Identifying as New Zealander or Pākehā

I am a part of a growing trend to identify as a New Zealander and/or Pākehā. If ethnicity questions don’t include either option I put myself as ‘other’ and write New Zealander if there is a box for nominated ethnicity.

The 2018 census had a category of ‘European’, which I strongly object to for myself, I have no affinity with Europe. I put myself down as ‘other’, but many herd identified as from the other side of the world.

Totals from the 2018 census:

  • European 70.2% (74% in 2013)
  • Māori 16.5% (up from 14.9%)
  • Asian 15.1% (up from 11.8%)
  • Pacific peoples 8.1% (up from 7.4%)
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 1.5% (up from 1.2%)
  • Other 1.2% (down from 1.7%)

So I was part of a very small minority.

But in a recent  Stuff-Massey survey of over 70,000 people the numbers were quite different.

  • NZ European 49.73%
  • New Zealander 32.88%
  • Pākehā 11.86%
  • Asian 2.43%
  • Māori 2.29%
  • Pacifika 0,81%

While the sample was large it was self selected so may not represent a cross section of New Zealand, but this is indicative of a trend for many people to identify as a New Zealander, Pākehā (or probably Kiwi if that was an option).

Stuff – Identity Politics and Hyphenated Identities: What do New Zealanders really want for our political future?

The 2020 Stuff-Massey survey is not representative. It under-represents people of colour, and over-represents whites, and older people.

I’m not sure how they worked that out. It’s possible that many ‘people of colour’ identify primarily as a New Zealander.

So who are the “New Zealanders”, who chose not to qualify their nationality with ethnicity? They are demographically diverse, being only slightly older, more male, more often from the South Island, and less affluent than the overall sample. But the real meaning of this category label is in its association with political attitudes.

Self-identified New Zealanders tended to be National Party supporters, who advocated taking a cautious and sceptical stance towards climate change, while Pākehā were Labour supporters in favour of taking urgent action in response to climate change. NZ Europeans were in between, with 39 per cent for National and 43 per cent for Labour, and they were slightly more in favour of urgent action on climate change (39 per cent) compared to being cautious and sceptical (36 per cent).

Overall, there may be just as much, if not more diversity in the political opinions of different groups of white people in NZ compared to between ethnic groups. For in their attitude profiles, Pasifika resembled Pākehā, Māori looked like Pākehā or NZ Europeans, while Asians were similar to NZ Europeans or New Zealanders, depending on the issue.

That suggests a lot more diversity in opinions here than a few generalised ethnic boxes.

I think that in the census and on official forms we should be able to identify as being a New Zealander. ‘European’ is an out of date classification that could be seen by some as colonialist – I have put that in here as I see it as the best chance of getting a foreign box dropped from ethnicity questions.

Census 2018 – religious affiliation diversity

The 2018 census data on religion shows a very diverse range of beliefs across about half the population, with the other half of those prepared to state a religion saying ‘No religion’ :

  • No religion 47.8%
  • Christianity (many variants) 36.7%
  • Hinduism 2.6%
  • Maori religion 1.3%
  • Islam 1.3%
  • Buddhism 1.1%
  • New Age etc 0.4%
  • Judaism 0.1%
  • Other 1.9%
  • Object to stating 6.6%


Chart source: Nick Thompson @sutfor

Religious affiliation Census usually resident population count
No Religion 2,264,601
ACTS Churches 5,460
Adventist nec 54
Adventist nfd 378
Agnosticism 6,516
Ahmadiyya Muslim 369
Anglican 314,913
Animist 273
Arise Church 1,641
Arya Samaj 36
Assemblies of God 14,883
Associated Churches of Christ 1,176
Assyrian Orthodox 327
Atheism 7,068
Baha’i 2,925
Baptist nec 12
Baptist nfd 35,967
Bible Baptist 846
Born Again 33,486
Brethren nec 147
Brethren nfd 1,551
Buddhism nec 51
Buddhism nfd 44,355
Cao Dai 6
Catholicism nec 1,086
Catholicism nfd 173,016
Chaldean Catholic 534
Chinese Christian 6,660
Chinese Presbyterian 327
Chinese Religions nec 18
Chinese Religions nfd 276
Christadelphian 1,758
Christian and Missionary Alliance 2,094
Christian Fellowship 18,042
Christian nec 642
Christian nfd 307,926
Christian Outreach 1,554
Christian Revival Crusade 576
Christian Science 639
Church of Christ nfd 1,302
Church of God 1,458
Church of Scientology 321
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster 4,248
City Impact Church 441
Commonwealth Covenant Church 3
Confucianism 99
Congregational 3,513
Conservative Judaism 327
Cook Island Congregational 1,698
Coptic Orthodox 546
Deism 150
Destiny Church 1,722
Druid 189
Ecumenical 69
Elim 3,018
Equippers Church 705
Evangelical 4,554
Falun Gong 105
Full Gospel 1,017
Fundamentalist 87
Greek Orthodox 3,162
Hare Krishna 645
Hinduism nec 882
Hinduism nfd 121,644
Humanism 663
Independent Baptist 1,218
Independent Evangelical Churches 750
Independent Pentecostal 954
Islam nec 36
Islam nfd 57,276
Jainism 612
Japanese Religion nec 18
Japanese Religion nfd 33
Jedi 20,409
Jehovah’s Witnesses 20,061
Jesus Follower 1,575
Judaism nfd 3,348
Korean Christian 3,543
Korean Presbyterian 2,820
Latter-day Saints 54,123
Liberal Catholic 2,115
Libertarianism 9
Lutheran 3,585
Mahayana Buddhism 1,026
Mahikari 138
Maoism 6
Māori Religions, Beliefs and Philosophies nec 1,584
Māori Religions, Beliefs and Philosophies nfd 3,699
Maronite Catholic 96
Marxism 12
Melkite Catholic 33
Methodist nec 3,657
Methodist nfd 52,734
Metropolitan Community Church 63
Nature and Earth Based Religions nec 648
Nature and Earth Based Religions nfd 807
Nazarene 564
New Age nfd 363
New Life 3,132
Nichiren Buddhism 768
Open Brethren 5,640
Orthodox Judaism 792
Orthodox nec 1,440
Orthodox nfd 4,503
Other Church of Christ and Churches of Christ nec 780
Other New Age Religions nec 1,311
Other Religions, Beliefs and Philosophies nec 297
Other Religions, Beliefs and Philosophies nfd 1,434
Pagan 2,730
Paimarire 1,194
Pantheist 453
Pentecostal nec 1,911
Pentecostal nfd 22,296
Plymouth or Exclusive Brethren 6,822
Presbyterian 221,199
Protestant nfd 8,544
Rastafarianism 1,707
Ratana 43,821
Rationalism 9
Reformed 5,418
Reformed Baptist 987
Reformed Judaism 807
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) 954
Revival Centres 180
Ringatū 12,336
Roman Catholic 295,743
Russian Orthodox 2,952
Salvation Army 7,929
Samoan Congregational 7,932
Satanism 1,149
Serbian Orthodox 936
Seventh Day Adventist 17,799
Shi’a 651
Shinto 387
Sikhism 40,908
Socialism 15
Spiritualist 8,262
Sufi 162
Sunni 2,961
Syro-Malabar Catholic 483
Taoism 1,098
Tenrikyo 12
Theism 2,607
Theravada Buddhism 4,851
Tongan Methodist 11,169
Ukrainian Catholic 39
Unification Church (Moonist) 93
Unitarian 354
United Pentecostal 690
Uniting/Union Church 3,624
Vajrayana Buddhism 327
Vineyard Christian Fellowship 3,399
Wesleyan Methodist 4,623
Wiccan 1,482
Worldwide Church of God 279
Yoga 327
Zen Buddhism 1,401
Zoroastrian 1,068
Object to answering 312,795
Total people stated 4,699,755

nfd=not further defined

Stats NZ

Census failures and political accusations

The 2018 census has been a bit of a disaster, with the first use of extensive online responses, and a large reduction on the number of people who took part. This had led to significant delays in releasing what data they have gathered as Stats NZ has been doing what they can to fill the gaps in data.

The problems may impact on things like health funding, education planning and electoral boundary fixing.

And political accusations are flying, with National blaming the Minister of Statistics James Shaw, and Shaw and PM Jacinda Ardern blaming the last National government for underfunding the budget.

But this has been questioned – the 2013 census budget was $72 million, while the 2018 census budget was $117 million.

Planning for the census started while National were still in Government, but the actual census was done after Labour-Greens-NZ First took over.

RNZ – Census 2018: Stats NZ sets September release for ‘robust’ data

Stats NZ says it has plugged enough of the gaps in last year’s census to be able to start releasing data from September, but some data – including iwi statistics – are too incomplete to be regarded as official statistics.

Using a methodology that combines 89 percent of real census data and 11 percent of other government administrative data, Stats NZ said it now had records for 4.7 million people in the dataset.

In a statement, government statistician Liz MacPherson said the data now met the quality criteria for population structure information, meaning it could be used for planning, population-based funding for DHBs, and electorate boundaries.

“This means Stats NZ will use 2018 Census data to update the official population estimates and projections that many organisations use for their planning,” Ms MacPherson said.

Earlier this month, Ms MacPherson admitted that nearly one in seven people did not complete the census. The low response rate has delayed the data release twice.

“The release of data has been delayed twice because of the complex and careful work required to lift the quality of the census dataset,” Ms MacPherson said.

She said she wanted to make it clear this dataset was reliable, robust, and based on maths, not guesswork.

While government records helped to fill in gaps, Stats NZ said it could not be used for all the census topics and as a result some data might not be released as official statistics.

Newsroom:  Māori miss out in Census 2018

Data relating to iwi affiliation, for example, will not be available for the 2018 Census.

A lack of iwi affiliation data could have an impact on Treaty settlements.

A Te Arawhiti spokesperson told Newsroom it used iwi affiliation to build understanding of the groups it was negotiating with and to create regional profiles and help the public sector with iwi information.

The data was also a “secondary” factor the Crown considered when developing its Treaty settlement offers.

The spokesperson said Te Arawhiti would work with Statistics NZ and iwi to gather the best usable data from 2018.

Data on Māori ethnicity had been collected accurately, and would be able to be used – just not at the level of iwi.

The Government has announced extra funding, and has slammed the last Government for cutting funding.

James Shaw:  Stats Minister confirms funding for Census fix

Extra funding has been confirmed in this year’s Budget to fix issues arising from the 2018 Census and to ensure the next one is the best it can be, the Minister of Statistics announced today.

“Stats NZ has now confirmed it will provide reliable, quality 2018 census data to calculate how many electorates will be needed for next year’s General Election and to revise electorate boundaries where necessary,” James Shaw said.

“It had to delay other work and re-allocate funds to do it.  As a result there’s a shortfall of $5.76 million needed to complete the delayed work, and that’s being covered in this year’s Budget,” James Shaw said.

“There’s also Budget approval this year of $10.36 million to enable Stats NZ to get ahead of the next census. The money will develop the business case for the 2023 Census and start development work on it.

“The previous National-led Government decided to shift the Census to a mostly online survey and, at the same time, directed Stats NZ to cut costs over two census cycles,” Mr Shaw said.

Moving to a mostly online survey has been contentious. It appears that not enough effort was put into making it easy for people to still do it offline.

But the cost cutting accusations have been challenged.

The way data was collated was changing, and that rate of change is being accelerated.

Newsroom:  Annual census could replace five-year form-filling

The five-yearly national census could become an annual affair as the official statistics agency uses more of the data constantly collected by government agencies rather than rely on declining response rates from individual citizens.

The agency had been testing and refining models for use of administrative data for seven years already. It had intended to use an increasing amount of such data from the 2023 census onwards and instead accelerated its modelling processes to create a statistically robust 2018 census result, McPherson said.

Some 1.2 percent fewer people participated in the census than anticipated. Data gaps left by people not completely filling in their forms meant partial information equivalent to around 500,000 citizens was drawn from administrative data sources rather than census forms filled in on census night, March 6 last year.

“The team at Stats NZ has risen to the challenge and delivered a new way of confidently combining the strengths of census and administrative records to create the 2018 census dataset.

“There are now records for approximately 4.7 million people in the census dataset. The number of records is 1.2 percent, or 58,000 people, less than our best estimate of the population on Census Day 6 March 2018. In 2013, the official census undercount was 2.4 percent, or 103,800 people.

McPherson said the 2018 data was robust enough to allow the re-setting of electoral boundaries for the 2020 election and the population funding models used by public hospitals to determine their budgets, contrary to speculation from critics of the census process.

Change was inevitable. The transition seems to have been stuffed up.


Census Tuesday, and that ethnicity question

Census forms – online or old fashioned paper – are due to be completed by tomorrow, Tuesday 8 March 2018.

If you want paper forms then it’s a bit late to request them given how slow post has become these days.

I did mine online last night:

It was quick and simple. I had to check which side of an earnings band division I was in but otherwise most answers were easy to answer.

The only contentious question was on ‘ethnic group’. There was no standard option for me so I had to tick ‘Other’. I then stated ‘New Zealander’.

Going by the 2013 census that puts me in a small minority, just 2.1% of people in Otago were New Zealanders, and 1.6% nationwide.

Stats NZ on Ethnicity:

Statistics about ethnicity give information by the ethnic groups that people identify with or feel they belong to.

Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation. It is not a measure of race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. Ethnicity is self perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group.

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • a common proper name
  • one or more elements of common culture, for example religion, customs, or language
  • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
  • a shared sense of common origins or ancestry, and
  • a common geographic origin.

Apparently we all have a common geographic origin – Africa. But I don’t identify with Africa at all. and I don’t self perceive a European identity or belonging either.

How religious is your neighbourhood?

NZ Herald has a nifty interactive map that you can drill down into to see how religious your neighbourhood is.

See the oddly (and possibly inaccurately) headlined God and money: Interactive map shows rich suburbs have most atheists.

A Herald interactive map, based on 2013 Census data and the New Zealand Deprivation Index, shows that religious New Zealanders live mainly in poor suburbs, with rich Kiwis increasingly turning their backs on God and religion.

The number of Christians decreased to 1,906,398 (48.9 per cent of people with religious affiliation) from 2,082,942 (55.6 per cent) in 2006.

Zooming into Dunedin and drilling down into my own area I get:

Area Unit – Ravensbourne
Deprivation Index: 5
% No Religion: 52.7
% Christian: 37.1
% Hindu: 1
% Buddhist: 1
% Muslim: 0.5
% Jewish: 0.3
% New Age: 0.8
Total people stated: 1155

It looks like I’m relatively deprived of neighbourhood bible bashers (and quiet believers).

One of the poorer areas of Dunedin:

Area Unit – St Kilda Central
Deprivation Index: 9
% No Religion: 47.3
% Christian: 46.8
% Hindu: 0.4
% Buddhist: 1.1
% Muslim: 0.2
% Jewish: 0.2
% New Age: 0.8
Total people stated: 1578

But this proves the deprivation theory wrong:

Area Unit – Vauxhall
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 43.7
% Christian: 50.6
% Hindu: 0.6
% Buddhist: 1.3
% Muslim: 0.6
% Jewish: 0.1
% New Age: 0.5
Total people stated: 3699

And also in Invercargill:

Area Unit – Waianiwa
Deprivation Index: 2
% No Religion: 42.2
% Christian: 54.7
% Hindu: 0.5
% Buddhist: 0.2
% Muslim: 0
% Jewish: 0.3
% New Age: 0
Total people stated: 1842

The Herald probably didn’t test their theory south of the Bombay Hills.

Nor in Auckland properly:

Area Unit – Herne Bay
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 46.8
% Christian: 48.5
% Hindu: 0.8
% Buddhist: 0.9
% Muslim: 0.2
% Jewish: 1
% New Age: 0.3
Total people stated: 2592

Area Unit – Waiata (includes Remuera)
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 31.6
% Christian: 61.7
% Hindu: 1.2
% Buddhist: 2.2
% Muslim: 0.4
% Jewish: 0.9
% New Age: 0.1
Total people stated: 4068