Story: Filipinos

Numbering almost 17,000 in 2006, this highly educated group 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 annual festival.

Full story by Carl Walrond
Main image: Filipino girls, Auckland

The Short Story

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There were just six people from the Philippines in New Zealand in 1936, but over 40,000 in 2013: the population surged from the 1980s onwards. There have been three main groups of immigrants:

  • Students – in the 1960s, a scholarship scheme brought young Filipinos to New Zealand for study. Some toured the country during their holidays, playing bamboo instruments and performing folk dances.
  • Women – more women than men emigrated in the 1980s. Many came to marry Kiwi men.
  • Professionals – since the early 1990s highly skilled people have arrived, mostly settling in Auckland.


At the annual Octoberfest, New Zealanders get a glimpse of Filipino culture, including dances such as the elegant jotobal, which reflects the Spanish influence in the Philippines. At authentic restaurants you can sample dishes like pork in liver sauce.

Typically, New Zealand Filipinos are bilingual, well educated and earn above-average incomes. The family is very important, along with other traditional values, and most members of the community are Roman Catholic.

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond. 'Filipinos', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 17-Sep-14