We profile NZ’s ethnic communities.

Ana Cecilia Mijangos moved to New Zealand from Mexico with her partner Luis Cabrera in 2009 with little English and no clue about what she was going to do here.

Today, the couple own and operate popular Latin American restaurant Besos Latinos, in the Auckland CBD, and are proud parents to 3-month-old daughter, Valentina.

"When we moved here it was totally blind faith, but things have worked out all right for us," said Ms Mijangos, 34.

After five years, they are beginning to feel more like Kiwis and having a child here deepened their roots.

Advertisement

"It's now 50-50, so it was very tough when the All Whites played Mexico in the football World Cup qualifiers, I just didn't know who to support," she said.

According to the 2013 Census, 711 people identified with the Mexican ethnic group in New Zealand, an increase of 46.3 per cent from 2006. Of the 44.3 per cent in Auckland, most were in the Waitemata, Orakei and Albert-Eden Local Board areas.

Six out of 10 Mexicans could speak at least two languages, with English the most widely used, by 94.3 per cent.

Ms Mijangos said language was the biggest hurdle when she arrived.

"Like most Latin American women, I am very expressive and I like to talk. But I spoke very little English and it was very frustrating and depressing when I cannot express myself."

According to the Census about 58 per cent of Mexicans were affiliated with at least one religion, most commonly Catholicism.

Ms Mijangos said the Day of the Dead is the biggest festival observed by the Mexican community. Homes are decorated with marigolds and candles and people offer the best food and wine they can afford to host the spirits of the departed.

"It's a national holiday back home, and instead of mourning the loss of loved ones, we throw a party in true Mexican style."

In 2013, Mexicans had a median income of $21,400, up from $18,000 in 2006.

Of the 71.9 per cent in work, the most common occupations were professionals, community and personal service workers, and managers.

Their most common industries were accommodation and food services, professional scientific and technical services, and education and training.

More than one in five owned or partly owned their home. More than 44 per cent had at least one child.

Mr Cabrera said the best way to socialise with Mexicans is over tequila.

"We all love tequila and it will help overcome any language barrier and help build a good friendship."

Mexicans among us
711 live in NZ, 44.3 percent in Auckland
94.3% speak English, and more than six in 10 speak at least two languages
61% speak Spanish, with those born in NZ less likely to speak the language
$21,400 median income, one in five worked in accommodation and food industries
58% affiliated to a religion, about four in 10 are Catholic
(source: 2013 Census).