New Zealand still proving popular with expats from India and China in particular

by Ray Clancy on May 25, 2016

New Zealand is continuing to experience a boom in immigration but experts believe that the growth in numbers arriving from abroad is starting to slow.

Official seasonally adjusted figures showed a net gain, that is more arrivals than departures, of 5,500 migrants in April 2016 with monthly gains steady and annual growth continuing.

Indeed, the data from Statistics New Zealand shows that since exceeding 6,000 in October 2015, the seasonally adjusted net gain in migrants has averaged 5,800 per month.

wellington-new zealand

New Zealand’s unadjusted annual net gain of migrants reached 68,100 in the April 2016 year, a new high and migrant arrivals drove the new high, with 124,700 migrants arriving in the April 2016 year. Returning New Zealand citizens made up a quarter of these.

Annual net gains in migration from Australia continued at 1,700 migrants, as more people moved from Australia to live in New Zealand and fewer left.

Annual arrivals of non-New Zealand citizen migrants were led by India with 13,100 or 11% of all arrivals, followed by China with 11,000 or 9% and the UK with 9,100 or 7%. Australians made up 9,000 of arrivals.

However economists say the migration boom may be starting to tail off as monthly figures show signs of stabilising as the 5,200 recorded in April is down from the 5,330 in March, and lagging behind the 5,800 monthly average since October 2015.

“Net migration appears to have peaked. Monthly figures rose aggressively for years, but levelled out at around 6,000 from October last year to February this year. The past two months have been significantly lower than 6,000,” said Westpac Banking Corp chief economist Dominick Stephens.

“The turn in migration has had two drivers. First, after falling to very low levels the number of New Zealanders departing for Australia has stabilised in recent months. And second, the number of foreigners arriving on student visas has fallen sharply, possibly as a result of tighter English language requirements that were recently imposed,” he pointed out.

“We expect net migration to fall over the years ahead as the improving Australian labour market entices more Kiwis across the Tasman, and as the surge of students who arrived in recent years on temporary visas begin to depart the country,” he added.

The data also shows that visitor arrivals numbered 256,700 in April 2016, a new April record, and up 8% from April 2015, with a 40% increase in visitor arrivals from China.

“More visitors arriving from China, more than offset a 4% fall in visitors from Australia, and helped set a new April record. Easter moving from April in 2015 to March in 2016 meant higher than usual arrivals from Australia in March, but lower than usual arrivals in April,” said population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner.

In the April 2016 year, visitor arrivals hit a record 3.27 million, up 11% from the April 2015 year. Annual visitor arrivals broke the three million mark in the year ended July 2015, and have been rising steadily since.

New Zealand residents took 2.44 million overseas trips in the April 2016 year, up 6% from the April 2015 year. More trips to Australia, Fiji, and the United Kingdom were the biggest changes.

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