Cook Island-born Victorians were first recorded in the 1976 census
, when there were nine resident in Victoria.
Although the Cook Islands had been under New Zealand rule since 1901, it was the move to self-rule, whilst remaining under New Zealand control, which gave Cook Islanders free access to New Zealand. From there they were able to re-migrate to Australia under the Trans-Tasman agreement. So, as New Zealand migration to Australia grew in the 1980s, so too did Cook Islander migration. The 1986 census
recorded 287 Cook Island-born Victorians.
Over the next decade the Cook Island-born population in Victoria more than doubled, reaching 787 in 1996. This was due to an economic recession in New Zealand which prompted people to seek work in Australia. By 2001 census
the Cook Island-born community had reached 1346.
In 2006 there were 1468 Cook Island-born Victorians counted in the census
. The majority, 57%, speak Cook Islands Maori in the home, while 31% speak English and 7% speak New Zealand Maori. Almost 90% of the community is Christian and the three most popular faiths are Presbyterian and Reformed, Uniting and Catholic.
The community is relatively young, with 62% under the age of 40. Of those employed 39% are labourers, 34% are Intermediate Production and Transport Workers; and 8% are employed in managerial, professional and associated roles. Almost one third live in the Greater Dandenong area, and substantial numbers also live in the local government areas of Casey and Kingston.
The community is supported by the Cook Islands Maori language program on SBS radio and the Cook Islands Welfare Association.