Asians, Pasifika and Maori: Auckland’s integration of its minorities.

Auckland city’s population has grown 40 per cent in the last 25 years, and its growth has been driven by immigration, specifically international immigration. Ethnicity data on Auckland over the period 1991 to 2013 show the profound effects of this immigration.¬† Auckland has had a reputation for being ‘the largest Polynesian city’ and the Pasifika population has increased by 70 per cent over the period 1991 to 2013. But the growth in the Pasifika community is far exceeded by the growth in the Asian community, whose population has grown 600 per cent (but from a very small base). ¬†Being only 6 per cent of Auckland’s population in 1991, Asians had grown to form 26 per cent in 2013. Meanwhile the Europeans, who were 70 per cent of the city’s population in 1991, were by 2013 just 55 per cent.

So have the immigrants been well integrated into the city’s neighbourhoods, or is there a high degree of segregation? Population and urban analysts now recognise that ethnic residential patterns are too complex to be represented by a single index. The US Census Bureau analyses ethnic residential segregation in five dimensions: evenness, exposure, concentration, centralisation and clustering. Table 1 shows the first of these, evenness. for the three leading minority groups. The index measures the percentage of a group that would have to change residence for each neighbourhood (census area unit) to have the same percentage of that group as there is over the whole city. When the index equals 1, the group in question is largely found in neighbourhoods with a fairly homogenous composition. When the index equals 0, the group is completely integrated. As we can see, Maori are becoming more evenly spread across the city, while the concentration of Asians is increasing. Pacific people exhibit the highest level of concentration or segregation, and there is virtually no change over time.

Table 1: Evenness of Distribution of Ethnic Minorities in Auckland, 1991 – 2013

Ethnic group 1991 1996 2001 2006 2013
Maori 0.3408 0.2981 0.3120 0.3130 0.2885
Pacific 0.4852 0.4752 0.4927 0.5000 0.4982
Asian 0.2540 0.2708 0.3030 0.3292 0.3347
Index: Dissimilarity Index

Exposure, the second of our dimensions of residential segregation, refers to the extent to which members of an ethnic group are exposed only to one another. It differs from the concept of evenness in taking into account the size of the group. Thus a group, if small in size, may be concentrated in a few neighbourhoods, but not be numerous enough to dominate the neighbourhood. We measure exposure with the isolation index. This index ranges from 0 (a high level of exposure to the majority ethnicity) to 1 (a low level of exposure). The values in table 2 suggest that Asian people are becoming less exposed to the majority European population. Or, to put it another way, are finding more people of their own ethnicity in their neighbourhoods.

Table 2: Exposure of Ethnic Minorities in Auckland, 1991 – 2013

Ethnic group 1991 1996 2001 2006 2013
Maori 0.1819 0.1903 0.1823 0.1755 0.1625
Pacific 0.3157 0.3456 0.3780 0.3878 0.3895
Asian 0.0832 0.1537 0.2105 0.2910 0.3479
Index: Isolation Index

Concentration, the third dimension, refers to the amount of physical space a minority group occupies. Concentration is here measured with the delta index. A 0 value means that the group has a low residential density, and a 1 means that the group has a high density. As can be seen in Table 3, Maori and Pasifika people appear to have become slightly more geographically spread out over time.

Table 3: Concentration of Ethnic Minorities in Auckland, 1991 – 2013

Ethnic group 1991 1996 2001 2006 2013
Maori 0.5063 0.4800 0.4719 0.4569 0.4684
Pacific 0.6142 0.6000 0.5945 0.5820 0.5894
Asian 0.4884 0.4833 0.4736 0.4612 0.4816
Index: Delta Index

Centralisation refers to the propensity to live in either inner or outer suburbs. The absolute centralisation index ranges from -1 (mostly found in the outer suburbs) to +1 (mostly found in the inner city). The index values for all three ethnicities are moderately positive, with Asians having the highest values. However, concentration in the inner city is not really a feature of New Zealand’s largest city, given that minority groups in the United States have values above 0.7.

Table 4: Centralisation of Ethnic Minorities in Auckland, 1991 – 2013

Ethnic group 1991 1996 2001 2006 2013
Maori 0.0847 0.0879 0.0468 0.0261 0.0016
Pacific 0.1912 0.1591 0.1211 0.0744 0.1022
Asian 0.3807 0.3719 0.3556 0.3224 0.3279
Index: Absolute Centralisation Index

Clustering is the fifth dimension. It refers to the probability that areas with high proportions of minority group members will be adjacent to each other. The spatial proximity index ranges from 0 to infinity. if the index is less than 1, this means that on average, members of minority groups live nearer to members of the majority group than to people of their own ethnic identity. If the index equals 1, this means that there is no differential clustering between minority and majority ethnic groups. If the index is greater than 1, it means that members of each group on average live closer to people of their own ethnicity than to other ethnicities. In the United States, their major ethnic minorities (African-American and Hispanic) record values above 1.2. In Table 5, the index for Pasifika people rises to exceed 1.2 over time, but for Maori and Asians, index values remain close to 1.

Table 5: Clustering of Ethnic Minorities in Auckland, 1991 – 2013

Ethnic group 1991 1996 2001 2006 2013
Maori 1.0812 1.0738 1.0886 1.1039 1.0907
Pacific 1.0878 1.1982 1.2514 1.2984 1.3011
Asian 1.0194 1.0263 1.0413 1.0616 1.0755
Index: Spatial Proximity Index

With high levels of immigration and consequent declining proportion of Europeans in Auckland, it is pertinent to ask how this has affected the ethnic mix in the poorest and wealthiest neighbourhoods. Europeans have decreased their representation in suburbs of all socio economic statuses, but not in equal measure. If we look at Auckland’s most affluent CAUs, Europeans used to be 77 per cent of residents in 2001, but by 2013 had fallen to 71 per cent (Figure 1).

But in Auckland’s poorest neighbourhoods, Europeans in the same period have dropped from 30 per cent of the total to 20 per cent (Figure 2), an even bigger drop than in the wealthy neighbourhoods.

Asians appear to have settled in suburbs of all socio economic statuses. In the affluent suburbs, Asians in 2013 made up 19 per cent of local residents, an increase matching the decrease in Europeans since 2001. Asians are also seen in the poorest suburbs; in 2001 they were 12 per cent of the people in those neighbourhoods; in 2013 they were 15 per cent.

In contrast Pasifika people are highly unequally distributed across the city. In the wealthiest suburbs, they only account for 3 or 4 per cent of residents, but in the poorest suburbs, they now (as at the last census) account for 45 per cent.

In summary, New Zealand (specifically Auckland) doesn’t appear to have urban ethnic segregation to the same degree as the United States. But there is a large difference in the spatial and socio economic distributions of the Pasifika and Asian communities.



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