New Zealand has become a melting pot of more than 200
different ethnicities, most of us are pretty happy with our
lives and we love bananas, a year of Government surveys has
Officially 2013 was the International Year of Statistics, so
it was fitting that our first census in seven years was
carried out, along with a host of other studies, to get to
grips with what life is like in the 21st century.
The census, postponed from 2011 after the Canterbury
earthquakes, showed New Zealand has become a melting pot of
different ethnicities and cultures, with a quarter of the
population born overseas. The number of Asian ethnic groups
have doubled since 2001, and Hindi has overtaken French to
become the fourth most spoken language, behind English, Te
Reo and Samoan.
A national census was a "major tool" for telling the story of
a country, Government statistician Liz MacPherson said.
"Census information helps create a picture of New Zealand
communities and provides an important snapshot of us as a
country, where we live, who we are, what we do for work,
where we go to school and so on," she said.
"Statistics are more than just numbers - they help to inform
decision making across all levels of society, from economic
and employment areas through to social and environmental
This year Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) also released the
results from the General Society Survey; a study of social
and economic well-being.
It showed 87 per cent of Kiwis were satisfied or very
satisfied with their lives - a figure above the OECD average.
Of those surveyed, one-fifth said they were in good health,
had enough money, good housing and did not feel lonely.
One of the more unusual discoveries SNZ sifted from its data
this year was that Kiwi households spend more on bananas than
on any other fruit, with an average spend of $88 a year. It's
the equivalent of each New Zealander importing 18kg of the
popular snack every year, or roughly two bananas a week.
The year ahead promises to be just as fact-filled, with more
census data due to be released - housing, culture and
identity, and iwi profiles are among the results still to be
The results of Te Kupenga, a survey of Maori well-being, and
the New Zealand Disability Survey, which were also carried
out during 2013, will be released next year.
SNZ has also been delving into the archives to compare 2013
Ethnicity data wasn't collected 100 years ago, but records
show that among the 1.4 million-strong population, 44,588
people had moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom,
Australia, and other countries, Ms MacPherson said.
In those days it was almost as tough getting through customs
and immigration as it is now.
"The Immigration Restriction Act prohibits the landing of
lunatics or idiots, persons suffering from a dangerous or
loathsome contagious disease, certain convicted criminals,
and any person other than of British birth who fails to write
out and sign, in any European language, a prescribed form of
application," records from the time say.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ