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Net migration loss hits a high as Australia draws New Zealanders


Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, December 7, 2023

There was a record net migration loss of 44,800 New Zealand citizens till September 2023 this year, according to provisional estimates released by Stats NZ recently.

Statistics New Zealand Population Indicators Manager Tehseen Islam said that there were 26,400 migrant arrivals and 71,200 migrant departures during this period.

“Migrant departures of New Zealand citizens are just under record levels. Based on the latest estimates available, just over half of these departures went to Australia,” he said.

Figures showed that almost half of the departures were to Australia which has been attracting New Zealanders with better working conditions and higher pay. The earlier net migration loss was 44,400 in February 2012.

While the outward movement of New Zealanders was at a record high, there was also an influx of non-New Zealand citizens in record numbers. There were 163,600 arrivals which included migrants from India, the Philippines, China, Fiji, and South Africa. This took the total to a record number of ‘overall net migration gain’ to 118,800 in September 2023.

This follows a progressive relaxation of the Covid-19 related border restrictions from early 2022, as well as changes to immigration settings.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, non-citizens were the main driver of New Zealand’s annual net migration gains, with recent September years (2015-2019) averaging net gains of 61,300 non-citizens a year.

Migrants aged 18-44 years made up 67%  (142,100) of the 210,600 migrant arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens in the September 2023 year.

Migrants aged 18–30 years accounted for 39%  (27,800) of the 71,200 migrant departures of New Zealand citizens in the September 2023 year.

Towards a better life

Sumit and Neha, young professionals who had made Hamilton their new home, have packed their bags and are ready to move to Sydney next week.

They said, “Most of our friends have either moved already or planning to move soon. The cost of living has been a major factor for us but it is also the ease of travel for our families, better job prospects and career growth possibilities.”

This shift is a departure from previous migration patterns and may have multifaceted implications for the economies and societies of both countries.

Similar stories have been heard over the past few months

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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