Migrants in New Zealand: An Analysis of 2001 Census Data

Migrants in New Zealand: An Analysis of 2001 Censu...
01 Mar 2003

This report was developed to update, and further develop, a profile of the demographic characteristics of migrants to New Zealand. The analysis is provided for all migrants and also for ‘recent’ migrants, that is; those who live in New Zealand and who first arrived to live here 5 years ago or less1.

The analysis was based on special tabulations of data from the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings. These tables are included in a separate appendices document and contain detailed data on migrants’ settling patterns in New Zealand by Territorial Authority (TA), labour force status, employment status, occupation and income. This data is broken down by age group, region of origin and length of time in New Zealand.


The objectives of the research were to:

1. Update the 1996 profile of the demographic characteristics of recently settled migrants in each TA, including, age group, length of time in New Zealand and region of origin.

2. Develop a profile of recently settled migrants’ participation in the labour force (including, labour force status, employment status, occupation and income).

3. Compare the key outcomes and characteristics of migrants with those of New Zealand born people.

4. Provide a baseline for comparison with future Census data.


The methodology used was a quantitative analysis of specific variables collected in the 2001 Census and, where possible, the 1996 figures are provided for comparison. A migrant was defined as any person who indicated in the Census that they were born overseas and usually resident in New Zealand. A recent migrant was defined as one who had been in New Zealand for 5 years or less.

The analysis looked at a number of variables relating to the overseas born population, including, location in New Zealand, labour force status, employment status, occupation and income.

There are some limitations associated with the use of Census data. Census data only provides a cross-sectional illustration of some characteristics of immigration rather than an analysis over time. Also, because the Census does not distinguish between overseas born people in New Zealand as permanent residents and those here on temporary permits, the analysis will include residents who came to New Zealand through a variety of immigration residence categories, as well as those here temporarily – primarily those on work and student permits.

Another issue with Census data is the high incidence of ‘country of birth not specified’. At the 2001 Census nearly 4 percent of the population fell into this category. There was also a high level of non-response to the income question in the 2001 Census (11.1 percent overall). Unless otherwise specified, this category was removed before any percentages were calculated. Data on those who did not specify their country of birth or income is included in the separate appendices document.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018