Net permanent migration over 70,000 for 2016

Thursday February 16, 2017 Hugh Dixon

Net migration for New Zealand reached 70,600 in the year to December 2016. The net inward migration seen in 2016 comes from 127,300 arrivals, and 56,700 departures.  As shown in the figure to the right, the last time New Zealand had annual outward migration was in the year to December 2012 when 1,200 more people left than arrived.


Since 2000, New Zealand has averaged 20,500 net inward permanent migration, helped by the record high net inward migration seen in 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Over the last decade New Zealand migration numbers have been helped by firstly a substantial increase in the annual number of non-New Zealander moving to New Zealand, with numbers increasing from 58,700 in 2006 to 95,600 in 2016, while departures from New Zealand of non-New Zealanders has remained at around 23,000 across the decade.  Secondly the number of New Zealanders departing New Zealand has fallen from a high of 62,000 in 2012 to just 33,500 in 2016, while at the same time arrivals back into New Zealand have risen from 24,000 in 2006 to 31,700 in 2016.  While more New Zealanders still leave each year than arrive back into New Zealand the outflow has decreased to just 1,800 in 2016, from almost 40,000 in 2012.


flow of nz citizens accross the tasman


This can be seen best in the flow of New Zealanders migrating permanently across the Tasman.  The figure to the left shows that in the year to December 2012 that 48,800 New Zealanders departed New Zealand for Australia, which since 2012 has rapidly declined to just 20,300 departing in the year to 2016.  Arrivals of New Zealanders back from Australia at the same time have increased from 14,900 in 2012 to 26,200 in 2016.


The last four years, New Zealand’s high net permanent migration has come from increasing numbers of New Zealanders and non-New Zealanders moving to New Zealand, and at the same time fewer New Zealanders heading overseas.  The reasons driving this trend are multiple, and include international political instability, low economic growth, lack of employment opportunities, quality of life in New Zealand, and New Zealand’s relative remoteness to the rest of the world.


net permanent migration