Friday, January 14, 2022

Eradicating 'NZ' from the public service lexicon?

This is bad news in my book.

MSD has always used 'prioritised ethnicity' recording. If a client records they are Maori and other ethnicities, Maori is prioritised and the individual is counted as Maori. The same applies in the health and justice systems (unless that has changed also).

The advantage of the prioritisation method for recording is individuals are counted once.

It's going to get messy henceforth as individuals and ethnicities will sum to in excess of 100% (see chart below).

But there is another change.

New Zealanders with a European heritage have previously been categorised as 'NZ European'.

Now they will be labelled just 'European'.

I think that's a misnomer. If ethnicity is now about 'cultural affiliation' (according to MSD) is the culture of New Zealand the same as the culture of Europe?

The announcement itself refers solely to the country as 'Aotearoa' so I cannot help but get the feeling dropping NZ is more than a statistical convenience.

Here's how statistics will be affected in the future:

Total recipients in the second chart sum to 388,020 (even though there are only 343,920 individuals) and ethnicities sum to 114%.

It might be useful to have some data on Asians (though the term is broad eg includes Fijian Indians) I'm not sure how useful.

Equally I am unsure why the 'total response' reporting is an "improvement" beyond it apparently "reflects best practice".


pdm said...

Just a few months off 76 and every time I come across an ethnicity question on any form I tick Other and then write in New Zealander.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Lindsay, I'm a proud New Zealander by birth and a Viking by nature. People get upset when I start writing outside the box.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, I think the reason for the change is to reduce the apparent proportion of Maori showing up in negative statistics (welfare, prison, eduction, incomes, health and the like). Prioritising Maori ethnicity (when respondents give several ethnicities) does understate the proportions of other ethnicities. My guess though is that the current practice (of prioritising Maori ethnicity) will continue when it comes to race-based allocation of funding and resources.

There is a risk of a complete muddle of statistics in the new system (summing to more than total numbers of people and 100percent) as you point out. Most people won’t do these sums and just accept the numbers at face value. At minimum the new tables should also show the summed numbers (compared to the number of individuals) and percentages to improve clarity.

Probably the only way out of this conundrum would be to only allow people to give one (primary) ethnicity. Those that don’t want to self-identify as only one ethnicity would have the option of something like ‘Mixed’.

ZenTiger said...

This is great news. We will have 114% vaccination rates, with only 80% vaccinated. Finally, a system where everyone wins.

And maybe people will simply identify as Maori, when it comes to funding.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Brilliant. Thanks. Made me laugh.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon. I can't recall exactly but I think it was John Tamihere who said something to the effect that statistically Maori get credited with nothing good and doubly blamed for everything bad.

homepaddock said...

Wikipedia tells me there are 87 ethnicities in Europe, none of which is European.

It is used here not as cultural affiliation but race and what we're not ie not Maori, or one of the many Pacifi, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American or African ethnicities.

Like PDM I always put New Zealander.

Richard Treadgold said...

'European' is a handy catch-all term, but politically, legally, linguistically and religiously our nation is built with British bones. Like many of you, my grandparents were either English settlers or the issue of English settlers, and statistics show that the largest single segment of the population originated in Britain – about 70%. It has fluctuated in recent censuses from about 64% to 74%; presently 70%. It's clearly a political impulse that leads the public services to ignore this dominant source of our population and extinguish the words 'British' and 'English' from our public records. Google helps with this. Search for some combination of NZ, immigrant and British and the data you find in the top results will not be modern.
It's time we insisted on being recorded as British, where we identify as British, the same as a one-thirty-second Maori can identify as Maori, ignoring 31 parts of himself, and officials accept it as true. Except in the British case it is true. A genuine scientific study would be invaluable in this area but I fear that everyone from the Chancellor of the University down would cry “racist”.