Census 2013: More ethnicities than the world's countries

By Brendan Manning

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

New Zealand has more ethnicities than there are countries in the world, the 2013 census has revealed.

In total, 213 ethnic groups were identified in the census, whereas there are 196 countries recognised by Statistics New Zealand.

The five largest ethnic groups in New Zealand are New Zealand European, Maori, Chinese, Samoan, and Indian, and ethnic diversity has been increasing.

Some of the biggest increases since the 2006 census has come from groups within the broader Asian category, spearheaded by the Chinese, Indian, and Filipino ethnic groups.

New Zealand, and Auckland in particular, were now classified as "super diverse", said Massey University humanities and social sciences research director Professor Paul Spoonley.

"That has two aspects. One is the size of the non-majority populations - the fact that we've got 23 per cent of Auckland is Asian - they're a very significant non-majority population.

The other aspect is the number of immigrant and ethnic communities."

During the seven-year period between censuses, the Chinese population increased by 16 per cent to 171,000 people, the number of Indians increased by 48 per cent to 155,000 and Filipinos more than doubled to 40,000.

Many Filipinos had been coming to help with the Christchurch rebuild, while many others had emigrated to Christchurch to work on dairy farms, Mr Spoonley said.

"We tend to assume it's city growth in the migrant populations in the cities and that's true, but there's also some regions which are gaining from migration."

The variety of immigrant community groups arriving in New Zealand was staggering, Mr Spoonley said.

"There's a lot of small ethnic communities beginning to appear.

"The refugee policy contributes to that in-part, but the more important reason is that we will accept skilled people from wherever in the world they come.

"The diversity of students is also an important contributor to the diversity of the population because many of them apply to stay on permanently."

The standout attraction of New Zealand to migrants was the quality of life, Mr Spoonley said.

2013 Census general manager Sarah Minson said it was interesting to note there were more ethnicities in New Zealand than there were countries in the world.

"What that tells us is that New Zealand is a diverse place and getting more so all the time."

Our smallest ethnic groups include Greenlander, Sardinian, and Latin American Creole.

Other minority groups included Orkney Islander (6), Shetland Islander (24), Corsican (3), Falkland Islander (30), Gypsy (90), Chamorro (12) and Inuit (36).

More than 65,000 people identified their ethnicity simply as 'New Zealander', while 81 refused to answer and 222 said they didn't know.

Increases in the largest Pacific ethnic groups were Samoan (up 10 per cent to 144,000 people), Cook Island Maori (up 7 per cent to 62,000) and Tongan (up almost 20 per cent to 60,000).

New Zealand's census usually resident population grew 5 per cent to 4.24 million between 2006 and 2013.

- APNZ

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