September 1st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Kiwi expatriates are earning a fortune overseas, and barely one-tenth say they would be comfortable raising a family back home on New Zealand wages.

For the first time – according to an extensive annual survey released this weekend – more than half our expats are earning $100,000 a year or more.

Kiwis are hitting the jackpot in high-tech, engineering and financial sectors as the overseas experience becomes permanent in North America, Asia and Australia.

Kea, the expatriate network for New Zealanders, polled more than 30,000 people living abroad for its latest survey, Every Kiwi Counts.

Nearly half of the respondents hadn’t returned home in the last year – and only 46 per cent said they “definitely or probably” would return to live here.

New Zealand’s lifestyle and relatively clean environment have often tempered concerns about the brain drain. But while most expats agree their homeland is beautiful and safe, that isn’t nearly enough to lure them back.

No surprise many Kiwis earn more overseas. Almost everyone takes a pay drop when they return home. Of course with some on the left advocating no person should be able to earn more than three times the average wage, and calls to tax rich pricks more, that won’t help.

In 2008, Prime Minister John Key campaigned hard on stemming the brain drain but has more recently spoke of a “brain exchange” when defending his Government’s record.

His office this week said patterns were far more positive than detractors believed.

Statistics NZ reports the country gained 2,000 migrants in July, the highest inflow in four years. The net loss of 1,200 migrants to Australia in the same month was the smallest such loss in four years.

“The number of New Zealanders returning home is also increasing, which reflects improving opportunities as the economy picks up,” a spokeswoman for Key said.

Key’s office also said economic growth, at 2.4 per cent over the last year, was keeping pace with Australia – “and economists are forecasting growth to increase, driven by rising consumer and business confidence, and a lift in construction”.

Monthly figures can be variable. I prefer to look at the seasonally adjusted annual figures. Also best to look at just migration patterns of NZ citizens, as that excludes new migrants, which can change due to government policy.



The level of NZ citizens leaving changes a lot over time. It peaked in 2001, hit a low in 2003, and then constantly grew until 2009 when it fell to an almost new low. Over the next two years it increased again to near record levels, but in the last year has been falling away.

The level of NZers returning home varies between 20,000 and 30,000 a year. At the moment it is increasing also.

22 Responses to “Migration”

  1. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    I’d rather live in New Zealand somewhere in the provinces on 50k, than in a shit hole like London on 120k sterling thanks.

    But if you work like a dog overseas and don’t piss it all away you can come home and live pretty well. Thousands of kiwis have done it. Property’s cheap here

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  2. Sector 7g (285 comments) says:

    New Zealand is dominated by Socialists who are content with earning $40 000 a year and filling in their spare time by doing activities that are free, such as going to the beach, walking in parks and protesting anyone who thinks there is more to life. Obviously there is nothing wrong with how they choose to live, it is their hatred and anger towards anyone who dares to want more that is the problem.

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  3. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    That’s it S7G. In a nutshell.

    If anyone dares to aspire to a 30 ft launch and a beach house along with their family home (the modest kiwi dream) then they are evil capitalists. But all the socialist twats I know as you have described, without exception, come from well-to-do families, doctors, lawyers etc with nice beach houses and boats that have been in the family for ever.

    And they mostly don’t put their kids in the local state school if it’s a bit shit

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  4. beautox (500 comments) says:

    I would not call earning more than $100k “making a fortune”

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  5. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    $100k in Auckland (combined or single) is the bare minimum if you’ve got kids. If you can’t pay, you can’t play. Dunedin’s cheap!

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  6. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    John Key told BBC Hard talk that NZ is an “immigration friendly country”. They ignored the advice of the Savings Working Group:

    – Serious consideration of the impact of the level and variability of immigration on national saving, and the impact that this might have on the living standards of New Zealanders. There are indications that our high immigration rate has pushed up government spending, house prices and business borrowing.

    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.


    All those high earning Kiwis overseas should pay back the cost of their education. Also the Government should stop using immigration as an out: we should train our own people first and remember that ability follows the normal curve and it is the bulk of the population that matter.

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  7. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    The immigration debate gets a free pass from the left Dr Greg Clydesdale had a lot to say about it but got covered in mud for his troubles:

    “Claims that immigrants improve the economy, introduce new technology and grow the business sector are being exaggerated,” Clydesdale said. “Much of the literature suggesting immigrants bring in new technology and contribute to a growing business sector is misleading. “There is often no economic evidence to support the claims made.” He quoted Department of Labour figures that showed only 2% of business immigrants introduced new technology. Many new arrivals under the business, investment and entrepreneurial categories bought existing businesses such as restaurants, cafes and takeaways, Clydesdale said. “There is little new activity. There’s no added value, it’s just a change of ownership,” Clydesdale said. There were also very real costs. “An extra $3600 a year in your pocket, or more immigrants? “The question is one New Zealanders should be considering because it sums up the relationship between rising mortgage interest rates and our current immigration policy,” Clydesdale said. He estimated people with an average $160,000 fixed mortgage would be be $3600 a year better off if rates had remained steady in the latest Reserve Bank rate hike. “Of course, immigration is not the only force driving inflation, but we only need to get inflation down within a limited range to stop the interest rate increases,” Clydesdale said. “Dramatically reducing immigration may keep inflation within that range, without the economic casualties. “The Government’s current policy mix is putting real estate agents ahead of exporters.” Cunliffe said he had seen the research, but disagreed. “House prices are a complex phenomenon which reflect the interaction of a wide variety of factors,” he said. Those factors included interest rates, wage levels and population growth, of which migration was just one component. “Net migration is itself a balancing factor between people leaving New Zealand and people arriving,” Cunliffe said.


    P.S aint it funny that in NZ immigrants don’t affect house prices… 😉

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  8. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    I wonder how many of those ex pats are property investors living in canal homes in Queensland?

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  9. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    There was a discussion about US immigration on Channel 9 a few minutes ago. An immigration advocate said that America is about economy (by implication – not people) and in x years whites will be out numbered. He also brought out the old chestnut about America benefitting from European immigration (ignoring the potential of geography and resources -diminishing returns/ quality of life).

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  10. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (1,301 comments) says:

    You will be glad to know Labour will be taxing who earn more than 60K to redistribute wealth.

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  11. Anthony (880 comments) says:

    I find it strange that at my work some of the least productive, overpaid people have been immigrants from overseas that looked good on paper – and some of the best value and most productive workers have been NZ graduates that they have taken a punt on. All too often though they think they need better qualifications and experience than NZ employees can offer – but as I said all too often these people prove a disappointment. Go figure!

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  12. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    Thank you for that information Sir Cullen. I thought rich pricks were those on $40k. But nevertheless I will advise Boxer that he just needs to harden up, work harder and “share” more. For the glory of Aotearoa.

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  13. MT_Tinman (4,394 comments) says:

    duggledog (509) Says:
    September 1st, 2013 at 10:42 am
    Dunedin’s cheap!

    We know that but how much does lining there cost? 🙂

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  14. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    I’m a member of Kea and took part in the survey. At a BBQ last year in Washington DC attended by expat kiwis, we all were of the same view as to why we were no longer living in NZ. NZ’s lack of an entrepreneurial culture, the tall poppy syndrome, the near hostility of such a large minority to wealth acquisition, difficulties in accessing venture capital and the small size of the domestic economy were dominant reasons. Kiwi’s seem to not only be less accepting of success (unlike Americans who admire and laud success and make no judgment about how the rich spend their money), the reverse is also true if someone experiences business failure. In NZ it is a long term black mark acting as a drag on reputation for decades whereas in the US, the attitude is far more sanguine with a ‘pick yourself up and have another go’ attitude very prevalent as most Americans see failure as part of the learning curve to ultimate success.

    We were all of the view that these attitudes are quite deeply rooted in the NZ psyche and most saw little scope for change. We all love NZ, visit frequently, some like me have business interests in NZ but have found our aspirations so much more easily fulfilled elsewhere. The handout mentality in NZ is alive and well with whole sections of society expecting the government to solve every problem – the most recent manifestation being people with uninsured homes in the Chch residential red zone protesting and appealing CERA’s offer of a 50% of GV ex gratia payment.

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  15. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    “Business ventures” and “wealth acquisition” don’t occur in a vacuum. Blaming peoples judgments on a tall poppy syndrome is disingenuous as it all depends on what sort of business venture and how it is conducted.

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  16. mister nui (1,073 comments) says:

    Where does our media get off on calling $100,000 a “fortune”????

    A fortune would not even be $100,000 per month. Good guys working in the oil industry globally should be making $70,000 USD/month.

    High time we had a sizable resource industry in NZ, where average pay packets would well exceed $100,000, then that might bring some relevance to the discussion.

    I guess when you’re a bearded, cardigan wearing, feminazi “journalist”, earning $45k p.a. then $100k might seem like a fortune… especially when you’ve mortgaged yourself to the hilt on a cold, damp, shitbox, 1930s villa in Grey Lynn….

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  17. Griff (13,845 comments) says:

    Average Income 721 per week
    Medium Income 560 Per week
    28,000 or less is the yearly income of half of New Zealand’s work force.

    A fortune would not even be $100,000 per month.

    I think you will find at lest half of this country would consider one hundred thousand a year to be a fortune let alone a month.

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  18. mister nui (1,073 comments) says:

    $100,000 = a good wage, maybe Griff, but not a fortune.

    BTW, you have the stats wrong – the figures you quote are for working age population, so includes all dole bludgers, dpb slappers and super-annuitants.

    Try again for employed and you will find;
    Average: $984p.w
    Median: $830p.w
    Giving a median wage of >43k for the workforce. Little bit less emotive than your 28k….

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  19. Griff (13,845 comments) says:

    To many it is a fortune it just fails the test for you.
    A fortune is an emotive term not a number.
    Even on the median you quoted $100,000 is over double and effectively a lot more than that in disposable income.

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  20. gazzmaniac (2,842 comments) says:

    I am not wealthy but have a low six figure income (in Oz not NZ). I don’t have a large asset base because I’m not old yet and I work long hours to make that money. I don’t see why I should have to pay a higher rate of tax than somebody on an average wage. I already pay more tax by virtue of having more income, why the need to penalise me further just because I’m getting ahead a bit quicker than some other people (and working for it).
    Another way to put it: Why should overtime be taxed at a higher rate than normal hours?

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  21. mister nui (1,073 comments) says:

    Yes, Griff, to some it may be a fortune, but that’s the point innit… The fact that the repeater has determined that 100k is a fortune, comparative to their meagre earnings, is what is wholly wrong with this article and the kiwi psyche….

    More opinion and less news, any wonder the print media isn’t even good for bog roll these days.

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  22. Harriet (7,536 comments) says:

    “……Another way to put it: Why should overtime be taxed at a higher rate than normal hours?….”

    Fucken well put Gazz.

    ……..and it puts Labour’s union faction into a fucken big pickle! 😎

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