The proportion of Māori in the population of the East Coast has fluctuated considerably. It has also varied between the more developed and populous Poverty Bay (including Gisborne) and the less populous and more isolated East Cape, centered on Ruatōria.
In 1926, after 50 years of substantial Pākehā settlement, Poverty Bay was less than 10% Māori (2,440 of 25,365). The much smaller population of the East Cape in that year was 64.5% Māori (4,165 of 6,454).
The Māori proportion grew to over 40% in the region as a whole (and over 80% on the East Cape) by the 1990s. The dip in the Māori proportion of the East Cape population in the 1970s probably resulted from more Māori than Pākehā migrating outside the region – the male Māori population in particular fell in this decade.
Since 1986 the census has allowed for multiple ethnic identities. In the region as a whole in 2013, 48.9% of the population identified as Māori and 60.8% as European.
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Source: Statistics New Zealand