Demographics of New Zealand’s Pacific Population

Pacific people have a considerably younger age profile than the total New Zealand population, as a comparison of figures 1.6 and 1.7 shows, with far greater proportions in the younger age groups and smaller proportions in the older age groups. Whereas 38 percent of Pacific people were aged under 15 in 2006, just 22 percent of the total population was in this age group. Conversely, just 4 percent of Pacific people were aged 65 and over, compared with 12 percent of the total population.

Figure 1.6

Graph, Age-sex pyramid of Pacific population

Figure 1.7

Graph, Age-sex pyramid of NZ population

This is also reflected in figures for median age as shown in figure 1.8. The median age of Pacific people in New Zealand in 2006 was just 21 years, compared to 36 years for the total population. The Pacific population is ageing slowly, with the median age increasing by only one year between 1986 and 2006. The Cook Islands, Tongan, and Tokelauan populations are the youngest groups, with median ages of 19. The Fijian population has the oldest age profile of the Pacific groups in New Zealand, with a median age of 24 in 2006. This reflects the higher proportion of people who are overseas-born and thus have an older age structure.

Figure 1.8

Graph, Median age of Pacific people

Pacific people who were born in New Zealand have a much younger age profile than the overseas-born. The median age of the New Zealand-born group in 2006 was just 13 years, compared with 39 years for the overseas-born. Figure 1.9 reinforces the difference in age structure between the New Zealand-born and overseas-born Pacific population. Of the Pacific people born in New Zealand, 55.4 percent were aged under 15 years. By comparison, just 11.2 percent of the overseas-born were aged under 15. Conversely, the overseas-born had considerably higher proportions in the retirement age groups, with 9.1 percent aged 65 or over, compared with just 0.2 percent of the New Zealand-born.

Figure 1.9

Graph, Age distribution of NZ-born and overseas born Pacific population

These different age distributions have implications for the makeup of the Pacific labour force in New Zealand. With far greater proportions of the overseas-born being of working age (80 percent compared to 44 percent of the New Zealand-born), they are more strongly represented in the labour force than in the total Pacific population.