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The challenge for Auckland

"Auckland is already one of the world's most diverse cities; second only to Vancouver, Canada in terms of its proportion of foreign born residents. Strong migration flows into Auckland mean that the city's rate of diversification is accelerating. While this creates enormous opportunities for Auckland and for New Zealand, it also presents some challenges. Public service, along with other Auckland employers, need to find ways of attracting, retaining and developing staff from the range of communities that now make up the Auckland population.

Ensuring the Public Service is seen as an attractive career choice for the widest cross-section of New Zealanders is not just about broadening the talent pool. Ultimately, both the effectiveness and the legitimacy of our state services depends on them reflecting the perspectives and the characteristics of the people they are designed to serve."

- Lewis Holden, SSC's Deputy Commissioner Auckland

Prominent academic and demographer Paul Spoonley defines super-diversity as ‘having a large number or percentage of immigrants and people of different ethnicities in a society or area. Super-diversity can also refer to religious or linguistic diversity, especially as these have implications for a shared civic culture or economic outcomes.'[2]

Governments need to ensure that they are aligned to the needs of communities, as part of ensuring cohesive societies and providing better public services. One way of ensuring the diverse perspectives are incorporated is by having a diverse workforce. It is also imperative that public servants work towards having the relevant cultural competencies. In a super-diverse city such as Auckland, this need is heightened. Figure 4.3 shows that Auckland is a much more ethnically diverse region than the New Zealand population as a whole.

Figure 4.3 Ethnic makeup of the Auckland population compared to NZ, 2013 Census

Figure 4.3 Ethnic makeup of the Auckland population compared to NZ, 2013 Census

Figure 4.4 shows that Auckland is becoming an increasingly diverse city. Increasing numbers of migrants are moving to Auckland from overseas. On the other hand, more Aucklanders leave New Zealand each year on a permanent or long-term basis, than are replaced by New Zealanders returning to live in Auckland, although this has improved in recent years.

Figure 4.4 New Zealand external migration trends over the last 10 years

Figure 4.4 New Zealand external migration trends over the last 10 years

Table 4.7 shows representation of ethnic groups in the Public Service workforce in Auckland. The number of Asian staff has been steadily increasing, reaching 18.7% in 2015. This compares to the Wellington figure of 8.3%. The proportion of Pacific staff in Auckland has also been steadily increasing, whilst Māori representation has remained similar/slightly declined.

Table 4.7 Representation of ethnic groups in the Auckland Public Service, 30 June 2011-2015






Māori (%)






Pacific peoples (%)






Asian peoples (%)






As well as a higher representation of Pacific and Asian staff in Auckland, these groups are more highly represented across most occupational groups, compared to Wellington. In particular, Asian staff are highly represented in ICT, Information Professional, and Contact Centre roles, and Pacific staff are highly represented in Social, Health and Education roles and Contact Centre roles.

In contrast to Wellington, where Pacific staff only make up 3% of managerial roles, in Auckland Pacific staff make up 12%. Similarly Pacific representation is 4-5 times higher in policy roles and corporate support roles in Auckland compared to Wellington.

[2] Spoonley ‘Superdiversity, social cohesion, and economic benefits' IZA World of Labor 2014:46

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