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Asians Largest Contributor to New Zealand’s Population Growth

by Kit West
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Migrants from India, the Philippines and China are adding extra heft to the country’s annual population growth, latest figures from Stats NZ show. Overall, annual migrant arrivals in the year ending 31 August 2023 reached an all-time high of 225,400.

With 115,100 migrant departures over the same period, New Zealand had a record net migration gain of 110,200. What’s more, the net loss of 42,600 New Zealand citizens in this period was compensated by a net gain of 152,800 non-New Zealand citizens.

The net gain of 152,800 non-New Zealand citizens in the 12 months to 31 August is significantly larger than the net gain of 6,600 non-New Zealand citizens recorded over the same period the previous year.

It also exceeds the average annual net gains of around 61,000 per year that were recorded between 2015 and 2019, before the Covid pandemic emerged, which led to New Zealand’s borders being closed until August last year.

Stats NZ defines migrants as “persons changing their country of residence, regardless of their country of citizenship or visa status”.

The agency uses a 12-month threshold to distinguish migrants from non-migrants in line with international guidelines on measuring migration.

“Net migration continues to be driven by non-New Zealand citizen arrivals, with about eight out of nine migrants arriving on a non-New Zealand passport,” said Tehseen Islam, population indicators manager at Stats NZ. “This follows a progressive relaxation of Covid-19-related border restrictions from early 2022, as well as changes to immigration settings.”

Indians top the migration charts

Stats NZ figures showed that Indians, Filipinos and Chinese were the top three contributors to New Zealand’s net migration gains. For the year ending 31 August, 38,197 Indians migrated here, compared to 8,368 over the same period through 31 August 2019 – a four-fold increase.

Citizens of the Philippines came in second, with 30,350 choosing to migrate to New Zealand in the 12 months to 31 August, followed by Chinese immigrants at 19,876. The corresponding figures for Filipinos and Chinese migrants over the 12 months to 31 August 2019 was 8,586 and 5,494.

Sri Lanka (5,293 migrants) and Vietnam (3,720 migrants) were the other Asians countries in the top 10 over the same period through 31 August.

Auckland popular with migrants

According to Stats NZ, the country’s population grew by 2.1 percent, or 105,900 people, in the year ending 30 June 2023, a significant increase from the growth of 0.1 percent, or 5,800 people, recorded in the previous year. Auckland and the country’s 12 city council areas all experienced population growth in the year ending 30 June 2023. This followed two years of comparatively low population growth as population numbers in several cities fell.

International migration was the main driver behind the population increase in cities over the 12-month period through to the end of June. In fact, population grew in all 16 regions of the country, with Auckland growing by 2.8 percent.

In the year ending 30 June 2023, Auckland recorded a net gain of 47,800 people from international migration. The contribution of natural population increase (births minus deaths) in Auckland (10,400 people) was offset by a net loss of 11,200 residents moving to areas outside Auckland.

“Auckland gained people through international migration, but lost people through internal migration (people migrating within New Zealand), continuing the pattern since the late 1990s,” said Michael MacAskill, estimates and projections manager at Stats NZ.

International migration was also the largest driver of population growth in 17 of the 21 Auckland local board areas. Waitematā, the fastest-growing Auckland local board area in 2023, had the largest net international migration gain of 8,300 people. Howick had the second-largest international migration gain of 6,100 people. These two areas accounted for 30 percent of Auckland’s total net international migration gain.

North Island cities that experienced net gains from international migration and net losses from internal migration included Hamilton, which recorded a net international migration gain of 4,900 people and net internal loss of 150, and Wellington, which recorded a net international migration gain of 3,600 people and net internal loss of 1500.

In the South Island, Christchurch posted a net international migration gain of 5,700 people and a net internal loss of 940. The regional populations of Otago, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty also grew faster than the New Zealand average. Otago’s high growth rate – 2.7 percent – was driven by high population growth in Queenstown-Lakes District.

Queenstown-Lakes grew by 8 percent, or 3,900 people, in the year ended 30 June 2023. This growth was driven by a net international migration gain of 2,500 people, with a net internal migration of 1,100 people and natural increase of 340 people making smaller contributions.

Other territorial authority areas growing faster than the New Zealand average included Selwyn District (5.2 percent), Mackenzie District (3.6 percent), Hamilton City (3.4 percent), Western Bay of Plenty District (2.8 percent), Waikato District (2.6 percent), Central Otago District (2.6 percent), Tauranga City (2.5 percent) and Waimakariri District (2.2 percent). According to Stats NZ, all these areas had population gains through net international migration, natural increases and internal migration.

Record Indian visitors

Stats NZ has also showed that the number of arrivals from India reached a record high of 70,100 in the year ended 31 August 2023. From 1 August 2022, the New Zealand border opened to all visitors and students.

India’s ranking as a source of overseas visitors to New Zealand has progressively risen from 19th in 2003, 10th in 2013, and ninth in 2019. The South Asian country is the fifth-largest source of tourists to New Zealand behind Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and China.

“About six in 10 visitor arrivals from India came to visit friends and relatives in the August 2023 year, compared with three in 10 in 2003,” Islam said. “This mirrors the growing Indian population living in New Zealand and (its) connections with India.”

Source: RNZ

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