A Jetstar Airbus A320 flies into Dunedin International
Airport. Net migration is at its highest in more than 10
years. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Monthly migration to New Zealand of 3500 people in
February was the highest in more than a decade, adding fuel to
the fire of the Reserve Bank's rising interest rate regime.
Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) data released yesterday said the
net gain of 3500 people - more arrivals than departures - was
the highest annual net gain of migrants in more than 10
years. Net migration had been positive and mostly increasing
since September 2012. China provided the largest group during
the past year.
''The increase was mainly due to fewer New Zealand citizens
leaving for Australia, as well as more non-New Zealand
citizens arriving,'' SNZ said yesterday.
In the year to February, migrant arrivals numbered 96,900,
and migrant departures numbered 67,800 - a net gain of 29,000
ASB economist Daniel Smith said the February inflow was about
11% larger than the previous month, due to both higher
numbers of arrivals, up 3% month-on-month, and fewer
departures, down 1.8% month-on-month.
''The number of migrants arriving in New Zealand has lifted
strongly since around mid-2013. That has been driven by New
Zealanders returning from Australia and higher migrant
numbers from Asia and Europe,'' Mr Smith said.
''Strong inwards migration will continue to add to domestic
demand and housing market pressures, and is one of the
reasons why interest rates will rise over the next couple of
years,'' Mr Smith said.
The strong inwards migration was seemingly one of the reasons
for the Reserve Bank adopting an ''increasingly hawkish
stance'' over the past year.
Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck said the Reserve Bank
was forecasting net immigration this year to hit about
''The Reserve Bank is currently putting a lot of store in net
migration supporting the housing market through this year, so
it will have taken note.''
With mortgage rates now rising, Mr Delbruck said he was less
optimistic than the Reserve Bank that the housing market
would have a second wind later this year, though stronger
population growth would provide support to the market.
February's acceleration in net migration was driven by a
further decline in net departures of New Zealanders to
Australia, now running at 600, compared with an average
during the past six months of 1000, and well down from more
than 3500 seen in late 2011, Mr Delbruck said.
Mr Smith said the regional breakdown of migration continued
to show large net inflows to the Auckland and Canterbury
regions in particular.
''That will provide much-needed workers, especially in
Canterbury, which will reduce labour market pressures,'' he
said in a statement.
SNZ said in the latest year, New Zealand had a net loss of
15,000 migrants to Australia, well down from 36,700 a year
earlier. Net gains were recorded from most other countries,
led by China, 6100, and 5800 each from India and the United