Most migrants are coming here as students or on working visas rather than to live, new figures show

Most migrants are coming here as students or on working visas rather than to live, new figures show

Migrants coming to this country to live only made up 12.5% of all permanent and long-term arrivals in the year to September, according to new figures released by Statistics NZ.

Statistics NZ has started releasing tables which show the number of permanent and long-term arrivals (people intending to stay in this country for 12 months or more) classified by visa type.

They show that of the 105,468 people classified as permanent and long-term arrivals in the year to September, the biggest group (33,285, 31.5%) were New Zealanders or Australians who did not require visas.

Most of those were probably New Zealanders returning to this country after living in Australia.

The next biggest groups were those on working visas (31,910, 30.3%), followed by students (21,376, 20.2%).

Only 13,254 (12.5%) of long-term arrivals were classified as coming here to take up residence.

Less than 5% were visitors on long-term stays and under 1% were in the unclassified "other" category.

The tables have been backdated to 2004 and show that for most of the last 10 years the number of people coming to this country to take up residency has been declining.

The number of people coming here in the residency category peaked at 18,530 in the year to September 2006, then declined in every subsequent 12 month period to bottom out at 12,383 in year to September 2013 before picking up again to 13,254 in the latest 12 month period.

The big gains, both in percentages and absolute numbers,  have come mainly from people coming here as students or on working visas.

The number of students hit a low of 9,378 in the year to September 2005 and has risen almost every year since to hit 21,376 in the latest 12 months.

Similarly, the numbers coming here on working visas have grew reasonably steadily from 15,867 in 2004 to 22,770 in 2011, and then grew strongly from 2011 onwards to hit 31,910 in the current year.

The timing of that growth suggests much of it relates to the rebuilding of Christchurch. 


Our new free Property email newsletter brings you all the stories about residential and commercial property and the forces that move these huge markets. Sign up here.

To subscribe to our Property newsletter, enter your email address here. It's free.



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?

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.


Migrants coming to this country to live only made up 12.5% of all permanent and long-term arrivals in the year to September, according to new figures released by Statistics NZ.
Should read.....
Of Migrants coming to this country to live, only 12.5% used the permanent and long-term visa process.  The remander arrived on students and worker visas which they intend to use as a means to become permanent residents and subsequent repatriation of other family to NZ.

Oh dear Greg.  You fell into that one.  Rastus nails it well and it would be useful to revise your article to be actually informative.
Maybe check out some of these 'schools'.  You might find they are not as they portray themselves.

So we dont know who is here , what they are doing , are they working illegally , or if they are staying ?
Jeez , we are lucky we dont share a border with Mexico , because forget ESOL we would all be attending evening SPASOL classes .

Actually, we need higher interest rates to pressure leveraged property buyers who think they are 'investing'. They are not, they are speculating, usually spruiked by 'specialist property investment service' companies.
Excess leverage is the problem, whether it is by the way the banks structure their own balance sheets, or how buyers acquire real estate. Low rates just encourage buyers to bid up prices to levels where they can 'afford' the payments - asset price inflation.
Proper interest rate levels (floating and fixed) force buyers to pay sensible prices. Current interest rates are just too low - probably by 2 or 3% at least.

David Chaston....the game has changed.....Governments have to compete  against other Governments on the economic front....and interest rates worldwide reflect the past behaviour of raising the interest rates in NZ when all other countries have low rates would be a stupid move.......I think perhaps you are living in the days of when interest rates were used to control inflation.......and just think about inflation rates as they stand at the moment......take housing inflation out and then tell me what the inflation rate is for NZ.
In regards the excess leverage..........perhaps consider whether that certain types of leverage are OK and needed......the leverage that we should all be concerned about is the leverage in the derivatives market and that is not OK.......and consider how that latter leverage shows up on the banks balance sheets...
Reading some of the banks disclosure statements is very enlightening.

David , I agree money is too cheap and there are just too many risks lurking out there. If Asia goes into a recession,  following Japan , it will impact on us , sure as night follows day .
As you rightly point out , there is now evidence of some irrational exuberance ( you call it speculation)  in the prices people are paying for residential property , and the WHAT IF's are too disasterous to contemplate
Here are just a few What If's .....
1) What if the IRD decide that losses arising from a shortfall of Rent : to : Mortgage  must be ringfenced ( and cannot be offset agaisnt other income ) as is the case elsewhere?
2) What if inflation goes up as a result of the Chch rebuild , or  some other sudden shock to the Kiwi $ ?
3) What if an Asian recession starting in Japan sees commodity ( Dairy ) prices fall further , resulting in a falling Kiwi $ ?
4) What if Auckland council penalises landbankers to force more land to be freed up ?
5) What if the buling of houses ramps up and there is an oversupply in two years from now ?
6) What if Government comes to its senses and slows down migration to levels that we can cope more comfortably with ? Right now migration is fueling the housing shortage problem
7) What if the US ( which seems to be recovering ) actually stops the QE , or worse , starts increasing interest rates , and we are all forced to tow the line with rates going up here
8) What if the Banks come to their senses and sensing the risks ,  actually enforce their in-house rules about Loan repayments TO  Income ratios ?

I dont agree with you here, the problem is,
a) not knowing how much pressure these specualtors can take before they implode and default.
b) More importantly what damage is done to other parts/sectors of the economy such as FHBs , retail and businesses while you try and shake out the speculators?  If all the above are weaker (and I suspect they are) then you could actually cause a recession. As I keep saying,  just look at Sweden.
c) Things have changed in an energy expensive world. It started in the 1970s but we switched to a "service economy" that was little more than a parasitic ponzi scheme racking up debt.  Now post peak oil we'll see the shake out you hope for, however its going to be a lot worse and longer than  you are expecting me thinks.
d) No, we went through a paradigm shift. In the new post peak oil world i) "current" interest rates are 2 or 3% too high not to low, ii) raising the OCR will be counter-productive in spades.
Like horror? got constipation? maybe try Kunstler,
"The global economy has caught the equivalent of financial Ebola: deflation, which is the recognition that debts can’t be repaid, obligations can’t be met, and contracts won’t be honored."
"The net result of all that foolish irresponsibility is that banks find themselves in a position of being unable to trust each other on virtually any transaction.
When that happens, the flow of credit, a.k.a. “liquidity,” dries up and you have a bona fide financial crisis. Nobody can pay anybody else. Nobody trusts anybody. Fortunes are lost. Elephants stomp around in distress, then keel over and die, and a lot of “little people” get crushed in the dusty ground."

As regards b) Steven, just wondering what is your analysis of Sweden.
Sweden have a household debt to income ratio above 170% yet the Riksbank just reduced interest rates to 0.5 as the CPI fell.. . Interestingly, while examining policies to implement to curb the property market, increasing the  LVR was discounted as " that would hurt FHB's"
though Sweden is not in a recession - they predict GDP growth of 3.4% next year

Look at sweden and when it hiked.

oh and also lets not talk "projections" rather real data and trends, I mean how often have projections been under par in the last 5~6 years?
but anyway lets look at actual core inflation,
Heading down into deflation or very close, so where is your URL on 3.4%?
PS current core, 0.59% ambling along at < 1%
PPS I was discusing inflation and not GDP which is somewhat different.

oh and the context of my posts were raise the OCR put the economy into recession with Sweden as an example.

Thanks for the links,  interesting reading.......
The Swedes love their interest only and long repayment loans, goodness knows why, with such low interest rates, I'd be paying off as much as possible! Buying at the peak and budgeting for interest only can not bode well for the future........... 

This from a Matt Nolan piece back in 2007 (
"If we bring in a whole lot of untrained, unproductive workers it will cause inflation. If we bring in workers that have the highest marginal product (so in the places where firms are begging for labour) then it should decrease inflationary pressures."
Seems pretty simple to follow.

Hmm no, well follow yes, that doesnt mean its true and correct. So we have two statements both contradicting each other.  This is like having your cake and eating it.
So the first hypothesis,
Chicken and egg.  If we have unemployable people they are poor consumers, they have no money I would suggest this is a given.   If we bring in the un-employable, we dont cause direct inflation as such, more drag on the Govn purse (welfare) maybe, yes. Those unskilled also then "fight" for work with our indigenious unskilled driving down wages, this then would seem deflationary.  With less money the lucky employed ones are worse consumers and hence demand drops and hence is deflationary.
b) If we bring in skilled labour yes I can generally accept that this is counter-inflationary which contradicts Matt Nolan's first statement. ie I see no difference between one skill level and another within the context of what he is saying.

Steven I think you could be wrong . At some of the auctions the bidders cant even speak English , and have translators .
Who needs a job when you have enough money to get a sustainable income ?
You see they may not have an education , or a skill or Englsih ........... but they have MONEY .
So they buy two houses let them out and hey presto they have a lving weekly wage

I am sure there are a few who indeed are coing in with a suitcase of cash, but how many out of that 40,000?  4000? How many are say coming from SA with nothing but a suitcase of clothes? not being to export their wealth? I guess you must move in a rarefied atmosphere because the incomers I know are mostly renting, a few are buying, sure with a mortgage, I dont know one with cash enough for several houses, ie one to live and 2 or 3 as income. then again I only know workers.

When making that sort of reponse you need to qualify yourself as not living anywhere near Auckland, don't spend any time hanging around Auckland Airport, thus your sample survey is non-representative. How many of those you refer to live in Auckland? Because that's where the suitcases go

Hey , and its not just AIA , just go to a house auction in Auckland and check out the demographic  !
They should just auction the properties in Beijing and not faff about trying to auction them in Auckland at all , because at these prices we are pretty much excluded anyway

Indeed.  The point is how many of that 40000/annum arrive with some millions? 2%? 4%?

Steven , I think you will find South Africans in a somewhat different catagory , they may be poor , and while some are a bit full of themselves  and they  have a crap rugby team , they usually have useful  skills and speak reasonalby good English , and integrate okay.
They also find jobs and work quite hard with no nonsense and stay out of trouble ,  because they dont want to have their  work permits revoked and get sent back to the mess they left behind
A bit unlike people who arrive with no skills , no English or are brought in under the extended family catagory

I odnt say they do not, however what I am trying to point out is I question just how many of that 40,000 incoming have significant cash.
Also SA's vary like anyone, I have one who is useless and always sick....

It doesnt matter how many of them have significant cash ... it only needs 100 to do the damage ... as explained a couple of years ago .. it only needs 1 to trigger off the domino effect of up to 10 subsequent sales resulting from the first one, and if you multiply that by 100 or 1,000 or even 4,000 high-roller buyers, that cascades into a lot of ridiculous sales
A perfect example are the two 1920's period style Sandringham houses that both sold for $1.7 million each, last week, in an area that had just been revalued up to $970,000 suddenly all the surrounding houses are worth a lot more, and the vendors have to re-locate somewhere with that loot. As commented last week, the purchasers of those 2 houses in that particular suburb were highly unlikely to be local pakeha or Maori

"local New Zealander"  please, the term you used is racially offensive to many people.

Within the context of the original start of the thread no its not.

Oh and context, I replied to the 2 models and how they are contradictory, both arguing opposites cake and eat it scenario.

Statistics NZ can restate the statistics all the way back to 2004
They know, but
But they dont disclose how many students and working visas never left

R U Sure  ?
Surely the immigration Service is able to issue its Stats more accurately to reflect who is staying and who is  a temp ( student , visitor , etc )?
Dont they data capture the arrival forms and scan the Visa ?
Are we saying that a family from Samoa arriving at AIA to visit their NZ resident family over Christmas are MIGRANTS ?
If they cant get this right , then what kind of imigration policy are we running ?

Dont they data capture the arrival forms?
Yes they do, including occupation, nationality, purpose of visit, country last resided in, intended residential location (what will be your address), (ie Auckland or another place), age, gender, intended length of stay, if a returning kiwi, normally resident in nz, how long were you away for
But you don't need to know any of that, do you?

Okay I know whats on the arrival forms I have left and entered so many times i have lost count  , but what do they do with the forms ?
Clearly , they are not capturing the info correctly or they would know who is coming and going and for what reason .
Now we dont even know who is staying , who is going , and so how do we plan if migration stats are up the pole ?

They certain do know,  otherwise when electronic passports and tickets were used you couldn't chase someone to South America (for dinner).
  But because government employee is told X, and then X tells employee Y what to say, then everyone "is doing their legal job" and Y tells everyone they don't have the figures because that's what they're told.     It's also often illegal/against government rules to ask (disrespect for organisation,  insubordination - of course they're now trying to bring in criminalising whistleblowers so the noose tightens more (transparency ha!)

Lets talk about the elephant in the room. The government whittles on about low foreign 'investor' numbers ACROSS NZ. They are not ACROSS NZ, they mostly end up in Auckland and buy up the top properties in the Grammar zones. First hand experience, 79 auctions and they were all bar 1 won by Asians - most with interpreters. Now Keys can hide his head in the sand all he likes whilst he and Len Brown have a love affair with China, but it's killing Kiwis. These people win the auctions at ANY cost. And the reason is simple. A small apartment where they come from gives them the funding (millions) to buy anything they want in Auckland. The elephant in the room is there for all to see. Any remaining doubts? Have a chat with a central Auckland Realtor, they are falling over themselves to get the commissions.

And the same has applied with farms - Crafar farms, classic case in point. They are not looking at bottom lines or number crunching they have a another agenda.
BTW having a chat with real estate agents will achieve nothing, they have a vested interest in foreign money, so they will lie

Similar in CHCH, Im deciding whether or not to buy a house now or wait, so have attended numerous auctions to get a feel for the market.  Generally their are only 2 bidders/property (except for the popular "as is where is") vendors expections are virtually never met, (they are fuelled by the constant articles in the press reminding readers of the appreciating property market)  so negotiations are done in the back room.  The auction room is about 40% Asians,  30% investors.......