Derek Vance is unconvinced that the way forward for a prosperous New Zealand requires a much larger population. Do you agree?

Derek Vance is unconvinced that the way forward for a prosperous New Zealand requires a much larger population. Do you agree?

By Derek Vance*

A recent article in the New Zealand Herald by John Roughan believes New Zealand needs more people, ten million more at the least.

He is backed up by NZIER publications suggesting we need at least fifteen million inhabitants to support indigenous companies of scale sufficient to encourage new viable export industries.

Looking back at the past and then projecting forward these are not unreasonable thoughts. But that view is short sighted, moving deeper into the twenty first century New Zealand's low population will become perhaps its most significant advantage.

For the past two hundred and fifty years the world has lived through a period of unprecedented growth. Unquestioned growth of population and the economy became and still are essentially the accepted norm.

To question growth is to be defeatist, all of traditional economic thinking requires growth for prosperity and social stability.

Growth is the simple answer in a world of unlimited resources. And for a new country like New Zealand immigration is the easiest solution of them all.

Except that continuous exponential growth on a finite planet, as somebody said recently, is only possible and believed by those already locked up and economists.

None the less growth is the accepted truth by business and government.

Until the late 1960's growth certainly looked unstoppable, the world was still big, resources many, and then the Club of Rome published 'The Limits to Growth' in which the MIT researchers indicated that growth would almost certainly stop and probably decline within the twenty first century. This research created such a storm of protest that the authors retreated.

Telling the truth is not popular especially if you antagonise those powerful entities business and government. Many people looked at the equations in the report and tried reproducing the results. What stood out more than anything was the stability of the results. If you looked at an equation and thought the assumptions too pessimistic or too optimistic or doubted the estimated resource levels or time lags and then tried changing the assumptions it soon became clear that very great change was needed to move the results.

But nobody in power wanted to believe.

In the intervening forty years since the publication of Limits many studies using better data, more detailed models and powerful computers essentially confirm the results and forty years on we sit very close to the baseline 'business as usual' estimates made in Limits.

Of course many details have changed but the essential prognosis remains.

New Zealand is a new country, it is quite possible even if growth came to an end in a general world-wide sense, as predicted by Heinberg in his recent book 'The End of Growth', there could still be pockets of growth perhaps for decades and New Zealand might well be part of that.

In addition the conventional wisdom is that towards the end of the century population will be nine or ten billion and GDP three or four times greater than at present. So why worry?

We can have ten billion inhabitants on the planet if we all agree to become vegetarian and live in small shoe box apartments, more likely it would end up with the majority living like those in the worst slums of present day impoverished countries.

Studies indicate that the world can support no more than about two billion on a continuous sustainable basis at a living standard similar to today's Western Europe. That is similar to New Zealand.

So people have to decide if they wish to live in reasonable prosperity or be happy in an overcrowded and impoverished world.

If people are happy with overcrowding and a resource depleted world then there is no need to take action, business as usual is fine, the future will be decided for us.

If on the other hand people prefer a little comfort, and no doubt much less social disorder, then we have to take action and the two primary variables are population and economic growth.

It is not possible to describe what a world wide sustainable economy with a stable population base, if it evolves, would look like towards the end of the century. To get there requires millions of decisions by millions of people over many decades but one thing that is certain is that we cannot get there with 'business as usual'.

To add more population clearly misses the point; what is required is a change of direction, not more of the same.

More people in the short term might help the economy only to make it more difficult later on to get back to a sustainable level. It is clearly a difficult decision.

Change in a democracy comes with the people and then action by government. Our government is Conservative, I think we could say, without controversy, hence business as usual. The Labour opposition may have ideas but is hampered by the baggage of the early social welfare state, hence probably backward rather than forward looking.

Our great hope should be the Greens, but alas New Zealand's Greens see hope best defined by Marx, none the less a totally revamped Green party devoid of its far left might be the best democracy to slowly steer New Zealand over the next two or three generations towards that goal of a stable population and sustainable economy.


Derek Vance is a retired analyst and present day observer of current trends. He lives in Kerikeri. You can contact him here »

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Even neoclassical growth theory doesn't support population growth as a way to economic growth.  The more people you have the lower the GDP per capita (and per capita is all that matters).  One of the stylised facts of growth is that countries with the fastest population growth have lower rates of GDP per capita.  The obvious exception occurs when you have vast natural resources and insufficient labour to harness them, as the USA did in the 19th century.  We don't.

Good one Simplicio!
A stable population in a sustainable economy would be fine. We could strive for self-suficiency!
Thst my be a better world.
Best wishes,

I fail to see why we first have to sell to ourselves before being able to sell products overseas.  We have sufficient markets already; markets far larger, indeed enormously larger than that of New Zealand but it just so happens that they are not here.  Surely that is a barrier we can overcome.
Food is by far one of our largest exports and a far larger New Zealand population must eat into that resource (excuse the pun) leaving less for sale overseas. 
Perhaps the greatest advantage this country has in facing the coming challenges of peak oil, climate change, an amost certainly vastly over populated world and the apathy of too many New Zealanders is our low population.
Quite frankly I find such proposals for increased migration as either ignorant or self serving.

If you are stuck looking in the rear view mirror you do see that there is a need for a higher population....its sort of a critical mass thing. Of course ith peak oil its moot, but ppl dont want to look at taht as then their entire political and economic mindset has to be thrown out.
I hate the term GDP its so much abused and mis-used....really its resources per capita is how you should think....then you see that a physical thing is finite and then you see that the more ppl there are the less each gets.  With make believe GDP and money its a construct that is inifinte and it fools you into thinking you need more ppl to get more...
So its going to be a harsh and tough change that we go through.

Good on you Steven, at least you are consistent.
However on this point i think you miss the point. It is NOT about increasing the population but about a reshuffling of the existing population by bringing them to NZ

It is NOT about increasing the population but about a reshuffling of the existing population by bringing them to NZ


there is an economic value to being a member of a nation state and it isn't our moral duty to import other countires over population.

Uh no you are very very wrong. NZ has finite resources, the more ppl we have the faster we use them up, when in fact we want to husband them for future generations of NZers.....

As an example the UK went into decline as its coal resources went into decline (pre-WW1), it kept going for so long til ww2 as it sucked its "empire" dry.  A second, consider that really after the US peaked in oil production 1970 I would suggest it has in-arguably declined. 

Most other countries simply have too many ppl for too few resources, they unlike NZ are not sustainable when peak oil bites....

So to get to somewhere like NZ with 4 million means the world's population has to decline from 7billion to 2 billion over-night.  If the ppl writing along those lines are right, think that will be a quiet event?  The GFC with the odd riot is nothing like its going to be if they are right....and since we are doing nothing to mitigate it its probable.





There is a total absence of research and hard facts to support these recent claims that we need to increase our population.  The consequences of such a change would be a massive dislocation in the well-being of all our citizens and a massive change to a culture that we all enjoy.   The government has no mandate for such changes and I would suspect that a referendum would stop the current rate of immigration given the ecconomic conditions in which most New Zealanders live.  The claims are not supported by any published research or facts to support the claims that we will be better off so we should be even more suspicious of the true nature of the agenda.  At a common sense level the facts are telling us that we have too many people for our economy already. 
1 We have a very low level of productivity, which means that we have too many people producing too little.  Accordingly if the productivities of our industries were increased we would have surplus people.
2 We have progressively moved in the direction of a low wage low skilled economy and we find our selves unable to compete in this quarter with the result that industries cannot compete and are closing.  Further population increase will push us further in this direction.
3 The current standard of living is not sufficient to retain our higher paid more skilled citizens and most of the immigrants replacing them are not of as high a calibre, so just bringing in more immigrants will just chase out our brightest and best.
4 If the proposition that a high population would increase our export earning capacity then Auckland would supporting the rest of the country.  The reverse is true.  The net exports minus imports per head for the main NZ ports are
Auckland -$5,800 per head
Tauranga +$6,700 per head
Gisbourne +$4,500
Napier +$8,100
New Plymouth +$6,500
Wellington -$2,700
Nelson *$6,900
Christchurch +$1,300
Dunedin +$20,600  (A lot of Canterbury and Southland product exported from here)
Now of course there are other money flows also, Tourism, Consulting and corporate. But I suspect that the net earnings from these will be comparatively small if indeed they are positive.  For Auckland, Tourist + Consulting income less Bank, insurance and other corporate profits leaving the country.  Care to guesse whether this is a positive or negative?
5 I have recently analysed the GNP trends versus the population trends for 184 nations of the world ie all the world except a handful of very minor states.  I wish that I could put up the graphs for this on this site.  What they show is that there is absolutely no correlation between GNP growth per head and a nations population and a negative correlation between GNP growth per head and a nations population growth rate.  That is the faster you grow the population, the poorer you do.

"The government has no mandate for such changes"
Absolutely! And what's up with the civic leaders in Auckland? Blowing borrowed dough left and right to cater for more people. This is a trap - we need more people to help pay the debt we've racked up so we can have more people - it's bizarre but that's the thinking. Has anyone asked the people, who's making these decisions on our behalf?
The NZIER were pushing for a tripling of the population by 2050 through a massive increase in immigration. What a bloody nightmare that would be, - a big no from me.  

I meant to add that successful ecconomies will increasingly employ automation and we are already seeing long term unemployment rising as a result.  Our unemployment rate is currently 7 point something percent and rising.  Why do we need more people.  If somebody has a bright idea for a buisness that can survive in our crazy ecconomy we have plenty of spare people and if we ever get off our chuffs and embrace productivity enhancing new technologies there will be a growng pool of available people within our current population.  If this stuff came from the NZIER it would be iteresting to see what they think passes for research.  Maybe this is par for the course for ecconomists.  That would certainly explain the mess that the world is in.

Some detail in your post I dont agree with,but overall, yes.
1) Automation, this needs higher skilled ppl, the ones displaced are the un-skilled who cant get to the necessary level of the skilled.  This means, yes  that actually the long term semi and un-skilled un-employed is gong to increase....
2) If we dont have or train the skilled ppl then importing them is the only alternative. Im seeing some very skilled and good south africans, I work with a handful and they are good.  On the other hand there are lots of opportunities to learn and upskill in NZ, yet I dont work with any Maori or Pacific islanders I have to and do wonder why.  At 15%? of out population I should be seeing quite a few in my work....

Not teaching our own unemployed is a cop out.  Dale Evans, the mayor of Carterton has shown that every youth is employable and trainable.  There are also some young Maori who are coming out top in our tertairy institutions so there is nothing in Maori that makes them  inhearantly failures.  They do need a bit of firm pushing to get them started sometimes.  We do not do ourselves or them any favour by indulging them in failure.  It would be interesting to see the total life cost of allowing somebody to become a cronic failure;  It doesn't just stop with the individual as it propagates down through the generations, as we are all witnessing.
It sounds hard but I believe that we would be better removing the benefit from anybody who refuses training and work.  If they are unable to support their kids as a result then they should be removed also.   The way that this country is going we will be handing it over to the Chineese soon.  Believe me they will not but up with the sort of stuff we are, so we may as well face it now.

It is very short term thinking, current population growth (4%) is not even keeping real GDP  standing still since 2008. They are trying to plug a hole to keep the numbers up and retain the status quo, that is all.
We moved our HO from Chch after the EQ as the city was clearly not going to cater for young people post EQ, our consutancy with export revenue represented 85% of the total runs on young bright people who also want a life. So we rellocated 48 staff and it was not to Auckland but overseas.
Revenue per staff member was a real hit to this country let alone the tax take. This business did not require a great domestic market, just a affordable, liveable environment for its young people., totally agree.  Funny that because we didnt stamp on the crazy housing bubble 10~15 years ago its now an un-solvable mess except its un-winding over a similar time period....Of course the pollies have to want to fix it and none do.
On top of that more and more we are paying a global price for food. What no one mentions when we get easier access to global markets is we on our NZ wages then have to compete with foreign workers who earn more.....
Both these things really are regressive taxes so we are doing a dis-service to our poor and our young and giving to the older and wonder they get p*ssed and leave.
regards, totally agree.  Funny that because we didnt stamp on the crazy housing bubble 10~15 years ago its now an un-solvable mess except its un-winding over a similar time period....Of course the pollies have to want to fix it and none do.
On top of that more and more we are paying a global price for food. What no one mentions when we get easier access to global markets is we on our NZ wages then have to compete with foreign workers who earn more.....
Both these things really are regressive taxes so we are doing a dis-service to our poor and our young and giving to the older and wonder they get p*ssed and leave.

Roughan is backed up by NZIER suggesting a population of fifteen million is needed to support indigenous companies of scale sufficient to encourage new viable export industries.
Fanciful and Flawed. The weakness is the time frame. How long would it take for New Zealand to go from 4 million to 15 million? 50 years? 90 years? The question is what do you do in the meantime while waiting to get up to "breakeven" (sustainability). What would the additional 11 million do? make widgets? only to find that on the day 15 million is reached, no body wants widgets anymore. The country finds itself with 14 million welfare beneficiaries, having destituted itself along the way to becoming a world class widget manufacturer, unless of course you have 15 million cow-cockies and cow-hands.

What would the additional 11 million do?
Sell houses to each other for ever increasing amounts?

What a coming to an end...humbug....Wonder how many Kiwi fatheads were sucked in...Shearer will promise them a benefit... 

Brilliant and happy!
Welcome to the new 36,000 year cycle... The wheels are turning... Mayan for BS...?
Alotta Crock.

Is there any data available on the number of people employed in export industries (agriculture and forestry) now, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and 20 years ago. It would be interesting to know how many of those migrants arriving over the past 20 year have gone into export industries.

The flawed  argument for "more people" is no different to the ALSO flawed argument of "more credit" (debt)
The soul agenda of the "we need more people crowd" is to continue the ever increasing buy/ sell exchange of ever more property into RICHER foreign hands. They use the same illusion ( or should i say delusion) that many argued for back in 2001 which lead to policy change that allows NON residents to owned NZ land and property, even post GFC
WE sold out as a country and continue to think this is the answer!
What we REALLY need, is a government fill of people who are well experienced INNOVATORS, INVENTORS, think outside the box types , and people who know the REAL economic fundamentals and reality of our global monetary ponzi scheme.
No more ex failed school teachers! No more parasitic currency traders, No more ex DPB welfare dependent hypocrites, No more failed ex woodwork teachers, No more bank lobbyists, no more alcohol lobbyists, no more racist people with superiority complexes based on fairytales and myths. NO MORE! A NEW beginning is what we need and THIS was the true meaning of the Mayan calender   

I am relieved to see that there are rational people out there who realize infinite growth of anything is not possible and cannot last (thermodynamics anyone!?). Over-populating this country is one of the most stupid things we could do given that essentially all of the scientific projections indicate we are likely going to be facing resource shortages and more competition for food over the coming decades.

Lets just have look at how this would effect our Fonterra exports.  We currently have a population of 4.5M.  In 2012 Fonterra sold a total 3.94 million tones of milk products, 2.32 million of these were exports.  ( means that the difference, 1.62 million tonnes were domestic.  If we add another 10.5 million people then by proportion the domestic demand could be expected to rise to 5.4 M tonnes.  Suddenly we are not producing enough milk to satisfy our own demands and we either have to screw the environment harder to produce more milk or we have to import milk and we have totally lost our dairy export industry.
(There is a slight flaw in the above as Fonterra is required to sell 0.25 M tonnes to other manufacturers.  Of this some remains domestic consuption but a percentage will be exported.  The net effect is small and the argument remains the same and our export industry would be completely lost)
This would apply across all export sectors probably to a greater extent as dairy is our strongest. 
We would have to totally borrow from overseas, the cost of providing houses, roads, power, schools etc, etc for all these people because presently we are unable to fully fund our present comparitively modest needs.  The net effect would be a huge increase in overseas borrowing and in the same stroke the destruction of our export industries. 
Words fail me.  These people are supposed to have some sort of ability to research ecconomics?  They are supposed to be promoting initiatives in our interests?  Whose interests are they actually serving???

Unless you pay for independent commissioned economic advice, nealy all other comments from economist are PR lobbiest for their funders, employers or sectors they represent. 

I wonder who is paying them to destroy our nation.

The biggest though is the political agenda....the rise of the voodoo economists like the Heartland institute.  This lot seem adept at picking the end point wanted and inventing stuff to justify it and get there.

Nice post until the last paragraph. Far from being Marxists, the Greens are promoting just the sort of economic solutions espoused by Pure Advantage. Are they Marxists too? Really dissapointing to get this so wrong.

I think you slight of hand.  My problem with the present Green Party (and Im a member btw) is fundimentally the social "red" aspect and green aspect have, do and will clash.  While the Green party have fortunately cleared considerable hard core lefty baggage in that the like of Sue and Keith have gone there is fundimentally a conflict. 
For instance the biggest is population.....that needs to be reduced, ever heard the Green's saying smaller families?  Kind of clashes with pacifica and maori culture that one, taboo lets not go there.
What about the levy on the higher earners to re-build chch?  really if you understand this piece you should know it isnt going to happen. Sure have levys for building tallow to bio-fuel plants, more wind and hydro capacity, electrify main lines and main bus routes...all these things would be protecting our economy and well being.....
This piece is succinct and strategic  it says what the problems we hear the Green's voicing similar? no not really, Im hard pushed to see such a theme...
The last and present loser in charge of the Labour party claimed they were ready to make hard decisions......I think they mean what ice-cream shall I have today.....they both lack any spine....and have too much baggage. On the other hand the green's dont really have a 100 years of tradition or lock in to a way of thinking unlike there is hope that at least they can morf....every oher party i look at i consider extinct.

The present loser in charge of the pinky-greens....dreaming of a Beehive office xmas....enjoy your life in his fantasy world Seven.

His fantasy world is a lot closer to the real world than yours is or ever will be.

Nobody said it would be easy. The very existance of humanity clashes with sustainability, yet removing ourselves from the picture is not an option. So green and red do clash, but more than green and blue? Once you accept our resources and capacity to absorb polution are finite, the next question has to be how to justly allocate those finite things. A traditional blue growth mentality is not a good starting point to solve these problems.
The point remains that calling Greens Marxist is ridiculous. There is almost nothing in this piece Greens would disagree with, including the population argument. Green policy is currently that we should not exceed the carrying capacity of NZ. More work needs to be done to determine what this is, but current work are that it is less than 6 million people.
And the politics involved must be considered too. Any party that directly espouses zero growth and population control will not be elected to Parliament, even if it's views are largely in agreement. Most of the electorate simply doesn't accept the arguments made in the piece above and parties with opposing philosophies must work carefully in attempting to change the public discourse. Family size is a good example. You don't have to look to PI communities to encounter a huge backlash to any suggestion that the govt should regulate family size. It would be counter productive to allow the Nats and Labour to scare people by saying the Greens have a China style, one child policy, for instance. As a democracy, people have to come to the realisations in this article themselves one step at a time. Does this mean many will suffer as a result of the slower pace? It most definitely does, but I don't see an alternative.

The Greens are principled when they want to be (eg they don't care about taking an strong stand on the foreshore and seabed) but when it comes poulation they go coy.

You just have to look at the list as that reflects the membership of the party.

Very happy to agree that the list reflects the membership.

At least the Greens state in policy that population should be limited to carrying capacity. I'm not aware of any other Party that says there should be a limit.

Good piece sums up my thoughts very well.
Nice to see some balance here at provide the info and let ppl think and decide.....

Mostly agree Steven. Although as per usual I am a little more optimistic. I think their has to be a way to unwind the house price bubble without causing a financial or environmental disaster.
Certainly the massive increase in immigration with the 15 million population target is not that solution. How big would Auckland be in this scenerio 5 million or more?
What if cut back on immigration, focused on upskilling and housing our young and poor instead. We could liberalise our planning laws in centres outside of Auckland. So the house price boom in Auckland leads to a construction boom in the provinces instead of the usual price boom radiating out from Auckland.
We need more thought on how to get high skilled jobs and businesses to work in provincial New Zealand. For instance a lower exchange rate would help the provinces because they export more than they import.
Many smaller cities, with stronger economies should be better both environmentally and financially for New Zealand

Hello NZ
If i was in charge of NZ
There would be full employment,work schemes growing anything that we can export.
Cleaning up NZ
The country has a massive unemployable work force,business people can not find employable people.
People need to understand,no work no money.
Either buy a house or rent one,sell all statehouses to young working families.
No country can afford to run the system we have going.
This would weed out the people who want to live this country.
First home buyers loan,low rates for new houses etc
NZ needs the best an smartest people to grow.
A good farmer picks the best breeding stock
NZ should pick from the tree
in stead off the bottom of the barrell

IMHO this is the best article ever published on  I just hope our political leaders read and understand it and then put in place policies to implement Derek's proposals.  I have no doubt that as E.F. Schmacher wrote "small is beautiful" and that NZ is an example of this thinking.  Let's show some leadership to the rest of the world and cap our poulation now. 

it has (already) been decided - there is a plan - in case you didn't know
A comment by Preacher Teacher in NZ Herald in response to Bernard's latest "bomb throwing exercise" 12:13 PM Sunday, 23 Dec 2012

The problems, if there are any, is getting our infrastructure up to cope with the millions of visitors a year we can expect if things go ACCORDING to PLAN. A good number may be enticed to stay on a more permanent basis. Further, if we get it right, the perceived need for a much greater population for NZ, possibly in the 25 million to 30 million range could be achieved in much shorter time than the 2060 date being worked on. I have predicted this potential population expansion for some twenty five years now. The trend in that time has been on the mark.
note: BEING WORKED ON ???  25+ million by whom? NZIER didn't want to frighten the horses

Bernard's latest "bomb throwing exercise" 

Even the current situation is untenable longer term. We send off to Australia and the rest of the world our locally born and educated  and get in return a mix of the culturally diverse (read ethnic) whose ages range outside our declared targets and with the  problems of assimilation resulting from language and customs that give them huge difficulties in becoming economically established.
We concern ourselves about a bulge in social spending to accommodate aging population then allow in aging hangers-on with no hope of a useful contribution other than as baby sitters.

Also don't forget for every single immigrant we potentially have the rights of the parents to also come and live permanently in NZ.  This is particularly exarcerbated with the one child policy in China.  My next door neighbour did this and within a year the daughter and family had moved to Australia leaving her retired parents to live in NZ on their own.  How does this type of policy help NZ?

Derek, a very good article and subject. Well done.
The only point of difference i have with you is that i do not consider it to be growth.
It is expansion, not growth. We already have growth, when an economy is comming out of recession it is growing.
What you are talking about is an expansion of both population and GDP.
As a very simple example:
You have a population of one million and a GDP of say ten Billion
You have a population of ten million and a GDP of one hundred billion
And so on
When an economy grows you create jobs. When an economy expands you have more jobs but you also have more people to fill those jobs.
Expanding an economy is the worst thing that can happen to the people but great if you own the water and sell it to them. So, great if you are very, very rich

We do need more people , but we cant even hold on to the ones we've got , they're all ducking to Oz . We need educated migrants who come and find jobs or start businesses and produce and pay tax from Day 1 .

What we dont need is the unemployed uneducated poverty stricken huddled masses from War Zones like Iraq, Afghnistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and the likes of the Phillipines and India.

We dont have the resources to keep any more non -productive people in housing on benefits and the like

Why do you say we need more people?


Are you likely to benefit from more people competing for a resource you are selling?


With reference to a recent post at



...  Most people in the world do not profit from population growth. But there are a few who do. And of course, when you stop and think about who profits from population growth, one is real estate developers. The builders of houses clearly think population growth is a great idea because it means more housing starts. And that is how they measure their welfare. ...

and (with reference to the United States.


the real question is would you rather live in a nation of a hundred million people with just absolutely abundant resources for a very prosperous lifestyle, or in a nation of a billion people where everybody is sort of fighting over a relatively tiny share?

Which in NZ terms would be

would you rather live in a nation of three million people with just absolutely abundant resources for a very prosperous lifestyle, or in a nation of 25 million people where everybody is sort of fighting over a relatively tiny share?

Mike B: a very good point. One which is either ignored or avoided.

Growth is an ambiguous word with a dont worry "feel-good" connotation that is intentionally mis-used.

A business analogy. A closed market. Two competing businesses. They grow (expand) their market until the market for their products becomes saturated. Thereafter it becomes a contest for market share as the two contestants compete to take market share off one-another. The market can no longer be grown. The business that has the capacity and smarts to out-do the other, can only obtain growth at the expense of the other.

To that extent, I accept what steven and PDK claim: Globally the world can no longer grow due to the limitations of finite resources. Of course there is a fallacy to that. It is possible to grow now and in the immediate future, simply by consuming those finite resources faster, at the expense of the future.

The talking heads, the ones on the podium, those with the microphone, who advocate growth by increasing the population are simply advocating a relocation of the demand side from foreign places to here in New Zealand. That is not growth. It is simply a re-allocation of a fixed pie. Outfits like NZIER who simply advocate "growth" (without defining it) by increasing inbound migration should also explain why inbound migrants (who are consumers of resources) need to bring with them the "RIGHTS and ENTITLEMENTS" to those future resources (that they will consume in the future).

Can NZ grow by growing the global pie?  The topic needs to be re-defined.

The talking heads, the ones on the podium, those with the microphone, who advocate growth by increasing the population are simply advocating a relocation of the demand side from foreign places to here in New Zealand. That is not growth. It is simply a re-allocation of a fixed pie.


But it was a necessity for a job at the United Nations for Helen Clark. And now an opportunity for Tim Grosser at WTO.

SH: That's the point I'm making .. the ease with which the proletariat can be mis-led with words by the powerful few :-

Lets play the psychologists rorschact (ink-blob) type word game .. where I say a word and you immediately reply with the very first thing that comes into your mind :- here it is .. the word is "growth"

Yep, your point is noted in other communities and by their bloggers.

A good discussion, about as important as it gets.


Growth = Consumption of Resources, it is as simple as that really. Or Expansion in MikeB's term, which really is a very useful definition. So expansion means no more resources per person, which is really what is desireable but the opposite of what the pollies mean. What the pollies want is more slaves so the inequity can be greater by utilising their interest driven debt fueled ponzi scheme.


Interest will always result in a redistribution of wealth (resources) and the redistribution is now constrained by its natural limits. What is required is another layer at the bottom of the ponzi to fuel it for a bit longer.

by iconoclast | 30 Jul 12, 2:26pm

by iconoclast  21 Oct 2011 repeated from last year

One reason why NZ needs to consider closing its doors to immigration. Over the past 10 days 2 comments have been posted (by some-one else) drawing to your attention that NZ consumes 160000 barrels of oil per day. That's 13 barrels of oil per person per year for every one of 4.4 million ppl. Man, woman, and child. A cost of USD $800 per year per person. (NZD $1000). However that is (currently) offset by NZ production of 90000 barrels per day which is exported, leaving a net cost per person of USD $500 pa. The problem is those fields producing the local 90000 bpd will be exhausted within the next 10 years. Which means in 10 years time the imported costs to the existing population will increase from USD $500 pp to USD $800 pp in constant $ terms.
HOWEVER, for every new migrant arriving in NZ, the incremental cost is an immediate additional imported cost to the economy of USD $800 pa per person.

AT current July 2012 cost of USD $90 pb the annual additional (imported) cost is now USD $1170 or NZD $1450. Thats crude oil, not the processed refined cost.


Mist - perhaps because he's right.


You make some interesting assumptions, not what I got from his piece. You seem to have a pre-held template which colours your take. Read it again, slowly, sans prejudice.


Try reading the Buckinster Fuller lecture (and remember, he delivered that before Hubbert had been proven correct, before Nixon had to cut the dollar adrift, before the Club of Rome. I've had a copy of it (in Approaching the Benign Environment, Littleton) since about '75. He advocated efficiencies (as I do) but failed to point out that they are a 'diminishing returns' paradigm, and he failed to point out that it still takes the same effort to raise a ton a metre, that it always has.



My take is, he's actually saying we ive said before real wealth is what actual physical resources NZ has so we have a finite cake to last generations....that means with more ppl we are poorer per capita.


Look at the UK. Not much sign of their high population creating productivity and growth. All it did for them was create a silent invasion, resulting in the gradual take over of their councils, cities and loss of their culture and way of life to a large extent.  The lucky ones managed to escape to this part pf the world, to regain as much as possible what was lost.  We should start to look at countries like Switzerland and take control back from foreign globalist meddling in our country and remove the leaders (from both parties) that are selling us out. This way we have a chance at creating an environment that brings some of our brightest and best back home and we can work towards building a strong and sound country that will give our young people a future and home they want to stay in.  



TPP will be the latest sell out...


Think of all the 'overseas trained' doctors we could let in....


"The full extent of the danger presented by foreign doctors working in the health service can be revealed.

New figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) show that the vast majority of doctors who have been struck off were trained abroad."

I liked NZ better when we had only 3 million people and the 2nd or 3rd highest standard of living in the world.

Another consideration. The Constitution and the Treaty of Waitangi.

A controversy in America in the past month that has disappeared into the ether already, but has some relevance to New Zealand.

Following the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 people, Piers Morgan, a UK national, British CNN host, living in America, interviewed Larry Pratt, the president of the Gun Owners of America. During the heated debate, Morgan called Larry Pratt "an unbelievably stupid man" You have absolutely no coherent argument. Following the interview, a Texas journalist posted a petition on the White House website, calling for the deportation of Morgan back to the UK, alleging Morgan "is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment.

The president of another "Gun Owners Group" in another US State argued the case that Morgan was hiding behind the First Amendment of the US Constitution (the right to Free Speech) while attacking the Second Amendment of the US Constitution (the right to bear arms). This particluar president raised the claim that if Morgan can't accept the American Constitution, he should leave the country.

The petition to the White House, calling for Morgan's deportation, has received the necessary 50,000 signatures.

Which brings up the proposition that all migrants seeking either permanent residency, or new zealand citizenship, should be required to sit a comprehensive test on their understanding and acceptance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Aaaagh.  The thought police tactic.

You mean the immigrant will have to understand that the ToW shows Maori accepted sovereighty of the crown and in return became equal citizens.  Not the re - imagined version where maori have special rights.  Correct ?


I don't really care which one you use. Anything that is better than the Australian 20 question short-answer job where question number 1 is who is Don Bradman and Question Number 2 is what is he famous for.

NZ can borderline support the population it has now -- coupled with a substantial and substantive part of the population in poverty. Fleeing to Australia is not a universal option, as even Australia is mostly filled up.

Peak oil has not stopped peaking, so suck petrol out of the equasion -- and NZ may be  nominally overpoplated. 

It is always better to make do with what you have, that to have more people unsustainably. The US has 200 millions surplus people, and many don't expect them to survive peak oil.


Hey, hows about paying some of us with far more intelligent views and ideas than the likes of those who expound things like population growth as a solution to our woes.

A few years back I recall similar cries for a population of around 5 million. Well, we aren't far off that now and which direction have we gone? Yep another 11 million will solve that, NOT

Is it only me that sees that this idea of increasing population to improve things is a theory with no fullstop at the end of it. Once you get to 15 million what do you do when the economy flattens, oh I know, increase the population again.

DUMB DUMB DUMB. We have brains, let's use them and come up with something that will actually work!

part of the problem is that those who would make money from a larger population are prepared to fund the propaganda supporting their position.


Precious few who want to thave the population in the 3 to 4 million range have the ability or desire to fund an alternative view.....  Dick Smith in Australia comes to mind. And even then, he is criticized as he made his money from the effects of an expanding population. 

Owen Glen doesn't want to see a larger population (I heard that on Radio NZ where May Chen reffered to a discussion she had with him).

One third of migrants leave after they get permanent residency. Two thirds of British and 80% of Chinese return home (but can still vote National?) . Only 18% of investors from China remained. South Africans and Indians headed for greener pastures in Australia. An ethnic council spokesman cited “don’t feel accepted, poorly paid, the weather”.
A lot of immigrants “aren’t coming to settle they are coming to obtain an oppurtunity to be resident here
The suggestion (preffered solution) is speed up family unification>

Radio NZ has never reported the findings of the Savings Working Group (re immigration) of the Australian Productivity Commision or commented on the poltically acceptable terms of reference of our own. The Power of the PSA?

More Population? An example of contemporary Auckland. You want more?

Take a trip on a summers day to Long Bay Regional Park, up the end of the East Coast Bays

Years ago, before it was designated a regional park, Long Bay was a long, long way from Auckland City. It was out in the sticks. If you wanted to spend a day of tranquility at the beach, away from the city, you really had to make an effort to get there. But it was worthwhile. Once you got there you almost had the place to yourself, sharing it with about 1000 other people on a busy summers day. Families. Picnics. Swimming. It was heaven. Now look at it. You have to queue for 2 hours in the car just to get in. If you are lucky. Or have the patience.

NZ Herald on Auckland Population on a summers day queing up to get to the beach at Long Bay.

And as for KH's police (above) here is a picture in
The "Aucklander" of The Police at Long Bay telling you what you can and can't do and when.

Some time in the future, todays nippers will tell their grandchildren of wonderful summers days at long beach, 2 hours getting there in the family SUV watching exciting animated childrens cartoons on the on-board DVD screen, two hours in a queue at the entrance to the park, an hour to find a picnic spot, a quick swim, a quick lunch, irritable kids, then packing up followed by the long trip home.

YEP, welcome to Auckland 2010.

Note: In 30 years they have done what 200 years of natural population growth hadn't

LOL Yes and this is before the new development at Long Bay with property coming on the market there in 2013/2014.

I better not say that....

Economic arguments against population growth

"For a start, we need to discredit some of the nonsense economics floating around. Bigger is not better. China and India both have plenty of people, while countries with the highest per capita incomes and standards of living generally have fewer people. China has greatly reduced population growth with its one child policy and seen vast economic growth – shouldn’t China have failed to grow because its population stabilised? The map above shows a pretty clear inverse relationship between population growth rates and standards of living.

Nor is a comparison of population density meaningful in this debate, or we could argue that any region with a low population density is ‘underpopulated’ (like Antarctica or the Simpson desert) because we have compared the region to Hong Kong or the Netherlands.

One core economic argument in favour of a greater population is that utility theory suggests that a trillion people living in poverty and slavery are better that one million happy and fulfilled people, leading lives directed by their own desires. It is known as the repugnant conclusion. I doubt anyone believes this is a good outcome, nor is claimed to be a good reason for greater population – it just happens to be at the heart of economic theory and can spawn unusual conclusions.

A second argument appeals to economies of scale and suggests that with greater domestic consumption industries can expand to a point where they have economies of scale that make them internationally competitive. Why domestic population is currently a barrier to industry development is beyond me. If there are no artificial constraints on trade, shouldn’t the world be the marketplace of any industry even in its infancy? This argument only works if you couple high population with protectionism (the infant industry argument, which itself is often challenged).

A third argument, that may be the focus of this debate, is that the demographic shift towards a flat population pyramid means that the proportion of people in the workforce will be much lower, and that public welfare support for the elderly will become a burden on a smaller workforce. However, one does not need to think too hard to realise that stimulating population growth simply delays this inevitable demographic shift. We have known this shift was coming for decades yet have failed to act.  But it is not too late to implement solutions more practical than stimulation population growth. "

Another economist argues against population growth here:

While you might think that the above chart is facetious, as population growth could easily be curtailed at some point in the future, the fact remains that there will always be vested interests pressuring governments to expand population growth in the face of an ever-ageing population.



The argument is that while the GDP that the migrant gets to enjoy rises the marginal cost vs benefit of bringing them in may be greater for the existing population (which have to bear it).

It’s the reason why I don’t agree with the premise “this country was built on migrants”. Back then the cost vs benefit of a migrant was in favour of that. We had the infrastructure that was otherwise being underutilized so there wasn’t as much cost in adding an extra body. Now that we’ve hit natural and infrastructure barriers (transport, medical care, water, land in capital cities, and more) it’s safe to say with the preferences of most migrants (either Sydney or Melbourne) the benefit they bring on average isn’t probably worth the cost of overcoming these constraints.

Yukky old NZ:


Fantastic piece. Thanks so much.

Vancouver’s experience is probably like Canada’s on the whole. Trudeau brought in multiculturalism by federal directive in the 70s (“Although there are two founding peoples there is no founding culture…” and that mirrored Laurier before him…) Then in 1982, multiculturalism was enshrined in the Charter. Then in the mid-80s a Conservative PM enacted the “Multiculturalism Act”.

Now in Canada’s large cities it’s somewhat amusing to hear people speaking English. Fourth generation Canadians are seen as an amusing relic. Do you eat roasts? Do your parents wear sweaters to dinner and talk about classical music, ha ha ha?

The reality is that in NZ, the hegemony of Anglo Saxon culture refuses to die. The Interfaith dialogue was a fantastic example of that. Also, we never had (much) immigration from Central, Eastern or Southern Europe. We still treat South Africans and Pomps as “one of us”.

Most people that run this country (wealthy baby boomers) grew up not knowing anyone from different cultures and didn’t travel much when they were young. There is still a serious fear of the unknown. Let’s be honest, we NZers didn’t travel at all until very recently. There were really no coffee shops or restaurants in this country until the 90s for chrissake. How can you expect the political class to suddenly embrace all these different people?



    Russell Brown

    "If you’re going to “be honest”, look up some numbers. Canada has the highest per capita net immigration rate in the world and still manages to be quite admirable. Spain, which has absorbed more than three million immigrants since 2000, is flourishing. Immigration to Norway is at record levels.

    And really, even in New Zealand, where a dizzying 23% of the population was born elsewhere, I can’t see the social fabric tearing, let alone any “cultural genocide” going on.

    One of the things I liked most about the years I lived in London was the diversity of faces and voices (I don’t think that’s unconnected to Britain’s continued cultural vitality). It was actually a relief to return to New Zealand and find our cultural homgenity breaking up."


    JH: says "people that run this country (NZ) (wealthy baby boomers) grew up not knowing anyone from different cultures and didn’t travel much when they were young"

    utter nonsense - where did you get that from - you are speaking of which you nothing about

    You really need to come up to speed .. how many NZ parliamentarians .. in parliament in the past 12 years were not born in New Zealand .. one is Russell Norman .. and there was another quoted just 4 days ago ie Mark Burton .. and during the crucible years of the BBs, New Zealand was considered the largest multi-cutural melting-pot in the southern hemisphere .. and in Canada I know of 2nd and 3rd generation canadians of european extraction who are leaving (particularly) Toronto and Vancouver and returning to their countries of origin for the very reasons you sweep away.

    You are patently not a kiwi.

    Sorry I was quoting from the comments section; that was a Labour Party activist who said that. The link is to Professor Paul Spoonley's post on Public Address titled "What Diversity Dividend" where he laments the fact that the Royal Commission’s report on Auckland’s governance does not recognise "diversity" as "critical to" Aucklands economic success, regardless of the growing pains of a larger population.

    The commenters from the left let loose with  attitudes of gross arrogance and disdain for what they percieve as a culture that is either "white supremisist" or multicultured.






    JESSICA – Let’s talk a little bit about that population spread. Why are so many people moving to Auckland?


    PAUL – Well, Auckland – there’s an agglomeration effect, so the bigger Auckland becomes, there more attractive it becomes. It becomes more attractive economically, but it also becomes more attractive as a place to live. And so we’re seeing the sort of perimeters of New Zealand, the regions, beginning to flat-line, so they’re not growing, and we’re now beginning to see the first of regions beginning to decline.

    I don't find anything that supports such positive view in the Royal Commision Report.

    Drivers of Economic
    Growth in Auckland
    A report prepared for the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance

    "In summary, based on the available evidence, it seems clear that modest agglomeration economies will accrue gradually in Auckland, but they will not be a causative force that will transform the regional economy. Moreover, a larger and more dense population on which they rely also imposes costs, notably in the land markets.


    "One thing he is clear about is that the demographic changes set to occur in Christchurch could transform the city infamous for its white supremacist National Front movement. While Christchurch does have small ethnic enclaves, hosting lantern festivals for Chinese New Year and Diwali festivals for the Indian community, the scale of the anticipated migrant influx is unparalleled in its history."

    Bold young men drove sheep on to the vast grazing runs to found pastoral empires and land owning dynasties. Out of the wealth from the squatters’ wool clips, and from wheat when the tussock was ploughed, grew a city of scholarship, grace and dignity”

    Professor Kenneth Cumberland Landmarks

    A New Zealand with 15 million people will take away all the good things about living in NZ.  I lived in crowded London for 5 years and although I earned substantially more and was able to buy all the I-Pods I wanted, my quality of life was poorer.


    If we stopped growing the population right now people would be forced to be better to achive growth, companies would be forced to train and up-skill thier existing employees.  Companies would invest in automation and process improvement.  We would achieve growth by working smarter, not harder and with more people.

    The more the merrier.

    They're talking about the country, not a bleeding party

    The great myth of urban Britain

    Argues that it is a false perception that Britain is paved over. I think it misses the point as it is a matter of how that green space relates to the individual: if you can't get to the beach it is no consolation to know how big the ocean is?