Immigration test for new government

Reducing the number of migrants coming to New Zealand will be a test of will for the incoming Labour-led Government but it appears it will get some help from the market.

On an annual basis, net migration remains high at 71,000. But the annual inflow is now off its peak, and a further slowdown looks to be on the cards.

Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens all campaigned on changing the rules concerning immigration and it is likely the new coalition of Labour and NZ First, supported by the Greens, will introduce some measures to slow down migration.

Underlying the slowdown in net migration has been an increase in departures of non-New Zealand citizens, which have risen from around 1900 a month last year to 2500 a month now. Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said the group included people who would have arrived in recent years on temporary work and student visas.

"Typically, those who come over on these programmes stay for around three to four years.

"Given that the surge in foreign arrivals began in 2013, we have been expecting to see a corresponding surge in departures. This looks to have finally arrived, and we expect it to continue over the coming months."

Also, there were signs new arrival numbers were falling. In September, there was an inflow of 7850 people, down noticeably from 8600 just a few months ago, he said.

Net departures of New Zealanders remained low.

Statistics New Zealand population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said in the year ended September, net migration was mostly driven by non-New Zealand citizens, who provided New Zealand with a net gain of 72,600. Migration of New Zealand citizens meant a net loss of 1600 migrants.

Both arrivals and departures of non-New Zealand citizens were up from a year ago. Arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens increased from 94,000 in the September 2016 year to 99,600 this year.

Departures of non-New Zealand citizens increased from 22,300 to 27,000 in the same period.

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