Te Kupenga is Tatauranga Aotearoa Stats NZ’s survey of Māori wellbeing. A post-censal survey of almost 8,500 adults (aged 15 years and over) of Māori ethnicity and/or descent, Te Kupenga gives an overall picture of the social, cultural, and economic wellbeing of Māori people in Aotearoa.

The survey provides key statistics on four areas of Māori cultural wellbeing:

  • wairuatanga (spirituality)
  • tikanga (Māori customs and practices)
  • Te reo Māori (the Māori language)
  • whanaungatanga (social connectedness).

The survey’s content recognises practices and wellbeing outcomes that are specific to Māori culture, such as the knowledge and use of the Māori language, connection to marae, and whānau wellbeing.

Te Kupenga was first run in 2013, with most of its content retained for the 2018 survey. We made a few changes to make it easier for people to complete the survey and to meet new information needs.

The biggest changes to Te Kupenga 2018 were an increase in the number of people surveyed (from around 5,500 in 2013 to almost 8,500 in 2018) and a new set of questions about kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Differences between Te Kupenga 2013 and 2018 surveys gives full details of the changes made.

Key facts

Caring for the environment

In Te Kupenga 2018:

  • 7 out of 10 Māori adults (aged 15 years and over) (69 percent) said the health of the natural environment was very important. People aged 45 years and over were more likely to rate this as very important than other age groups.
  • 96 percent of Māori adults said their households recycled packaging, such as cans, bottles, and plastic. This was the most common household environmental practice.
  • Nearly a third of Māori adults (32 percent) said they took part in activities, such as restoring waterways, tree planting, pest control, or beach clean-up in the previous 12 months. This rose to 46 percent for those living in rural areas.

Connection to, and participation in, te ao Māori (the Māori world)

  • 9 out of 10 Māori adults (89 percent) said it was at least a little important for them to be involved in things to do with Māori culture, with 25 percent of women and 19 percent of men saying it was very important.
  • 86 percent of Māori adults said they knew their iwi, the most common aspect of pepeha (Māori tribal identity) known. Six out of 10 Māori adults had discussed and explored their whakapapa or family history in the previous 12 months.
  • Most Māori adults (97 percent) had been to a marae at some stage in their lives, and over half (52 percent) had done so in the previous year. Two-thirds of Māori adults (66 percent) said they knew their ancestral marae, with 44 percent of these saying they had visited their ancestral marae in the previous 12 months.

Learning and use of Te reo Māori

  • Almost three-quarters of Māori adults (73 percent) said that their use of Te reo Māori in daily life was of some importance. Around a third (32 percent) said it was quite important or very important. This was higher for Māori women (37 percent).
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 Māori adults (57 percent) could understand, and almost half (48 percent) could speak more than a few words or phrases. Women were more likely than men to report that they could speak, understand, read, and write Te reo Māori at least fairly well.
  • The four most common ways of learning Te reo Māori were:
    • listening and speaking with relatives, friends, and neighbours (68 percent)
    • going to hui and listening to Te reo Māori being spoken (63 percent)
    • teaching yourself (62 percent)
    • listening and speaking to parents or other people living at home (59 percent).

Whānau relationships

Te Kupenga 2018 data showed that:

  • Nearly three-quarters of Māori adults (74 percent) rated the wellbeing of their whānau highly (at 7 or above on a scale from 0 to 10). Over a third (34 percent) said their whānau were doing better than they were 12 months ago, with less than 1 in 10 (9.5 percent) saying their whānau were doing worse.
  • 85 percent of Māori adults said their whānau get along well or very well with one another. Only 2.9 percent said their whānau get along badly or very badly.
  • In the previous four weeks, 85 percent of Māori adults had face-to-face contact, and 95 percent had non-face-to-face contact, with whānau not living with them. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) felt they had about the right amount of contact with whānau who do not live with them.

Physical and mental wellbeing

  • More than half of Māori adults (52 percent) said their general health status was very good or excellent.
  • Less than a quarter of Māori adults (23 percent) experienced poor mental wellbeing, as measured by the World Health Organization’s WHO-5 Well-being Index. However, more women (28 percent) than men (18 percent) were identified as having poor mental wellbeing using this measure.
  • Māori adults generally felt satisfied with, and in control of, their lives. On a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is the highest, they reported a mean overall life satisfaction rating of 7.8, and a mean rating of 7.9 for their sense of control over life events.

Standard of living

  • Almost two-thirds of Māori adults (65 percent) said their household had enough or more than enough income to meet their everyday needs. This proportion was higher for men (69 percent) than women (62 percent).
  • 49 percent of Māori adults owned or partly owned their home, and 8.5 percent held their home in a family trust. Those living in rural areas were more likely to own or partly own their home (55 percent), compared to those living in urban areas (47 percent).
  • Almost all Māori adults (99 percent) had access to telecommunication systems, such as a cellphone or mobile phone, a landline telephone, or the internet. Fewer Māori said they had access to a landline telephone (55 percent), than a mobile phone (95 percent) or the internet (89 percent).

Trust and participation in society

  • Only 43 percent of Māori adults rated their trust in other people in New Zealand highly (at 7 or above on a scale from 0 to 10), with a mean rating of 5.9.
  • Almost half of Māori adults (47 percent) were registered with their iwi and, of those registered, 78 percent were eligible to vote in the last iwi elections. Just over half (52 percent) of those eligible voted in an iwi election in the last three years.
  • 84 percent of adults of Māori ethnicity and/or descent said they had voted in the previous general election (in 2017). Sixty-four percent said they had voted in a local election in the previous three years. Those aged 55 years and over were more likely to have voted in the previous general election (92 percent) compared with all other age groups.

About the data

Te Kupenga is a post-censal survey. This means the survey sample was selected from people who identified as having Māori ethnicity and/or descent on their census form, so only those who completed the census were able to be selected. Given that a lower proportion of Māori people completed the 2018 Census than planned or anticipated, it was necessary to investigate the potential impact this may have had on the Te Kupenga sample. Our investigation found some bias in the sample frame (the group of people who could have been selected to participate) compared with the total Māori population. However, this bias was small, and we were able to remove most of the effect of the bias through the statistical weighting process. See Assessment of potential bias in the Te Kupenga sample frame: 2018 for more information.

We have updated the way we have calculated some estimates in this release compared to Te Kupenga 2013. In particular, Te reo Māori data presented here is calculated for people of Māori ethnicity and/or descent, while in 2013 it was only calculated for those of Māori ethnicity. We advise caution in making direct comparisons between this data.

Since the release of the Te Kupenga: 2018 (provisional) data on 6 April 2020, we have made a small change in the way we calculate some of the data – the ‘other’ categories used in the care of Māori sites of importance, and care of health of the natural environment measures, were redefined. We have also made slight changes to how we have weighted the survey data to ensure we use the most complete and up-to-date data available from the survey respondents.

If you’d like to know more about Te Kupenga, please email tekupenga@stats.govt.nz.

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