is generally used to describe New Zealand
ers of (predominantly) European
ancestry. The word is believed to come from the Maori
, to describe an imaginary light-skinned being, although words for pig
and to bugger
have been considered as possible origins.
The Pakeha make up about 72% of the New Zealand population. They are the largest ethnic group in New Zealand, behind the indigenous Maori (15%), Asians (6%) and Pacific islanders (6%). Due to their diminishing birth rates and their tendency to emigrate, compared with other ethnic groups they are projected become a minority around 2040.
Pakeha can be found all around New Zealand and have made a strong contribution to New Zealand's economic, scientific, political and cultural life. Some famous Pakeha include Sir Edmund Hillary, Lord Ernest Rutherford, Sam Neill, Michael Moore and Lucy Lawless. As you can see, most New Zealanders feel they have to travel to Australia, Mount Everest or anywhere but New Zealand to gain any recognition (see: Austrians - the New Zealanders of Europe).
Some Pakeha reject being labelled Pakeha because they believe identity should be based on nationality (ie: New Zelander), and not cultural or ethnic groups. If pressed, most Pakeha would volunteer their ancestry as being (usually) British or Irish, while a much smaller minority might indicate their origins come from some other part of Europe, such as the Netherlands or Italy.