What is causing record net migration

With annual net hitting a record 70,000 I thought it would be useful to look at what is causing it. First here are the arrivals:


The total is on the right axis. Fairly constant from 2004 to 2012 and started to grow significantly since then to hit 125,000 in the year to September 2016.

Residency visas are below their peak in 2006 and have changed little.

Student visas were at around 10,000 then in 2008 went up to around 15,000. They stayed there for a five years but since 2012 have almost doubled to 25,000. Fees from international students are very significant and only 20% of those who come here on a student visa end up staying on.

Work visas grew from 2004 to 2008 – up from 16,000 to 23,000. Then constant until 2012 and since then grown to 40,000. These are generally people doing the jobs Kiwis don’t want to do, or we don’t have enough with the right skills to do.

NZ citizens returning home has been pretty constant at 25,000 a year until 2013 and now up at over 30,000.

Australian citizens moving here reasonably constant at 6,000 but has been growing since 2013.

So how about departures?


The numbers of Aussies leaving is around constant. Also the number of non NZ and non Australian citizens leaving is also pretty constant. The big change is the number of NZ citizens leaving.

This hit a high in 2012 of 62,000 and in 2016 has dropped to 33,000. This is an excellent thing that only half the numbers of Kiwis are leaving. However it does mean the impact on net migration is significant.

Net migration was actually negative 3,000 in the year to Sep 2012. It has increased to almost 70,000 in the year to Sep 2016. The contributors are:

  1. 28,567 fewer Kiwis leaving
  2. 15,695 more workers on work visas
  3. 10,209 more students on students visas
  4. 8,870 more Kiwis returning
  5. 3,179 more people on residency visas
  6. 2,306 more Aussies moving here
  7. 2,062 fewer “others” (non NZers and non Aussies) leaving
  8. 1,754 more “others” (often long-term visitors) coming here
  9. 592 fewer Aussies leaving

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