Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Number of Kiwis born overseas tops 1m

File photo / Paul Estcourt
File photo / Paul Estcourt

The number of New Zealanders born overseas has topped one million, according to Census statistics released today.

"People born overseas now make up more than a quarter of New Zealand's population, and results from last year's census show that they're coming from an increasingly diverse range of countries,'' general manager 2013 Census Gareth Meech said.

"Back in 1961, two-thirds of overseas-born people came from the United Kingdom and Ireland. By 2013, that figure had dropped to just over a quarter.''

New Zealand's Asian ethnic group population almost doubled over the last 12 years.

"The growing Asian population is reflected by a rise in the number of people identifying with non-Christian religions,'' Mr Meech said.

"The number of people who affiliated with the Hindu religion increased 39.6 per cent since 2006, and Islam grew 27.9 per cent.''

The country was also becoming more multilingual.

Last year 18.6 per cent of the population could speak more than one language, up from 15.8 percent in 2001.

The Hindi and Northern Chinese languages had large increases, with the number of Hindi speakers almost tripling since 2001, and speakers of Northern Chinese languages, such as Mandarin, almost doubling, Mr Meech said.

"This kind of information helps organisations, researchers, and community groups better understand the cultural make-up of our society, and how this is changing over time.''

Meanwhile, last year's census also revealed half a million Aucklanders were born overseas.

More overseas-born people live in Auckland than in any other region in New Zealand, Mr Meech said.

Results from the census showed that 39.1 per cent of Auckland residents were born overseas, compared with just 18.2 percent of people living outside the region.

"These results provide a fascinating picture of our most culturally diverse region.''

Among the 517,182 Aucklanders born overseas, the most common birthplace was Asia, followed by the Pacific Islands, then the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"Auckland is also New Zealand's most multilingual region, with nearly 30 per cent of people reporting they spoke more than one language,'' Mr Meech said.

Following English, which was spoken by 93.7 per cent of the region's population, the most common languages in the Auckland region were Samoan (spoken by 4.4 per cent of people) then Hindi (spoken by 3.8 per cent).

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Census facts:

* Top eight overseas birthplaces:

- England

- China

- India

- Australia

- South Africa

- Fiji

- Samoa

- Philippines

* Last year 471,708 people identified with at least one Asian ethnicity, compared with 238,179 in 2001;

* the Indian ethnic group was among the fastest growing, increasing almost 50 per cent since 2006; and

* there was an increase of 16.2 per cent for people of Chinese ethnicity, which remained the most common Asian ethnic group.

- NZ Herald

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