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New Zealand European
Total population

59.1% of the population[1]

Regions with significant populations
North Island, South Island, Australia



Christianity 56.3%[2]
  (Anglicanism 17.5%
  Catholicism 13.5%
  Presbyterianism 11.5%)[2]
No religion 37.7%[2]
Object to answer 6.0%[2]

Related ethnic groups

Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-African, Afrikaner, English, European Australian, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, German,White British, Anglo-Celtic Australian, White African, White American and other Whites

The term New Zealand European refers to New Zealanders of European descent who identify as New Zealand Europeans rather than some more specific European group. Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry, with smaller percentages of other European ancestries such as French, Dutch, Scandinavian and South Slav.[3]


Census statistics

The 2006 Census counted 2,381,076 New Zealand Europeans, or 59.1% of those who gave their ethnicity. Most census reports do not separate New Zealand Europeans from the broader European ethnic category, which was the largest broad ethnic category in the 2006 Census. Europeans comprised 67.6 percent of respondents in 2006 compared with 80.1 percent in the 2001 census.[4] The apparent drop in this figure was due to Statistics New Zealand's acceptance of 'New Zealander' as a distinct response to the ethnicity question and their placement of it within the "Other" ethnic category, along with an email campaign asking people to give it as their ethnicity in the 2006 Census.[5] In previous censuses, these responses were counted belonging to the New Zealand European group,[1] and Statistics New Zealand plans to return to this approach for the 2011 Census.[6] Eleven percent of respondents identified as New Zealanders in the 2006 Census (or as something similar, e.g. "Kiwi"),[7] well above the trend observed in previous censuses, and higher than the percentage seen in other surveys that year.[8]

In April 2009, Statistics New Zealand announced a review of their official ethnicity standard, citing this debate as a reason,[9] and a draft report was released for public comment. In response, the New Zealand Herald opined that the decision to leave the question unchanged in 2011 and rely on public information efforts was "rather too hopeful", and advocated a return to something like the 1986 approach. This asked people which of several identities "apply to you", instead of the more recent question "What ethnic group do you belong to?"[10]

Alternative terms



The term Pākehā is often used interchangeably with New Zealand European (although Pākehā can also be used to describe any non-Māori person). New Zealanders who consider "European" to be anachronistic and inadequate often prefer Pākehā, feeling that this better describes their ethnic and cultural identity. Others dislike the word Pākehā and consider it to be racist and pejorative.


The term "Palagi", pronounced Palangi, is Samoan in origin and is used in similar ways to Pākehā, usually by people of Samoan or other Pacific Island descent.

British and Irish New Zealanders

This section is about New Zealanders of British or Irish descent. For British people of New Zealand descent, see New Zealander British

See also: British people, Irish people

The New Zealand 2006 census statistics reported citizens with British (27,192), English (44,202), Scottish (15,039), Irish (12,651), Welsh (3,771) and Celtic (1,506) origins. Historically, a sense of 'Britishness' has figured prominently in the identity of many New Zealanders.[11] As late as the 1950s it was common for New Zealanders to refer to themselves as British, such as when Prime Minister Keith Holyoake described Sir Edmund Hillary's successful ascent of Mt. Everest as "[putting] the British race and New Zealand on top of the world".[12] New Zealand passports described nationals as "British Subject and New Zealand Citizen" until 1974, when this was changed to "New Zealand Citizen".[13]

While "European" identity predominates political discourse in New Zealand today, the term "British" is still used by some New Zealanders to explain their ethnic origins. Others see the term as better describing previous generations; for instance, journalist Colin James referred to "we ex-British New Zealanders" in a 2005 speech.[14] It remains a relatively uncontroversial descriptor of ancestry.

In an interview with the New Zealand Listener in 2006, the opposition leader of that time, Don Brash, made the following statement:

British immigrants fit in here very well. My own ancestry is all British. New Zealand values are British values, derived from centuries of struggle since Magna Carta. Those things make New Zealand the society it is.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b QuickStats About Culture and Identity: European, Statistics New Zealand.
  2. ^ a b c d QuickStats About Culture and Identity - Tables, 2006 Census, Statistics New Zealand.
  3. ^ Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand: New Zealand Peoples
  4. ^ Statistics New Zealand Highlights: Ethnic groups, birthplace and languages spoken
  5. ^ Middleton, Julie (March 01, 2006). "Email urges 'New Zealander' for Census". New Zealand Herald (APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  6. ^ Statistics New Zealand. (2009). Draft report of a review of the official ethnicity statistical standard: proposals to address issues relating to the ‘New Zealander’ response. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. ISBN 978-0-478-31583-7. Accessed 27 April 2009.
  7. ^ "A New Zealander response and like responses such as 'Kiwi' or 'NZer' are coded to a separate category, 'New Zealander', at level four in the Other Ethnicity group." Classification and coding process, New Zealand Classification of Ethnicity 2005, Statistics New Zealand. Accessed 2008-01-04.
  8. ^ Statistics New Zealand (3 August 2007). "Who responded as 'New Zealander'?". Press release. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  9. ^ Statistics New Zealand (27 April 2009). "Feedback sought on ethnicity statistics". Press release. Retrieved 2009-04-27.  
  10. ^ Editorial: A question to define who you are, New Zealand Herald, 2 May 2009. Retrieved on 4 May 2009.
  11. ^ Te Ara: New Zealanders: New Zealand Peoples: Britons
  12. ^ Population Conference 1997, New Zealand: Panel Discussion 3c - Population Change And International Linkages, Phillip Gibson, Chief Executive, Asia 2000 Foundation
  13. ^ Carl Walrond. 'Kiwis overseas - Staying in Britain', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13 April 2007.
  14. ^ The Pacific-ation of New Zealand. Colin James's speech to the Sydney Institute, 3 February 2005. Accessed 2007-06-05.
  15. ^ New Zealand Listener: So who do we keep out?, Bruce Ansley, September 2-8 2006

External links


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