Immigration is continuing to drop from very high levels spurred by rising numbers of departing non-New Zealanders; over 3000 non-Kiwis left in March - a record for a March month

By David Hargreaves

Net immigration is continuing to slow from the very fast pace seen in recent years, spurred by rising numbers of departing non-New Zealanders.

Statistics New Zealand figures show that the 3,066 non-New Zealanders who left the country in March was the highest total since Stats NZ started recording such information in 1978.

In the month of March, according to Statistics New Zealand, the net gain from migration was 3919, which is the smallest net gain in March since 2014.

In the March 2018 year, annual net migration was 67,984, Stats NZ said today. Annual net migration was down about 4,400 from a record level of 72,400 in the July 2017 year, but still remains high by historical standards.

Net migration for the March 2018 year was made up of 130,800 migrant arrivals and 62,900 migrant departures.

The breakdown of the monthly figures shows that while the net figures are dropping, the numbers of arrivals are still high historically. The March number of inbound migrants, at 9,966, was only slighly lower than the March high of 10,087 seen in 2017.

More people are showing signs of departing, which is making most of the difference.

The number of departures last month, at 6,047, was the highest for a March since 2013.

Among those departing, the total of New Zealand citizens was 2,981, which is slightly higher than the number for the same month a year ago (2,735), but down on the numbers of Kiwis leaving during March in other recent years.

As far as non-NZ citizens are concerned, there were, as stated at the top of this article, 3,066 departures.

“More non-New Zealand citizens are leaving,” Stats NZ population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said. “But there are just as many migrants arriving as a year ago.”

There were 29,700 departures of non-New Zealand citizen migrants in the March 2018 year, up 2% from the February 2018 year and up 14% from the July 2017 year.

In the March 2018 year, migrant arrivals on work visas rose 6 percent to 46,300, while there was a 13 percent fall in arrivals on residence visas.

“Migrants coming to New Zealand to work were the largest visa-type group,”  Theyers said. “The sources of the largest numbers of work-visa migrants were the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.”

A residence visa allows migrants to live in New Zealand permanently. There were 14,600 arrivals on residence visas in the March 2018 year, down from 16,800 in the March 2017 year.

The source countries with the largest decreases in residence-visa migrants to New Zealand for the March 2018 year were:

  • China, down 600 (to 2,800)
  • United Kingdom, down 500 (to 1,000)
  • India, down 300 (to 1,000)
  • Philippines, down 300 (to 800)

The number of student-visa migrants had almost no change (23,800 in the March 2018 year), along with the number of New Zealand and Australian citizen migrants (38,700).

Net long term migration

Select chart tabs »
The 'Net long term migration monthly gain or loss' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Net migration to Australia annual rate (000)' chart will be drawn here.
The ' Net long term migration - annual' chart will be drawn here.

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 or click on the "Register" link below a 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.



As a British expat, i'm still in a few "Brits in NZ" type groups on FB and reddit etc. A LOT of the posts over the last year or so have been about how much harder it is to emigrate to NZ now, particularly the increased salary requirement and the not being able to bring their parents over. The lower value of GBP since Brexit is probably also a factor for Brits.

I totally lucked out marrying a Kiwi. Goddamn love it here.

Thanks for keeping us informed with valuable insights.


Why Gingerninja I believed you were a SA female
I’m amazed if parents aren’t allowed either
When I was there my Chinese neighbours rotated each set of parents for 6 month intervals to look after their children while the parents worked. Well not really worked as they were buying properties & land for other family members in China.
The National party say this never happened Its been expunged from NZ history
Glad you enjoy New’s nothing like it was sadly

Do you mean that it is problematic when it's a Chinese New Zealander instead of a white/brown/red/black New Zealander is buying property and land?

Are you fking Phil Twyford?

it doesn't matter what colour or what race, they shouldn't be buying property for overseas people.

Maybe this is just a guess NL mentioned Chinese because that is what they were, its a stab in the dark though. But whatever race or country we do not want foreign buyers buying NZ land and houses.

NorthernLights, SA? I do know quite a few, maybe they've rubbed off on me? ;-)
There used to be a visa that allowed you to bring over extended family, but that application route is currently closed for now, as far as I am aware. It happened at some point in 2017 I think.
I love Wellington and can't imagine many places i'd rather live (and i'm pretty well travelled). I'm far too pale and ginger for the SA climate.

bringing over extended family was a total rort.

Closed arbitrarily mid-2016 - a few were 'in processing' and arrived late 2016. The rules for family reunion were fairly strict: no other family members in country of origin, health, English language and given enforce health insurance and pre-paid pension would not be a rort. Meeting all those criteria would keep numbers low. A teacher at my son's college has returned to Scotland after decades of teaching in Auckland to look after his elderly parents which is a loss to NZ. If they had sufficient funds to not be a burden on NZ taxpayers then they ought to have had the option of moving to NZ.
National killed that visa category so they could expand numbers in the low wage pseudo-student category. Anything to stop wages respond to capitalistic pressures and actually go up.


Great job showing the full picture of arrivals and departures David. Though as I understand it this data is based on people ticking the "intend to stay long term" box on the airplane questionnaire? Does this data capture the constant churn of "temporary" arrivals?

To me it looks like Labour are doing the exact same corrupt open borders crap as the last lot:
The minister last month also cancelled the deportation notices of the man's first wife and her children.
Reading between the lines here but this certainly looks like bribery.

These politicians are destroying our country importing people from the bottom of the barrel. Labour haven't even cut NET migration 30k yet let alone shut the gate. Everywhere I go now I hear Chinese. The other day I saw 12 of them collecting chestnuts in the park. These people do not share our interests, they simply want our resources.

This is not immigration. This is neocolonialism.

Speaking 'Chinese' and collecting our chestnuts,this madness must stop!


This is entirely one sided. It's not like kiwis can go over to China and:

* buy their lands
* buy their food industry
* bribe their politicians
* take every natural resource (be it shellfish, chestnuts or billions of liters of water)
* have any chance of getting decent employment
* speak a foreign language around my colleagues
* harp on about how lazy the locals are for not buying property
* setup advocacy groups inside their universities
* copy all kinds of trade secrets

I get how the chestnut story is easy to brush off trivial. To me that moment perfectly encapsulated their almost universal sense of entitlement and disdain for our values.

Anyway you can't blame a pet tiger for biting you. The blame is squarely on our traitor politicians for letting it happen. We roll out the red carpet while they take everything and laugh at us.

Did someone steal your chestnuts as a child or something?
This pain feels really deep for something so trivial. You might want to see someone about that.

I indeed feel that Mr bilbo has very strong opinions on Chinese.


We have Chinese neighbours on two sides. I'm sure like any nationality there are good and bad eggs, but here's my take on my two sets of Chinese neighbours:
- They both own their properties, which are quite high value
- In both cases the father of the household just seems to muck around the house every day: not sure what they are doing or 'contributing to NZ'
- The way they 'keep' their properties is a joke - total pigsty of gardens etc.
- One neighbour, from time to time, just chucks garden rubbish over our common fence in to our garden
- One of the properties seems to sporadically have lots of guests to stay. the place then becomes overcrowded
- they never inform us when they are doing work that has an impact on us

As I say, there are obviously productive, good Chinese immigrants. But on the basis of my two neighbours, there are quite a few who are taking us for a ride, and are making very little effort to fit in.
Great for them - not so great for us.

But as Bilbo alludes to, can't blame them for taking advantage of it. But we can totally blame our politicians for letting it happen.

Does democracy mean that you can do whatever you want as long as it is legal?

Strictly legally speaking, yes. But also inherent in democracy (and in any society for that matter) is the notion of doing what's right - behavioral norms.

Are we allowed to have different views on same thing?

I have had a very similar experience, except my neighbours weren't Chinese. what can I say sometimes people suck.

My point was more than just the behaviour of my Chinese neighbours. The man in each house doesn't seem to do any meaningful work. Maybe they own a business. A massage shop. I don't know.
The point is, what are they contributing to our society?
We need doctors, we need teachers. I don't care if they are from China or Timbuktu (provided they can speak good English)

I need my Chinese massage thank you very much!

Fritz - too small a sample. The four Chinese I know well enough to chat too are fine people. Maybe you ought to talk to your neighbours more. However totally agree that the multi-culturalism pushed by academics may result in proto-ghettos and pseudo-colonies - integration is critical.

I know quite a few Chinese immigrants who are decent people and contribute well to NZ society. Doctors, engineers etc.
However I come across just as many - such as my neighbours - who seem to be here on dubious 'business' grounds.
I didn't mean to be racist. My point - wherever people come from - is that:
- they should do their best to adjust to NZ values
- they should only be here if they have a skill or profession we really are short on.
I encounter far too many people like my neighbours (with elderly parents in tow) who are contributing little to NZ society but collectively creating a drain on our infrastructure.

And as my friend Na said a few days ago 'In China there are some very wealthy people and the poor people are very poor'.
Which meant they have different motivations to most Kiwis. You cannot blame them for desperately trying to get away but you can blame our government when it assumes they are motivated like you and I.

And are you an immigrant yourself fritz, I get the feeling you maybe. In which case why are you singling out other immigrants? Why don't you just introduce yourself and get to know your neighbours, you never know they might be complaining about you too haha

His neighbour Sum Ting Wong might be complaining exactly the same thing about Dave next door in an equivalent Chinese forum.

Something wrong haha better than Kim jong eun I guess

I am a 4th generation kiwi. And I have tried talking to the neighbours. I still say 'hi'.
They are feral. But I am still polite.
Unlike some.

Is feral Asian as bad as mongrel mob as neighbours? At least you can sell.

I think you are missing the point.
Kiwis - the good, the bad, the ugly, and for better or for worse - have a right to be here.
Immigration is a privilege that shouldn't be given lightly. I would argue the bar for immigrants should be much higher.
I am not anti immigration. It's just we should be accepting fewer, and it should be MUCH more targetted on the skills we need.


The current government has zero contribution in these tide-turning figures. The non-residents leaving part of the equation is an outcome of National's tweaks to the PR policy, where numbers have also dropped significantly (~13%). More people seem to be leaving as global growth picks up and fewer permanent visas are being handed out to those who wish to stay but do not possess the skills we need.
There are clearly no cuts in international student numbers in the "tens of thousands". No breather from low-skilled migrant workers while our infrastructure catches up.

Its a good start!

They are building up a few more islands in the Pacific, so my guess is why pay to live in an island when you can build your own..

I’m sure once the CCP have a few aircraft carriers built they’ll simply take over a few Pacific islands

Cheap copies of old Russian tech loaded with even cheaper copies of old Russian tech. Surely you can launch drones from submarines now. Why bother bringing a carrier to a drone fight.

It is a show of force.
Having a couple of hulking foreign warships lingering outside your habour entrance sends a message.

Yup and the message is "I'm ready for World War 2". They are probably building a Maginot Line somewhere too just in case some cossack light cavalry come along.

Yeah moa man, like when we sent our Frigate to Fiji after a coup and parked in the harbour. The Fijians just ignored it and carried on.


This is the effect of the August 2017 changes to immigration policy where the work visa did not entitle one to obtain PR simply by finding a job .

Ita a pity to some extent , because many of these migrants in trades such as panelbeating, carpenters, welders, and fitter and turners , Telecom linesman and the like are actually people we may need in for the long-run .

What we don't want is wealthy migrants who do nothing but speculate in our property market and are very sneaky in not paying their fair share in taxes

Surely we can supplement our workforce with temporary workers to fill shortages without handing out residency to every applicant? Other countries don't seem to have any problem importing workers to do necessary work and then sending them home when contract is finished.(Hong Kong and UAE are a couple that I can think of).

Even Aus, US and UK, among many others, put certain temporary workers with immediate but not long-term skill shortages on non-immigrant visas that do not allow them to apply for PR at any point in the future.
Such changes to our immigration system will reduce exploitation as it takes away employers' ability to coerce their employees and hold PR application support as leverage.


A carpenter friend of mine went to work building an Olympic village in another country once. Funnily enough, residency and a path to citizenship was NOT part of the package.

Almost as it if doesn't have to be to get infrastructure developed. But what a novel concept...

Yes Rick
Your compadre would’ve been on a terminating temporary work Visa I guess
Even with multiple passports I must say none are obtained without much investigation by govts & sponsoring requirements over the years.
The National govt allowed money to dictate immigration policy . I think anyone experiencing Auckland 2018
that can remember 2000 would rather be living in 2000


This is what ive said many times the is a net outflow of NZ citizens. National time and time again said thry “stopped” the outflow and that Kiwis were now all coming home. They didnt stop jack only reduced it. 1000 net kiwis still leaving every year inly to be replaced with 68000 net immigrants mostly Chinese and Indian who have very little regard for NZ culture and values. WTF is going on

Born & bred in Auckland
Love Muriwai beach Tawharanui beach & a few family members & friends
Is it enough ?
No I left years ago & have only one regret and that’s a beach so no big deal.
Life’s always about choices made and always that choice is based on various compromises
I miss Auckland 2000 but that Auckland is another time
I lived it but it’s never coming back

We have a bit more choice in the Auckland of 2018. But otherwise I am with you. The Auckland of 2000 was a better place than the Auckland of 2018

Bring back Auckland 1995 where people cherished going out clubbing at Staircase and Legend instead of living in the cyber world.

The Box was going off , early 90s

I remember going to The Box every Wed night for Retrorama LOL!!

You weren't the tall camp guy were you?

Never heard of these places. We’re they a young labour hangout?

The Box was the coolest place to be in the early mid 90s. A bit of London / NYC in little ole NZ.
I am feeling nostalgic for the Auckland of those days. Cosmopolitan *enough* but traffic and house prices were sane. Much less materialistic too

Bit hilarious they take credit for it, when all along it was the Aussie economy and mining tanking at the time. If the same conditions arise as did when the exodus took place, it will happen all over again.

This is what ive said many times the is a net outflow of NZ citizens. National time and time again said thry “stopped” the outflow and that Kiwis were now all coming home. They didnt stop jack only reduced it. 1000 net kiwis still leaving every year inly to be replaced with 68000 net immigrants mostly Chinese and Indian who have very little regard for NZ culture and values. WTF is going on

For me its the outflow of kiwis as well, I like the kiwi culture, I like how chilled it is. Who cares about the inflow, we want good kiwis to stay.

That's why I will not move back to Auckland, I am moving to the country close to a beach, buy a few toys for the beach and get into the outdoors lifestyle, that I cant do in London. I want my kids to enjoy the outdoors, and not get trapped on play station.

Nice new graphic, very easy to understand

Watched a doco on Al Jazzera regarding a young guy from Palestine living in Lebanon.
Not allowed to attend University in Lebanon.
Won a scholarship to Eton and then a University in London studying engineering.
Now working in London,wants to go back to Lebanon but can't work there as Palestinians can't hold a list of 20 jobs including engineering.
I guess we could go down the same road.

@n-gold ......... we would simply never treat people like the Lebanese treat Palestinians , it would be a Human Rights violation

That's just weird, going around the world and cherry pick examples and say we are moving in this direction.

NZ needs to control its borders and we need to bring in people who can help NZ become a better and productive country. We set parameters for that. If they don't contribute then they don't get residency.


The govt seems strangely quiet on immigration. Is Winnie still alive?

Maybe they’re working on it? Maybe they’re not? Do we need play by play updates?

Well it was a major part of their election campaign. It's not unreasonable to have a bit more visibility on what they are planning.

You racist you. :)

Winnie has been happily drunk since he decided who he'd 'party' with!

A drop of 1.2% and immigration is 'dropping' and that is good? It is like a car traveling at 100kph slowing down to 98.8kph and being congratulated without any consideration of the narrow dangerous road it is on.

Just shut the door.
It will take a few years for housing to catch up, 20 to 30 yrs for infrastructure to catch up, maybe 5 years for health, education and other services to catch up.
at least 2 generations for the foreigners to assimilate into and/or adjust our culture.
Selling our low population demographic was and is stupid. It dilutes the wealth of our nation as we all have to live off our exports when importing cars and computers etc.