In this concluding section of Ethnicities – At the Crossroads of Culture, let us take a look at the last census report that was released in 2013, to reflect on the ethnic diversity that has been recorded in New Zealand in the recent past. 

The number of ethnicities that reside in New Zealand, says the census report from 2013, are more than the number of countries in the world. The survey identified 213 ethnic groups across the length of the country, when there are only 196 countries recognised in the world.

Isn’t it amazing to live among so many cultures? The diversity is perhaps most prominent when you walk around city centre, especially when it is multicultural like Auckland. If you happen to be working in Auckland Central and finish work around early evening, the assortment of races that greet you in and around Queen Street boggles your mind.

Regular commuters would invariably tell you about how non-diverse the population was even five years ago. It is only in recent times that the variety of races and their numbers have soared. The 2013 census report states that the top five ethnic groups are “New Zealand European, Maori, Chinese, Samoan, and Indian.” On the other end of the spectrum, the “smallest ethnic groups include Greenlander, Sardinian, and Latin American Creole”. The diversity is further represented in the unique minority groups who have arrived from Orkney Island (6), Shetland Island (24), Corsica (3), Falkland Island (30), Chamorro (12) and Inuit (36).

Since 2006, three ethnic communities have multiplied by leaps and bounds. The Chinese community has increased by 16 per cent to 171,000, the Indian community has gone up by 48 per cent to 155,000 and the Filipino community has more than doubled to 40,000.

Interestingly, all of the abovementioned ethnicities come from Asian countries. They are much higher than the Pacific ethnic groups. The Samoans have grown by 10 per cent to 144,000; Cook Island Maori have gone up by 7 per cent to 62,000; and the Tongans have increased by almost 20 per cent to 60,000.

The increase in number of the Asian communities is directly reciprocal to the skill sets they have brought to the nation’s workforce, which has had a direct impact on the economic development of the land in recent times.

The pooling in of talent is helping the country develop economically, as well as socio-politically. New Zealanders now have a wider representation from across the world and their awareness is also much higher than ever before. NZ’s inclusion in G20 earlier this year, as a G21 nation, reflects this progress.

The NZ currency has also grown stronger in the recent past. The inclusion of the diverse skill sets from various ethnic communities is helping in the rebuilding of the nation, especially in earthquake–affected Christchurch.

At a social event, I was fortunate enough to voice the dilemma over multiculturalism to Ethnic Communities Minister Sam Lotu-iiga. I had asked if multiculturalism, in New Zealand, highlights our differences or brings us together. He had replied: “New Zealand government believes in celebrating every ethnicity through the respective community’s festivities. This is because, we want all the communities to feel at home and welcomed on this land. It does not highlight their differences, but gives us an opportunity to understand their culture and learn from them.”

You couldn’t have said it better, Mr Lotu-iiga. New Zealanders are definitely proud to have you as their ethnic communities’ representative. Only through a leader like you can we retain the individuality of each community even as we unite in our diversity.