National migration series | Part 3: The link between departures and arrivals

National migration series | Part 3: The link between departures and arrivals

In the last blog in our series on national migration, we discussed inward migration and confirmed that the total arrivals figure is currently high, but that the components making up that result point to lower levels of cumulative change in the long term.

Still looking at Permanent Long-Term (PLT) arrivals, another layer of complexity is revealed when considering the country of last permanent residence.

Where are these migrants coming from?

Note, these figures are for New Zealand. If you’re interested in the corresponding Australian figures, you can find them in the overseas arrivals section of this freely available community profile for Australia.

1. Australia dominates PLT figures, and further digging reveals that New Zealand citizens make up almost two-thirds of the Australian PLT arrivals. Additionally, New Zealand citizens account for one in three of the United Kingdom PLT arrivals (Statistics New Zealand, 2017).

PLT Arrivals by country of residence


Australia clearly plays a dominant role in the migration puzzle, and a buoyant economy is part of the answer.

Jacques Poot, Professor of Population Economics at Waikato University labels it “people voting with their feet”. When the economy is strong you can expect growth in migration with higher proportions of young working age people. There will also be a corresponding slowing of outward migration as more young working age people choose to stay.”

Looking at the historical flow of New Zealanders to Australia provides further context.

Between 1979 and 2016, New Zealand experienced an average net loss of around 17,000 a year, but that average obscures larger net losses like the 39,800 in 2012 (Statistics New Zealand, 2017). Last year was the first year since 1991 that there was a net migration gain from Australia.

Tracking migration between Australia and New Zealand


Moving away from net results to departures, Australia’s role is further confirmed. The table below shows Australia dominating PLT departures from New Zealand between 2014 – 2016, even though there is a slowing trend.

Australia accounted for around 49% of all departures in 2014, 44% in 2015 and 42% in 2016. Back in 2012, at the height of the mining boom, 62% of the total PLT departures from New Zealand were to Australia. The UK comes a consistent and clear second destination. It is also interesting to observe the spread of destinations in Asia.

Permanent Long-Term departures from New Zealand – Country of permanent residence

Country of next permanent residence Year ended June
2014 2015 2016
Oceania 32,283  27,002 25,487
  Australia 30,514 25,246 23,770
  Fiji 378 427 384
  Samoa 483 454 383
  Tonga 238 221 227
Asia 9,358  8,840 8,198
  China, People’s Republic of 2,494 2,257 2,121
  Hong Kong (SAR) 345 319 310
  India 1,229 1,235 1,206
  Indonesia 259 301 263
  Japan 1,008 980 937
  Korea, Republic of 1,262 1,013 834
  Malaysia 585 537 400
  Pakistan 78 54 56
  Philippines 243 277 349
  Singapore 388 365 372
  Sri Lanka 82 105 96
  Taiwan 277 284 245
  Thailand 472 493 481
  Viet Nam 277 290 216
Europe 12,671  13,717 14,226
  Czech Republic 185 192 210
  France 758 780 840
  Germany 1,091 904 1,010
  Ireland 584 747 765
  Italy 172 194 231
  Netherlands 337 354 418
  United Kingdom 8,317 9,263 9,420
Americas 5,569  5,444 5,845
  Argentina 143 193 187
  Brazil 179 195 212
  Canada 1,640 1,520 1,641
  Chile 243 188 201
  United States of America 3,059 3,043 3,223
Africa and the Middle East 1,421  1,334 1,156
  Saudi Arabia 249 210 177
  South Africa 294 252 225
  United Arab Emirates 307 324 262
Not stated 1,144  1,059 1,053
Total 62,446  57,396 55,965

Source: Statistics New Zealand

In summary, Australia is a key player in the migration puzzle. Planners should carefully consider the economic climate in Australia and New Zealand (and in relation to each other), as shifts in the economy in either country can trigger a bungee effect.


ANZ Bank. (2017, May). Reports – Economic weekly. Retrieved from ASB:

Bedford, R. (2017). Publications. Retrieved from Knowledge Auckland:

Nolan, P. (2017, August). National population estimates: At 30 June 2017. Retrieved from Statistics New Zealand:

Poot, J. (2014, July). The migration roller coaster and house prices. Asia New Zealand Foundation Bulletin. Retrieved from

Statistics New Zealand. (2017, July). Trending topics – migration. Retrieved from Statistics New Zealand:

Westpac New Zealand. (2017, August). Red News. Retrieved from Westpac:

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Based in New Zealand, Penny primarily looks after our Kiwi clients but also lends her expertise to the Australian context. Penny has extensive experience as a Communication Manager in Local Government and has a degree in Business and Communications. She also brings a breadth of generalist management experience in fields as varied as research, civil defence, project and event management, marketing and training. Penny’s knowledge combined with the .id tools help clients work with their communities to empower grass roots decision-making, advocacy and grant applications, and focus on strengthening council-community relationships. Penny has a rural property and enjoys growing and eating food and wine, which she runs, walks, bikes or swims off, when she’s not in the art studio.

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