Ethnicity data is essential to the measurement and monitoring of Māori health and inequalities in health status, experiences, and outcomes in New Zealand.
The Politics and Practice of Counting: Ethnicity in Official Statistics is one in a series of topic-based papers considering ethnicity data issues. It is intended as a background paper and outlines conceptual issues and historical approaches to ethnicity data collection in New Zealand, summarises contemporary official approaches and policies, and comments on current data collection methods in key sectors.
The paper highlights the changes over time in approaches to measuring the Māori population in official statistics, from biological concepts of ‘race’ to self-identified cultural affiliation. It also shows that considerable variation remains in the ways in which ethnicity data is collected across different sectors.
The paper identifies the variable and dynamic nature of the concept of ethnicity, and the need to have an understanding of the broader policies and practices of official ethnicity data in order to better understand the data that is produced on Māori health and on ethnic disparities in health.