New Zealand closing in on 60,000 migrants a year landmark

New Zealand annual net migration rose to a fresh record in July, rounding out a year of record immigration gains.

A net 59,639 permanent or long term migrants came to New Zealand in the year ended 31st July, up from a 41,043 gain a year earlier, and marking the 12th consecutive month where the annual figure has racked up a new record. Migrant arrivals climbed 14 per cent to a new high of 117,132, while departures slipped 6 per cent to 57,493.

New Zealand’s annual net migration has beaten the Treasury’s forecast peak of 56,600, and is fast closing in on the 60,000 figure used for the basis of the Budget’s economic upside scenario. Under that framework, the Treasury expected faster growth over the next two years, as new migrants would fuel consumer spending before putting more pressure on the housing market.

Over the past year, the country’s booming migration story has been in part attributed to a downturn in Australia’s economy, on the back of a slowdown in the mining sector, which has led to fewer New Zealanders crossing the Tasman, and more returning.

Migrant departures of New Zealanders to Australia dropped 18 percent in the year to July, to 21,700, more than half the record 48,800 exodus recorded in December 2012.

Of the migrant arrivals in the July year, those arriving from Australia rose 7.9 per cent to 24,300, with two-thirds being New Zealand citizens, Statistics NZ said. Indian arrivals increased 56 per cent to 13,800, with 75 per cent having student visas. UK arrivals fell by 2.3 per cent to 13,500. Meanwhile, Chinese arrivals rose by 14 per cent to 10,400, with half having student visas.

The figures also revealed that the number of short-term visitor arrivals passed more than 3 million for the first time.

There were 3,002,982 short-term visitor arrivals in the year to July – a 7 per cent rise from a year earlier

“The expanding market of Chinese holiday visitors and steady growth of visitors from Australia” were big contributors to the 3 million threshold being passed, said Vina Cullum, population statistics manager at Statistics NZ. The country only recorded more than 2 million short-term visitor arrivals for the first time in 2002.