Population growth from migration is a two way street, with big increases in both long term arrivals and departures

Population growth from migration is a two way street, with big increases in both long term arrivals and departures

Discussions about migration usually focus on the inflows of people from foreign shores and the effect this has on population growth, as well as its impact on resources such as housing and services such as healthcare, education and transport.

But there are two other factors that have just as big an impact on population growth but receive far less coverage - emigration and the migration habits of New Zealanders themselves.

Emigration is the flow of people leaving this county long term. Over the years it has played an important role in New Zealand's migration trends and population growth.

New Zealanders have a long history of travelling overseas to live and work, particularly to Australia and the UK, and that trend continues today.

The table below shows the long term migration trends for New Zealand citizens from 2002 to 2019 based on Statistics NZ's migration figures (year to June).

It shows that more New Zealand citizens left the country long term than returned after an extended stay overseas, in every year since 2002.

That is leading to a net loss of NZ citizens every year.

The net loss peaked at 43,732 in  2012 when 72,383 NZ citizens left long term, and only 28,651 returned.

That net loss then declined steadily as fewer New Zealanders left the country and more returned home. By 2017 those flows were almost equally balanced, with a net loss of just 2892 for the year, just 7% of what it had been five years previously.

Then in 2018 and 2019 fewer New Zealanders were returning home and more were leaving. The net loss of NZ citizens therefore started to increase again and was sitting at 11,074 in the 12 months to June this year.

But it's not just NZ citizens that are leaving the country.

The table below also shows the migration trends for non-NZ citizens and it shows that slightly more non-NZ citizens left the country in the 12 months to June than NZ citizens.

There are many reasons why non-NZ citizens would leave the country long term. Some would have been on temporary student or work visas which came to an end, and others may have decided to move permanently to another country, or they may be away on an extended stay but intend to return at a later date.

However arrivals of non-NZ citizens have risen at a much faster rate than departures, which has pushed up the net gain on non-NZ citizens to 66,620 in the 12 months to June this year.

The table below also shows the combined effects of migration by NZ and non-NZ citizens, which is the total net population gain or loss from migration.

With a net gain of 66,620 non-NZ citizens in the year to June and a net loss of 11,074 NZ citizens, the total net gain was 55,547 in the year to June, which was the fourth highest it has been for that time period between 2002 and 2019.

As the table shows, the main driver for the recent migration trends was the substantial increase in the number of non-NZ citizens arriving in this country, the impact of which was substantially reduced by the number of NZ citizens leaving.

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New Zealand Migration by Citizenship 2002-2019
Year to June
  New Zealand Citizens Non-NZ Citizens Total All Citizenships
  Arrivals Departures Net Gain/Loss Arrivals Departures Net Gain/Loss Arrivals Departures Net Gain/Loss
2002 30,667 47,705 -17,038 97,804 25,453 72,351 128,471 73,158 55,313
2003 34,094 44,416 -10,322 96,665 29,616 67,049 130,759 74,032 56,727
2004 32,897 48,731 -15,834 76,345 36,418 39,927 109,242 85,149 24,093
2005 31,304 53,789 -22,485 71,994 38,853 33,141 103,298 92,642 10,656
2006 30,400 55,400 -25,000 75,013 36,821 38,192 105,413 92,221 13,192
2007 29,994 62,407 -32,413 83,402 36,992 46,410 113,396 99,399 13,997
2008 29,288 67,847 -38,559 88,423 38,018 50,405 117,711 105,865 11,846
2009 31,696 59,325 -27,629 84,256 40,439 43,817 115,952 99,764 16,188
2010 32,496 50,461 -17,965 69,290 42,434 26,856 101,786 92,895 8,891
2011 29,621 65,848 -36,227 71,405 44,451 26,954 101,026 110,299 -9,273
2012 28,651 72,383 -43,732 72,315 43,081 29,234 100,966 115,464 -14,498
2013 33,311 65,270 -31,959 73,011 40,223 32,788 106,322 105,493 829
2014 37,261 48,955 -11,694 83,277 38,527 44,750 120,538 87,482 33,056
2015 39,307 44,326 -5,019 96,637 38,929 57,708 135,944 83,255 52,689
2016 39,740 42,673 -2,933 106,596 39,815 66,781 146,336 82,488 63,848
2017 39,219 42,111 -2,892 105,535 44,137 61,398 144,754 86,248 58,506
2018 36,434 42,805 -6,371 104,518 49,524 54,994 140,952 92,329 48,622
2019 35,404 46,478 -11,074 114,341 47,721 66,620 149,746 94,199 55,547
Source: Statistics NZ                

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The ratio of non nz citizens to a residence is a lot more than nz citizens.. that would also explain why their is less pressure on house prices, despite the continued high migration numbers


Yes, a point I have made many times in the past is that it is the make up of migration numbers that is more important than the raw, gross numbers.
How many of those 55K can or want to buy a house? Many of them will be students.
Property spruikers consistently overlook this fact, intentionally or unintentionally.

Have to be intentional, when you have to look the quick gain bottom $.

No Fritz, it is those of your disposition that blame immigrants for rising house prices. New arrivals will need to be housed one way or another, so it's either buy or rent. House prices don't have to go up if, but that would require higher density dwellings - flats.

Who is spruiking property to you? Do whatever is right for you, let it go.

Well there you go Te Kooti, We all know that the locals can't afford those multi million dollar homes and if it not new migrants which I agree is unlikely. Then it must be all that Money Laundering that's been going on. Did you know that year about $1.35 billion from the proceeds of fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through everyday New Zealand businesses. That acquires a lot of homes in the expensive parts of Auckland.
NZ Justice website: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/aml-cft/

Did you know that year about $1.35 billion from the proceeds of fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through everyday New Zealand businesses.

Well that $1.35 bio is a useful figure, but no idea how it is derived. NZ and Australia are hotbeds of money laundering. $1.35 bio could a drop in the proverbial ocean.

Well there is a strong indicator if you look at how NZ's more expensive property in Auckland has gone in to a long term stagnation stage since the money laundering rules fully kicked in, in last year or so (Of course along with China's clamp down on money laundering too). Australia on the other hand, doesn't have the same regulations as we do. Which explains why their property market is in a world of it's own, I guess the false economy reality will hit them sooner or later.

So why are rents not soaring in Auckland?????
One of the reasons is that many of the student migrants live in homestays or hostels, or crammed in with others.

because rents are soaring everywhere else instead

I tend to agree, people letting out spare rooms. Sweating the existing housing stock harder. I think I’d rather be studying in NZ than HK as it happens

Have you run this by Due Diligence before publishing? Just to make sure you have it right, since I hear he has the best information on this.

I’ll audit it and get back to you. I can confirm immediately that 55,547 is a big number though.

114,000 foreign migrants is an even bigger number that govt doesnt highlight.

Just. Consider if the Pollies were truthful we could have decreased pressure on infrastructure and housing. But no.


What is the objective? A population of 10 million? 20 million? 30 million? On whose remit? We are witnessing the transformation of NZ society into a highly stressed, low-value economy - a process of immense social consequence pursued in absolute political silence. With housing, healthcare, education, infrastructure of every sort, under immense strain, what is there to keep alert, educated, ambitious New Zealanders here?


Good, big picture questions!
Maybe we need a population plan!?
At the moment we seem to be going along willy nilly in a very ad hoc way

At the moment we seem to be going along willy nilly in a very ad hoc way

On one side of the ruling elite, it's all about caring and empathy (at least at the surface level). On the other side, it's closer to the 'common sense' of the average man (usually of the mainstream white bread variety) and 'busyness'.

The plan is to bring in so many the port has to be moved north. Good to see a govt hit a target 30 years early - 5 million Kiwis sometime next year.


"We are witnessing the transformation of NZ society into a highly stressed, low-value economy - a process of immense social consequence pursued in absolute political silence."
A better description of Globalisation I am yet to read!

Naa, no objective mate, probably NZ is my first country that I'm in, and consider that 'immigration' is part of their parameter economic launch. Have a look at Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore for instance.. in any economic think tank report? - 'Immigration' is not being put there as a key. Here? it's the key, so be it.. but like we've all observed, no details on the plan, skills needed, distribution of it, exploitation monitoring, etc. - Bang! - why we are in this situations right now? - answer: even the highly skilled migrants couple that I knew of, plan to be fluid on their movement from NZ - you can count number of people with their skills here in NZ - Alas, now we just have to endure more longer waiting list both in private & public hospitals.. ough, forgot surely we can import more of them/quantity.. from other quick production countries.. that can produce/train them..cheaper..cheaper.. cheap..

We're going to hit 5 million 20 years ahead of 2004 Stats projection and we are tracking above 95th percentile based on 2004 projection. If we take most recent population projection (2016 base), which has NZ reaching 7.88 million in 2068 at 95 percentile, there is a good chance that NZ's population will track above that and easily reach 10 million by end of this century.


What would be interesting to know is how many of the NZ 46K citizens leaving became citizen within 5 years before leaving the country. This being one of the main issues that Australia has with NZers coming there to work, they see us as a backdoor for all types of people that may not necessarily have been granted permission to settle there from their original country but can once NZer.

....which is bound to end in Australia scrapping the Special Category Visas for New Zealanders and treating us the same as every other country ie: We'll need a regular visa to enter Austalia, and work options will be at their discretion, not a right, as it is today.

Why would Aussie scrap the current set up? They get the best of both worlds. They keep the hard working self sufficient Kiwis that cannot access benefits in Oz even though the are contributing to the Oz tax base while being able to boot the drop kicks back to NZ.

Yeah, that famous quote : The Kiwis migrating to Aussie increase the average IQ of both countries.


Last weeks story on immigration here attracted nearly 200 comments, so its clearly a hot topic yet we don't hear from politicians the case laid out for increasing our population. My simple poll on here had 70% voting for a smaller population. What would NZ be like today if immigration had been controlled so that we were at say 4 million?


Better. NZ would be better IMHO.

I can't speak for the entire country but if the population had stayed put once I arrived (2003) then i wouldn't have spent about an hour in traffic on the southern motorway on a Sunday afternoon.

So where would the growth and investments come from?
We would have gone backwards compared to say Melb and Sudney

Same exports, fewer but wealthier people. Compare with Iceland - remote Island, a few resources, small population, GDP per capita higher than ours.

New Zealand would be stagnant.

As Michael Reddell has often pointed out, conflating GDP growth (more people) with GDP growth per capita (more wealth per capita) is a mistake we should not be making. This immigration sugar rush has not helped us avoid stagnancy. Productivity has continued its decline. Even John Key stopped mentioning productivity (one of his campaigning points) when he got into power. The immigration sugar rush is too much of an easy pretense.


I've been thinking lately, NZ is just an immigration filter for Australia.

not just to Australia to other countries as well where as a NZ you can get in on our quota rather than from your original country.
I know many that still carry two passports to go from country to country without having to apply for a visa

Makes perfect sense. Non-NZ Citizens arrive, and some time later, as NZ Citizens, these same people leave.


I retired six years ago and have been lucky enough to travel extensively since with my wife, our children and their partners. Trips to France, Australia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, Japan and several trips to the States. What strikes me each time is how expensive it is to live in New Zealand compared to where I have travelled. Food, power, vehicles and the running of them, clothing, housing and eating out is very expensive here. Combined with our low wage economy and crap weather I can see why so many people leave here or use us to go to where they really want to live. I was born here, educated here and have my family and friends and I have the resources to live well here. I will never leave other than to travel. In saying that I can see why many do leave our shores to make a better life somewhere else.

It certainly makes a sucker out of those of us who stay here and keep things humming while people are off earning big money overseas and not contributing to the state in any meaningful way.

Why would you contribute to NZ when living overseas? Very odd point of view.

Why should a country hold the door open for you forever while you are not contributing to it in any way? Especially one that cannot house or feed its own people - people who do live here and do pay tax here? It's not an unknown concept to tax citizens of a country if they wish to maintain their citizenship, and all the 'right of return' goodness that comes with it.

Why should a country hold the door open for you forever while you are not contributing to it in any way?

That depends in what you think "contribution' is. What if a NZer has 50k or 100k sitting in bank deposits? What if their incomes are being paid into NZ bank accounts? Isn't that contributing to banks' capital ratios?

Counterpoint: what if not those things?

..gain residency, leave your wife and kiddies here on the dpb, parents on nat super and head back overseas. NZ tax payer funded foreign wealth creation scheme.
So many rorts in this country now - taking advantage of the systems set up in times gone past.

It's funny, I left to live in Australia for quite a few years and then came back. I hear that many people go overseas for similar reasons to me - to go somewhere with a bigger population, with a greater variety of economic opportunities than exist here. Does anyone see the irony of complaining about the population increasing in NZ, when people leave to go somewhere bigger?

Personally speaking, I would have little problem with the speed of our population growth if there had been commensurate increases in infrastructure investment.
But NZ is shambolic at infrastructure planning, investment and delivery and until (if) that happens we should assume it won't. So, cut immigration.

I agree re infrastructure and would add that our planning rules are useless.

My experience is that wherever you go in the world with population growth, people there complain about infrastructure growing pains, and where the population is dropping, people have a big problem with that too, as the economy suffers.

As a foreigner who emigrated to New Zealand from an expensive part of the USA and have lived in Rip Off Britain, I find the cost of living here quite expensive. Sure, there are the economy scales and the distance to consider but somethings should not be as dear as they are. I get the sense that while New Zealand is technically a wealthy country on paper, most of the real wealth is in the hands of a few and they only continue to get wealthier while everyone else gets poorer. Will things improve? I guess it’s easier to blame immigrants for all that is wrong with this country.

You cannot blame the immigrants - some are really good for NZ (the docs who saved my life) and some disastrous (drug importers) and most somewhere in the middle. I an and do blame our political parties for not preparing the country for rapid growth combined with minimal growth productivity.

We are resource wealthy but intellectually and technologically poor. Low skilled Immigrants is the symptom, not the cause of our problems

A big problem being that we primarily tax productive enterprise...not windfall gains on land, or land itself.

I would like to see the stats on that, at the moment all we have is anecdotal evidence,
it is not broken down to born in nz citizens and non born in nz citizens.
maybe they don't want us to see that breakdown

Probably they don't collect it, to be fair.


Winnie Winnie where ar you ????


Stuffing his face at the trough. Playing with the baubles of office.

Like he always does...

Wait 6 months and he'll be in the media again. Railing at something; tilting at windmills;howling at the moon. And the those with the political nous of a sand-shoe will vote for him once again.

Comment of the day Davo

Is he listening to his corporate donor rather than his voters. Got to have plenty of low wage workers available to work in the plants. That would explain his killing of the fair pay legislation Labour wanted to bring in.

The plan is just keep bringing more people in and damn the consequences!


Another failed promise by the COL, I see record number of foreign migration arrivals in 2018 and 2019 of 104,000 and 114,000. I have to turn the page to add to the list of policy promise failures by the three misfit parties pretending they are running this country.

Difference between National and Labour.

National does it openly and Labour and its associates does the same thing behind the cover.

Whom to vote ?

Both are same but atleast national is doing what it says unlike Labour.....Capital gain Tax.....Immigration...........Tax...........


Money laundering, people laundering and house flipping. What an economy.


Rockstar even! haha the next generation is toast

Would be great if we recorded why people were leaving. I guess to buy a well priced house and to abandon student loan would be up there.


I went to the central library in AKL on Saturday.. then went for a walk around a few blocks as I normally avoid the "central" CBD that used to once be the centre of Auckland and its been years since I've been there.

Frankly you wouldn't know you were in NZ - and what an absolute run down decrepit sh!t-hole.

$2 shops, noodle houses and for lease signs were it - complete disorientation of where I grew up and started working. Its all gone....

Smith and Caughey's Xmas merchandised windows were like a shining Ruby buried in a pile of dog crap

Auckland is simple a transit lounge now. Counting the days till the kids are old enough and I can leave.

I left feeling sad - none of the political parties give a crap or have a vision that beats simply importing a whole bunch of bodies from somewhere else to boost the numbers.

Comment of the month.

'Smith and Caughey's Xmas merchandised windows were like a shining Ruby buried in a pile of dog crap'

The upkeep is awful too. Don't get me started on the pavements in the CBD.

High Street / Lorne Street still has something, but even that's getting infiltrated by crap. As long as Unity remains, there's hope....

No need to go to CBD anymore, it is a different world out there. Suburbs are good with plenty of new shining malls, with parking, libraries, motorways to connect and may be cheaper prices and better variety. Don't forget the Countdown, New World etc in each shopping mall. And free air conditioning and shelter from rains too.

I've been banging on since 1990 about Asian based immigration without the need to talk to the rest of the country about it. They came in their droves after the 1987 share market crash & from what I saw, they were the only thing holding up the Auckland economy at that point & quite frankly, couldn't believe their luck.
Fast forward 30 years: We are now over 30 years into this global experiment which from what I can gather, doesn't seem to have a mandate from either side of the political spectrum, so I can only conclude that this is a state organised thing from behind closed doors that strangely enough, The UK, the USA, Australia & Canada have all bought into over this time. I call it the price of the pill, but it has other names. By that I mean that the educated classes are not reproducing & are running the state departments, or whatever you want to call them, so driven by guilt & God knows what else, import others (read non- NZ immigrants) to fill the tax hole that the non-breeders have created. I know, I apologise as it sounds a bit crude, but it's also true.

A bit crude, but true. Many of our best and brightest have left too, and in my experience those incoming 'Skilled migrants' are often second rate. And we have a large underclass with higher fertility rates.
So, not really anyone is better off other than the rentiers

'Skilled migrants' are often second rate. - Some are and some aren't. No stats (eg % on a salary double NZ average) to prove it. So anecdotal which means those who like immigration can list their heros and those who suspect we have overdone immigration list the number of foreign faces they meet at fast food and supermarket checkouts.

Of course its anecdotal. But I have a lot more to go by than supermarket workers and uber drivers. I have encountered a lot of immigrants in my professional career. Some have been very good, but I would say many have been mediocre.

Its not all about the money! One thing that is apparent is that NZ's quality of life is overlooked, (well in the South Island anyway). Comparisons are being made from an Aucklanders point of view but this doesn't apply to New Zealand as a whole. Auckland is just another big city with the same problems of any other big city. Whilst affordability is a real issue for all city dwellers, maybe the government should be utilising the advances in technology and promoting decentralisation. This would also reduce the inherent risks associated with natural disasters and make us more resilient to the economic shock to the country.

South Island is leap years ahead for quality of life.
Yes the North IsLand is a bit warmer but those that live in Auckland and never left, have got tunnel vision

IDK TM2, those who have never left Auckland can see what is happening for ourselves. I've gone from swearing I'd never leave Auckland to checking out houses and finance roles in Dunedin once a month at minimum.

I am in Auckland for the next 6 years for my daughter's schooling. After that, I am gone!

Auckland is currently having a net migration loss to the region's.

That's being swept under the carpet...

The difference in population in the golden triangle and the South Island speaks for itself. People want to live where it is warmer, there are more jobs and business opportunities and where there is decent recreational facilities including water sport and fishing. No brainer.

My son did his schooling in Auckland, did Uni in South Island and has been working there since last 5 years. He hates to come to Auckland, we love to visit him. Win Win.

White flight?

The great replacement...

Feeling the pluse of the New Zealand community and this comments section, should immigration, and who and where these people immigrate from, go to a referendum?

I recall NZ first and Labour promising much lower immigration numbers at the last election. Then again the National Party opened the flood gates. So who to vote for in next election...

Maybe ban 1080 party at this rate.


"....Immigration should not be driven by student visas, nor reciprocal visitor working visas it should only be about whether the immigrant benefits us"

The Opportunities Party has a clear position on immigration, high quality or no thanks! I agree.

I believe the most important aspect is the loss of the kiwi culture as more kiwis leave
Oh yes I forgot
We were told there was no kiwi culture
I say there was & we failed to protect it
We couldn’t even protect our shellfish beds from the new arrivals
Now it’s everybody’s culture
Even Chinese tourists ask where are the kiwis when they see downtown Auckland today

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