Net migration loss of non-New Zealand citizens

Annual migrant departures exceeded migrant arrivals among non-New Zealand citizens for the first time since the late 1970s, Stats NZ said today.

In the February 2021 year, a provisional net loss of 1,400 non-New Zealand citizens and a net gain of 18,900 New Zealand citizens made up an overall net migration gain of 17,400.

“Historically, New Zealand has had an annual net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens and an annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

“Although the annual net loss of non-New Zealand citizens is small, it’s a significant reversal of the pattern over the last 40 years.”

February 2021 is the 11th consecutive month with a net migration loss of non-New Zealand citizens, due to COVID-19 travel and border restrictions. In contrast, there has been a net migration gain of New Zealand citizens in each month from August 2019 to February 2021.

Year endedMigrant arrivalsMigrant departuresNet migration
Dec-2001856442729058354
Jan-2002889902681762173
Feb-2002902562642663830
Mar-2002930922592667166
Apr-2002947582562369135
May-2002961372548570652
Jun-2002977052539772308
Jul-2002989622551673446
Aug-20021004022555574847
Sep-20021011982569675502
Oct-20021016852585075835
Nov-20021022162643975777
Dec-20021024682725275216
Jan-20031022372784374394
Feb-20031019312819873733
Mar-20031006712903871633
Apr-2003995082929770211
May-2003985662952269044
Jun-2003971102979967311
Jul-2003957223053365189
Aug-2003937243111062614
Sep-2003915873151760070
Oct-2003897933189157902
Nov-2003877273287054857
Dec-2003866993406052639
Jan-2004843613431150050
Feb-2004824543470347751
Mar-2004802203463245588
Apr-2004787663515643610
May-2004779663570542261
Jun-2004769783645040528
Jul-2004755213723738284
Aug-2004744273720537222
Sep-2004737613748336278
Oct-2004729983756235436
Nov-2004724483791134537
Dec-2004723253836033965
Jan-2005717863861833168
Feb-2005713823888332499
Mar-2005715653904532520
Apr-2005721303916932961
May-2005725793912133458
Jun-2005728313902633805
Jul-2005726333905533578
Aug-2005731013924233859
Sep-2005734913916334328
Oct-2005737253916934556
Nov-2005737123846235250
Dec-2005738553806435791
Jan-2006737773771736060
Feb-2006744543724137213
Mar-2006749953696138034
Apr-2006750883695338135
May-2006749483698637962
Jun-2006754313692638505
Jul-2006763603640139959
Aug-2006770713647240599
Sep-2006778713661541256
Oct-2006786923678441908
Nov-2006799243663443290
Dec-2006807473663144116
Jan-2007813083656644742
Feb-2007818163676345053
Mar-2007827353688845847
Apr-2007830953677946316
May-2007834733686846605
Jun-2007839403695646984
Jul-2007839423693947003
Aug-2007846663708247584
Sep-2007848563707047786
Oct-2007847513708647665
Nov-2007846323722647406
Dec-2007844563712547331
Jan-2008843493729047059
Feb-2008857843743248352
Mar-2008860543755048504
Apr-2008867383774348995
May-2008880173799850019
Jun-2008887453815550590
Jul-2008899473854951398
Aug-2008902913864751644
Sep-2008901873877051417
Oct-2008905663895251614
Nov-2008904543932051134
Dec-2008902353959250643
Jan-2009903863986650520
Feb-2009896844012749557
Mar-2009887804035048430
Apr-2009876144036547249
May-2009861354037045765
Jun-2009844874052043967
Jul-2009832294061342616
Aug-2009814914090140590
Sep-2009804754108739388
Oct-2009789654123537730
Nov-2009775044131136193
Dec-2009759824120534777
Jan-2010744434120233241
Feb-2010728514143031421
Mar-2010719484177230176
Apr-2010711254216928956
May-2010702904255927731
Jun-2010696694269226977
Jul-2010692564291826338
Aug-2010694584293426524
Sep-2010693204313326187
Oct-2010699244347826446
Nov-2010699644368326281
Dec-2010699014379826103
Jan-2011697524406625686
Feb-2011704524414926303
Mar-2011708874477026117
Apr-2011712154492426291
May-2011714794507426405
Jun-2011715894485926730
Jul-2011719174521326704
Aug-2011717914535626435
Sep-2011717944504426750
Oct-2011713474514226205
Nov-2011716984514326555
Dec-2011717914516326628
Jan-2012720184529726721
Feb-2012721684504327125
Mar-2012726084436828240
Apr-2012721034402528078
May-2012722134354428669
Jun-2012726484375428894
Jul-2012718804323528645
Aug-2012717094297128738
Sep-2012716594273128928
Oct-2012718534207929774
Nov-2012718444183130013
Dec-2012717414147330268
Jan-2013718004082030980
Feb-2013710834037930704
Mar-2013709764003630940
Apr-2013716453975631889
May-2013719283963032298
Jun-2013719513919832753
Jul-2013726243902133603
Aug-2013730163863834378
Sep-2013731513852034631
Oct-2013738473833535512
Nov-2013746163791436702
Dec-2013754103730938101
Jan-2014762203700439216
Feb-2014779533685241101
Mar-2014790473651342534
Apr-2014798993637243527
May-2014808423640744435
Jun-2014821303644445686
Jul-2014839743601747957
Aug-2014861033595550148
Sep-2014880793595252127
Oct-2014893663585453512
Nov-2014904243579254632
Dec-2014906763570754969
Jan-2015923353595656379
Feb-2015928653620256663
Mar-2015938443657357271
Apr-2015944663664357823
May-2015949743661558359
Jun-2015953853674858637
Jul-2015965653678559780
Aug-2015971043685660248
Sep-2015981063680861298
Oct-2015994133693362480
Nov-20151004173682563592
Dec-20151015163698064536
Jan-20161019633686065103
Feb-20161036003688266718
Mar-20161037203699866722
Apr-20161042033727266931
May-20161048383738967449
Jun-20161051753739967776
Jul-20161053343764667688
Aug-20161044963772966767
Sep-20161042993801866281
Oct-20161040513805865993
Nov-20161039723849865474
Dec-20161040233890865115
Jan-20171043143941364901
Feb-20171040143981564199
Mar-20171039693996164008
Apr-20171036444014863496
May-20171035534082162732
Jun-20171038814143362448
Jul-20171040234215361870
Aug-20171044214282961592
Sep-20171040184351260506
Oct-20171037934422159572
Nov-20171035694455259017
Dec-20171034304530458126
Jan-20181037704555658214
Feb-20181029764583457142
Mar-20181031254635756768
Apr-20181029224669156231
May-20181030004686056140
Jun-20181027394695355786
Jul-20181028044703855766
Aug-20181033114717956132
Sep-20181037844707356711
Oct-20181038844695956925
Nov-20181038654705656809
Dec-20181042264704657180
Jan-20191042004755356647
Feb-20191045024759256910
Mar-20191044424766656776
Apr-20191043714786156510
May-20191051554797057185
Jun-20191064014869657705
Jul-20191073884897258416
Aug-20191090994902360076
Sep-20191112764943461842
Oct-20191154075025465153
Nov-20191206755291167764
Dec-20191247755505969716
Jan-20201297345679372941
Feb-20201363945757678818
Mar-20201388225797780845
Apr-20201325475514977398
May-20201249055181373092
Jun-20201171134852668587
Jul-20201068654617260693
Aug-2020977734455553218
Sep-2020882384341444825
Oct-2020768474132735520
Nov-2020641003644227658
Dec-2020534203146821952
Jan-2021388452705811787
Feb-20212238723819-1433

The annual net migration loss of non-New Zealand citizens is made up of 22,400 arrivals and 23,800 departures. Of these arrivals, about half arrived in the month of March 2020, before the first full month of COVID-19-related border restrictions in April 2020.

Net migration gain from Australia

Since the removal of departure cards in November 2018, the destination where migrants are going is no longer available. However, using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), currently available to September 2020, we are publishing estimates of migrant departures from New Zealand to Australia (for pre-COVID information, see Migration to Australia halves).

New Zealand has provisionally seen an estimated net migration gain of about 7,000 from Australia in the year ended September 2020. This came from an estimated 26,000 migrant arrivals to New Zealand and 19,000 migrant departures to Australia.

Historically, there has been a net migration loss of New Zealand residents to Australia, which has fluctuated over time. For example, the net loss averaged around 27,000 annually in the early 2010s compared with about 3,000 annually in the late 2010s.

Trans-Tasman migration trends have generally been driven by departures from New Zealand to Australia. By comparison, flows from Australia to New Zealand have hovered at lower levels.

Year endedMigration from Australia to New Zealand (estimated from Stats NZ data)Migration from New Zealand to Australia (estimated from ABS data)Net migration from Australia to New Zealand
Sep-20042091142578-21667
Dec-20042024340080-19837
Mar-20051963340522-20889
Jun-20051916541922-22757
Sep-20051889442819-23925
Dec-20051866443545-24881
Mar-20061849743305-24808
Jun-20061829943534-25235
Sep-20061840844388-25980
Dec-20061855845693-27135
Mar-20071861047642-29032
Jun-20071873749895-31158
Sep-20071871350985-32272
Dec-20071853852474-33936
Mar-20081830254432-36130
Jun-20081811455773-37659
Sep-20081788157385-39504
Dec-20081798557933-39948
Mar-20091818555690-37505
Jun-20091874550969-32224
Sep-20091948446272-26788
Dec-20092014942486-22337
Mar-20102071141281-20570
Jun-20102097342906-21933
Sep-20102107445972-24898
Dec-20102080949193-28384
Mar-20112054753719-33172
Jun-20111991657571-37655
Sep-20111938560075-40690
Dec-20111913161830-42699
Mar-20121894162688-43747
Jun-20121908962832-43743
Sep-20121969462579-42885
Dec-20122093461785-40851
Mar-20132220159156-36955
Jun-20132370055357-31657
Sep-20132556851159-25591
Dec-20132761546962-19347
Mar-20142908942233-13144
Jun-20142995638965-9009
Sep-20143055736925-6368
Dec-20143136835327-3959
Mar-20153181634419-2603
Jun-20153228233857-1575
Sep-20153268233571-889
Dec-20153302033718-698
Mar-20163346734439-972
Jun-20163323535825-2590
Sep-20163291037039-4129
Dec-20163248137081-4600
Mar-20173169535892-4197
Jun-20173133934459-3120
Sep-20173057433236-2662
Dec-20172959532392-2797
Mar-20182882732063-3236
Jun-20182821531845-3630
Sep-20182800231749-3747
Dec-20182736631718-4352
Mar-20192717831615-4437
Jun-20192761731847-4230
Sep-20192850932148-3639
Dec-20193072633413-2687
Mar-20203311432410704
Jun-202029108256463462
Sep-202026016190486968
Dec-202018765

New Zealand citizens traditionally dominate trans-Tasman migration flows. In the year ended September 2020, almost 3 in 4 migrant arrivals from Australia were New Zealand citizens. About 2 in 3 migrant departures to Australia were New Zealand citizens.

Travel from Pacific countries picks up in recent months

From April 2020 to February 2021, there were 7,700 arrivals, including both short- or long-term, from Pacific countries (excluding Australia). This was a 99 percent drop from 583,000 arrivals for the same period in 2019-20.

CountryCook IslandsSamoaFijiVanuatuTongaOther Pacific countries
Apr-2045148130514453
May-20941911944186
Jun-20747586550103
Jul-201111148413385
Aug-202139983336111
Sep-2097788392497
Oct-20131113133626138
Nov-20745376518117
Dec-201651161151033132
Jan-21450715152122888
Feb-216713051708254298

During the nine months from April 2020 to December 2020, arrivals from Pacific countries averaged 500 each month. This has increased in January-February 2021 to an average of 1,800 arrivals each month.

“The increase in arrivals from the Pacific, excluding Australia, in 2021 coincides with the arrival of seasonal workers, in particular from Vanuatu, Samoa, and Fiji, and the resumption of a one-way travel arrangement with the Cook Islands,” Mr Islam said.

Who is a migrant

‘Migrant arrivals’ are overseas residents, including New Zealand citizens living overseas, who cumulatively spend 12 of the next 16 months in New Zealand after arriving.

‘Migrant departures’ are New Zealand residents, including non-New Zealand citizens living in New Zealand, who cumulatively spend 12 of the next 16 months out of New Zealand after departing.

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. The classification of travellers as migrants is based on their time spent in and out of New Zealand, not what visa type or passport they cross the border on, and not on their responses on arrival cards. Given this, we need to observe up to 16 months of travel history, using the 12/16-month rule, to definitively classify a border crossing as a migrant movement. Border-crossing data after February 2021 therefore informs the latest migration estimates.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.