Record Number of New Migrants Arrive in New Zealand, While Skilled Kiwis Leave. Immigration NZ reports a significant increase in migrant arrivals, reaching 249,500, while departures also rose by 29%. Skilled young New Zealanders are leaving the country for better opportunities overseas.
According to provisional estimates released by Stats NZ, a record number of new migrants arrived in New Zealand in the year leading up to November 30. However, an immigration consultant warns that many of these newcomers will eventually leave, and an increasing number of skilled young New Zealanders are already moving overseas.
Migrant arrivals in New Zealand were estimated at 249,500, reflecting a significant increase of 135% compared to the previous year. While departures also increased by 29%, the estimated number was 122,100. This resulted in an annual net migration gain of 127,400, which stood in stark contrast to the net gain of merely 11,000 in the same period in 2022. Despite this positive trend, the net gain in the current year was slightly lower than the net gain of 128,900 in the October 2023 year.
Stats NZ noted that the migrant arrivals and departures during the November 2023 year were provisionally the highest on record for an annual period. Of the total net gain of 127,400, 171,900 were non-citizens, while the number of New Zealand citizens leaving the country resulted in a net migration loss of 44,500. This net loss was a new annual record, surpassing the previous high of 44,400 in February 2012.
David Cooper, CEO of Malcolm Pacific Immigration, explained that the high numbers of new arrivals were partly a result of delays from previous major events. The Resident Visas program in 2021 granted residence to over 200,000 people, and some of those granted visas later brought relatives to join them. Additionally, the worker shortages experienced in 2022 prompted greater offshore recruitment. While the recruitment process is slowing down as the economy and labour market cool, the migration numbers are expected to lag due to the time required to process visa applications and for individuals to relocate.
Cooper expressed concern over the net migration loss of 44,500 New Zealand citizens. According to him, these individuals are often young and qualified, the kind of talent that the country needs. The reasons behind their departure include a "grass is greener" attitude, as well as the allure of better pay and more opportunities overseas.
Citizens of India, the Philippines, China, Fiji, and South Africa were the main drivers of net migration gains in the November 2023 year. Notable arrivals included 44,978 citizens from India, 34,268 from the Philippines, 16,408 from China, 9854 from Fiji, and 8319 from South Africa. Moreover, citizens of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Samoa, the UK, and Australia also featured in the top 10 in terms of arrivals.
During the same period, an estimated 2082 Australian citizens migrated to New Zealand, resulting in a net migration loss. Stats NZ also released data regarding transtasman migration, which revealed a provisional net migration loss of 21,100 people from New Zealand to Australia for the year ending in June 2023. This figure consisted of 19,500 migrant arrivals from Australia to New Zealand and 40,600 departures in the opposite direction.
Historically, New Zealand has experienced a net migration loss to Australia, averaging around 3000 per year between 2014 and 2019.