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Trending topics – Migration

What is migration?

Permanent and long-term (PLT) arrivals are people who arrive in New Zealand intending to stay for 12 months or more. These arrivals include New Zealanders returning home, and students and work visa holders arriving in New Zealand intending to stay for more than a year. Migrant departures are people who leave the country for 12 months or more after a stay of at least 12 months.

Net migration is the difference between the arrivals and departures.

Why are migration statistics important?

Net migration is an important measure because it is one of the main drivers of population growth. Migration has the potential to affect the country's infrastructure, including health care, roads, schools, and housing.

Over the last 150–250 years, most modern 'new world' countries, like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, were built on international migration. Skilled migrants – who come into the country to fill the job gaps, work, and pay taxes – are an asset and help the country grow and prosper. Similarly, lower-skilled migrants sometimes arrive to fill jobs in industries and/or regions where employers might struggle to find enough local labour (eg migrant construction workers employed in the Christchurch rebuild).

Are all migrants overseas citizens?

In the June 2017 year, migrant arrivals numbered 131,400 (up 5 percent from the June 2016 year). New Zealand citizens returning to live in New Zealand accounted for almost one-quarter (32,200) of all migrant arrivals.

In the past year, net migration was mainly driven by non-New Zealand citizens, who provided New Zealand with a net gain of about 73,600 migrants. Migration of New Zealand citizens saw a net loss of about 1,300 migrants. More than 80 percent of migrants came from countries outside of Australia.

Figure 1

Image, Permanent and long-term migration, year ended June 2017.

Where are migrants coming from?

Figure 2 shows the main contributors to the overall number of arrivals into New Zealand in the June 2017 year.

Figure 2

Image, Top contributors to PLT arrivals, by country of last permanent residence, year ended June 2017.

In the June 2017 year, Australia was the single largest source of migrant arrivals into New Zealand, although less than one in five (19 percent) of migrants came to New Zealand from across the Tasman.

However, figure 3 shows that 62 percent of those coming to New Zealand from Australia are returning New Zealand citizens. In comparison, only about one-third of all migrant arrivals from the UK are New Zealand citizens. The contribution of New Zealand citizens to migrant arrivals from China and India is marginal, at 6 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Figure 3

Image, Contribution of New Zealand citizens to PLT arrivals, by country of last permanent residence, year ended June 2017.

 

Where are migrants intending to settle in New Zealand?

In the June 2017 year, the regions where the largest numbers of migrants intended to settle in were:

  • Auckland region (59,100 or 52 percent of total arrivals)
  • Canterbury region (12,700 or 11 percent of total arrivals)
  • Wellington region (10,200 or 9 percent of total arrivals).

What are the ages of migrants moving to New Zealand?

Figure 4 shows the age groups of arrivals coming to New Zealand in the June 2017 year.

Figure 4

Image, PLT arrivals by age group, year ended June 2017.  

What types of visas are migrants arriving on?

Just over one-third of all arrivals in the June 2017 year were migrants coming to New Zealand on work visas (34 percent), followed by New Zealand and Australian citizens relocating or returning to New Zealand (29 percent). Student migrants accounted for 18 percent of all arrivals in the June 2017 year.

Figure 5

Image, Contribution to PLT arrivals by visa type, year ended June 2017.

What countries are work migrants coming from?

In the June 2017 year, 45,100 migrants arrived in New Zealand on work visas. The largest numbers of migrants for the purpose of work came from:

  • the UK (7,500 or 17 percent)
  • France (4,000 or 9 percent)
  • Germany (3,700 or 8 percent)
  • Australia (3,600 or 8 percent).

What countries are overseas students coming from?

In the June 2017 year, 24,000 people arrived in New Zealand as student migrants, contributing 18 percent to total arrivals. The largest numbers of students came from India and China (which combined made up almost half of all student migrant arrivals), followed by the Philippines (6 percent of all student migrant arrivals).

Where are overseas students going to in New Zealand?

In the June 2017 year, student migrants who said where they planned to live in New Zealand show that the most popular destinations were:

  • Auckland region (11,500 or 57 percent of total student migrants)
  • Canterbury region (2,200 or 11 percent of total student migrants)
  • Waikato region (1,500 or 8 percent of total student migrants)
  • Wellington region (1,500 or 8 percent of total student migrants).

The statistics used in this story are sourced from the arrival and departure cards completed at the New Zealand border and other border information.

See Migration for our latest data releases.

See International travel and migration articles for articles published on our website.

Read the report online or download and print the PDF from 'Available files'. If you have problems viewing the files, see opening files and PDFs

Citation

Stats NZ (2017). Trending topics – Migration. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

ISBN 978-1-98-852824-3 (online)
Published 28 July 2017

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