More than a third of all Maori today are children, which
could lead to a rise in racial intermarriage and other
changes that could shape the country, a demographer says.
The Te Ao Marama report, published by Statistics New Zealand
every two years, takes a Maori perspective on topics such as
te reo, population, cultural vitality, health, income and the
The report shows that 690,000 Maori make up 15 per cent of
New Zealand's population -- and a third of them are under 15
years of age.
Massey University pro vice-chancellor Paul Spoonley said the
fact Maori on average were much younger than Pakeha would
likely present challenges for the education system and
"What I think many don't understand is what it means for
labour supply because that under-15 population also comprises
a larger proportion of the prime working-age population over
the next decade."
He expects the Maori population to top 800,000 by 2026 --
about the same time the Asian population reaches parity with
it -- and inter-marriage, possibly between both cultures, was
"The question I'm not clear about is how will that play out
in terms of Maori and Asian communities, but if the past is
any guide then we will see a lot of interesting
Waikato University demographer Tahu Kukutai said the Maori
natural population increase -- or more births than deaths --
was greater than it was for Pakeha or Asians.
"But we don't have the option of replenishing our population
with migrants so we have limits to growth," she said.
About half of all Maori adults partnered with non-Maori and
there had been a long history of intermarriage although Maori
retained their distinctive institutions and practices.
The Te Ao Marama statistics showed 257,500 Maori adults were
able to speak more than a few words or phrases in te reo
compared with 153,500 in 2001.
Life expectancy for Maori men at 72.77 years in 2012 and
76.49 for females
had also increased. The snapshot showed overall life
satisfaction among Maori was high with 89 per cent saying
they were happy.
But it found unemployment rates (12.8 per cent in 2013) that
were more than double that of non-Maori (6.2 per cent in
Tertiary education participation was falling and Maori median
weekly income ($486 in June 2013) continued to lag behind
others on $575.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples this was "a major area
of inequality between Maori and the rest of New Zealand".
He said the Government had invested into initiatives such as
cadetships and apprenticeships and educational initiatives.
"We need to be working on all fronts to turn these statistics
around," he said.
- By James Ihaka of the New Zealand Herald