The Geographical Mobility of Māori in New Zealand

This paper describes the geographical location and internal mobility of the Māori ethnic group in New Zealand between 1991 and 2001.

It is often suggested that Māori are less mobile than other ethnic groups because of attachment to particular geographical locations. We compare the mobility of Māori in particular locations to the mobility of similar Europeans in those same locations and find that, contrary to this anecdotal evidence, most Māori are, on average, more mobile than Europeans in New Zealand.

We do find that the roughly forty percent of Māori who live in areas local to their iwi (tribe) are less mobile than comparable Europeans in those same areas. Defining local areas both based on both traditional iwi locations and current iwi populations, we find suggestive evidence that social ties are more important than land-based attachment in explaining why these Māori are relatively less mobile, but that land-based attachment is also an important impediment to mobility.


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment