The number of people moving to New Zealand has hit a record high at the start of 2017.
Official figures from Statistics New Zealand show that net immigration exceeded 71,000 for the first time in 12 months to January. There was a net migration of 71,300 as of the first month of the new year, an annual record, and a new monthl record of 6,460.
The surge in the country’s population is a result of a rising number of people arriving in the country, while fewer decide to leave and move overseas.
Migrant arrivals totalled 128,300 in the year to January 2017, with one in five migrants coming from Australia. Chinese immigration also notably increased, with the number moving to New Zealand from China rising by 13,200. American immigrants rose by 5,200.
The majority of people moved to New Zealand for work reasons, with 42,000 holding a work visa – compared to the 24,300 who had student visas (down by 3,600 from the number of international students last year).
The figures highlight just how attractive New Zealand is to people looking to start a new life overseas. Indeed, this is the fifth month in a row that net immigration has been above 6,000, with experts attributing the country’s appeal to both its stable economy – growing at 3 per cent a year – and strong jobs market.
“These trends are expected to continue to some time, with NZ’s positive economic story, including its labour market, making it a very attractive destination. We expect net migration inflows to remain strong for some time,” Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac, told NZ Herald.
Brexit may also be a factor for some British expats, with the number of UK migrants heading to New Zealand in 2016 jumping 54 per cent to 5,600.
The New Zealand town that doesn’t have enough outsiders
4th July 2016
In the last year, the world has witnessed the UK vote for a Brexit and countries introduce laws to clamp down on foreign investment in property. In New Zealand, though, one town is actively encouraging more outsiders.
Kaitangata, in the South Island, has 800 residents, but it wants more. The town is now offering house and land packages to Kiwis looking to relocate for just £122,000, primarily intended to tempt people away from life in the big cities.
Mayor of the Clutha district, Bryan Cadogan, tells The Guardian that they have 1,000 jobs vacant in the area – but, unusually, not enough people to fill them all.
“When I was unemployed and had a family to feed, the Clutha gave me a chance, and now we want to offer that opportunity to other Kiwi families who might be struggling,” he adds.
The employment opportunities are mostly driven by primary industries, such as a dairy processing plant, with the town previously using buses to bring in works from Dunedin, over an horu away.
“I despair over the way many Kiwi families are forced to live these days,” adds Cadogan.
“So many of the things Kiwis value, such as owning your own home and providing for your family, have become an impossible dream. For a lot of people in New Zealand life is just an endless slog. And that really saddens me.”
One local farmer is in charge of the recruitment initative, with banks and lawyers in place to make the relocation process as smooth as possible for those who can no longer afford the high prices in cities such as Auckland.
“The housing crisis in New Zealand has made the Kiwi dream unattainable for many people, but in Kaitangata the Kiwi dream is still a reality,” he tells the newspaper.
“We have got youth unemployment down to two,” adds Cadogan. “Not 2 per cent – just two unemployed young people.”