Asian women

The Ministry for Women works on policy initiatives for all women. It takes aware of any cultural and ethnic considerations for a particular ethnic group. For example, work to encourage educational opportunities, employment opportunities or how to keep women free from violence may involve different solutions for different communities.

People of Asian ethnicities have a long history of settlement in New Zealand. The majority of migration from Asia throughout the nineteenth century contributed to Chinese and Indian populations in New Zealand.

Ongoing migration from Asia has become more diverse and people from all parts of Asia make up this very diverse sector of the population. A significant proportion of the Asian population are New Zealand-born.

The Asian population in New Zealand is growing rapidly. While New Zealand has seen an increase in the proportion of Asians living in every region, the biggest growth has occurred in the Auckland region. In the 2013 census, almost 1 in 4 people (23.1 percent or 307,233 people) living in the Auckland region identified with one or more Asian ethnic groups, compared with 1 in 5 people (18.9 percent) in 2006.

Population characteristics

Within the broad category of ‘Asian’, there are many ethnic groups with distinct characteristics.  The eight largest Asian ethnic groups in New Zealand are: Chinese, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Cambodian and Thai.

The Asian population is relatively youthful. Greater proportions are in the younger age groups and smaller proportions are in the older age groups compared with the total population. Of the Asian ethnic group, 30 percent were aged 20–34 years. In comparison, 18.7 percent of the total population were in this age group.

Many of the people in this age group were recent arrivals. Two-thirds (65.4 percent) had been living in New Zealand for less than 10 years, and 43.1 percent had been in New Zealand for less than five years. Of those who identified with one or more Asian ethnic groups, females were older than males. The median age for females in 2013 was 31.9 years, compared with 29.3 years for males.


Overall, the Asian population has a lower rate of participation in the labour force than the total New Zealand population – reflecting the high levels of young Asian people studying.

Read the stories of our Inspiring Women leaders.