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Population Mobility



The number of people who moved to the Auckland region from overseas more than doubled between 1991 and 2006. North Shore and Auckland cities have consistently experienced net outflows of people to other parts of Auckland region. The number of people moving to Auckland region from other parts of New Zealand has slowly been decreasing since 1991. The percentage of the population who do not change address between censuses is lower in Auckland region than elsewhere in the country.

Mapping population mobility

Figure 6.1 shows the percentage of the population at the 1991 to 2006 censuses who, five years earlier, were either overseas, elsewhere in Auckland region, elsewhere in New Zealand, or were at the same address. Each panel of maps has a separate scale on the right-hand side. 

Figure 6.1

Percentage of population by usual residence 5 years earlier

Note: More information about interpreting the maps is in the Interpreting the maps chapter.

pdf icon. Downloadable version of figure 6.1 (PDF, 9.9MB)
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Overseas migrants

The main observations to be made from the maps are that overseas migrants have a preference for living in cities (especially North Shore, Auckland, and Manukau) rather than rural areas, and that the number of new migrants in the Auckland region has been increasing over time. The most popular areas for new migrants are the Auckland CBD, Point View, Hillsborough, Mt Wellington, and around Target Road (in North Shore city).

The number of new migrants living in Auckland region more than doubled between 1991 and 2006. In 1991 there were 74,000 people who were overseas at the time of the previous census (1986). In 2006 this number was over 169,000 people.

Over 40 percent of the migrants between 2001 and 2006 were born in Asia. Migrants from the People's Republic of China were the most numerous, followed by India and the Republic of Korea. People born in Europe accounted for 15 percent of migrants, while 14 percent were returning New Zealanders.

Movements within Auckland region

Generally, the area units in darker colours on the 'Elsewhere in Auckland' maps are those that have the main component of population growth being due to the movement of people within Auckland region. For example, over half the population of East Tamaki, Point View, and Ormiston area units (all in Manukau city) in 2006 were living in other areas of Auckland region in 2001.

Movement of people within Auckland region generally contrasts with the areas of initial settlement of new overseas migrants. Table 6.1 shows net movement within Auckland region between 1991 and 2006.

Table 6.1

Net Movement within Auckland Region 
By territorial authority
 Territorial authority 1991    1996 2001   2006 
 Rodney district 6,400  5,700   6,700 7,900 
 North Shore city -1,000  -1,500 -1,500  -1,700 
 Waitakere city 3,300  1,800  2,500  1,000 
 Auckland city  -10,200 -7,900  -11,100  -12,600 
 Manukau city -1,600  -400  1,500  1,300 
 Papakura district 700  -100  -300  1,700 
 Part of Franklin district(1) 2,400   2,400  2,100 2,400 

(1) The part in Auckland region.
Source: Census of Population and Dwellings

North Shore city and Auckland city have consistently had a net outflow of people who move within Auckland region. That is, more people moved from these areas to other areas of the region than in the other direction. Conversely, Rodney and Franklin districts, and Waitakere city have consistently had a net inflow of people who move within Auckland region.

Movements from outside Auckland region

Central Auckland city and the Whenuapai / Hobsonville areas have consistently attracted people who previously lived outside Auckland region.

The 'Elsewhere in New Zealand' maps are getting lighter in colour over time. This reflects that the number of people moving from elsewhere in New Zealand has been slowly decreasing. In 1991 there were just over 67,000 people usually resident in the Auckland region who had lived outside the region in 1986. This number decreased to fewer than 60,000 in 2006 (those who lived outside the region in 2001).

There was a net inflow of over 5,500 people who moved to the Auckland region from elsewhere in New Zealand in the period 1986–91. This increased slightly to just over 5,800 during 1991–96 but fell dramatically after that to net outflows of almost 2,000 for 1996–2001, and over 18,000 people between 2001 and 2006.

A disaggregation of internal migration by region shows that between 2001 and 2006, the largest net losses from the Auckland region were to the adjacent regions of Northland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty. Wellington was the only region from which Auckland gained a significant number of people (Auckland Regional Council, 2007).


People change residence quite often in the Auckland region. Put another way, the percentage of the population who are 'non-movers' is relatively low when compared with the rest of New Zealand.

In central Auckland, at the 2006 Census, there were areas where less than 10 percent of the population were living at the same address as five years earlier (in 2001). Given that large numbers of overseas migrants live in central Auckland within the first five years of moving to New Zealand, it would appear they use this area as a landing point in the country before moving to a more permanent residence elsewhere. The same thing may be happening in parts of North Shore and Manukau cities, where overseas migrants live initially. However, due to higher percentages of non-movers in these areas it is difficult to make hypotheses about subsequent movements within New Zealand based only on census data.

The areas with the highest percentages of non-movers are in Waitakere and Manukau cities. There were more than 20 area units where at least 55 percent of the population at the time of the 2006 Census were living at the same address as five years earlier (in 2001).

Projected net migration

The population projections produced by Statistics NZ make assumptions about the future combined effects of internal and international net migration. No attempt is made to make assumptions regarding the individual effects of arrivals, departures, external migration, or internal migration. For each subnational area, assumptions are made about net total migration, and an associated age-sex distribution, for each five-year interval of the projection period. 

Projected net migration levels are generally consistent with historical trends, but also take into account information from the respective regional, city, and district councils about the timing of known and future housing developments, housing capacities, trends in building consent numbers, plus constraints at the national level. Table 6.2 gives the assumed medium-variant net migration levels for each five-year interval of the projection period for the territorial authorities in Auckland region.

Table 6.2

Assumed Net Migration in Auckland Region 
By territorial authority 
 Territorial authority 2007–11   2012–16(2)
 Rodney district 6,500   6,500
 North Shore city 6,500  7,500 
 Waitakere city 4,000  4,000 
 Auckland city 9,000  10,000 
 Manukau city 10,000   11,000
 Papakura district 500  500
 Part of Franklin district(3)  2,080 2,080 

(1) Medium-variant assumptions.
(2) Levels remain constant through to 2027–31.
(3) The part in Auckland region.

Source: Population projections

Population growth due to high levels of net migration is assumed to continue in Albany, Auckland CBD, Point View, and Donegal Park. Areas with high net migration in the future may include Silverdale North, Long Bay, Hobsonville, Edgewater, Mangere East, and Manukau Central area units. However, given the 2008–09 economic recession, and that building consents in Auckland region for 2008 were significantly lower than for 2007, it is possible that future housing developments could be delayed from their intended timing. This may result in actual net migration levels being lower than those assumed, especially in the short term.


There are a number of implications about population mobility in the Auckland region:

The 2008–09 economic conditions are having an impact on the number of New Zealand residents departing the country. The net permanent and long-term outflow from New Zealand to Australia peaked in the December 2008 year, and declined in the three months after that. Economic conditions may also affect the flow of people to, from, and within Auckland region, as well as the number of people who don't move.

The large inflow of overseas migrants, combined with a net outflow of New Zealand residents, will lead to a higher proportion of people who were born overseas living in Auckland region. Increasing ethnic diversity will also occur, particularly due to the inflow of migrants with different Asian ethnicities.

Related chapters

  • 0–14 population
  • 65+ population
  • Ethnicity
  • Population change

Further information

This page is part of Mapping Trends in the Auckland Region, available on

Notes and sources

Data sources

The historical migration data are based on a person's usual residence at a census and their usual residence 5 years earlier. This is based on the census usually resident population count from the 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 Censuses.

The projected data comes from the 2006-base population projections released in December 2007. Projections are based on assumptions about future fertility, mortality, and migration. There are three alternative series produced (low, medium, and high) using different assumptions. The population projections have as a base the estimated resident population at 30 June 2006, and extend to 2031. More information about population projections is on the Subnational Population Projections page, available on

The maps display data at area unit level. Area units are non-administrative areas that are in between meshblocks and territorial authorities. They generally coincide with suburbs (in urban areas) and rural neighbourhoods. Auckland region is made up of 399 area units, while there are 1,927 area units throughout New Zealand. Digital boundary files, used for constructing the maps, can be downloaded from Digital Boundaries, available on

Auckland region is one of 16 regions, which are aggregations of area units governed by regional councils. More information about the geographical hierarchy of areas and the maps is in the Interpreting the maps chapter.

Further information on migration in New Zealand is in the Internal Migration report, available on


Auckland Regional Council (2007). Growth of Auckland region – Dynamics of Population Change 2001–2006 Auckland Regional Council, 2006 Census series.

Further reading

Statistics New Zealand (2008). Internal Migration web report.

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