Story: Population change

New Zealand population by ethnicity, 1840–2013

The Pākehā population grew rapidly in the mid-19th century, firstly because of migration and then through high fertility rates. The Māori population declined throughout the 19th century until the early 1890s, when it began to grow again. 

The impact of the post-Second World War baby boom is particularly evident in the significant growth of the Pākehā population until the early 1970s. The Pacific population grew steadily from the mid-1960s, and was overtaken by the Asian population in the early 2000s.

Standard ethnic definitions have changed. Until 1976 Māori ethnicity was determined by the 'degree of Māori blood'. 'Affiliation' was adopted in 1986 – people chose to identify themselves with particular ethnic groups. This remained the standard definition in the early 21st century.

Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Source: T. Papps, ‘Growth and distribution of population.’ In Population of New Zealand / Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific 12, 2 vols. New York: United Nations, 1985, vol. 1, tables 8 & 17; Ian Pool, Te iwi Maori: a New Zealand population, past, present & projected. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1991, p. 58; Statistics New Zealand

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How to cite this page:

Ian Pool and Natalie Jackson, 'Population change - Key population trends', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 July 2024)

Story by Ian Pool and Natalie Jackson, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 23 Aug 2018 with assistance from Natalie Jackson