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(external link) and our work contributes to the Department’s overarching outcome: Connected citizens, communities and government(external link).
Through the Department, the Office of Ethnic Communities contributes to broader public sector efforts to deliver on government goals. In particular, we contribute to shaping Safer Communities Initiatives and empowering ethnic communities to succeed and contribute.
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.
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.
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, Continental 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.