Diversity on the rise across Canterbury, latest data shows

The Church Corner Sunson Asian Market. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Church Corner Sunson Asian Market. Photo: Geoff Sloan
In 1991, only 594 individuals classed as either Middle Eastern, Latin American or African lived in Canterbury.

The latest data released from the 2018 census shows that number has increased by 852 per cent to 5655.

The Maori and Pasifika populations within the region have also shown substantial growth between 1991 and 2018. There were 22005 individuals of Maori ethnicity recorded in 1991 compared to 37938 in 2018, a 72 per cent increase. The Pasifika population has grown 110 per cent, going from 5835 people in 1991 to 12279 in 2018.

The Asian population has also increased by 658 per cent over 27 years, going from 6993 people in 1991 to 53034 in 2018.

However, the most significant increase has been to the ‘other’ category with an increase of 22,060 per cent from the 30 people recorded in 1991 to 6648 in 2018.

Gamal Fouda. Photo: Supplied
Gamal Fouda. Photo: Supplied
Al Noor Mosque imam Gamal Fouda, who moved to New Zealand from Egypt in 2003, said a lot of skilled migrants from Egypt moved to the region to work in the IT industry.

He said in particular Christchurch’s flat landscape and amenities such as Hagley Park also proved to be very popular amongst migrants from the Middle East and the north of Africa.

“Christchurch is not as big as Auckland or as small as Palmerston North, it is not too crowded but not too quiet,” he said.

City councillor and chairman of the multicultural committee Jimmy Chen said he had witnessed a steady increase in the region’s diversity since moving to Canterbury from Taiwan 24 years ago.

Jimmy Chen. Photo: Supplied
Jimmy Chen. Photo: Supplied
“New Zealand is quite a friendly and democratic country, people coming here can make their dreams come true,” he said.

He thought Canterbury’s low density compared to other places such as Auckland was what set it apart from other areas.

Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies and Canterbury University professor of anthropology and sociology Steven Ratuva said the lifestyle the region had to offer was very attractive for Pacific Islanders.

“There are a number of factors [attracting Pacific Islanders to Canterbury], one of them is that it is much cheaper than Auckland. Auckland is the centre for Pacific communities in New Zealand, but it is a lot more of a relaxing lifestyle down here which is better for the children and their education,” he said.

Steven Ratuva. Photo: Supplied
Steven Ratuva. Photo: Supplied

Canterbury University associate professor of history and anthropology Lyndon Fraser said how Covid-19 would impact migration to the region in the short and medium-term, remained unclear.

“We as a region had such momentum before the pandemic and globally the movement of people had such momentum, but we just don’t know what is going to happen with the current situation.

"If things get back to normal eventually, and that might be two or three years down the track, we could expect similar amounts and mixes of people to come again,” he said.

Fraser said the rate at which diversity would continue to grow would depend on a lot of things such as the introduction of a vaccine, whether New Zealand chooses to adopt immigration restrictions and how other country’s cope.

Lyndon Fraser. Photo: Supplied
Lyndon Fraser. Photo: Supplied

Mayor Lianne Dalziel thought the region’s diversity would serve as a strength in responding to challenges posed from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The journey into the unknown where we are going now in the post-Covid-19 environment, knowing that we have people with different life experiences to draw on to help develop our recovery thinking, I think that is going to be vitally important,” she said.

BY THE NUMBERS
 
Total population:
  • 1991 – 438,171
  • 1996 – 468,042
  • 2001 – 481,431
  • 2006 – 521,832
  • 2013 – 438,744
  • 2018 – 490,530
European
  • 1991 – 409,239
  • 1996 – 422,892
  • 2001 – 430,125
  • 2006 – 393,222
  • 2013 – 364,962
  • 2018 – 405,483
Maori
  • 1991 – 22,005
  • 1996 – 31,011
  • 2001 – 31,635
  • 2006 – 36,669
  • 2013 – 27,750
  • 2018 – 37,938
Pacific Islander
  • 1991 – 5835
  • 1996 – 7752
  • 2001 – 8622
  • 2006 – 10,923
  • 2013 – 8289
  • 2018 – 12,279
Middle Eastern/Latin American/African
  • 1991 – 594
  • 1996 – 1581
  • 2001 – 2256
  • 2006 – 3360
  • 2013 – 3270
  • 2018 – 5655
Asian
  • 1991 – 6993
  • 1996 – 14,841
  • 2001 – 19,428
  • 2006 – 29,172
  • 2013 – 28,359
  • 2018 – 53,034

Other

  • 1991 – 30
  • 1996 – 66
  • 2001 – 105
  • 2006 – 7254
  • 2013 – 8322
  • 2018 – 6648
 

 

suv-updated-banner.jpg

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter