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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




The people of New Zealand are drawn from several races, Pakeha and Maori, European, and Asiatic. All have come across the sea to make their home in New Zealand. It is almost impossible, however, to give an accurate statistical analysis of the number of any one race which has come to New Zealand. No figures exist showing the numbers of the various races; indeed, the only ones of value are those showing the birthplaces of the population and they are not wholly reliable for the purpose. Moreover, after five or six generations in the case of the European, intermarriage has so blended the elements that a new race, rather than a group of races, is being produced.

From figures taken from the 1961 census we find that 91·7 per cent of the population were of European descent; 4·3 per cent, full-blooded Maoris; 2·6 per cent, various Maori-European crosses; and 1·3 per cent, other races or non-European crosses. Over 94 per cent are either European or have some European blood in them, while 8·3 per cent (at least) are Maori or have some Maori blood. There are difficulties in analysing the European population into the races comprising it and it is necessary to make estimates. At the census of 1858, 37·5 per cent of the European population were New Zealand born, nearly 40 per cent were born in England or Wales, 13·5 per cent in Scotland, 7·7 per cent in Ireland, and 2·4 per cent in Australia. In 1861 the percentages were 34, New Zealand; 36·5, England; 15·7, Scotland; 8·9, Ireland; and 2·61, Australia. In 1878, when the colony had a population of 414,000, 42 per cent were New Zealand born, 26 per cent English, 11·6 per cent Scots, and nearly 11 per cent Irish, while the Australians were approximately 4 per cent. A similar breakdown in 1901 gives 66·8 per cent New Zealand born, 14·7 per cent English, 6·2 per cent Scots, and 5·6 per cent Irish, while 3·5 per cent were Australian born.

If it can be taken that the New Zealand and Australian born had parents of the various races in approximately the same rates as the remainder of the population (not necessarily true), they can be ignored. Apart from the Maoris, in 1858 roughly 60 per cent were English, 20 per cent Scots, and 11 per cent Irish; the remaining 9 per cent were not known, were born at sea, or were foreign born. Twenty years later, in 1878, on the same basis, 50 per cent were English, 22 per cent Scots, and 20 per cent Irish; while in 1901 the percentages were English, 51; Scots, 21; and Irish, 19. In 1936, other than Australians, 56 per cent of the overseas born were English, 22 per cent Scots, and 10 per cent Irish. Although there have been some changes in the figures, they are sufficiently consistent to show that slightly more than half of the European population is English; somewhat less than a quarter Scots; and slightly less than a fifth, Irish. Less than one in 10 is of non-British stock. Of course the strains have not remained pure and very much more than a half will have English blood in them, and so with all the other races.


James Oakley Wilson, D.S.C., M.COM., A.L.A., Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.

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