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Auckland Council The Auckland Plan

Auckland's Asian population

Auckland has always been an ethnically diverse society. In the last 20 years changes in migration patterns have contributed to a substantial increase in the numbers of Asian people living in Auckland.

At the 2013 Census, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Auckland residents identified with an Asian ethnicity, a much higher proportion than for New Zealand as a whole at 12 per cent, and higher than recorded at the previous census (19 per cent in 2006).

The largest sub-group were those who identified as Chinese, followed by those who identified as Indian. This group includes people who have migrated from overseas as well as those born in New Zealand.

The term 'Asian people' is a very broad category. It includes a range of national origins and ethnic identities.

There is no singular definition of the countries that make up 'Asia'. Stats NZ include a wide range of countries from Georgia in the west to Japan in the east.

Compared to Auckland as a whole, Asian people:

  • are younger
  • have higher percentage of people with higher level of education qualifications
  • have a lower participation rate in the labour force and slightly higher unemployment rate.

Significant growth in Auckland's Asian population

Over the last two decades, Auckland's Asian population has experienced rapid growth.

In 1991, only 5 per cent of Auckland's residents identified with an Asian ethnicity. This proportion increased to almost a quarter (23 per cent) in 2013.

This growth was mainly driven by a rapid increase in immigration, especially in the mid-1990s and then again since 2001.

Auckland's Asian population increased by almost 70,000 in the period between 2006 (234,279 people) and 2013 (307,233 people).

The table below shows the changes in Auckland's Asian population between 2006 and 2013, by the five largest Asian ethnic groups in Auckland.

While those identifying as Chinese (9 per cent of Auckland's population) and Indian (8 per cent of Auckland's population) remained the largest two Asian sub-groups in 2013, the Filipino group increased significantly between 2006 and 2013 – by 108 per cent to reach 20,499.

There was a modest increase of 3 per cent in the number of Auckland residents who identified as Korean (from 21,351 in 2006 to 21,981 in 2013).

Changes in five largest Asian groups, Auckland and New Zealand (2006 and 2013)

​Auckland​New Zealand
​2006​2013​Change 2006 to 2013 (%)​2006​2013​Change 2006 to 2013 (%)
​Sri Lankan​5,049​6,906​37​8,310​11,274​26
​Asian people total​234,279​307,233​31​354,552​471,708​33
​Total people specifying ethnicity 1,239,051​​1,331,427​7​3,860,163​4,011,402​4

Data source: Stats NZ Census of Population and Dwellings

This table shows the five largest Asian groups at Level 3 classification in Auckland as at 2013. People could choose more than one ethnicity and groups are not exclusive. Percentages will add to more than 100.

Overseas born Asian Aucklanders

Over the last two decades there has been a relatively rapid and sizeable increase in the numbers of Auckland residents born overseas.

As shown in the graph, between 2001 and 2013, while the number of Auckland residents born in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe increased at a steady rate, the number of Asian-born residents increased rapidly.

Number of overseas born by area of birth, Auckland residents, 2001, 2006, 2013


Data source: Stats NZ censuses 2001-2013

The number of people born in southern Asian countries (e.g. India, Sri Lanka) in 2013 (52,521) was more than double that in 2001 (18,867).

This was followed by an increase of 66.9 per cent in migrants born in North-east Asian countries (60,627 in 2001 compared to 101,208 in 2013). 

A further breakdown of Auckland's Asian-born population by country of birth shows that the largest number was born in China (65,385 in 2013). The second largest group were those born in India (43,407 in 2013).

As suggested by the rapid growth in the number of people identifying as Filipino in the table above, the number of Auckland residents who were born in the Philippines increased by 105 per cent between 2006 and 2013 (18,621 in 2013).

Number of overseas born by top 10 Asian countries of birth, Auckland residents 2006-2013


Source: Stats NZ censuses 2006-2013

Projected increase in Asian population 

Auckland will experience increasing ethnic diversity in the next few decades. 

Stats NZ's ethnic population projections suggest that much of this will come from substantial growth in the Asian population, compared to the other main ethnic groups.

The number of people in the broad Asian category is projected to increase by 439,900 between 2013 and 2038 to reach 788,800.

Projected growth in ethnic groups in Auckland, 2013 to 2038

Source: Stats NZ, subnational ethnic population projections.

People can identify with more than one ethnicity and the four groups are not mutually exclusive. 

Geographic distribution of Asian peoples

Several areas in Auckland have relatively high Asian population densities.

In 2013, areas in Botany Downs and Dannemora had the highest concentration of Auckland's Asian population, with approximately 60 to 80 per cent of the local population identifying as Asian.

Areas in the southeast, Auckland's city centre, parts of the Auckland isthmus and central parts of the North Shore also had over half of the local population identifying as Asian.

Asian population density - Map for Auckland's urban core

Source: Auckland Council; density calculations based on the 2013 Census from Stats NZ

Demographic structure of Auckland's Asian population

The Asian population is youthful, and younger compared to Auckland's total population.

In 2013, the median age among those who identified with an Asian ethnicity was 31 years, compared to 35.1 years for Auckland as a whole.

At the 2013 Census, relatively large proportions of Asian males (18.7 per cent) and females (18.9 per cent) in Auckland were between the ages of 15 and 34. This reflects the significant numbers of international students and people with work visas coming from Asia, as well as those who obtained work permits or permanent residency after completing their tertiary studies.

Age-sex structure total Auckland and Asian Auckland (2013)

Graph shows the breakdown of people of Asian descent by age and by sex

Source: Stats NZ, Census of Population and Dwellings 

Education and employment of Asian people

Asian people are over-represented among those with overseas secondary school qualifications and higher level of formal qualifications overall.

The graph below shows that, at the time of the 2013 Census, 23 per cent of Auckland's Asian population stated that their highest education qualification was an overseas secondary school qualification. A third (33 per cent) had Bachelor's degrees or higher (compared to 25 per cent for Auckland as a whole).

The educational attainment of the Asian population also reflects the large inflows of international students from Asia undertaking tertiary studies in Auckland and those settling in Auckland afterwards.

Highest education qualification among Asian people aged 15 to 65 in Auckland (%), 2006 and 2013

Source: Stats NZ, Census of Population and Dwellings

However, at the 2013 Census Asian people were found to have a lower participation rate in the labour force (63 per cent) and a higher unemployment rate (9 per cent), compared to 67 per cent for labour force participation and 8 per cent for unemployment in Auckland overall at that time.

How the Asian population is expected to grow

People in the broad Asian population are the second largest ethnic group in Auckland.

Auckland has experienced rapid growth in its Asian population over the last two decades, mainly though immigration. This is anticipated to continue, driven by migration as well as increase in the numbers of locally-born. 

Medium ethnic population projections by Statistics New Zealand indicate that the number of Asian peoples in Auckland will be substantial. By 2038, Asian peoples may constitute 35 per cent of Auckland's total population.  

Such rapid growth will continue to bring vibrancy and diversity to Auckland.


Asia New Zealand Foundation. (2015). Asian Auckland: The multiple meanings of diversity (PDF 1.67M).

Auckland Council. (2015). Auckland Profile – Initial results from the 2013 Census. Prepared by Research and Evaluation Unit (RIMU) (PDF 688KB).