Future Demographic Trends for Māori | Part One: Population Size, Growth and Age Structure

Future Demographic Trends for Māori – Part One (pd…
01 Jan 2016
Future Demographic Trends for Māori – Part Two
01 Apr 2018

This series provides a range of baseline population statistics, trends and projections for Māori. Together the three reports cover ten demographic issues:

  • population size, growth and age structure (report one)
  • migration, urbanisation, diversity and identity (report two)
  • households and families, work and education (report three).

While the primary focus is the Māori population, the reports also seek to understand the wider national and global demographic contexts in which Māori will live. Accordingly, each demographic issue is examined in terms of its bearing on the Māori population, on the national population, and on the global population. The benefit of this approach is highlighted by Ian Pool:

In the past, common misconceptions over New Zealand’s population
patterns and trends have come from a failure to place them in a
broader context. It is to this more global perspective that one must
return, so that purely local phenomena may be better appreciated.


In recent decades, partly due to the resolution of historic injustices through the Treaty settlements process, Māori focus has shifted more intently to the future, and to the opportunities and challenges presented by an increasingly interconnected world. By shedding light on future demographic challenges, these reports aim to assist Māori, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the wider Government in efforts to advance Māori interests at home and abroad. Equally, the intention is to support the wider Government in upholding its ongoing Treaty obligations to Māori.

Key Results

For the Māori population

The current Māori ethnic population (living in New Zealand) of approximately 720,000 can be expected to grow significantly – possibly by more than 400,000 – over the next 20 years. The Māori population will grow to close to 20 per cent of New Zealand’s total population and one third of New Zealand’s children, by 2038. At the same time, the rate of growth is expected to slow.

Close to nine in ten Māori live in the North Island, and one quarter of Māori live in the Auckland region. This general pattern is expected to persist, with the largest Māori populations projected (by 2038) for Auckland, followed by Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. In terms of Māori living overseas, the vast majority are in Australia. As at 2016, more than 140,000 people with Māori ancestry lived in Australia.

The age structure for the (domestic) Māori population is youthful relative to the European/Other population, with about one third of Māori under the age of 15. While this relative youthfulness is projected to persist, the numbers of elderly Māori will steadily increase. In terms of life expectancy, the gap between Māori and non-Māori has narrowed over the last two decades, but a significant discrepancy remains.

For the New Zealand population

By 2038 the European/Other share of the population is projected to decrease, while the Māori, Pacific and Asian shares of the population are projected to increase. The Asian population is expected to outnumber the Māori population by the early-2020s. New Zealand’s population is projected to grow more slowly, and to age, across all four ethnic population groupings – with a younger age structure remaining evident amongst the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations. Between 2013 and 2043, the population growth rate will slow in all regions, cities, districts (except Buller) and Auckland local board areas. Over this same period, more than half of New Zealand’s population growth will be in Auckland. Auckland's population will expand to two million by 2033.

For the world population

The world population’s growth rate is projected to slow. Nevertheless it is currently increasing by about 83 million per annum, and there are concerns that over-population will present real difficulties for the planet within the next century. Africa is the fastest growing major area; Europe is projected to experience a reduction in population; and New Zealand’s wider neighbourhood, Oceania, is expected to undergo significant population growth.

Page last modified: 26 Apr 2018