New Zealand annual net migration level surpasses 50,000

New Zealand welcomed a net-migration gain of close to 51,000 people in the 2014 calendar year, recently released figures show.

According to the latest Statistics NZ figures, the country recorded a net gain of 50,900 migrants in 2014, driven by both more people arriving from, and fewer leaving New Zealand for, Australia.

However, the pace of arrivals did cool somewhat in December from previous months. Although there was still a net gain of 4,100 migrants in December, this was down from a peak of 5,200 in October as fewer foreigners came to New Zealand, especially on student visas.

Forecasts made in late 2000 by economists at Westpac Bank had predicted that the 5,000 monthly pace would continue for some time yet, pushing annual net immigration to an unprecedented peak of 60,000 later this year.

And despite the sudden fall in arrivals, the bank is still not ruling this eventuality out. “December is typically a slow month for student arrivals, before their numbers surge in January and February,” explained Westpac economist Felix Delbruck.

For the first time, annual net migration has topped 50,000 in a single year, and far exceeds the previous peak in migration seen in 2003, when it hit more than 42,000. More migrants came from India, China, Britain and the Philippines during the year.

The new Figures also show that student visas were up by 7,500 in the past year compared with 2013, while work visas rose by 3,200.

Most of the increase in international student visas was from India, up by 4,400 in the year, while the increase in work visas was led by France, up by 900 in the year.