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Migration Research Speech - Hon Paul Swain

19 April 2004 Speech Notes

New Settlers, New Directions, New Challenges – Migration Research Pgm, Launch of LisNZ Report

VUW Law School Annex, Lecture Rm 2, Old Govt Bldgs, Wgtn


I'm pleased to be here today to launch the Department of Labour's Longitudinal Immigration Survey – the New Zealand pilot report.

The focus of the government's immigration policy for the past four years has been to shift from a passive, defensive approach, to become more of an active recruitment agency in a highly mobile, competitive international labour market.

Alongside this emphasis on attracting the best of the world's skilled migrants, New Zealand is committed to delivering on its international responsibilities in areas like refugee resettlement.

Migrant Patterns

A total of 20,638 people in 10,691 applications were approved for residence in the first six months of 2003/2004.

The largest source countries of residence approvals for the first six months of the 2003/2004 financial year were Great Britain (23 percent), China (14 percent), and South Africa, India, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji (6 percent each).

The government plans for 60 percent of the approvals to be under the Skilled/Business stream, 30 percent under the Family stream, and for 10 percent to be under the International/Humanitarian stream.

I can report that in the year to date the flows under the Skilled/Business stream are very strong – after all, it is the skilled category that drives our immigration programme.

Strong interest in migrating to New Zealand continues to be the case. The challenge now is to try to attract interest from those who will be of most benefit to our country, and meet needs and opportunities in our economy.

Government changes

Since the 1999 election, the Government has systematically reviewed immigration policy and implemented significant changes to ensure that the focus is on successful settlement, rather than sheer numbers.

Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category, in operation now for just a few weeks, is a key part of achieving this. Highly qualified professionals are being actively recruited in areas of skill shortages across the whole country as a result of the new Category.

The Immigration Service's Policy Research and Development Manager Marilyn Little will speak in more detail on this programme later in this seminar.

But I believe it is important to put the Skilled Migrant Category in the broader context of the government's objective - returning to the top half of the OECD.

This world-leading immigration programme gives New Zealand more control over increasing the level of skilled workers in the economy.

Highly qualified ICT professionals, a microbiologist, a psychiatrist, other scientists, doctors, nurses, secondary school teachers, and tradespeople such as mechanics and electricians are among those being invited to apply for residence.

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which was supported by a law change last year, and is aimed at shifting the focus from the passive acceptance of residence applications, to the active recruitment of people with the skills that New Zealand needs.

Prior to this, the government had introduced a range of changes designed to facilitate growth and to improve outcomes. For example:

English language requirements

These were introduced in November 2002, increasing the level of English required by skilled and business principal applicants – thereby making it much more likely that these skilled people will be employable in New Zealand.

A Talent Visa This was introduced in 2001, enabling recognised employers to recruit talented skilled people on two year temporary work to residence permits.

Streamlined Work Policy

This aims to facilitate the entry of highly skilled people.


The New Zealand Immigration Service has developed an approach to migration based on outcomes – and focussed on how to make settlement more successful.

Significant studies have shown that migrants more effectively add to this country's capacity when they are well settled.

A number of initiatives have been developed to ensure that our policies are targeted to attracting skilled and talented migrants.

These initiatives focus on areas such as:

Marketing offshore

In addition to marketing in the UK – which remains a vital offshore market for New Zealand - the NZIS has just appointed Regional Marketing Directors in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Talent spotting

In New Zealand itself, it is planned that we Talent spot onshore and “up-sell” to targeted holders of temporary permits to encourage them to apply for residence.


Students who have studied in New Zealand are potential quality migrants as they have qualifications that are recognised by New Zealand employers and are already partly settled here.

Temporary workers

Temporary workers have also started the settlement process, with those working in skill shortage or growth areas having the potential to contribute to New Zealand’s longer term needs and opportunities.

Regional initiatives

Trying to ensure that all parts of New Zealand benefit from immigration is another initiative. Piloting of a regional immigration initiative with the Wellington and Southland/Clutha regions (from July 2002 to December 2003).

A recent evaluation by the Ministry of Economic Development and the New Zealand Immigration Service found that the scheme enhanced regions’ abilities to utilise immigration to meet skill needs unable to be filled within New Zealand and supported regional economic development strategies.

It also improved migrants’ knowledge of the employment, investment and lifestyle opportunities in these regions. In addition, the SMC encourages settlement in regions where there are skill shortages and employment opportunities.

75% of those invited to apply to date are outside of Auckland.

Improving Settlement Outcomes

A core government objective is improving settlement outcomes. Over the past four years this government has done much to improve these – partly through policy changes such as the SMC described above. And partly through providing support to people before and after arrival in New Zealand.

Funding Settlement Programmes

Providing seed funding to initiatives designed to improve settlement outcomes, particularly for refugees and other migrants who face barriers to employment, was an early decision of the government.

An evaluation of settlement pilot projects was undertaken in late 2001/2002.

It indicated that the projects had been largely successful. As a result, this government decided that it would continue to fund and support such programmes.

Participants and external stakeholders spoke highly of the pilots, the range of services they provided and the successful models that had been established.

A number of barriers to good settlement outcomes for migrants have been identified.

A key barrier was a lack of national co-ordination.

Settlement Strategy

The government has recently agreed a high level National Settlement Strategy.

We hope this will promote a co-ordinated approach to the development and delivery of services to migrants, refugees and their families by central and local government and settlement service providers.

It is early days, but the government expects this work to pick up momentum during this year – and will work with local government and NGOs to improve coordination and information sharing.

NZIS’s Research on Settlement Outcomes

Extensive research has been undertaken on settlement outcomes for migrants.

These studies provide valuable information on how well immigration policies and settlement programmes are working and how well migrants are settling in New Zealand.

As well as independent research, the NZIS has carried out its own settlement research – including the Longitundinal Survey of Immigrants: New Zealand – or LisNZ.

I’m delighted to be able to launch the LisNZ Pilot Summary Report here today.

LisNZ Pilot Summary Report

The Department of Labour’s Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand (LisNZ) was jointly developed by the Department of Labour and Statistics New Zealand.

The LisNZ has been designed to provide information that can be used to assess how well policy objectives are being achieved.

The main LisNZ survey will contribute significantly to an objective evaluation of how effectively immigration policy and settlement programmes are achieving good settlement outcomes for recent migrants, as well as for New Zealand’s economy and society.

The LisNZ pilot report provides an overview of the initial settlement experiences of the migrants who took part in the pilot survey.

Findings from the LisNZ main survey will be released progressively from 2007.

However, this initial report, summarising findings from the pilot survey provides helpful information about settlement outcomes and offers indicators for policy makers and service providers.

The information in this report will help the government to market migration opportunities to those people most likely to succeed in New Zealand.

It will also help the government to target settlement assistance to those most in need.

Although based on a limited sample, the LisNZ pilot survey provides valuable insights into the first 18 months of a migrant’s new life in New Zealand.

The LisNZ provides information on areas such as: the reasons why migrants apply for residence; labour market outcomes; occupational mismatch; English language skills; family, friends and social integration; discrimination; settlement assistance; and income.


The results from the LisNZ pilot survey are encouraging. The Immigration Service will shortly go over the findings in some detail. But to summarise, the pilot survey found that:

The large majority of migrants surveyed were feeling settled and satisfied with their life in New Zealand. Furthermore, this satisfaction increased over time.

Skilled/Business principal applicants had good employment outcomes, and their employment rates increased from the time of the first interview to the time of the second interview.

Employment rates for other migrants also improved.

Parents were satisfied with their children’s schooling and very few felt their children were unsettled either at school or in New Zealand.

Migrants’ initial settlement intentions did not appear to have changed after having spent some time living in New Zealand as a resident. This suggests positive settlement outcomes.

There is evidence in the pilot survey that shows that the majority of migrants need some help to settle in New Zealand.

This lends support to the strong settlement focus that now characterises immigration policy, with the emphasis on improving outcomes for New Zealand and for the migrants themselves.

We want the most skilled and valuable migrants from all around the world.

We are looking for skills and qualities that will help us achieve sustainable economic growth, and encourage innovation.

We want people who will strengthen the connections we already have with the world, and at the same time help enrich the communities in which the migrants choose to live.

I hope this seminar proves valuable for you all, and I am pleased to officially open proceedings, and launch the Longitudinal Immigration Survey (LISNZ) pilot report.


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