Māori mobility in New Zealand

Where are Māori moving to?

Regional migration

Between 2001 and 2006, 38 percent of the Māori population who had been living in New Zealand in 2001 had not moved and a further 44 percent moved within the same regional council area. Inter-regional movers accounted for 18 percent of the Māori population aged five years and older who had not been overseas in 2001.

Auckland region dominates less for Māori than for the Pacific or Asian populations because of the lower proportion of the Māori population living in that region (just under one-quarter, in contrast to two-thirds for the other two ethnic groupings). However, Māori in Auckland are more mobile than either Pacific or Asian. Between 2001 and 2006, only 39 percent of the Māori population in Auckland who had been living in New Zealand in 2001 had not moved, whereas 48 percent had moved within the region. The exchange of people between Auckland and other regions was the largest numerically, but only marginally the largest as a percentage of the population, of all regions. Māori are much more likely than other groups to move inter-regionally. Auckland lost 13 percent of its Māori population to other regions, while other regions contributed 14 percent of the Auckland Māori population.

Movement between other regions was significant for Māori. Auckland region accounted for only 18 percent of the inflows in inter-regional migration, not far behind the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regions (15 and 12 percent respectively). Auckland contributed 20 percent of the total inter-regional outflows.

Figure 5

Graph, Māori Ethnic Group Inter-regional Migrantion.

Mobility within Auckland region

Auckland region is home to 24 percent of people of Māori ethnicity living in New Zealand. While non-movers and movers within the same territorial authority (TA)account for the majority of the population, there was significant movement between the areas, with net gains to each of the TAs other than Auckland City.

Figure 6

Graph, Movement of Māori Ethnic Group Between Territorial Authorities Within Auckland Region.

When we consider the proportion of the Māori population in each TA, we see that Papakura and Rodney Districts had gained a larger proportion of their population from other TAs but also contributed a larger proportion of their population than other TAs.

Figure 7

Graph, Movement of Māori Ethnic Group Between Territorial Authorities Within Auckland Region Percentage.

Urban-rural exchange of people

Just over half (57 percent) of Māori internal migrants who moved between 2001 and 2006 moved within or between main urban areas. The remaining 43 percent involved the exchange of people between the various urban and rural area types. The main urban areas gained more internal migrants than they lost to other area types. The majority of the net gain to main urban areas was from population moving between main urban and minor urban areas. This contrasts with small net losses to other area types. However, in general the size of the outflows is very similar to the size of the inflows, indicating a significant exchange of people between areas.

Figure 8

Graph, Māori Ethnic Group Internal Migrants Inflows and Outflows.

The significance of the exchange of people between area types becomes clear when we consider the source of internal migrants for each area type. By far the largest inflows for main urban areas were those from minor urban areas and rural areas, with much smaller contributions from secondary urban areas and rural centres. Similarly, main urban areas were by far the largest source of people moving to minor urban areas and rural areas. Movers to minor urban areas and rural areas on the peripheries of the cities make up the majority of this migration.

Figure 9

Graph, Māori Ethnic Group Internal Migrant 2006 Area Type.

Gains from overseas

International migration has a significant relationship with internal migration. People who migrate or return to New Zealand tend to settle initially in the major centres – primarily in Auckland but also in significant numbers in Christchurch and Hamilton. Many subsequently move, contributing to internal migration patterns. Similarly, other people may choose to move to another country rather than to another part of New Zealand.

An increasing number of Māori are born overseas or return to New Zealand after a period of residence overseas. While the vast majority live in main urban areas, it is noteworthy that as a percentage of the resident Māori population in 2006, almost the same percentage of people in each area had been overseas in 2001.

Table 3

People of Māori ethnicity aged five years and over
By urban-rural area type and percent overseas five years ago
2006 Census
Main urban Secondary urban Minor urban Rural centre Rural and other
Resident Māori population(1) 306,831 32,853 60,609 15,630 58,.749
Percent overseas five years ago 2.5 2.2 2.2 2.0 2.3
(1) Excludes people who did not state their address five years ago


Auckland is the key point of entry for the majority of people arriving in or returning to New Zealand. However, in 2006, Auckland accounted for only 26 percent of Māori who had been living overseas five years ago. Waikato region attracted 14 percent of those who had been overseas five years earlier, with Bay of Plenty region (11 percent) and Wellington region (10 percent) also significant destinations.

The age distribution of those who were overseas five years ago who were living in the Auckland territorial authorities shows quite distinct location preferences. Auckland City attracted more people in the young adult student and working ages than other areas, though the relationship between the 5–14 years ago group and the 30–49 years age group suggests that family migration was likely to provide people to Manukau City and Papakura District.

Figure 10

Graph, Māori Ethnic Group Who Were Overseas 5 Years Ago.

Information sources

1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 Censuses of Population and Dwellings


Please refer to Glossary.

Further information

This page is part of a web-based analytical report by Statistics New Zealand.
The report includes more than 10 topics. To see the other topics, go to the Internal Migration report introduction page.