Political parties face difficult questions about balancing the economic benefits of migration with the infrastructure needs of a growing population.
All parties acknowledge immigrants fill skills gaps, but some blame immigration for congested roads, the Auckland housing crisis and Kiwi unemployment.
More policy at a glance:
- Immigration policies at a glance
- Housing policies at a glance
- Te ao Māori policies at a glance
- Drug policies at a glance
- Poverty policies at a glance
In the year to July, New Zealand's annual net migration (migrant arrivals minus migrant departures) reached a record 72,400.
The parties fall into two main camps with the Government on one side and the Opposition on the other:
- The numbers of immigrants coming into New Zealand would fall under Labour, the Greens, TOP and NZ First.
- Immigration would stay at roughly its current level under ACT, the Māori Party and National.
The party that would reduce immigration the most is NZ First, which would cut net migration to 10,000 people a year. That is contrasted by ACT, which wants to improve access to migrant labour.
In a nutshell, here's what the parties would do:
Labour would reduce net migration by 20-30,000 people a year, mostly by limiting the number of people granted student and work visas. It says the population is growing too fast for housing, schooling and infrastructure to keep up. Read Labour's policy.
National believes the current net migration level is about right. It believes restricting the number of immigrants entering New Zealand would be detrimental to many industries and the regions. National would make it harder for older immigrants to access a pension, increasing the number of years you have to live in New Zealand before you are eligible from 10 to 20.
The Green Party told Newshub net migration would likely fall under their policy, which aims for a "sustainable net migration flow to limit effects on our environment, society and culture". It says the focus "is not on picking a number or target but making sure we are able to provide good services, houses and support for people who want to make New Zealand their home". Read the Green Party's policy.
Controlling immigration is a flagship policy for NZ First, which wants "rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy". The party wants NZ workers to get jobs ahead of immigrants and would strictly cap the number of older immigrants and immigrants entering the country under the family reunification scheme. The party says Auckland's infrastructure is overloaded and it would encourage immigrants to move to the regions. Read NZ First's policy.
The Māori Party would grant Pacific overstayers amnesty and create a category for Pacific people to seek refuge if they are affected by climate change. The party told Newshub net migration would remain "roughly the same" under the Māori Party.
The Opportunities Party (TOP) says it's strongly pro-immigration, but told Newshub net migration would likely drop under its policy. TOP's policy is about "quality over quantity" – it wants more highly skilled migrants and fewer low-skilled workers coming in. It says too many people that don't add value to New Zealanders' lives are entering the country. Read TOP's policy.
If you love freedom of movement, ACT has the policy for you. It opposes new immigration restrictions and support a free movement agreement between Commonwealth countries NZ, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. But the party would make it harder for the children of recent immigrants to access the state-funded education system. Read ACT's policy.
The world has been grappling with one of the largest movements of refugees and asylum seekers ever. Many are waiting to be granted refugee status in camps near borders in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. The parties proposing to bring in the most refugees are the Greens and TOP, at 5000 and 4000 respectively.