Story: Bay of Plenty region
Page 10 – Population: 1840 onwards
From 1840 to the 1920s
In 1840 the Bay of Plenty had a population of not more than 10,000, virtually all Māori. Through the rest of the 19th century the Māori population declined, and the number of Pākehā (non-Māori) grew only very slowly. The biggest increase in Pākehā numbers came in the 1900s and 1910s as the dairy industry thrived:
- 1874: 1,425 Pākehā and approximately 8,000 Māori (including Rotorua and Taupō)
- 1901: 4,882 Pākehā and 5,772 Māori (excluding Rotorua and Taupō)
- 1921: 15,708 Pākehā and 6,274 Māori (excluding Rotorua and Taupō).
From the 1930s to the 1960s
In 1936 the total population of the region was 31,764, of which 9,751 were Māori.
After 1945, forestry and farming opened up the interior, and farming continued on the coast. The rapidly growing population was typically young and male, particularly in new towns like Kawerau. The Māori population grew with the rest, and many younger Māori moved to towns and cities. In 1945 Māori numbered 11,311 (out of a total population of 37,867). By 1961 they numbered 17,857 (out of 81,290).
Bay of Plenty people today
In 2006 the total population reached 194.904. This included the third highest proportion of people identifying themselves as Māori (24.5%), after East Coast and Northland.
As in most North Island regions outside the two main centres of Auckland and Wellington, numbers of Asian and Pacific peoples were small. As a proportion of the population, both these groups were under 3% each for the whole region. This was well under the half the New Zealand average of 6.9% (Pacific) and 9.2% (Asian). Moreover, the percentage of New Zealand-born people in the Bay of Plenty was higher than for the country as a whole.
In 2006 the Bay was a region of Māori and Pākehā. There were more Pākehā in the west, partly because of the other North Islanders who had migrated to Tauranga. The east had a higher proportion of Māori.
Prosperity and poverty
An official report of 1996 noted:
The Bay of Plenty is a curious mix of economic prosperity, expansion and growth, and some of the most depressed areas in the country. Maori in the region, in common with the rest of New Zealand, suffer from higher unemployment and earn substantially less, with a personal annual median income roughly two-thirds that of non-Maori. A dichotomy emerges between western and eastern parts of the region. The strongest contrast is between the fast-growing Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Districts and the rest of the region. 1
As this statement suggests, the divide between west and east is one of ethnicity, income, age, occupation and economy. However, in 2001 the 15.9% of western residents with Māori ethnicity numbered about 20,500. This was almost equal to the eastern bay’s 22,000 – 45% of the population. And the population of an eastern town like Edgecumbe resembles western centres such as Te Puke and Katikati more than it does the inland eastern townships.