Kiwis continue to flock home from Australia as the New
Zealand economy and labour market continue to outperform those
Previously, the number of New Zealanders packing up and
moving across the Tasman for jobs and better pay was used by
Opposition political parties as a sign of the country's
However, Labour and the Greens now avoid talking about the
Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday show annual
migration had already surpassed the Reserve Bank's forecast
of a peak of around 29,000.
With inwards migration adding to domestic demand and housing
pressures, ASB economist Daniel Smith said he expected the
Reserve Bank to lift interest rates this morning.
The official cash rate is expected to rise 0.25%, to 3%, but
there is now speculation the central bank may not lift again
until much later in the year, because of falling dairy prices
and the continually strong New Zealand dollar.
Mr Smith said net migration inflows were now at the highest
level since February 2003. Compared to February, March
arrivals were 2.9% higher and departures were 1.4% lower.
''We expect annual net migration to peak at just below 40,000
later this year - which implies some slowing from the current
pace. Additional workers will help meet strong demand in the
Canterbury construction sector but stronger population growth
overall is likely to add to domestic demand and exacerbate
housing market pressures, particularly in Auckland.''
That was one of the reasons why interest rates would continue
to rise of the next couple of years, he said.
Statistics NZ figures showed the number of migrants arriving
in New Zealand was now around 16% higher than a year ago. The
lift was driven by higher arrivals from Australia, Europe
(excluding the United Kingdom) and China.
Compared to a year ago, arrivals from Australia were up 31%,
China up 7% and Europe up 4%.
Mr Smith said both in percentage terms and absolute numbers,
the shift in arrivals from Australia dominated the changes.
''We have good reason to believe the shift is being driven by
more New Zealanders returning from Australia. Those numbers
are now 35% higher than a year ago but do look to be
At the same time as arrivals were increasing, the number of
permanent and long-term departures continued to ease, he
Even more so than with departures, transtasman migration was
the key driver. Departures to Australia were down nearly 40%
from a year ago and nearly 50% from two years ago.
The change in departures to Australia was also much more
significant than the change in arrivals. March departures to
Australia were down 1663 from March last year while arrivals
from Australia were up 479.
Regionally, net inwards migration continued to be focused on
the Canterbury and Auckland regions, Mr Smith said.