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New Zealand net migration rate remains high

Migration in the past year increased New Zealand’s population by about 11 more people for every 1,000 already living here, Stats NZ said today.

New Zealand’s net migration rate was 11.4 per 1,000 people in the year ended June 2019 (time period used for international comparability), reflecting annual net migration of about 56,000 for a population of about 4.9 million. This rate is similar to Australia's in 2017–18 but more than triple recent migration rates in the United States and United Kingdom.

In the United States, the net migration rate was 3 per 1,000 people in 2018, which equated to an annual net migration of 978,800 on a population of 327 million.

“Countries like New Zealand and Ireland tend to have larger swings in net migration rates because they have small populations. In contrast, countries with larger populations tend to have low net migration rates and smaller swings in net migration rate,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

Recent New Zealand migration numbers

Migration estimates for the year ended April 2019 are subject to smaller revisions now than when estimates were first released 5 months ago. At 5–6 months after a reference period, there is more certainty about whether travellers are short-term or long-term (migrants), according to the 12/16 month-rule.

In the year ended April 2019, annual net migration was provisionally estimated at 55,700 (± 900) compared with 49,600 in the previous year.

“Annual net migration has ranged between 48,000 and 64,000 since 2015, and remains at historically high levels,” Mr Islam said.

In the year ended April 2019, there were provisionally 149,200 migrant arrivals, up 7,400 from the year ended April 2018.

“Migrant arrivals are higher than when net migration peaked at almost 64,000 in the year ended July 2016,” Mr Islam said.

Migrant departures were 92,200, up 1,400 from the previous year.

Migrant arrivals and departures include the flows of New Zealand citizens, as well as the flows of non-New Zealand citizens, as both affect the population living in New Zealand.


There were 113,900 migrant arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens in the year ended April 2019 (up 9,100) compared with the year ended April 2018.

The most common citizenships on arrival for non-New Zealand citizens were:
• China (17,300)
• India (13,200)
• Philippines (9,000)
• Australia (8,900).

Migrant arrivals of New Zealand citizens were down 1,700.

There were 45,700 migrant departures of New Zealand citizens in the year ended April 2019 (up 3,200) compared with the year ended April 2018.

Migrant departures of non-New Zealand citizens were down 1,800, for a total of 47,800.

Year ended September 2019 – provisional migration estimates

Some users of migration data may still want to look at the most recent provisional data. These give a timelier indication of migration levels, although have higher uncertainty and are therefore subject to larger revisions than provisional estimates for earlier periods.

Provisional estimates for the year ended September 2019:
• migrant arrivals – 150,000 (± 1,500)
• migrant departures – 95,300 (± 1,300)
• net migration gain – 54,600 (± 1,800).

We encourage customers to make their own judgement on whether to use the initial provisional migration estimates which have higher uncertainty, or provisional migration estimates 5–6 months after the reference period which have lower uncertainty. The uncertainty reflects the number of migrant outcomes that need to be modelled, compared with those which can be definitively classified according to the 12/16-month rule.

Year ended May 2018 migration now final

Migration estimates for the year ended May 2018 have now been finalised with a net migration of 49,500.

Extended migration time series now available

On 30 October 2019, an extended back series of migration data using the outcomes-based 12/16-month rule was released. All migration Infoshare series have been extended back to January 2001 with the exception of subnational series; these were extended back to January 2013.

International migration estimates extended back to 2001 has more information.

Move to quarterly commentaries

This release is the last monthly commentary on migration data. We will publish a quarterly commentary with December 2019 data in February 2020, with March data in May, and with June data in August.

Monthly migration data will still be published each month on Infoshare (subject category: Tourism, group: International travel and migration – ITM).

Estimated migration (mean estimate), year ended April 2019

Diagram shows estimates for migrant arrivals, migrant departures, and net migration, for the year ended April 2019. Arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens were 113,900 (± 800) and departures were 47,800 (± 400), making a net migration gain of 66,100 (± 800) non-New Zealand citizens. Arrivals of New Zealand citizens were 35,300 (± 300) and departures were 45,700 (± 400), making a net migration loss of 10,400 (± 500) New Zealand citizens. Result is a total net migration gain of 55,700 (± 1,100). Note: The provisional estimates have 95 percent confidence intervals (±) alongside them – the wider the interval, the greater the uncertainty about the estimate. However, these intervals reflect the model uncertainty, not the extent of future revisions to provisional data.

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