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Migration record as nearly 250,000 people arrive in NZ in one year



A record number of new migrants arrived in New Zealand in the year to November 30, according to provisional estimates released today.

But an immigration consultant says many of those newcomers will leave, and too many skilled young Kiwis are already moving overseas.

Stats NZ said migrant arrivals were estimated at 249,500, up 135 percent compared with the November 2022 year.

Departures were up too, but only by 29 percent or an estimated 122,100.

There was an annual net migration gain of 127,400, plus or minus 2500.

That compared to an annual net gain of barely 11,000 in the November 2022 year.

But it was down slightly from a net gain of 128,900 in the October 2023 year.

“The 249,500 migrant arrivals and 122,100 migrant departures in the November 2023 year are, provisionally, the highest on record for an annual period,” Stats NZ said.

The provisional net gain of 127,400 comprised a net gain of 171,900 non-citizens.

However, there was a net migration loss of 44,500 New Zealand citizens.

That net loss was provisionally a new annual record, greater than the 44,400 in the February 2012 year.

David Cooper, Malcolm Pacific Immigration chief executive, said the overall high numbers of new arrivals were partly the result of lags from previous major events.

“It’s still a result of the border reopening. So the previous Government had the 2021 Resident Visas program where 200,000-plus people got granted residence.”

There had been a hangover with that program with some of those granted visas bringing relatives over more recently, Cooper said.

The worker shortages of 2022 have also led to greater offshore recruitment.

That process was now probably slowing as the economy and labor market cooled, but the migration numbers could lag, as it took time to process visa applications and for people to move countries.

Cooper said people should take care when reading the headline numbers.

“Net migration gain, in the average person’s head, means all of these people are coming here to live.”

But many, perhaps the majority, were on visas that would eventually require them to leave.

The net migration loss of 44,500 New Zealand citizens was concerning, he said.

“They are not the desperate and dateless. They are young, qualified people. Why are we losing so many Kiwis to offshore?”

Those Kiwis were often talented individuals the country needed.

A “grass is greener” attitude drove some of them overseas, but so did the lure of better pay or more opportunities, Cooper said.

Citizens of India, the Philippines, China, Fiji and South Africa drove net migration gains in the November 2023 year, according to Stats NZ.

An estimated net 44,978 citizens of India arrived, 34,268 from the Philippines, 16,408 from China, 9854 from Fiji and 8319 from South Africa.

Citizens of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Samoa, the UK and Australia rounded out the top 10 in terms of arrivals.

Brain drain to Australia?

An estimated 2082 Australian citizens were net migrants in the November 2023 year.

Older data relating to trans-Tasman migration was also released today,

For the year ended June 2023, Stats NZ recorded a provisional net migration loss of 21,100 people to Australia.

That comprised 19,500 migrant arrivals from Australia to New Zealand and 40,600 departures in the opposite direction.

“The provisional net migration loss to Australia in the year ended June 2023 was made up of a net loss of 21,400 New Zealand citizens, which more than offset a small net gain of 400 non-New Zealand citizens from Australia,” Stats NZ said.

There had traditionally been a net migration loss from New Zealand to Australia, which averaged about 3000 a year during 2014-19.

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