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Iwi sex ratios in the New Zealand population census: Why are women so dominant?

Recent census-based studies of iwi (tribal) population growth have revealed a high degree of volatility that cannot be explained by demographic factors alone. Although focused on a small number of iwi, these studies have shown that changing patterns of identification are an important driver of iwi population growth, and that the propensity to identify with an iwi appears to be much stronger among Māori women than men. Thus, the vast majority of iwi in the census have far more females than males, and female domination has increased over time. This paper describes the key features of female-favoured iwi sex ratios in the census and explores possible explanations. Focusing on sex ratios for the ten largest iwi, we find that female domination is highest in the 25–44 age group, and that this pattern is consistent over time. Further analysis shows that Māori women aged 25–34 years are more likely than their male counterparts to know detailed aspects of their pepeha (tribal identity), to explore whakapapa (genealogy) and to speak te reo Māori. Our results underscore the importance of Māori women as cultural connectors within their whānau, as well as in a broader iwi context.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Kukutai, T., & Rarere, M. (2017). Iwi sex ratios in the New Zealand population census: Why are women so dominant? New Zealand Population Review, 43, 63–92.
Population Association of New Zealand
This article is published in the New Zealand Population Review.© 2017 Population Association of New Zealand. Used with permission.