Recent data published by Statistics NZ show the number of people moving to New Zealand (i.e. long term arrivals less departures) hit 43,483 in the 12 months to August. This surpassed the previous peak inflow recorded in the May 2003 year and now stands as the strongest rate of net migration since 1922, when published records began.

NZ net annualised migration

NZ net annualised migration

Source: Stats NZ

Net migration relative to population

Net migration relative to population

Source: Stats NZ

This growth should be kept in perspective. The August annual figure represents less than 1% of the existing population. NZ has seen strong expansion relative to population on numerous occasions since records began (1%+ in 1922, 1925-27, 1952-53, 2003; 0.8%+ in 1957-58, 1962, 1973-74 and 1995-96).

However, almost a half of current net new arrivals indicate that they want to settle in Auckland, our largest and arguably most international city. This figure rises closer to two thirds when those who don’t or can’t provide a destination are either removed or distributed proportionately across all regions. Helped by the rebuild, Canterbury is the next most popular destination but has only slightly more than a quarter of Auckland’s inflows.

NZ net annualised   migration by region: Auckland dominates

NZ net annualised migration by region Auckland dominates 

Source:Stats NZ

Significantly, this disparity in migration patterns largely matches the distribution of employment opportunities. Auckland simply has more job vacancies than any other region – c.40% of the national total according to Trade Me and 50%+ according to Seek.

 NZ job vacancies by region

NZ job vacancies by region

Source: Seek, Trade Me

NZ job vacancies by region

NZ job vacancies by region 2

Overall, the additional people coming to New Zealand will contribute to our standard of living by bringing expertise, experience, scale, diversity and vibrancy to the domestic economy. In return they will consume food, require accommodation, utilise the national infrastructure and vote. Record rates of migration have significant implications for many parts of our everyday lives, but the quantum of this growth and scale of change (as well as the challenges and opportunities) will not be spread evenly across the country. Auckland is clearly the preferred destination.


David Rigby

Senior Analyst