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Story: Filipinos

A rapidly growing group in the 2010s, these recent arrivals to New Zealand call themselves Fiwis (Filipino Kiwis), and embrace both Filipino culture and Western trends. Traditional songs and dances, basketball, and beauty contests are all featured at their gatherings.

Story by Carl Walrond
Main image: Filipino girls, Auckland, 1980s

Story Summary

All images & media in this story

Arrivals and settlement

Immigration from the Philippines to New Zealand increased from the 1980s and boomed in the 2000s. In the 1980s most migrants were young women, many of whom had met New Zealand men through friends or advertisements. Over time, more Filipino men also arrived.

Skilled migrants have included IT workers from the late 1980s, medical professionals from the late 1990s, and technicians, electricians and rural workers in the 2000s.

Filipino students came to New Zealand from the 1960s under the Colombo Plan, and Filipinos continued to study in New Zealand in the 2010s.

Employment issues

Filipinos looking for work overseas often use immigration agencies in the Philippines, which arrange papers, work and travel. Many come to New Zealand on temporary visas, and hope to be able to stay.

Some Filipino nurses and dairy workers have been exploited by agents charging high fees and giving wrong information, and sometimes by employers offering low wages and poor conditions. Support groups and organisations have been set up to address these problems.

Culture

Traditional Filipino values of smooth social interaction, self-esteem, reciprocity and extended family are important. People enjoy shopping and sports, especially basketball.

The first Filipino club was set up in Auckland in 1976, and in the 2010s there are dozens of organisations around the country. They hold events including cultural performances, basketball and beauty contests. Philippine Independence Day is celebrated on 12 June, marking the day the Philippines became independent from Spain in 1898.

Today most Filipinos are bilingual – at home, many speak ‘Tag-lish’, a mixture of the Filipino language Tagalog and English. Most are Roman Catholics.

Many Kiwi Filipinos call themselves ‘Fiwis’.

How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Filipinos', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/filipinos (accessed 24 May 2017)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 8 Feb 2005, reviewed & revised 10 Sep 2015