The city's population is becoming more ethnically diverse.

Ethnicity is the principal measure of cultural identity in New Zealand. Changes in the proportion of residents who identify with each ethnic group provides an indication of how ethnically diverse the City’s population is becoming. 

Information collected on ethnicity is used to inform, plan, and evaluate services and policies by a wide range of organisations, local authorities and government agencies. 

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. Where this is the case they have been included in each ethnic population.

Topic Status Key findings
Ethnic Diversity Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

Between 1996 and 2013, all of the major ethnic groupings(external link) in Christchurch City increased as a proportion of the city's population (except for the 'European or Other' ethnic group).

The European ethnic group will continue to decrease as a proportion of the population, and by 2038 is projected to make up 76% of the city's population (from 85% in 2013). Further information.

Ethnic Median Age Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

The European ethnic group had the highest median age (almost 40 years in 2013) and this will continue through to 2038.

The Asian ethnic group is projected to have the largest increase in median age between 2013 and 2038, increasing by 6.4 years to reach a median of 37 years. Further information.

Ethnic Age Structures Snapshot

The Maori and Pacific ethnic groups have large proportions of younger people and a very small number of people in the older age groups.

The European ethnic group has higher proportions of middle-aged and older people than other ethnic groups. Further information.

Location of Ethnic Groups Snapshot
There are some noticeable patterns in the geographic distribution of ethnic groups throughout the city. Parts of the east tend to have higher concentrations of Maori and Pacific Peoples, while parts of the west tends to have higher concentrations of people identifying as Asian. Further information.

Ethnic composition, historic and future

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(external link) to decrease by 2038 (decreasing to 76%).

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 85,000); the largest numeric and percentage increase of all ethnic groups, making up 19% of the City's population in 2038.

Between 2013 and 2038, the Maori population is projected to increase by 23,400 to reach 55,000 (an increase of 74%). This group will make up 12% of the City's population in 2038, compared with 9% in 2013.

Between 2013 and 2038, the Pacific ethnic group is projected to nearly double in number to reach 22,000. 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).

Ethnic median age

The 'European or Other' ethnic group(external link) has a higher median age than the City's overall median (39.8 years compared with 38 years in 2013), and will continue this trend over the next 25 years. This group's median is projected to be 41.9 years by 2038, an increase of 2.1 years.

The Maori and Pacific ethnic groups each have median ages around 15 years lower than the City's median at 38 years:

  • The Maori ethnic group will see its median age increase by 3.2 years, from 23.8 years in 2013 to 27 years by 2038.
  • The Pacific ethnic group will see its median age increase by 1.3 years, from 22.9 years in 2013 to 24.2 years by 2038.
  • The Asian ethnic group will see its median age increase by 6.4 years, from 30.6 years in 2013 to 37 years by 2038.

European age structure

The European or 'Other' ethnic group(external link) is older and ageing, as shown by the 'bulge' in the middle and upper parts of the pyramid in 2013 and the large numbers aged 50 years and over by 2038. This ethnic group has, and will continue to have, the lowest fertility rates out of all ethnic groups. The European or 'Other' ethnic group will experience a decrease in the number of children and younger adults (a combined decrease of 11,000 aged under 25 years) between 2013 and 2038; the only ethnic group to do so.

Maori and Pacific age structure

The age-sex structure(external link) of both the Maori and Pacific ethnic groups is very similar. The structures resemble a typical 'pyramid', indicating a relatively youthful population, with fewer older people. The age structure will continue to be very pyramid-like by 2038. The Pacific ethnic group especially will continue to have large increases in the under 25 year age groups. These two ethnic groups have, and will continue to have, the highest fertility rates and lowest life expectancies(external link) out of all ethnic groups.

Asian age structure

The Asian age-sex structure is largely a reflection of immigration policy since the 1990s, which favours younger to middle aged immigrants who can contribute to the economy. This age structure also reflects the large number of young Asian students who come to Christchurch to study.

The Asian ethnic group had one third of its population aged 20 - 34 years in 2013, compared to 21% for all of Christchurch City. This ethnic group is ageing (it also has the longest life expectancy out of all ethnic groups), however there is also a large amount of growth in the population aged under 15 years.

Location of ethnic groups

  • There are 3 area units where at least 20% of the population identify as Maori: Aranui, and the largely rural area units of Port Levy and Paparua. Other areas with higher 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).
  • The Pacific ethnic group makes up a high percentage of the population in many suburbs located in the east of the city. Area units where at least 8% of the population identify as Pacific 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.

  • 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 identify as Asian. These include Riccarton and Upper Riccarton, Ilam, Avonhead, Wigram and Addington.


    Further information

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