Measuring Ethnicity in New Zealand: Developing Tools for Social Analysis

Paul Callister, Victoria University of Wellington
Robert Didham, Statistics New Zealand
Deborah M Potter, Statistics New Zealand

New Zealand is a microcosm in which to consider global mobility, indigeneity and intermarriage and their effects on culture and identity. Since the early days of New Zealand’s colonization there has been a significant level of ethnic intermarriage. One result is that descendents of intermarriage can affiliate with more than one ethnic group. Against a backdrop of historical debates about the measurement of race, and then ethnicity, the paper explores recent changes in the recording and reporting of ethnicity in New Zealand. There is particular emphasis on (1) how ethnicity is increasingly seen as a social construct; and (2) how individuals belonging to more than one ethnic group have been recorded and reported in research. The recording of more than one ethnic group presents challenges for ethnic analysis including measuring ethnic intermarriage. Finally, some social policy implications of the growing proportion of New Zealanders who claim multi-ethnic affiliations are explored.

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Presented in Session 60: Measurement of Race and Ethnicity