Story: Ethnic inequalities

Census question regarding ethnicity, 1916–2006

Until 1986, when completing the personal schedule of the census, New Zealanders were asked about their 'race'.  From 1936 they were encouraged to be precise about this by indicating fractions of blood from different races. In 1986 the question became one of 'ethnic origin', although where there was more than one origin, fractions were requested. Since 1996 respondents have simply been invited to tick as many groups as needed, without specifying fractions of blood. The changing nature of the questions is an illustration of the way New Zealand social thinking has moved from an interest in the bloodlines of race to the subjective identification with ethnic groups.

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How to cite this page:

David Pearson, 'Ethnic inequalities - Race, ethnicity and inequality', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 October 2021)

Story by David Pearson, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 21 May 2018