New Zealand experiences negative population growth from migration for the first time in seven years

New Zealand experiences negative population growth from migration for the first time in seven years

Population growth from migration has almost come to a standstill since April and turned negative for the first time in seven years in July.

The latest Statistics NZ figures show that the monthly net migration gain (long term arrivals minus long term departures) surged in the first three months of this year, hitting a record 12,976 in the month of February.

It then dropped sharply to 9671 when the Level 4 lockdown restrictions were applied in March, and almost came to a complete standstill in April when the net migration gain dropped to just 88.

It picked up slightly to a net gain of 347 in May, stayed at about that level at 341 in June, then dipped to a net loss of -26 in July.

That was the first time that the country has had a net population loss from migration since May 2013.

The latest figures have also dashed suggestions that the number of New Zealanders returning home during the COVID pandemic would prop up demand for housing.

The figures show that 1309 New Zealand citizens returned in July, while 280 departed, giving a net gain of 1029.

But at the same time 512 non-New Zealand citizens arrived and 1567 departed, giving a net loss 1055 of non-New Zealand citizens for the month.

Overall, 1821 people arrived long term and 1847 departed, giving the net loss of -26 for the month.

In the four months from April to July there was a total net migration gain of just 800, compared to a total net migration gain of 14,200 in the same four month period of last year.

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Good, the immigration tap has been jammed wide open for too long. Perhaps we can have a rational debate about what the appropriate rate of immigration should be and what total population we should eventually be aiming for.


To start the debate, might I suggest an immigration rate of zero, and aim for a population of one million or less.




Fine, but can you flesh out your plan to achieve this. What would the time-scale be? What type of society do you envision at the end of this process? Presumably, it would have to be substantially agrarian. taking into account those not in the workforce- children and the elderly- the tax base would be greatly reduced, so what would our health service look like for example? What about our ability to maintain basic infrastructure?

I think a population aim of something like 1 million is nonsenical, but we should certainly be having a serious conversation on the issue and I would support a policy of gradually reducing it back to say, 4 million over the next 25/30 years.

NZ had 1 million people here in about 1900. They seemed to get on alright. Yes more people working in agriculture back then but that was the case in every country and it's changed due to mechanisation.

We could have exactly the same population profile as we do now, but less of each age. So yes, less working age people, but also less older and younger to look after.

Well that is a positive euthanasia vote for you then! Although the population of people aged 20 or under isn't far off 1 million at least there will be plenty of housing available.

Shame you dudes inhabiting the exponential growth universe, can't seem to get your head around the concept of a deiberate, humane, reduction in the number of humans, extracting and polluting the Earth to the point of being uninhabitable? It's always boots and all with the genocide meme. As if anyone here is suggesting that?

What a boring country NZ would be with only 1 million people.

Yeah, I find it really exciting sitting in traffic for hours each week and paying out the nose for a housing "shortage". I'd be terribly bored if those things went away.

I agree, rampant population growth and destroying the environment is so much more captivating.

Any political party proposing an ambitious target for net zero carbon emissions or promising "100% renewable electricity generation by 2030" will need a population plan with little growth. That can be achieved by further rstricting immigration (reducing to typical OECD levels) or alternatively by more incentives to persuade Kiwis to emigrate (may be difficult if most other countries are in a post Covid-19 recession).
Any party without a population plan for NZ cannot be taken seriously.

You do realise that any overt action to restrict immigration and control population expansion would turn NZ into an international pariah?? I would also point out that when Labour was last in power Helen Clark was actively promoting a population of 5 mill+


I cannot understand how adjusting our immigration rate to match say the average legal immigration rate in most EU countries would cause us to be international pariahs. If Helen Clark was actively promoting 5 million + then her target has been met but why didn't she tell Auckland council and Watercare?
I've no gripe about having many immigrants (it includes my family) but it should be planned and we have a moral case to ensure low paid immigrants are not exploited and that they don't restrict opportunities for low paid Kiwis.
Maybe I'm confused by the word 'overt' - NZ does not have an open door; we do have quotas - they are not discussed but they exist and are exceptionally high by international standards.


Who gives a $@$ about overseas opinion..the tourists would still be lining up. It's all about protecting what's left..And who cares about Helen Clark any more..waffle.

5mil is more than enough. I have noticed the difference between 3mil and 5mil over the past decades in terms of traffic and environmental impact. Instead of pissing around the bush with policies such as requiring financial institutes to report on 'climate risk', how about we address the elephant in the room - too many people!

That's right. We urgently need to stop treating migration as a magic fix to our major socioeconomic woes: housing unaffordability, child poverty, overreliance on low-value sectors locally and high-value industries offshore, and outdated infrastructure.

I am not anti-immigration; it's the process and numbers that needs work on. Our approach so far has been to fling our gates open and pray talented people make up a respectable proportion of those being brought in by our businesses and universties.

Agree, we need better economic policy than simply massive debt growth and massive immigration. We need the sorts of stuff John Key was keen on before he got in to power.

Yes, before he got into power and then did a U turn and went down the mass immigration and housing-ponzi route.

once the border is open, we will see a significant surge of migrants, combining with newly printed fresh money, which will result growth in many parts of NZ economy.


God I hope not.

I remember the days before mass immigration was used to boost economic growth. We are ruining the country and it needs to stop.


And what will that newly printed, fresh debt, be 'worth'?

It will attempt to 'buy' everything here. We seem incapable of asking what underwrites the Chinese buying of foreign assets. Seems to me they've cottoned-on to the concept that you just out-bid with debt to own, then fudge the debt.


Unfortunately, the pro-migration parties are also the ones ideologically against adequately funding health, education and other public services.
All that cheap labour brought into NZ over a decade or so and we still can't produce goods and services of value for our own consumption efficiently any better than we could with a team of 4 million; we're probably worse off now.

NZ runs an immigration economy nowadays

You are mistaking money with wealth and GDP with quality of living.

It is a worldwide phenomena known about for over 90 years that immigrants go to big cities. It has been true in NZ and however they fudge the immigration point counts it will remain true. So your growth in many parts of NZ economy will be mainly an increase in Auckland's population. Lucky me to own two houses in North Shore - immigration has made me wealthier than deserved and will continue to do so.

Another immigration news in the property section, guessing this will be very positive for the housing market since lower immigration numbers should mean falling housing prices according to the NZME narrative.


That would be a disaster! We can't let that happen! Quick, decrease OCR and hand out some more free money! The spice must flow!


Indeed, quick, mortgage the children and grandchildren's future! Personal responsibility cannot be expected!

Going by the figures quoted, NZ had a nett gain from 01/02 - 31/07 of 23,397 long term arrivals. And the article goes on to say - "The latest figures have also dashed suggestions that the number of New Zealanders returning home during the COVID pandemic would prop up demand for housing." WTH?? NZ gains 23K+ people and there's no effect on housing??? Recent reports on prices and clearance rates would tend to dispute that.

The argument you present with those numbers would be fine if the trend had continued, but is hasn't. The migration gains over the four months to July were negligible. Unless that situation reverses we won't have any migration-driven population growth going forward.

I accept your position Greg but the fact remains we're 23K up over the 5 month period. Unless NZ has an exodus in the near term then I don't see how you can say we don't have a migration driven population increase. We certainly haven't seen 23K people die that I'm aware of since Feb, but I could be wrong.
Looking at Stats NZ it seems NZ loses about 2.5 - 2.7K/mth ('15 - '20) so we're still up 10K plus people
The 13K odd that turned up in Feb sure as tootin didn't just disappear and will still need housing

Yes, and if you take the figures back 12 months there was a net gain of 76,192 and if you take them back two years there was a net gain of 130,192 and if you go back 3 years there was a net gain of 178,457. So what? What is important is what is happening now and the gain (or loss) we have going forward, not what happened in the past. You are not taking into account the turn in the trend. Even if you keep using the same figures you have already quoted they will start declining quite sharply each month on the current trend.

Well I guess the proof will be in the eating, as the saying goes. As the working/holiday visa component of departures winds off and the resident/citizen arrival component winds up who knows?
Trends have a habit of undergoing corrections


mmmmm Pudding...

How many people are we currently building houses for? Check out CCC and consent stats. Thats before we look at how many Air BnBs are potentially sitting empty.

And as more and more of us are saying, where population growth goes, EXCELLENT! seems just about the only one interested in those pesky things once considered important in journalism - like data, facts, evidence. This is one in a series over many months now, often contradicting or adding nuance to the simple political/media/public narrative about the supposed massive influx pushing up house prices but it just keeps on rolling. Whether the numbers are rising, falling, or static, "the" story must be told, apparently.

Yes, truth. This is fast becoming the only place i trust for information. Its so hard to listen to the public messages which are so contradictory to what the numbers appear to be showing.

What happened to your comments regarding Geoff Bascands views on Insurance Companies?? You weren't quite so glowing there

Not me I think Hook

Yet news last night citing returns of kiwis at 50,000
Not conflicting??

Is that number the net returnees or is it just the number coming in without any consideration given to the number leaving?

A case of lies, damn lies and statistics maybe?


Some new arrivals from Ozzy already heading back over to Ozzy after realizing that NZ is really only set up for the incumbant home owners. Things can change in a big way very quickly.

expect a mass exodus once vaccines become common place

very possible, but if Trump wins the elections we are going to see tens of thousands of US refugees coming into our shores as soon as our borders re-open


From the Migration Data Explorer
figures for R1 resident decisions

_2016 _2017 _2018 _2019 _2020
3,810 3,606 3,195 2,379 2,826 January
4,215 4,506 3,651 2,820 2,730 February
4,608 4,812 4,095 3,165 2,166 March
4,338 3,291 3,702 2,496 75 April
5,121 4,245 3,798 3,312 1,647 May
4,296 3,957 3,216 2,592 3,057 June
4,035 2,028 2,691 6,147 3,090 July
4,047 2,514 3,033 6,051 -n/a- August
4,230 2,685 2,604 5,442 -n/a- September
3,594 3,006 3,255 7,320 -n/a- October
4,200 3,348 3,636 5,652 -n/a- November
3,162 2,706 2,532 4,452 -n/a- December
51,672 42,721 41,426 53,847

Key facts (stats NZ)

At 30 June 2020:

New Zealand’s estimated resident population was provisionally at 5,025,000
there were 2,474,800 males and 2,550,100 females
the median age of males and females was 36.3 and 38.6 years, respectively.

During the June 2020 year:

New Zealand's population grew by 105,500, or 2.1 percent
estimated natural increase (births minus deaths) was 26,100 and estimated net migration (migrant arrivals minus migrant departures) was 79,400.

These population estimates are subject to revision on 23 September 2020 to fully incorporate 2018 Census and census coverage results.

99.9% of the people who live here now have somewhere to live. They may aspire to better accommodation. But they live somewhere. Arrivals vs Departures for last month were -2500 ( approx 800 houses). Pure tourists are probably not a factor in that number by now. Same month Auckland probably issued at least 1000 Codes of compliance for new dwellings. Enough housing for approx 3000 people. So we should have a surplus of houses.

Every country that has "suffered"reduced population has also "suffered"terrible evils in their society be it the Irish, Cambodia, or dare I say Cook Islands. Practicing infanticide or euthanasia of old people is not the way to get cheap housing. Do not sell your soul to the devil he is terrible to work for.

Some exceptions: after the black death drastically cut the population of England it massively improved the status and well being of the peasants - it destroyed the feudal system. I'm not sure what terrible evil you have detected in irish society from 1850 to today. The other European country to lose population was Scotland. I believe various large areas of NZ have lost population and they may be rather depressing to a metropolitan sensibility but I wouldn't call them centres of evil.

It's a matter of driving growth in other ways than endless population growth.

4m total of 14,000 in 2019.
800 in 2020.
As supposedly 50% of LT arrivals want to settle in Auckland, does this not imply that much mooted pressure on stock from all these flocking back Kiwis is a myth?
Yesterday on TV news they put returned Kiwis at 4000
Prev eve it was 50,000.
Of course they do not bother to quote the source.
Utterly misleading stuff being put about

Nz is actually quite dependant on immigrants. It's surprising how everyone wants to stop immigration but don't realise that if this happens, to keep up with the infrastructure and demands, nz will have to increases taxes on the people who are here to keep nz economy running.
By bringing in immigrants, the costs are indirectly reducing for kiwis. Even with immigration, additional resources and funding are needed in the economy.
People leaving nz is not a good thing in my opinion.
If everyone does wants immigration to stop, then the first thing is to stop advertising education and job offers from all the universities and companies advertising in other countries as people hope to come to nz to study and lead a better life. This is bringing in a huge amount of revenue for nz and it's in billions. Once this happens, the population will reduce but cost of living will increase. I don't think this is something people will be happy with. The government does need to balance things and draw the line when needed but I don't think it is positive for any one if immigration is stopped.