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Record drop in net migration

Net migration recorded its largest annual drop in the year ended March 2021, Stats NZ figures revealed today.

Net migration was provisionally estimated at 6,600 in the year ended March 2021 compared with 91,900 in the year ended March 2020 – a drop of 85,400. Net migration in the year ended March 2020 was the highest ever, Stats NZ said.

It said COVID-19-related border and travel restrictions have resulted in record annual falls in both migrant arrivals and migrant departures.

The net gain of 6,600 in the year ended March 2021 was made up of 36,400 migrant arrivals and 29,800 migrant departures.

“On an annual basis, these are the lowest numbers for migrant arrivals since 1986, and for migrant departures since 1969,” population indicators manager, Tehseen Islam said.

“However, we still have a net migration gain as migrant arrivals exceed migrant departures.”

Provisionally, a net gain of 15,500 New Zealand citizens was partly offset by a net loss of 8,900 non-New Zealand citizens in the year ended March 2021.

“Historically, New Zealand has had an annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens and an annual net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens, but COVID-19-related travel and border restrictions have reversed this pattern,” Mr Islam said.

“On an annual basis, migration estimates indicate a provisional net gain of New Zealand citizens since December 2019”.

He said the net gain in New Zealand citizens in the year ended March 2021 is mostly due to fewer New Zealand citizens departing overseas, relative to those arriving.

The provisionally estimated 7,800 migrant departures of New Zealand citizens in the year ended March 2021 was well below historical levels, which averaged 51,900 for March years 2002–2020.

Diagram showing international migration estimates (provisional), year ended March 2021. Text alternative available below diagram.

In the last year there were a provisionally estimated 13,100 migrant arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens. This is down from the peak of 138,500 in the year ended March 2020, and well below historical annual levels which averaged 86,300 for the March years 2002–2019.  

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