Te reo māori speakers

Why it's important

Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) is central to Māori culture and identity. The number of Te Reo Māori speakers reflects an understanding of the importance of New Zealand’s cultural heritage. Celebration of our culture and heritage encourages inclusion and strong communities. 

Key points

  • Numbers of speakers of Te Reo in Greater Christchurch declined from 7,293 in 2001 to 6,807 in 2013. The number of speakers in Christchurch follow a similar trend, declining from 6,588 in 2001 to 5,940 in 2013.
  • The number of speakers in Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts increased slightly over the same period, in Waimakariri from 558 to 624, and Selwyn from 387 to 519.
  • Te Reo speakers as a proportion of the population declined from 2% in 2001 to 1.7% in 2013 in Greater Christchurch and Christchurch City. Waimakariri and Selwyn speakers of Te Reo also declined relative to their populations from 1.5% in Waimakariri and  1.4% in Selwyn in 2001 to 1.2% for both in 2013. 

Note this is an interactive chart and you can select the legend items to change what is shown on the graph.


The number of Te Reo speakers grew slightly in both Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts from 2001 to 2013, however, it has declined slightly in Christchurch. Rapid population growth in Waimakariri and Selwyn for the same period suggests that a number of people moving into these areas speak Te Reo.

The number of speakers of Te Reo as a percentage of the total population has declined across New Zealand since 2001, and the Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri council areas reflect this trend.

Data notes

This time series is irregular. Because the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011, the gap between this census and the last one is seven years. The change in the data between 2006 and 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. Be careful when comparing trends.

The census usually resident population count of an area is a count of all people who usually live in that area and were present in New Zealand on census night.

Excluded are:

  • visitors from overseas
  • visitors from elsewhere in New Zealand
  • residents temporarily overseas on census night

On 6 March 2006, Banks Peninsula District Council amalgamated with the Christchurch City Council. For the purpose of time series, Banks Peninsula data for 2001 and 2006 have been incorporated under Christchurch City. 

Data information and downloads

Data Source

Statistics New Zealand, Census data(external link)

Data Access

Downloads freely available

Date Updated

After every Census (5 yearly), next census March 2018

Data Table Download

Download tables [XLS, 20 KB]

Page Updated

June 2018

Data breakdowns available

Geographic Area

Greater Christchurch Urban Area, and Territorial Authority level - Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council

Other variables

New Zealand, 2006 data

Links to other information and reports