16 Feb 2023

Net migration rises, still well below pre-pandemic numbers

1:58 pm on 16 February 2023
Airplane in the sky at sunrise

(file photo) Photo: 123RF

Migrant arrivals to New Zealand have rebounded as the country reopened its borders, but still remain well below pre-Covid levels.

Stats NZ said there was a provisional net migration gain of 15,800 people in 2022, compared to the net migration loss of 15,000 in 2021.

However, it remained below pre-pandemic net migration gains, which averaged 57,600 a year between 2014 to 2019.

"[Last year] was a year of two halves, with monthly net migration losses in the first half of the year more than offset by monthly net migration gains in the second half of the year," Stats NZ population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

"The net migration gain in the second half of 2022 was driven by non-New Zealand citizens, following the progressive relaxation of Covid-19-related border restrictions and coinciding with changes to immigration settings."

The provisional net migration of 15,800 last year was made up of a net gain of 32,400 non-New Zealand citizens and a net loss of 16,600 New Zealand citizens.

Stats NZ said the main nationalities that drove the net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens were people from the Philippines, followed by India, South Africa and China.

Border crossings & tourists numbers rebound

Meanwhile, border crossings also rebounded in 2022 as Covid-related travel restrictions were scrapped.

Stats NZ said close to 5.6 million people crossed the New Zealand border last year, compared to just 800,000 in 2021. However, it was well down from the record 14 million in 2019.

Overseas visitor arrivals were just over 1.4 million last year, with the majority arriving in the last three months of the year.

Stats NZ said by December, monthly visitor arrivals had rebounded to 68 percent of their level in December 2019.

Three in every five visitors arrived from Australia, making it the top source of overseas visitors. The United States was second, followed by the United Kingdom.

Pre-pandemic, two in every five overseas arrivals were from Australia, Stats NZ said.

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