17 May 2021

Annual migrant arrivals and departures drop to lowest since 1986 and 1969

5:04 pm on 17 May 2021

The difference between the number of people moving to New Zealand and the number of people leaving dropped by more than 85,000 in the year to the end of March, 2021.

Auckland Airport welcome back sign.

Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

According to the latest Stats NZ figures, the country had a net migration gain of 6600 people compared with 91,900 people in the previous year.

On an annual basis, it is the lowest numbers for migrant arrivals since 1986 and for migrant departures since 1969.

New Zealand still had a net migration gain as migrant arrivals exceeded migrant departures.

More than 36,400 people came to live in New Zealand, down 80 percent, compared with 29,800 leaving for greener pastures, down 68 percent.

Of the arrivals, New Zealand citizens made up the largest number (23,300), followed equally by India (1600) and the United Kingdom (1600); then China (1500), and Australia (1300).

New Zealanders also made up the largest group leaving (7800 departures), followed by China (4500), India (2600), United Kingdom (2000), and Australia (1400).

Covid-19 related border and travel restrictions have resulted in the record annual fall in migrant arrivals and departures.

Stats NZ said many travellers who arrived in late 2019 and early 2020 had been unable or reluctant to depart, including visitors on a range of visa types, and New Zealand citizens visiting from overseas.

As of 7 May, 2021, it was estimated there were 30,000-40,000 visitors in New Zealand.

Visitors' prolonged stay in the country contributed to high estimates of migrant arrivals and net migration between late 2019 and early 2020.

Domestic travel has also been curtailed, resulting in fewer short-term and long-term (migrant) departures of citizens in recent months compared with the same period a year ago.

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