Lao in New Zealand

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Centuries ago, the Lao lived in China. However, relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward, and many settled along the Mekong River in the eighth or ninth century. When the Lao Kingdom was replaced by a communist administration during World War II, many Lao fled to Burma, Thailand and Laos.

For years, Laos was the battle field for the conflicts of other nations, as well as the object of political competition between Russia, China and Vietnam. After years of invasions, a series of bloody land wars, and possession by the French, Laos entered into good relations with its neighbors.

Most of the Lao who fled to New Zealand did so in the 1970s and 1980s when there was a great deal of unrest in their country. Laos is still under a tyrannical communist regime, so few will want to return. Many of those who left Laos are from ethnic minority groups.

Where Are they Located?

The Lao in New Zealand live mainly in Auckland, Wellington and the suburbs nearby.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Lao people in New Zealand have been away from their homeland for decades, but they remain a separate community. Though their children are more comfortable with English than Lao, the community gathers together at Buddhist temples to preserve their religion and culture. They have festivals where everyone eats their favorite foods from their Southeast Asian homeland.

What Are Their Beliefs?

More than half of the Lao are Buddhists. Traditionally, young men enter village monasteries for about three months to study Buddhism. Lao Buddhists believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals and sacrifices. They also believe that existence is a continuing cycle of death and rebirth, a process known as reincarnation.

One third of the Lao are ethnic religionists, combining folk animism (belief that non-living objects have spirits) with Buddhism. They seek help through various supernatural beings and objects. Of major importance to them are the "territorial deities."

Prayer Points

Pray for spiritual hunger among Lao people in New Zealand that will lead them to Jesus Christ.
Ask God to use the believers to share the love of Jesus with Lao and other Buddhist peoples in New Zealand.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Lao towards believers so they will be receptive to the gospel.

Scripture Prayers for the Lao in New Zealand.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

Additional Info
Lao profile for Children and Family Missions Activities
People Name General Lao
People Name in Country Lao
Pronunciation lao
Population this Country 1,500
Population all Countries 3,907,000
Total Countries 11
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Eastern Thai; Lào; Lao Boc; Lao Noi; Lao Wiang; Lao-Lu; Lao-Noi; Laotian Tai; Laotian Thai; Lum Lao; Phou Lao; Rong Kong; Tai Lao; Ts'un Lao
People ID 12989
ROP3 Code 105643
Country New Zealand
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Oceania
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country New Zealand
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Oceania
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
87.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.90 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
3.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
6.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Lao (1,500 speakers)
Language Code lao   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Lao (1,500 speakers)
Language Code lao   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Lao
Photo Source Cambodia Research Network 
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more