Lao in New Zealand

Photo Source:  Cambodia Research Network 
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People Name: Lao
Country: New Zealand
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,500
World Population: 3,906,500
Primary Language: Lao
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.90 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Lao
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

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.

Text Source:   Keith Carey