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Migrant arrivals at new record of 129,500 a year
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 April 2017

International Travel and Migration: March 2017  –  Media Release

Migrant arrivals numbered 129,500 in the March 2017 year, a new annual record, Stats NZ said today. Migrant departures were 57,600 in the 12 months to March 2017. This led to a record annual net gain in migration of 71,900, which surpasses the previous annual record net gain of 71,300 migrants in the February 2017 year.

Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since 2012. "This was mainly due to the rising number of migrant arrivals to New Zealand," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.  "Fewer migrant departures also contributed to the increase in net migration."

Graph, Permanent and long term migration, year ended March 1979 to 2017.

Almost three-quarters of all migrant arrivals in the past five years were citizens from other countries, led by United Kingdom (10 percent), India (10 percent), and China (9 percent). The remaining 26 percent of all migrant arrivals in the last five years were New Zealand citizens. 

However, more New Zealand citizens leave the country each year than return as migrants (a net loss of 1,300 in the March 2017 year). That means the net migration of non-New Zealand citizens was about 73,200 in the March 2017 year.

Visa types contributing most to the migrant arrivals in the March 2017 year were:

  • work visas (43,700 – up 5,100)
  • New Zealand citizens (31,995 – up 1,300)
  • student visas (23,900 – down 3,800)
  • residence visas (16,800 – up 2,000).

Just over one in three migrant arrivals in the past 12 months came to New Zealand on a work visa. 

Visitor arrivals continue at record levels in March year

More than 3.5 million visitors came to New Zealand in the March 2017 year, matching the annual record set in February this year. The March 2017 annual total was up 9 percent from the March 2016 year. However, the 343,800 visitors arriving in March 2017 were down 600 on March 2016.

"The majority of the visitor arrivals in March 2017 were from Australia (36 percent) followed by China (12 percent) and the United States of America (11 percent)", Mr Dolan said.

Kiwis take flight on record 2.68 million overseas trips 

New Zealand residents took a record 2.68 million overseas trips in the March 2017 year, up 10 percent from the March 2016 year.

In March 2017, New Zealand residents left on 192,200 overseas trips, up 11 percent from March 2016.

Migrants or visitors?

International migration statistics rely on the information provided on passenger cards at the time of travel. The reported length of intended stay in New Zealand, or time away from New Zealand, determines whether the passenger is a visitor or a migrant.

The Kiwi factor in record net migration (published July 2016) describes how New Zealand citizens contribute to recent high net gains in total migration. 


For media enquiries contact: Kim Dunstan 03 964 8330, or James Weir 04 931 4763;
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 26 April 2017  

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