Overview of historic and future ethnic diversity, and location of ethnic groups.

Ethnic Composition: Past, Current and Future

The city's population is becoming more ethnically diverse.

Between 1996 and 2013, all of the major ethnic groupings in Christchurch City increased as a proportion of the city's population, except for the 'European or Other' ethnic group. It is important to note that people can and do identify with more than one ethnic group- where this is the case they have been included in each ethnic population.

chart of ethnic composition since 1996

Historic and projected ethnic populations, 1996-2043

The 'European or Other' ethnic group is the largest in Christchurch City, with 85% of the population identifying with this ethnic group in 2013. As a proportion of the city's total population, this ethnic group is the only one that is projected to decrease as a proportion of the city's total by 2038 (77%).

The Asian ethnic group surpassed Maori in 2006 to become the second largest ethnic group in the city and in 2013 comprised 10% of the city's population. This group is projected to more than double between 2013 and 2038 (from 36,000 to 79,500); the largest numeric and percentage increase of all ethnic groups. The Asian ethnic group will make up 19% of the City's population in 2038.

Between 2013 and 2038, the Maori population is projected to increase by 22,500 to reach 54,000 (an increase of 71%). This group will make up 13% of the City's population in 2038, compared with 9% in 2013.

Between 2013 and 2038, the Pacific ethnic group is projected to double in number to reach 23,400. This group is projected to remain the smallest major ethnic group in Christchurch, comprising 5% of the City’s population (compared with 3% in 2013).

Location of Ethnic Groups

There are some noticeable patterns in the geographic distribution of ethnic groups throughout the city.


The European ethnic group is the largest ethnic group in the city and high proportions are found throughout Christchurch City and its surrounding districts. The highest proportions (over 95% of an area unit's population identifying with this ethnic group) are located around the Port Hills, Lyttelton Harbour and in Banks Peninsula. In the wider Greater Christchurch area, Taiptapu and Prebbleton in the Selwyn District, and Pegasus and Ohoka in Waimakariri District, also have very high proportions of this ethnic group.

European map

European ethnic distribution, 2013


The Asian ethnic group makes up a high percentage of the population in many suburbs located in the west of the city. There are 12 area units where at least 20% of the population are Asian. These include Riccarton and Upper Riccarton, Ilam, Avonhead, Wigram and Addington.

map of Asian ethnic distribution

Asian ethnic distribution, 2013


There are 3 area units where at least 20% of the population are Maori: Aranui, and the largely rural area units of Port Levy and Paparua. Other areas with high proportions of Maori are mainly in the east of the city (Phillipstown, Avonside, Linwood, Bromley and Bexley) and in the outer western area of the city (Hornby, Templeton, Hillmorton and Riccarton South).

Maori ethnic map

Maori ethnic distribution, 2013


The area units with the highest proportions (at least 8%) of Pacific peoples are mainly in the east of the city and include Aranui, Bromley, Linwood East, Woolston West and Bexley. Hillmorton in the south west of the city also has a high proportion of Pacific peoples.

Pacific ethnic map

Pacific ethnic distribution, 2013

Population Pyramids

Population pyramids for 2013 and 2038 (providing age and gender breakdowns) for the four main ethnic groupings can be found in the 'Ageing Population' component of the Facts, Stats and Figures monitoring programme.

Information about data used

Statistics New Zealand defines ethnicity as the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can identify with more than one ethnicity. Ethnicity is different from ancestry, birthplace, and nationality. For example, people can identify with Māori ethnicity even though they may not be descended from a Māori ancestor. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with Māori ethnicity even though they are descended from a Māori ancestor.

Ethnic composition and location:

Ethnicity is a multiple response variable. This means an individual can be counted in more than one ethnic group. 

Public discussion about the term 'New Zealander' occurred during the months leading up to the 2006 Census. A media campaign encouraged people to write in a New Zealander response in the census. This campaign impacted 2006 ethnicity data with 'New Zealander' responses rising from approximately 80,000 (2.4 percent) in 2001 to just under 430,000 people (11.1 percent) in 2006, making it the third largest ethnic group in the 2006 Census. In 2013 there was very little public discussion about the 'New Zealander' term, and the number of 'New Zealander' responses dropped back to just under 66,000 (1.6 percent of the census usually resident population).

Note: This time series is irregular. Because the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011, the gap between this census and the last one is seven years. The change in the data between 2006 and 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. Be careful when comparing trends.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings(external link)

Ethnic projections:

Projections are available for four broad and overlapping ethnic groups: 'European or Other (including New Zealander)', Māori, Asian, and Pacific. Each ethnic population consists of all people who identify with ethnicities within that ethnic group. People who identify with more than one ethnicity are included in each ethnic population they identify with. The projections are based on different combinations of fertility, mortality, migration, and inter-ethnic mobility assumptions. These projections are not predictions. The projections should be used as an indication of the overall trend, rather than as exact forecasts

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Subnational Ethnic Projections, medium series, 2013(base)-2038(external link)