NZ's mixed attitudes to immigration revealed

3:55 pm on 3 January 2017

New Zealanders feel positive about immigration compared to other countries, but most do not want an increase in numbers, two surveys suggest.

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Photo: 123rf

In one international survey, carried out by Ipsos and published in September (PDF, 1.6MB), 42 percent of the 500 New Zealanders surveyed thought there were too many immigrants.

However, 47 percent thought immigration had a positive effect, the second-highest result of the 23 countries surveyed.

A total of 59 percent of the New Zealanders surveyed felt the number of immigrants moving to the country had increased "a lot" in the last five years, and more than half felt immigrants were pressuring public services and did not want an increase in immigration numbers.

At 51 percent, New Zealanders topped the international list for the proportion of respondents who believed immigration was good for the economy.

They were also the most concerned of any non-EU country about the effects of Brexit on Britain and the EU.

A report by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), published in July (PDF, 3.5MB), suggested only 22 percent of people thought there should be fewer immigrants.

When respondents were told of the government's immigration targets that rose to 31 percent, with respondents citing concerns about the impact on jobs, housing and infrastructure.

That report also suggested New Zealand-born residents and immigrants were mixing less, with fewer people reporting friendship groups outside their home country.

It found a majority thought the media cast foreigners in a negative light, with 29 percent of respondents believing Chinese migrants were singled out by the media, an increase from 4 percent from the same survey in 2011.

The margin of error for the MBIE survey of 2000 people was +/- 2.5 percentage points.

The margin of error for the New Zealand part of the Ipsos online poll was +/- 5 percentage points.

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