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Diversity demographics

The increasing ethnic diversity of New Zealanders was identified in the 2001 Census.
Statistics New Zealand – Te Tari Tatau – published this conclusion and the supporting statistics in its media release on the 2001 Census Snapshot 1 (Cultural Diversity), still available in 2005

The census counted more people of Asian ethnicity than Pacific peoples ethnicity.

Almost 240,000 or 1 in 15 people were of Asian ethnicity.

Counts of people of Asian ethnicity have more than doubled between 1991 and 2001.

There were 231,801 people of Pacific peoples ethnicity.

The count of people of European ethnicity has declined from 83 percent of the total in the 1991 Census to 80 percent in 2001.

One in seven people (526,281) are of Mäori ethnicity.

Two-thirds of people of Asian ethnicity live in the Auckland region and 1 in 8 live in the Wellington region.

Two-thirds of the people of Pacific peoples ethnicity live in the Auckland region.

In the Auckland region, 1 in 8 people are of Asian ethnicity, 1 in 8 of Pacific peoples ethnicity and 1 in 10 of Mäori ethnicity.

Nearly 9 out of 20 people in the Gisborne region are of Mäori ethnicity.

More people born overseas


Almost 1 in 5 New Zealand residents were born overseas compared with 1 in 6 in 1991 and 1 in 3 in 1901.

In the Auckland region, 1 in 3 people were born overseas.

In the Auckland region, 1 in 9 people were born in Asia.

Almost three quarters of people born in the Pacific Islands and two-thirds of those born in Asia live in Auckland.

Almost 1 in 4 people in the Wellington region were born overseas, while fewer than 1 in 15 people in the Southland region were born overseas.

While the number of New Zealand residents born in Europe has shown a small decline since 1996, there have been large increases from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

More multilingual people


The number of multilingual people increased by 20 percent from the 1996 Census to 562,113 or nearly 1 in 6.

English is the predominant language spoken.

Excluding children under 5 years of age, 1 in 50 people do not speak English

Increase in non-Christian religions

Over two million people are Christian.

The main Christian denominations are Anglican (584,793 or 17 percent of people), Catholic (486,012 or 14 percent) and the Presbyterian group (417,453 or 11 percent).

The number of Catholics increased by 12,900 between 1996 and 2001, while the number of Anglicans (-46,971) along with the Presbyterian group (-38,895) decreased.

The count of Anglicans exceeded that of the other denominations in all regions except Auckland (where Catholics were largest) and Otago and Southland (where the Presbyterian group was the largest).

The main denominations in the 1901 Census were Church of England (41 percent of people), Presbyterian (23 percent), Catholic (14 percent), and Methodist (11 percent).

At the 1901 Census only 1 in 30 people did not give a religious affiliation.
Almost 4 out of 10 people did not specify a religious affiliation in the 2001 Census.

There has been an increase in people whose religion is non-Christian.

Find out more

The demographers at Statistics New Zealand are available to update and extend this information – some on a public good basis, some for a charge.

Updated Tuesday, March 15, 2005, without incorporating any post 2001 census content

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