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The net population gain from migration, including returning NZ citizens, was just 1700 in the five months to August, down from 21,500 the previous year

The net population gain from migration, including returning NZ citizens, was just 1700 in the five months to August, down from 21,500 the previous year

The net population gain from migration has averaged just 300 people a month since the border closed in late March.

According to Statistics NZ, there was a net gain (long term arrivals minus long term departures) of 1700 people over the five months from April to August, compared to a net gain of 21,500 over the same period of last year.

There was a net gain of 5200 New Zealand citizens between April and August this year, which was partially offset by a net loss of 3500 non-New Zealand citizens, leaving a net gain of 1700 overall.

Over the same period of last year, there was a net loss of 2700 NZ citizens and a net gain of 24,300 non-NZ citizens.

"Monthly migrant flows remain well below levels in previous years," Statistics NZ population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

"COVID-19 border and travel restrictions, along with capacity constraints in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, continue to limit people's ability to travel," he said.

Statistics NZ estimated that in the 12 months to August, there was net population gain of 71,500 people from migration, with 98% of that gain occurring over the seven months prior to border restrictions being introduced.

The figures also show that many of the people who arrived prior to border restrictions, are staying in the country longer than they normally would.

"Many people who arrived in New Zealand in late 2019 and early 2020 have not yet returned overseas and are staying longer than usual," Islam said.

"Typically, there is a peak in New Zealand citizens migrating back around December each year, however  last December this peak was significantly higher and remained higher than usual through to March 2020.

"There was also a higher number of migrant arrivals on visitor visas and other temporary visas, including seasonal workers, who typically would have returned overseas by now," he said.

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Can we continue this experiment for a few more years please and see if our infrastructure, housing affordability and productivity improves?

Comment of the day, well said that man.

Look at the Treasury forecasts...we need to keep expanding the tax base with more workers (immigrants) otherwise the boomers superannuation costs are going to cripple the country.

There is another solution to that problem, of course. Boomers might have to take one for the team.

Good luck with that! Imagine the outcome of reducing superannuation...boomers would need to sell capital assets...what happens when boomers all sell capital assets at the same time? Prices fall...what is government and central banks trying to avoid? People selling assets and prices falling.

So boomers taking one for the team, despite sounding nice, have made themselves so pivotal to our financial stability that everything needs to revolve around them.

If "stability" means "same" then I say to hell with it.

Letting Covid run rampant?

Immigrants get old too you know.


Yes but if you're a boomer and they can provide labor at minimum wages, pay income taxes to pay the boomers super, and pay rent on the boomers rental portfolio (basically serfs to the boomer lords) then who cares!

As Borat would put it...'great success, high five?'

Well said I O.

Soo, what are you saying? Money paid to superannuitants magically disappears from the system? Instead of paying for things like, um, rates, power, food, maintenance, health, clothes, holidays etc. Ignoring the 15% immediately paid back when the wallet is opened of course. Perhaps it's all hoarded in offshore accounts at $400 a week, rather than providing jobs for.....millennials?

Well it's wasteful spending. Why couldn't superannuitants just save for their retirement? The "spend thrift" generation who claim paying taxes all their life entitles them to this welfare, meanwhile they voted against a super scheme in the 70s which would have been worth $240 billion today.

Mind you, this is the same generation that couldn't even save 2 - 3 years wages in cash for a house with 15% TD rates, something today's generation needs to save just for a down payment, instead taking out 20 - 30% mortgages and complaining about it incessantly ever since.

Should be a lot more but govt carefully controlling the numbers able to return, so far most of those in isolation are from australia. The pandemic pandemonium has given many of the 1million foreign domiciled nz passport holders the impetus to return to this fair land. They had better hurry and get back, the Greens will probably make it a bottom line that no one can fly to nz after Monday 19 October

I still don't understand why some people think that many kiwis will return. Why would you want to give up your whole life abroad that you've worked for? Unless you've lost your job and your savings.

Many reasons right only one of which will be covid19 ... what were your own reasons for coming. This time last year net negative nz citizens emigrating in other words more were leaving than arriving. So when non-nz citizens have the chance to come then what do you think might happen... clue: there's no need to flip a coin.

Cost of living isn't the draw back to returning everyone seems to think, especially if you're already financially secure. Living overseas and experiencing social and political climates that are continuing to disintegrate and escalate are a good enough reason to return. A more casual society and a slower pace of life after the rat race can be a huge draw card.

There will be a large number of kiwis living abroad who married a local, It will be a matter of convincing their other half to upend their life and move away from wider family which won;t be easy.

How dare Statistics NZ contradict the great, all-seeing Tony Alexander. "Fake news".

I missed it - what did Tony Alexander say?

Flood of returning expats fuelling price rises if I had to take a stab in the dark

Edit: appears he didn't, colour me surprised

Your stab in the dark is bang on. Said exactly that about a month or so back. It is not worthy of a link.


Calls for bringing more imported workers are getting louder by the day with the latest from Business NZ demanding a simple, fast process for bringing critical workers across the border.

Funny enough, they expect some of their so-called "critical" workers to not even make the median wage and seek exemptions on the mandatory 1-year stand-down period for these low-paid workers.

Who is running New Zealand?

"Be kind"


so rather than work to push the lower end of the wage scale up, and make it more attractive to NZ workers, business NZ has for years pushed for bringing in low wage workers.

Of course, if you're a business would you rather pay high wages or low wages?

That's a rather myopic view on businesses and wages.

Businesses that deal in commoditised goods and services and competes with the masses don't see the need to pay, or perhaps can't afford, high wages for talented employees.

Our economy is stuck in a low-wage, low-productivity trap addicted to bulk exports and low-value migration because a large portion of our private sector and successive governments seem to share your view.

Who exactly needs our "value added products"? I'm sure our commodity producers are dying to hear your alternative business model fleshed out?

Low wages and docile obedient workers. What works for the country must work for the family - so can I replace some of my low paid troublesome adult children with cheerful 3rd world immigrants?

"govt is the great fiction through which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else"- Frederic Bastiat, 1800s

A critical worker would be $100K a year plus surely. So Business New Zealand is wanting to pay like that. Remarkable.

I agree, KH. How can a skill be classified as 'critical' and a local cannot be trained in it, if the price for it can be set at less than minimum plus $6 an hour?

For a man who lobbies for worker flexibility, Kirk Hope (CE of Business NZ) seems to understand very little on the practicality of it.


Just as a conceptual experiment - NZ could close the borders altogether - completely
No tourists
No guest workers
No seasonal workers
No Migrants

The only businesses affected would be in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The agriculture and horticulture sectors could be required to train and employ locals who the government would subsidise travel and relocation costs.

Business NZ should publish a public web-site listing all these "critical jobs", who the businesses are, and how many they wan't, the "salary" the job offers and who pays quarantine-isolation costs, and how much "bond" they put up in the event the job doesn't materialise


remember when a CEO says there is a shortage of skilled workers he means there are only 5 applicants for the job of which only one is suitable and that one is asking above market rate.

When there's only 1 suitable applicant, then whatever he asks for is the market rate.

Not if you can access talent from a global pool of desperate people. There will always be a line at the door and negotiations about who will do the job for the lowest remuneration.

Only if someone is willing to pay that rate. Its not a market if buyer and seller don't transact.

You are right. I applied for a few jobs in agriculture (Taranaki and Waikato) that I was skillfully qualified to do, and I had read about the crisis the particular industry faced (cries in the media), yet I found two employers were shocked when I suggested 3 dollars more than minimum wage. I am glad NZ still tries to keep the temporary foreign workers away for one reason: to insist employers step up and and help prospective NZ workers by paying properly and fairly. We work hard, have certified skills, yet offered pittances.

This data crushes the narrative about returning Kiwis pumping up the housing market.

Yep. But christ 71,500 net gain in the year leading up to August? Some of that was when covid was just about to lock us down, but what the hell? (I would say we need winston peters on the task but he was already there letting it happen)

Student arrival in Feb 2020 was more than 20% higher than the same month a year ago.
It seems unlikely that future governments would tighten student entry criteria or residency parameters, and with thousands more seeking health and economic refuge from the virus and the economic mess it has created, we can expect a huge uptick in student and worker arrivals once we go back to the new normal.

So why are tertiary institutions crying poor-mouth

The wailing from the industry is due a combination of reasons, including to apply pressure on the government for bailout money through job loss scaremongering.

Feb intake may have been higher in 2020 but there were very few new enrolments for the July intake. Further, we are in the middle of the enrolment season for international students who start their courses in Feb-Mar of the following year. Institutions are seeing lower interest due to border closure and visa uncertainty from the government.

Winston will soon be WINZton


The MBIE Migration Data explorer is fascinating. I was under the impression people are leaving and no-one is returning, i.e. a one-way border of sorts. Nope, the supposed 'breather on migration' that COVID forced on us hasn't really achieved anything:
- Population of those in the country on work visas still near all-time high
- While arrivals have cratered, so have departures. This surprises me somewhat, are countries not accepting their citizens to return like we are? Have they just dug in and decided to stay here?

So really we have almost all the migrants we had in the country before lockdown, and Business NZ still wants more!

They want the most exploitable short-term (working holiday) migrants.

And they want to refill all their vacant rental properties. The CEO's and board members...they all have vested interests outside of the boardroom.

Travel stats for the past 30 days. NZ Passport Arrivals 6837 vs departures 3144. So + 3723.
So maybe the returning Kiwi Boom is a bit less mythical for now. But other Passport arrivals
4284 vs departures 10666. So -6382. Overall net loss of 2659 people. More granular data about
the visa status of the departures would be great.EG Tourist, Work permit, permanent resident etc.

thanks WestieAJ. So the arrivals with New Zealand passports are 61% and 'Other Passport' arrivals is 38%. Is that correct ?
38% 'Other Passport' arrivals seems high, given the puff and blow the current government gives us about border restrictions.

A lot of Chinese migrants who came over during the JK era are leaving

To higher salaries in Australia or return to China?

heading back to China, those people are not up for either NZ or AU

What drives rising house prices and sales?
Well, it sure aint immigration in last 5 months is it?
So that one is now dead in the water.
Then we have "demand". Well there is no discernible greater demand in last 5m than in prev 3 years when prices and sales went nowhere. Which leaves leverage for the buyers, in combo with no LVR, which certainly fits with explosion of buying from investors. Plus, finally we have "I will get a good price if I sell now" from vendors, which when combined with fact that few decent properties around for 5 days before selling, I think is a good one too. Interest rate cuts, I feel, are a poor third or fourth in the list as they were cut substantially pre CV19 too.

With restricted immigration employers would have to meet the market and pay well. Creating a realistic labour market would solve a lot of problems. Hard for the less valuable industries, but why would we plan to have a low income country.

Low income *for the masses* is great for the lucky few on top.

Net migration should be capped at 20k a year

It is difficult to set Net migration. The govt can control entry but not exit.

Why that high? NZ never had a housing crisis 20 years ago. The crisis has been caused by mass immigration by successive governments. Try zero net migration for 5 years and the housing crisis will solve itself.

Thank god for covid. Doing for the people what are elected leaders won’t do!

Students, Seasonal workers, local tourism will keep NZ economic afloat further - Govt & RBNZ are the guarantor.
Young qualified, certified, experienced professionals should all move to OZ to ensure their clear future betterment options in comparisons to current NZ factors.

Minimum gain monthly, but super rich quality incoming for the betterment of NZ - well done, NZ keep up the good work, we need all this incoming steroids to sustain our FIRE economic stratospheric growth !