sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

The number of New Zealand citizens returning long-term falls two thirds year-on-year

The number of New Zealand citizens returning long-term falls two thirds year-on-year

New Zealand's population growth from migration was down 95% in February compared to February 2020.

According to Statistics NZ, there was a net migration gain of just 674 in February this year compared to a net gain of 14,874 in February last year.

All of the net gain came from returning New Zealand citizens while there was a net loss of citizens of other countries. A total of 1313 New Zealand citizens returned to the country long-term in February this year while 589 departed long term, giving a net gain of 724 New Zealand citizens for the month

However the figures show that the flows of New Zealand citizens returning are slowing.

The 1313 New Zealand citizens who returned long-term in February was down by two thirds compared to the 3989 who returned long-term in February last year, with long term departures of New Zealand citizens dropping from 2286 to 589 over the same period.

That meant the net gain of New Zealand citizens declined form 1704 in February last year to 724 in February this year.

There has been an even bigger shift in the number of non-New Zealand citizens arriving to and departing from these shores.

In February last year 17,393 non-NZ citizens arrived long term, but in February this year that number declined to just 935, while long term departures dropped from 4223 to 984 over the same period.

That saw the net change of non-NZ citizens fall from a net gain of 13,170 in February last year to a net loss of 50 in February this year.

On an annual basis there was a net gain of 17,428 people of all citizenships in the 12 months to the end of February, down by 80% compared to the net gain of 85,523 in the 12 months to February last year.

Annual population growth from migration is now at its lowest level since 2013.

The interactive charts below show the long term annual and monthly trends.

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

Net long term migration

Select chart tabs »

The ' Net long term migration - annual 12-16' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Net long term migration monthly gain or loss 12-16' chart will be drawn here.
  • You can have articles like this delivered directly to your inbox via our free Property Newsletter. We send it out 3-5 times a week with all of our property-related news, including auction results, interest rate movements and market commentary and analysis. To start receiving them, go to our email sign up pagescroll down to option 6 to select the Property Newsletter, enter your email address and hit the Sign Me Up button.


We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


up it's not immigration driving the ponzi these days then....

Cough *interest rates* cough.


RBNZ *cough*. Government *cough*

Be kind, hugs and kisses.

Don't forget the Councils!
The unholy trifecta of the housing crisis.


Just you wait... the floodgates will be opened again soon. Can't leave the other 7 billion out of this utopia. If we let everyone in we can solve all the worlds problems together with smiles and nice looking GDP figures... What happened to the idea of increasing productivity rather than population? It blows my mind that we still import more nurses and Medical professionals every year because of "shortages" but where is the plan to solve this? Massively increase university intakes and or improve pay to get people into the industry? Nope, bring in the 3rd world qualified on visas that are happy to work for peanuts in exchange for a passport.

Plan????....whats that?

Well, most of the money has been pushed and subsidised into property investment, and unfortunately gains from property are sacred. Taxes are for working plebs not good salt-of-the-earth investors.

while low interest rates are key, high net immigration over 2019-20 has driven at least some of the recent price increases. It takes a while for the implications for property prices to show up. The coming year will be very interesting for house prices given the sharp drop in net immigration from April 2020 and recent govt actions.

Suspect once other countries are opened up post vaccine, the kiwis who returned will leave again along with the new batch who have been itching to leave for the last 12 months or so.
NZ will be in catch up mode with vac rollout. There will be restrictions at the border for some time which will limit arrival numbers.(Gov on covid elimination strategy)

ὍἯ ©®@℗


Gosh, how will we grow our economy if we can't import 8,000 people a month? How will that magic number GDP increase? Because that's the only number that matters right?

Should we work smarter? Harder? Be more productive? Nah, let's just wait for the vaccine and open the floodgates again, much easier aye?

Investment in plant, r&d and training instead of shacks in Papetoetoe is probably a good start.


Can someone please ask the Government what the migration targets will be post-Covid.


Big numbers! Let's Do This!

they are too busy asking why the government hasnt been testing border workers and why the same border workers are still unvaccinated


There are no targets.
Just the political and business classes colluding to maximize short-term business profits by importing heaps of consumers and reducing the need to invest in training, innovation & productivity.

The government will soon announce that hey will consider a future date when they will make an announcement on when they will possibly setup a taskforce to study the feasibility or not, of potentially setting targets for migration into NZ, at a much later date

Ahhhh certainty and direction at last!


Thank-you covid. Keep it up. Bring on Covid Party? Doing what politician’s and birth control wouldn’t do. I’d vote for it.


“Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern was firm last week in stating Labour would be sticking with its own immigration plan of reducing net migration by 20,000 to 30,000, and repeated it in the announcement of Labour's deal with New Zealand First” – October 2017

The graph covering the last 18 months or so prior to Mar 2020 is simply horrific.

I wonder if Ardern understands the somewhat important difference between “reducing” and “increasing” something.

From recent performances I would guess not. That would involve thinking and follow through rather than pandering and smiles. The latter being the far easier option..

The thinking and follow through bits involve a coordinated effort across the public sector to rethink and reform education & training, health, workforce, tax, local governance, markets & competition, housing and infrastructure, etc.

I doubt you'll find any appetite within this government to tidy all that up. Hence the easier option.

> I doubt you'll find any appetite within this government to tidy all that up. Hence the easier option.

Fixed that for you. Can you really imagine it from any plausible NZ government?

Reducing net migration is easy. Just persuade more well educated Kiwis to leave while bringing in workers for our liquor shops, supermarket checkouts, petrol stations, fast food outlets, etc.
They need two policies not one: 1. reduce skilled emigration (not easy) and 2. reduce low paid immigration (even if it does embarrass tertiary educational suppliers who are unable to get foreign students without the bribe of potential residency).

"All of the net gain came from returning New Zealand citizens while there was a net loss of citizens of other countries. A total of 1313 New Zealand citizens returned to the country long-term in February this year"

Pathetic 40 per day!! Bad that govt were stopping movement of nzers

Not too long until they can wrap up kiwibuild as a success in housing all the people still here.

This is only long term immigration though right? If you check the numbers for the exits vs entrys, we have lost a hell of a lot of people over the past year. And all those people were living somewhere...

But don't worry, we are building how many houses a year? 40k?

It's becoming increasingly clear that supply isn't really the big issue it's supposed to be...

How many of those 40k new houses are additional houses, rather than replacement? Most of what I see being built around me is a new house being built where an old one was knocked over, so no net increase in supply.

Well, if you check here:
We added 34200 in the year to March 21.

In Auckland they knock down one and whack up six one the same piece of land.

No, not returning Kiwis driving demand for housing
Not immigration in general either
And, sorry but its not low interest rates either.
need to separate Auckland demand from excl Auckland demand.
interest rate cuts are not a reliable driver of mortgage demand.
Interest rate cuts largely served to facilitate people moving up $200k in value terms, and moving for that.
but leveraged debt for investors is what drove prices up so viciously.
And that was a cock up by RBNZ
Sales relative to housing stock and demand, are lower than they were in 2013.
Also the default mode of arguing that low supply drives prices is not accurate nor supported by evidence when presented as an argument.
Supply increased in 2017-19 and prices were flat.
Supply increased more in 2020 and demand FELL if you look at immigration. yet prices soared.
prices soared because:

1. leveraged buyers could afford to outbid others for safe haven asset buying
2. People were bidding for a lower inventory OTM.

So, it was not lack of supply that drives price up but CHOICE by buyers to pay more
plus banks wanting to lend more.

There is no automatic supply and demand equation and I get sick of hearing it parroted

So 5 people bidding for the same house at an auction doesn't drive the price up any more than if there is only one person making 1 single bid ?… hmmm, I'm not so sure about that (that's an example of more demand than supply). You say the reason is "CHOICE by buyers to pay more", nobody chooses to pay more unless they are forced to, by someone else bidding more.

The root reason for higher house prices is lower interest rates, which allow all and sundry to pay more as the servicability of the mortgage allows to borrow more.

If lower interest rates are reason for higher prices and interest rates were lower in 2018 and 2019 than they were in 2014-16, how come the years 2014-16 produced far greater rises in % terms than 2018-19, when median prices in Auckland fell 2.5%?

Demand at an individual auction is pretty clearly, not same as generic demand.
Demand is number of people with wherewithal to buy at a given price level.
Supply is what is OTM at the time.
Individual and generic are not equatable, except by you.

55% of what sold in Auckland in last few months was sold NOT at auction.

Gosh what a load of incomprehensible rubbish.

You say leveraged buyers buy more but that interest rates don't matter. The latter drives the former.

2013? So what?

Leverage rests on having other assets to leverage against.
Nothing to do with interest rates.
Who is it that does not get it?
The so what of 2013 SALES is that there were more then and interest rates were higher, much higher.
And there was less demand from rising pop.
Point is pretty plain really: sales reduction since 2013 is due to price rises and interest rate cuts are not sufficient to get those sales back up to same level.
And I am referring to a whole years sales, not to 7 months mania driven by RBNZ largesse towards investors

Goes to show that Covid could do what Woodhouse (or was his name S**thouse?) and Lees-Galloway proved totally incapable of doing - and that was curtailing mass immigration.

Too late the horse has bolted. Plus just wait till post covid. The floodgates will open up again.

What’s your definition of post covid?
You might be waiting a very long time for that.

Vaccines arrive and are distributed. Then the Labour government pats themselves on the back, announces how well they did and opens the floodgates.

Bam and Covid is gone??? Just like the Flu vacc..........oh wait.

We need population to be stable, not increasing. It's going to take some years yet for supply to catch up from the population explosion.
When the day comes that first home buyers and renters both, have options to easily go elsewhere for less cost is the day house prices will start to go down.
It's a while away yet.

If you look at Stats NZ projection, NZ Population will be younger again in 2073. Younger people tend to consume more and drive the economy. I think it is not about the population growth, but the planning around the population increase.

There is not a shortage of housing, there is a shortage of affordable housing to buy and rent, mostly in Auckland.
A little precision would be nice

MK - OK the RB allowing more leverage was an important factor. However historically low interest rates also drove people out of their TD into the investment property market and also allowed them to service much higher debt. Additionally, the impact of big population changes (in NZ mainly due to changes in net immigration) takes a while to work through to house prices.

Good thing we banned all those foreign buyers and sorted out the housing market.

It is about time people understand there is no master plan by government on immigration.
People will move here if life here offers them a life that is more fulfilling than they can get where they were before. Sure the government will try to put up barriers but smart people can always figure out ways around them.

This a great way to show property purchases by foreigners and aliens are not pushing up the price of properties. With close to zero foreigners coming into the country yet prices keep going up it is about time all the xenophobic ranters and the politicians stopped blaming them. They could for a start remove the existing red tape we have all been caught up in when transferring properties in order to catch those dreaded aliens. The politicians off all colours need to buy themselves a mirror to work out what and why property prices are going up.