Civil and political rights

Representation of ethnic groups in government


The proportion of elected Members of Parliament (MPs) who identified themselves as of Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian ethnicity.


The representation of different ethnic groups in government can be seen as an indicator of political representation more generally. Representative political institutions engage a wide range of communities in the political process, draw on the talents and skills of the broadest group of people, and provide checks and balances on the use of political power.

Following the 2014 General Election, 32 percent of Members of Parliament (MPs) self-identified as being of Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian ethnicity, as reported in the Parliamentary Library report on the 2014 General Election. This was up from 26 percent in 2011. Under the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system, representation of these groups in Parliament increased from 6 percent in 1984 to 8 percent in 1993. After the introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system in 1996, representation of ethnic groups jumped to 17 percent. Since then, the overall trend has been of increasing ethnic representation in Parliament.

In 2014, 21 percent of MPs identified themselves as Māori, up from 17 percent in 2011. A record number of MPs identified as Pacific peoples, comprising 7 percent of the Parliament, up from 5 percent in 2011; and 4 percent identified as being of Asian ethnicity, the same as in 2011. Pacific peoples and people in the Asian ethnic group were first represented in Parliament in 1993 and 1996 respectively.

The proportion of Māori elected to Parliament in 2014 exceeded the Māori share of the New Zealand population (21 percent of MPs identified as Māori, compared with 15 percent of the total population). In contrast, the proportion of MPs identifying as Asian ethnicity (4 percent) was smaller than their share of the population (12 percent). The proportion of Pacific peoples in Parliament was the same as their proportion of the New Zealand population (both 7 percent).

Figure CP3.1 – Members of Parliament identifying as Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian,

Figure CP3.1 – Members of Parliament identifying as Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian, 1984–2014

Source: Parliamentary Library