Stats NZ has a new website.

For new releases go to

As we transition to our new site, you'll still find some Stats NZ information here on this archive site.

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
Years since arrival in New Zealand


Years since arrival in New Zealand is the number of completed years up to census night, since a person born overseas first arrived to live in New Zealand as a permanent or long-term resident. This includes any intervening absences, whether temporary or long-term.

Related variables

  • Month of arrival in New Zealand
  • Year of arrival in New Zealand

Where the data comes from

This variable is derived from question 10 (year of arrival to live in New Zealand) on the individual form.

How this data is classified

00 0 years

01 1 year

02 2 years


89 89 years

90 90 years or more

91 Don't know

92 Refused to answer

93 Response unidentifiable

94 Response outside scope

99 Not stated

The criterion used to place a person, born outside of New Zealand, into the classification for years since arrival in New Zealand is the time elapsed in completed years (including any intervening absences whether short-term or long-term) between arrival in New Zealand and the data collection.

For further information about this classification, refer to the:

For background information on classifications and standards, refer to the Classifications and related statistical standards page.

Subject population

The subject population for this variable is the overseas born census usually resident population.

The subject population is the people, or families to whom the variable applies.

Non-response and data that could not be classified


The non-response rate is the percentage of the subject population that was coded to ‘Not stated’. 'Non-response' is when an individual gives no response at all to a census question that was relevant to them.

  • Non-response rate for 2013: 3.6 percent.
  • Non-response rate for 2006: 3.8 percent.
  • Non-response rate for 2001: 5.2 percent.

Not elsewhere included

Non-response and responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for, are usually grouped together and called 'Not elsewhere included'.

  • 3.9 percent of the subject population was coded to 'Not elsewhere included' in 2013, compared with 4.3 percent in 2006 and 6.1 percent in 2001.

For more information on non-response, refer to the 2013 Census data user guide.

How this data is used

Data from this variable is used (in conjunction with birthplace data):

  • to provide useful indicators of the socio-economic status of immigrants
  • to provide information about cultural diversity within communities, which will assist local authorities to plan for services
  • to develop, monitor, and evaluate settlement programmes for immigrants.

In conjunction with the age, sex, marital status, ethnic group, birthplace, income, education, industry, occupation, work and labour force status, hours worked, usual residence, and usual residence five years ago variables, to identify changes in the characteristics of New Zealand's immigrant population over time.

Data quality processes

All census data was checked thoroughly during processing and evaluation, to ensure that it met quality standards and is suitable for use. These quality checks included edits.

All data must meet minimum quality standards to make it suitable for use.

Quality level

quality level is assigned to all census variables: foremost, defining, or supplementary.

Years since arrival in New Zealand is a supplementary variable. Supplementary variables do not fit in directly with the main purpose of a census, but are still important to certain groups. These variables are given third priority in terms of effort and resources.

Mode of collection impacts – online form compared with paper form

The online forms had built-in editing functionality that directed respondents to the appropriate questions and ensured that their responses were valid. As a result of this, data from online forms may be of higher overall quality than data from paper forms. The significance of this will depend on the particular type of analysis being done. There will always be a mode effect but this cannot be measured. Statistics NZ design and test to minimise the effects of mode for all questions.

There were differences between how the forms were completed online and on paper for this variable:

  • If respondents marked 'New Zealand' for the birthplace question on the online form, the year of arrival in New Zealand question was greyed out, so the respondent could not answer it unless they changed their answer to the birthplace question.
  • On the online form, there were range and date checks on this field. If the date entered on the online form was impossible, (eg 88 for the month or 1685 for the year), a message popped up to alert the respondent and they had to change their response. Responses outside the valid range were possible when forms were completed on paper.

Quality assessment of data and data quality issues for this variable

Overall quality assessment

Moderate: fit for use – with some data quality issues to be aware of, to High: fit for use – with minor data quality issues only. 2013 Census variable quality rating scale gives more detail.

Issues to note

  • Non-response rate for 2013: 3.6 percent.
  • Just under 3 percent of overseas born residents stated that they had been living at their New Zealand address for longer than they had been living in New Zealand. The discrepancy appeared to be the different ways that the two questions have been asked. For years at usual address, respondents were required to provide the number of years they have lived at that address, and in most cases, respondents tended to round up the years. Meanwhile, years in New Zealand were derived from the arrival month and year, which would be more accurate if the months and years were correctly provided.

Comparing this data with previous census data

This data is fully comparable with data from the 2006 and 2001 Censuses. Changes in the data over this time period can be interpreted as real changes because there have been no changes in the way the data has been collected, defined, and classified.

Comparing this data with data from other sources

Census is the only information source that provides comprehensive information for small areas and small populations. However alternative sources of information about this subject are available:

Data from these alternative sources may show differences from census data for several reasons. These could be due to differences in scope, coverage, non-response rates, data being collected at different periods of time, alternative sources being sample surveys and as such subject to sampling errors, or differences in question wordings and method of delivery (self-administered versus interviewer-administered). Data users are advised to familiarise themselves with the strengths and limitations of individual data sources before comparing with census data.

Limited comparison is possible between census data and migration data collated by Statistics NZ.

As census data on years since arrival in New Zealand only applies to overseas-born people, comparisons between census and migration data require permanent and long term (PLT) migration data by birthplace. However, the capture of birthplace data for arrivals ceased in November 1987 and was only resumed in July 2000. Therefore, some comparisons would be possible only for those arriving one to 12 years ago, or more than 25 years prior to the 2013 Census.

It should also be noted that only limited comparisons would be possible, as the migration data does not take account of net category movement (the result of people who actually stay for a longer or shorter time than they declare on the arrival card), migrants who die, and those who subsequently leave New Zealand. Migration data can give an indication of how the years since arrival distributions vary for the different birthplace groups, but should not be used to compare absolute numbers.

Stays of one year or more are not broken down further. This is possible to determine by analysing arrivals and departures on each passport, although some individuals use multiple passports.

Further information about this data

All percentages in census publications have been calculated using 'Total stated' as the denominator.

When using this data, be aware of the following:

  • There are some inconsistencies between years since arrival in New Zealand when cross-tabulated with 'Usual residence five years ago' and 'Years at usual residence'. The main cause of these inconsistencies is respondent error. There were also cases where rounding discrepancies led to a difference of one year between the response for the years at usual residence and the response for years since arrival variables.
  • Responses to the variables age and years since arrival in New Zealand were edited to ensure consistency. Where the response to years since arrival in New Zealand was greater than age, the response for years since arrival in New Zealand was classified as 'Unidentifiable'.

Contact our Information Centre for further information about using this variable.

Note: On 21 January 2014 we updated the variable name 'Country of birth' to 'Birthplace', to reflect the name used in 2013 Census products and services.

Page updated 21 January 2014

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+