New Zealand children, particularly those of Māori and Pacific ethnicity, may be at risk for low vitamin D status because of low vitamin D intakes, the country's latitude (35-46 degrees S), and skin color. The aim of this study was to determine 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and their determinants in a national sample of New Zealand children aged 5-14 y. The 2002 National Children's Nutrition Survey was designed to survey New Zealand children, including oversampling of Māori and Pacific children to allow ethnic-specific analyses. A 2-stage recruitment process occurred using a random selection of schools, and children within each school. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration [mean (99% CI) nmol/L] in Māori children (n = 456) was 43 (38,49), in Pacific (n = 646) 36 (31,42), and in New Zealand European and Others (NZEO) (n = 483) 53 (47,59). Among Māori, Pacific, and NZEO, the prevalence (%, 99% CI) of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency (<17.5 nmol/L) was 5 (2,12), 8 (5,14), and 3 (1,7), respectively. The prevalence of insufficiency (<37.5 nmol/L) was 41 (29,53), 59 (42,75), and 25 (15,35), respectively. Multiple regression analysis found that 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were lower in winter than summer [adjusted mean difference (99% CI) nmol/L; 15 (8,22)], lower in girls than boys [5 (1,10)], and lower in obese children than in those of "normal" weight [6 (1,11)]. Relative to NZEO, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were lower in Māori [9 (3,15)] and Pacific children [16 (10,22)]. Ethnicity and season are major determinants of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. There is a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in New Zealand children, which may or may not contribute to increased risk of osteoporosis and other chronic disease. There is a pressing need for more convincing evidence concerning the health risks associated with the low vitamin D status in New Zealand children.