New Zealand is widely regarded around the world as being an attractive place to visit, live, and work. It is not surprising, therefore, that the general trend for net migration to New Zealand over recent years is upward.

In addition, most people believe it is beneficial for the country and the economy that people come to New Zealand to work and live. After all, visitors and migrants spend money, pay taxes, contribute to economic growth, and add to the country’s proud tradition of rich cultural diversity.

Upward Trend

According to figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, net migration has been rising since 2012:

  • 2011/2012 – net migration loss of 3,200
  • 2012/2013 – net migration gain of 7,900
  • 2013/2014 – net migration gain of 38,300
  • 2014/2015 – net migration gain of 58,300
  • 2015/2016 – net migration gain of 69,100

Other statistics on net migration are available from Statistics NZ. It publishes a monthly summary that includes figures for the number of permanent or long-term (PLT) migrants coming to the country. The latest available figures are for April 2017 and they show net migration for the 12 months to the end of April 2017 was 71,900. This matches the figure for March, which was a record month.

This indicates the 2016/2017 Migration Trends report is likely to show another increase in net migration.

A Question of Figures – What Influences the Numbers?

The latest Statistics NZ report on International Travel and Migration also showed that 129,800 PLT migrants came to New Zealand in the 12 months to the end of April 2017. This is up four percent from the previous 12-month period.

One of the factors for this increase in net migration is that fewer people have been leaving New Zealand over the past three years, partly because of the struggling economy in Australia.

The way statisticians collate PLT figures is also an important factor to consider. They take PLT numbers from what people write on their arrival and departure cards at New Zealand’s airports. If those arriving say they will be in NZ for longer than 12 months, Statistics NZ records them as being a PLT migrant. That doesn’t, however, mean the person actually stays for more than a year.

To highlight this further you can analyze figures from the 2013 census. In that census, the number of people who said they were born in another country was up 300,000 compared to the census in 2001. This gives an average increase between the years 2001 and 2013 of 25,000 a year.

Whatever the exact figure for the past year, net migration to New Zealand appears to be on an upward trend.

The Migrant Experience

Of course, trends in migration into New Zealand are not just about the numbers of people coming and going. The experience of migrants is very important to consider too.

A report by the New Zealand Initiative released at the end of January 2017 looked at this issue. The report was titled The New New Zealanders: Why Migrants Make Good Kiwis.

The report’s authors analyzed the New Zealand General Social Survey. They found that migrants to NZ integrate well into society and are more likely to be employed than native-born New Zealanders. In addition, 87 percent of migrants say they feel like they belong.

Therefore, in general, more people are coming to New Zealand on a long-term basis. Those people are also becoming new New Zealanders.