Pasifika community profile

Information about the Pasifika community in Victoria including where they live and when they arrived, languages spoken, English language proficiency, religions and significant dates.

These profiles are of Victorian communities, using the best available data we have from the 2021 Australian Census.

The Census defines ancestry as the cultural or ethnic group you most identify with.

Please note that this profile does not include people who have New Zealander and Hawaiian ancestry, and for this reason is not definitive.

There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


Pasifika people have migrated to Victoria from many different countries. The top countries in order of population are New Zealand (Māori), Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Tonga.

There have been different waves of migration of people from the Pasifika community to Victoria. In the late 19th century, Pacific Islanders (Melanesia and Polynesia) arrived in Australia. Those from Melanesia were often referred to as ‘Kanaks’. They came to work in the sugar cane plantations in Queensland. Some of these people made their way to Victoria.

During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the Pasifika community grew significantly, mainly in the eastern states of Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. From the 1970s onwards, Melbourne began to see growth in its Pasifika community, mainly driven by economic and educational opportunities. Suburbs in Melbourne, like Dandenong and Noble Park, became centres for Pacific Islander communities, especially people from Samoa and Tonga.

During this time, many Pasifika people arrived in Australia from New Zealand. They were able to do this because of the trans–Tasman travel arrangement, which made it easier for New Zealand citizens, including those of Pacific Islander descent, to live and work in Australia.

The migration of Pasifika people peaked during the 2000s. This was mainly driven by economic opportunities, educational prospects, and family reunifications.

Pasifika community

The Pasifika community in Victoria is one of the largest in Australia. There are 79,006 people in Victoria who have Pasifika ancestries, of which 28,403 were born in Pasifika group of countries and islands.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Pasifika community: Cook Islander, Fijian, Kiribati, Māori, Melanesian, Melanesian and Papuan Micronesian, Micronesian, Nauruan, New Caledonian, Ni–Vanuatu, Niuean, Oceanian, Papuan, Papua New Guinean, Pitcairn, Polynesian, Samoan, Solomon Islander, Tahitian, Tokelauan, Tongan, Tuvaluan.

For more information about these ancestries, visit Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups.

The gender breakdown for the Pasifika community is:

  • male: 39,169 (49.6%)
  • female: 39,837 (50.4%).

Most of the Pasifika community is young, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (28.1%) and 25–34 (18.1%).

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data when communicating and engaging with the Pasifika community:

  • The Pasifika community is relatively new, with many people arriving between 2001 and 2010.
  • The community has high levels of English Language proficiency and may only require information or resources in English.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Digital channels can be helpful for reaching young people in the Pasifika community who live in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, most of the community lives in the south–western and south–eastern suburbs.
  • For Pasifika people who are religious, it may be helpful for them to receive information from their place of worship.
  • To reach older Pasifika people, connect with senior citizen groups.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences, read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
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Many people in the Pasifika community live in Melbourne’s south–eastern and south–western suburbs.

The City of Casey is home to one of the largest Pasifika communities in Victoria with 11,303 people. The City of Wyndham is next with 10,684 people.

The following 10 local government areas have the largest Pasifika communities, which include people from the range of ancestries outlined above.

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Dandenong2,833

Pasifika–born population

The statistics below focus on people living in Victoria who were born in Pasifika Island countries and islands. This will be referred to as the ‘Pasifika–born population’.


There are many different languages spoken in the Pasifika–born population. Many Pasifika people are bilingual or multilingual. English is the common language when communicating with these communities.

The top languages spoken by the Pasifika–born population community in Victoria are:

  • English (8,182)
  • Samoan (6,560)
  • Hindi (6,430)
  • Tongan (1,572)
  • Māori (Cook Island) (1,170)
  • Fijian (1,041).

English language proficiency

The Pasifika–born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 3% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 7% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 0% of the population speak English only.


The religion of the people in the Pasifika community is diverse. This varies among the nations and ethnic groups.

The following are some of the top religions within the Pasifika–born population:

  • Christianity (16,162)
  • Hinduism (6,231)
  • Secular Beliefs (3,444)
  • Islam (1,411).

Years of arrival

There have been three main arrival points for the Pasifika–born population in Victoria. Most of the population arrived from 1981–1990 (17.8%), 1991–2000 (19.9%), (22.5%), and 200–2010 (22.5%).

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


The Pasifika community is made up of people from many different countries. This means that naming conventions are diverse and depend on a person’s cultural background, family traditions and personal preferences.

These are some common naming conventions within the Pasifika community:

  • First names often carry a deeper cultural importance and may have meanings related to nature, family history or spiritual beliefs. For example, many traditional Māori names are often connected to nature, ancestors, or historical events.
  • Family names may be linked to a person’s clan or tribe. A child might be named after a grandparent, relative or ancestor. Some Pasifika–born people have Western–style surnames. Some others may use traditional family or clan names.
  • In Pasifika communities that practice Christianity, names are related to their religious faith. For example, Samoan names often have meanings related to Christian values.
  • Many Pasifika people have nicknames or informal names. These names may differ from their formal given names.
  • In some Pasifika communities, there are naming ceremonies or rituals to celebrate the birth of a child and give them their official name. These ceremonies often involve extended family and community members.

Significant dates

The Pasifika community is diverse and many different cultural, national, and religious festivals are celebrated.

While the specific dates and celebrations may vary by country of origin and individual preferences, the following are some key dates and events of significance.

Independence Days

Independence Days are important to Pacific Island nations. Many Pasifika communities celebrate the day that they gained independence as a nation. These dates vary by country, and celebrations can include cultural festivals and food.

Some examples include:

  • Samoa Independence Day – 1 January
  • Tonga National Day – 4 June
  • Fiji Independence Day – 10 October
  • Cook Islands Constitution Day – 4 August.

Religious celebrations

The Pasifika community in Australia represents a diverse group of cultures and religions. Many Pacific Islanders are Christian and Christian religious celebrations play a significant role in the Pasifika community. Many Pasifika communities will blend traditional customs with Christian practices during these religious celebrations.

Some examples include:

  • Christmas (Kirismasi or Kilisimasi) is celebrated by most Christian Pasifika communities. Christmas in Pacific Islander cultures often combines traditional feasting, dance, and song with Christian observance. It's a time for families to come together.
  • Easter is another important Christian celebrated by Pasifika communities with church services, processions, and traditional feasting.
  • White Sunday (Lotu Tamaiti) is celebrated by communities with cultural backgrounds from Samoa, Tonga and Tokelau. White Sunday is a day dedicated to children who wear white clothing and often lead church services, and recite Bible verses. Following church services, families gather for a feast.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of Birth QuickStats
  • Ravulo, J. (2015) Pacific Communities in Australia (Western Sydney University)
  • Faleolo, Ruth (Lute), Our Pacific peoples’ migration to and through Australia, Pacific Islander Network.