 years BP], recognizing it as the most plausible hypothesis."
  18. ^ Clark (1994) pg 123–135
  19. ^ Davis, Denise (11 September 2007). "The impact of new arrivals". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  20. ^ Total and Mäori Populations 1858–2001 Censuses of Population and Dwellings Statistics New Zealand
  21. ^ POPULATION – FACTORS AND TRENDS Historical Trends – European.
  22. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity Available from
  23. ^ a b 2013 Census results: New Zealand
  24. ^ Radio Australia - Pakeha" not a negative word for European New Zealanders
  25. ^ Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand: New Zealand Peoples
  26. ^ a b Mein Smith (2005), pg 23.
  27. ^ King (2003) pg 122.
  28. ^ Peggy Brock, ed. Indigenous Peoples and Religious Change. Leiden: Brill, 2005. ISBN 978-90-04-13899-5. pages 67–69
  29. ^ Political and constitutional timeline, New Zealand History online, Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Updated 6 December 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  30. ^ "New Zealand Advertiser and Bay Of Islands Gazette, 19 June 1840". Hocken Library. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  31. ^ "History of Immigration - 1840 - 1852". 
  32. ^ "History of Immigration - 1853 - 1870". 
  33. ^ "1881–1914: restrictions on Chinese and others". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 
  34. ^ "Polish Orphans". Te Ara. 16 November 2012. 
  35. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity Available from
  36. ^ Cite error: The named reference Quickstats was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  37. ^ "Ethnic group (detailed single and combination) by age group and sex, for the census usually resident population count, 2013 -- NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Hamer, Paul (2012), Māori in Australia: An Update from the 2011 Australian Census and the 2011 New Zealand General Election, retrieved 26 August 2015 
  39. ^ "Sharples suggests Maori seat in Australia". Television New Zealand. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  40. ^ Walrond, Carl (4 March 2009). "Māori overseas". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  41. ^ New Zealand-born figures from the 2000 U.S. Census; maximum figure represents sum of "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" and people of mixed race. United States Census Bureau (2003).Census 2000 Foreign-Born Profiles (STP-159): Country of Birth: New Zealand PDF (103 KB). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.
  42. ^ Cite error: The named reference statcan was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  43. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity Available from
  44. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity Available from
  45. ^ 2013 Census tables about a place: New Zealand Ethnic groups of people in New Zealand
  46. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity Available from
  47. ^ a b Denis James Matthews Glover, "A National Symbol?" in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (A. H. McLintock ed, 1966)
  48. ^ Heraldry of the World New Zealand Coat of Arms page
  49. ^ a b Table 28, 2013 Census Data – QuickStats About Culture and Identity – Tables.
  50. ^ Opie, Stephen (June 2008). Bible Engagement in New Zealand: Survey of Attitudes and Behaviour (PDF). Bible Society of New Zealand. p. 4. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  51. ^ Cite error: The named reference 2006quick was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  52. ^ New Zealand Historical Atlas (1997) McKinnon, Malcolm (Editor); David Bateman, Plate 70

External links[edit]