New Zealand is becoming a super diverse nation, but its diversity story is a stratified one - drawn along ethnic and economic lines.

Herald Insights, a new data journalism site on nzherald.co.nz, is launched today and an interactive allows readers to explore projections of ethnic makeups in Auckland neighbourhoods and every territorial authority in the country.

Policy changes may see other New Zealand cities and towns become just as diverse as Auckland is presently.

Projections show that Hamilton City, in 2038, will be just as diverse as the Auckland of today - except with a higher Maori population of 28 per cent.

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The European group will drop from 70 to 59 per cent, but Asians will increase from 14 to 23 per cent and Pasifika from 5 to 10 per cent.

New immigration measures, designed to get immigrants to settle outside Auckland came into effect this month.

Skilled migrants get triple bonus points and entrepreneurs double if they worked or set up businesses in the regions.

Massey University immigration expert Paul Spoonley said: "If getting the points are a challenge to gain approval to settle permanently in New Zealand, then one strategy would be to agree to go to a non-Auckland centre or region."

The ethnic mix of New Zealand's two other main cities, Wellington and Christchurch, will however remain by and large the same.

In Wellington, there will be just a slight increase of Maori from 8 to 10 per cent, Asians from 16 to 24 per cent and no change for Pasifika at 5 per cent.
However, the European group there will decline slightly from 77 to 70 per cent.

Christchurch will see a near doubling of Asian population from 10 to 19 per cent in 2038, but the European population will still make up 77 per cent.

Asia NZ Foundation executive Simon Draper said Asians settling in the regions was not a new phenomenon, but significantly enhanced by immigration changes.

"Chinese immigration to the Queenstown area dates back to the 1860s gold rush," Mr Draper said.

"But the significant growth in the regions happened since the immigration reforms of the 1980s, and particularly in the last decade."

In the Queenstown-Lakes district, the Asian group is projected to increase from 8 per cent today to 13 per cent in 2038.

The data analysed by the Herald also shows that in some areas with lower median income, Europeans could all but disappear, such as in Manurewa, Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu, where they have gone from majority to minority.

In the Manurewa area, the Pacific group will grow from 11,900 to become the largest group on 60,500. The Pacific group will also remain the largest group in Mangere-Otahuhu.

Orakei, which has one of the highest personal median incomes in Auckland, will see a rise in European population but just a small growth in Pacific and Asian populations.

Herald data editor Harkanwal Singh said the data showed a clear pattern within Auckland local board areas that diversity was taking place along ethnic and economic lines.

"Even though overall figures for Auckland's diversity look promising, once you see the breakdown along local board areas, it shows a stratified diversity."

Professor Spoonley said the areas were very distinctive in terms of their ethnic and immigrant profiles - and the trend was for them to become even more so.

"The Auckland story is increasingly one that is dominated by 21st century immigration flows, but what has become apparent in recent years is that there are multiple sub-Auckland stories as different parts of the city look and feel quite different given the presence of particular ethnic communities," Professor Spoonley said.

"This is partly because some areas, such as the urban fringes of the city or new housing areas provide the sort of housing that these new immigrants seek, and so there are significant concentrations.

"But there is also a degree of displacement as new immigrants replace existing populations, either because they are keen to live close to existing family and communities or because the area is less attractive."

In about 20 years the Asian population will become the largest group in Whau, Puketapapa and Howick local board areas. In Whau, the Asian population is projected to more than double to 59,400 in 2038.

"There are different economic stories being written as immigrant arrivals or the departure of others overlaps with concentrations of both wealth and poverty," Professor Spoonley said.

"Not all immigrants have money and there are some pockets of diversity and poverty that should be a cause for concern ... there are parts of Auckland where immigrants are struggling and living alongside existing income- or work-poor households, and those with poor educational and health outcomes. This is a major policy challenge."

Herald Insight data, derived from Statistics NZ projections, showed Asian and Pacific populations growing in all regions and areas.

But the European population will decline in five areas: Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, West Coast, Southland and Manawatu-Whanganui.

Dr Wardlow Friesen, author of an Asia NZ Foundation report titled "Beyond the metropoles: the Asian presence in small city NZ", found high proportionate increases in Asian populations outside Auckland.

Between the 2001 and 2013 Censuses, the Southland region had the biggest percentage growth at 233 per cent - from 852 to 2838.

Dr Friesen, a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Auckland, said the Asian presence in small cities also included short-term visitors such as tourists and international students.