01.01.06. Migration | New Zealand

01.01.06. Migration | New Zealand

13 Sep 2022

International Migration:

Net migration into NZ for the year ended June 2019 was ~56,000 people, yielding a net migration of ~11 people per 1,000 population (Statistics NZ, 2019a). Retention rates of migrants have been increasing over time, with 89.1% of people granted residency in 2011/12 remaining in NZ after 5 years compared with 79.6% in 2001/2 (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, n.d.). The growth in overall migrant arrivals was driven by non-NZ citizen arrivals, with more NZ citizens leaving than arriving (Statistics NZ, 2019b).

Migrants who arrive in the country are typically younger than the general population, with over 2/3 of arrivals aged 35 years or younger. For overseas arrivals, the most common visa type was a work visa, followed by visitor then student visas (Statistics NZ, 2019b).

Internal migration: 

New Zealand residents made roughly 850,000 internal moves a year over the four years to June 2017, at a rate of ~18 moves per 100 population. Around two-thirds of these moves were within the same territorial authority (TA) area. Women were generally more mobile than men and moves peaked for the 15–39-year-olds, with declining rates to age 70+ (Statistics NZ; 2018a).

Statistics NZ (2018b) also shows the broad patterns of estimated population change due to internal migration for all Territorial Authorities in NZ for the year ended June 2017. Incidentally, most areas with the largest net gains or losses also experienced high population growth in recent years. Areas with the highest net internal migration gains in 2017 were Hamilton city, Tauranga city, and Selwyn district (Statistics NZ, 2018b).

Total fertility rate

The total fertility rate in NZ women is 61.7 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. Māori and Pacific women have a much higher fertility rate of 90.6 and 83.24 respectively when compared to the 50.9 per 1,000 for Europeans (table 10) (Ministry of Health, 2019). Due to the much younger median age of the Māori and Pacific population, the old age dependency ratio (population >65/ population aged 15-64 per 100 population) in these population groups is less than half that of the total population and one third that of the European population. However, while the total dependency ratio (population aged <15 and >65/population aged 15-64) for Pacific people is only two thirds that for Europeans, the ratio for Māori is slightly higher than that for Europeans (62 vs 60) as they have a much higher proportion of their population aged <15yrs.

Table 10: Median age, fertility rate, total dependency ratio, and old age dependency ratio by ethnicity (Ministry of Health 2019).

Total European Maori Pacific
Median age 38 41.4 25.4 23.4
Total fertility rate (per 1000 women 61.7 50.9 90.6 83.24
% >65 15.5 18.6 6.2 5.3
Total dependency 54 60 62 39
Old age dependency 24 29 10 8



Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. (n.d.). Migration Trends report. New Zealand Government Website. Available from: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/immigration-and-tourism/immigration/migration-research-and-evaluation/migration-trends-report/.

Ministry of Health. (2019). Report on Maternity 2017. Wellington Ministry of Health 2019.

Statistics NZ. (2018a). Internal migration estimates using linked administrative data: 2014–17. New Zealand Government Website. Available from: https://www.stats.govt.nz/reports/internal-migration-estimates-using-linked-administrative-data-201417.

Statistics NZ. (2018b). Internal migration cartograms. New Zealand Government Website. Available from: https://www.stats.govt.nz/experimental/internal-migration-cartograms.

Statistics NZ. (2019a). New Zealand net migration rate remains high. New Zealand Government Website.  Available from: https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/new-zealand-net-migration-rate-remains-high.

Statistics NZ. (2019b). Net migration levels steady. New Zealand Government Website. Available from: https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/net-migration-levels-steady.