Burmese in New Zealand

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
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People Name: Burmese
Country: New Zealand
10/40 Window: No
Population: 2,500
World Population: 31,725,600
Primary Language: Burmese
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.60 %
Evangelicals: 0.20 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Burmese
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Starting in 2004, Burmese began coming to New Zealand as refugees. Many suffered religious persecution during Burma's (or Myanmar as it is now called) Civil War.

Burmese nationals make up about 50% of the refugees in New Zealand. It is said the Burmese remain in New Zealand because there is nothing to go home to in Burma. Though they experience language problems, the children have homes to live in and schools to attend in New Zealand.

The Burmese in New Zealand speak Burmese and English. Many live in Wellington and Auckland.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Community networks for women play a part in helping women to get used to life in New Zealand. They provide information and help keeping their culture. Adults and children can attend education classes. Volunteers and teachers help the women to adjust to life in New Zealand. They help build relationships between the Burmese and New Zealanders.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Burmese in New Zealand predominantly practice Buddhism, the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha, who lived in the 6th and 5th centuries BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can obtain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation. Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, teaches that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of righteous intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve Nirvana or a state of freedom and salvation. Mahayana Buddhism, the other main branch of Buddhism, asserts that by following the six perfections that a Buddhist can move along the path to Enlightenment.

To most Buddhists, however, these teachings have far less meaning than their traditional beliefs, which are usually animistic. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals. Buddhism allows people to mix Buddhist teachings with traditional religion.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesnak, the Buddha's birthday celebration in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced Enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

What Are Their Needs?

Culturally, the Burmese in New Zealand need to maintain their culture while also fitting into New Zealand society.

Spiritually, they need to hear the gospel proclaimed in their language and to become born again followers of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for workers to proclaim the gospel in the Burmese language to all Burmese in New Zealand.

Pray that New Zealand Christian believers will make Burmese disciples who will make more disciples.

Pray that the Holy Spirit gives conviction of sin and the need to be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.

Pray for an indigenous church planting movement amongst the Burmese in New Zealand.

Text Source:   Joshua Project