Who we are and who we serve

Who we are

The Office of Ethnic Communities is government’s authoritative advisor on ethnic diversity in New Zealand. We also provide information, advice and services to, and for, ethnic communities in New Zealand and administer funds to support community development and social cohesion.

Established in 2000 as the Office of Ethnic Affairs, in 2015 we became the Office of Ethnic Communities to align with the Ministerial portfolio and more accurately reflect our community focus.

The Office of Ethnic Communities is located within the Department of Internal Affairs and our work contributes to the Department’s overarching outcome: “Connected citizens, communities and government”.

Through the Department, the Office of Ethnic Communities contributes to broader public sector efforts to deliver on government goals. In particular, we contribute to the government priorities of building a more productive and competitive economy (for example, through our work with the business community) and of delivering better public services (for example, through providing Language Line telephone interpreting services to facilitate access to a range of public services).

Who we serve

We serve the interests of New Zealand. Our population is ethnically diverse and increasingly so. It is in the interests of all New Zealanders that we have strong and connected ethnic communities and that New Zealand is able to realise the benefits of ethnic diversity for our nation.

World map made up of people standing on a white space.

In addition to serving the public generally, as with other population agencies and Offices including the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Ministry for Women, the Office for Seniors and the Office for Disability Issues, we also have a mandate relating to a specific population within New Zealand.

When the Office of Ethnic Communities was established, its mandated ethnic community population group was made up of those New Zealanders identifying as from ‘other ethnic groups’ in the 1996 Census (i.e. not Māori, Pacific or Anglo-Celtic/Pakeha New Zealanders). At that time, this group was 5.7 per cent of the total population, or approximately 213,000 people.

Image of a table - Estimated resident population, national population by ethnic group - 1996 - European or other ethnicty including NZ 82.4%, Maori 15.4%, Pacific 6.1%, Asian Middle Eastern/Latin American/African  5.7%

In 2016, the Office of Ethnic Communities' mandated ethnic community population group continues to include people who identify with ethnic groups originating from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and central and South America.

It includes refugees and migrants as well as people born in New Zealand who identify with these ethnic groups. It also includes increasing numbers of New Zealanders who identify with multiple ethnicities. Based on Census 2013 data, 13.4 per cent of the total population is potentially within the scope of the Office of Ethnic Communities' ethnic community mandate, approximately 595,000 people.

Image of the Estimated resident population, national population by ethnic group 2013. European or other ethnicity(Including New Zealander)74.6%, Maori 15.6%, Pacific 7.8%, Asian Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 13.4%


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