Pasifika tertiary education students in 2009 by ethnicity

Publication Details

This is edition four in an annual series on Pasifika tertiary education students by ethnicity. There is an associated set of tables available on the Pasifika Tertiary Education Statistics on Education Counts.

This fact sheet includes gender information on the ethnicities of New Zealand’s Pasifika tertiary education students. It shows the trends in participation in tertiary study for the various Pasifika ethnicities: what qualifications Pasifika students are taking, where they are studying, their field of study, their ages, and other important characteristics of Pasifika students.

Author(s): Mieke Wensvoort, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis and Reporting Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: January 2011


In 2009, there were 32,000 domestic enrolments by Pasifika peoples in formal tertiary education, up 7.3 percent on the previous year. This compared to an increase of 1.8 percent from 2007 to 2008 and an increase of 8.4 percent from 2006 to 2007. When the latest enrolments were converted to the amount of study undertaken, in terms of equivalent full-time student units, the increase was larger, at 13 percent. This indicates that, on average, Pasifika students have increased their study loads.

Table 1 below lists the number of enrolments in formal qualifications of more than one week's duration in 2009 for each Pasifika ethnicity. It also includes the proportion each ethnicity represented of total Pasifika tertiary education enrolments and all domestic enrolments. At the last population census held in 2006, Pasifika people comprised 5.2 percent of New Zealand's total population.

From 2008 to 2009, enrolments increased for Other Pasifika (up 17 percent), Fijans (up 10 percent), Tongans (up 9.5 percent), Samoans (up 7.6 percent), Niueans (up 7.3 percent), and Cook Islanders (up 4.4 percent). Enrolments by Tokelauans decreased by 6.1 percent from 2008 to 2009. Enrolments by Tokelauans also decreased from 2007 to 2008 by 8.3 percent.

Table 1: Number of formal enrolments by Pasifika ethnicity
Pasifika Peoples Pasifika Domestic Enrolments

of all
enrolments %

2009 Change
08-09 %
of all Pasifika
enrolments %
Samoans 14,401 7.6 45.1 3.4
Cook Islanders 6,104 4.4 19.1 1.4
Tongans 5,718 9.5 17.9 1.3
Fijians 3,593 10.1 11.2 0.8
Niueans 2,250 7.3 7.0 0.5
Other Pasifika 1,311 17.4 4.1 0.3
Tokelauans 651 -6.1 2.0 0.2
Total Pasifika 31,950 7.3 100 7.5

Pasifika peoples are participating in tertiary education at a higher rate than before. In 2009, 12.1 percent of Pasifika aged 15 years and over participated in formal tertiary education, compared to 12.4 percent for the total New Zealand population. In 2001, only 8.9 percent of Pasifika aged 15 years and over participated in tertiary education, compared to 11.2 percent for the total population.