Are you Pakeha?

The New Zealand Census counts who lives here and in what circumstances every 5 years.  The next one is due in 2011, and if, like me, you are a white New Zealander who calls nowhere else home and so describes yourself as “Pakeha”, you’d better get busy.

Reason being?  In 1996 white New Zealanders could describe themselves as “Pakeha” (bracketed with New Zealand European) in the census.

But this drew “significant adverse reaction from some respondents” – so Stats NZ removed the word “Pakeha” for the 2001 and 2006 censuses.

Anyone think we’ve grown up about this a little over the last 13 years?  And should allow another option for those of us who think calling ourselves “European” is a nonsense, because we’ve been to Europe, and we know how out of place we were there?

I’m a Pakeha of Scottish and Canadian descent.  I celebrate all of my whakapapa – but Aotearoa New Zealand is my home, and I’ve been describing myself as Pakeha for an awfully long time now.

Stats NZ wimpishly avoided the “significant adverse reaction” by removing “Pakeha” – and last census, 400,000 of us ticked the “Other” box and wrote in “New Zealander”.  15,000 ticked the “Other” box and wrote in “Pakeha”.

Stats NZ are calling for feedback about whether to include a “New Zealander” option.  Since this would include all New Zealand citizens, it would obviously remove the ability to examine ethnicity at all – a “New Zealander” might mean a Chinese New Zealander, someone from Ngai Tahu, a Tokelauan New Zealander, or someone who is Pakeha.

They note these problems – but haven’t offered us Pakeha back.

You can tell them what you thinking of this by emailing – but you have to do it by 25 May.

They have a discussion paper up here.


3 thoughts on “Are you Pakeha?

  1. I never really know how to answer the ethnic / identification question. Yes, I was born in Canada and lived there until my early 20’s. But I left there. I’ve lived in NZ for perilously close to 30 years. What am I? I’m me. Maybe that’s the a see I should offer.

  2. Being an actual European who doesn’t feel he has graduated to pakeha quite yet, I’ve always been at pains not to be put under the NZ European category (as it is often assumed by various bureaucracies) but rather under other – Italian. But the disappearance of Pakeha seems extraordinary – thank you for pointing it out.

  3. Hmmm, always thought ‘Pakeha’ was a Maori word for New Zealanders of Caucasion descent. That is: white New Zealanders. Not sure how that differs much from your “European New Zealanders” example. I have a couple of problems using the word Pakeha to describe myself: 1)I’m uneasy using a word of any language that tries to make ethnic distictions based on skin colour, and 2) I’ve always felt a bit of a fraud using a Maori word to describe my non-Maori-ethnicity.
    Also, Giovanni shouldn’t worry about having to “graduate” to Pakeha status; in the eyes of our first people, he gains that “privilege” automatically.

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