New Zealand has nearly 20,000 fewer immigrants than previously thought, data reveals

An arrivals hall.
An arrivals hall. Photo credit: Getty

New figures from Statistics NZ have revealed New Zealand's net migration figures are lower than previously thought.

The figures, which were released on January 25, show 144,000 migrants arrived for the year ended November 2018, and 100,600 left.

Statistics New Zealand estimated a margin of error of 1300 for the incoming figures, and 1200 for the outbound figures.

The new figures were made using the outcomes method, which measures how many people actually leave the country, instead of the intentions method, which relied on arrival and departure cards.

"It is the first release of these statistics since the departure card was removed, and includes only outcomes data," population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said in a statement.

"This is now the way we measure migration in New Zealand."

Previous figures measured using the intentions method indicated a provisional net gain of 61,800, but using the outcomes data it's indicated to be 45,200 not including margin of error.

That's a difference of 16,600.

Economists have wondered about what the difference would mean for the country, especially the impact on the labour market.

"We have been constantly surprised by the strength of the labour market given how high immigration was supposed to be," Craig Ebert, senior economist at BNZ told Bloomberg.

"Going forward, that means you don't have to forecast such strong growth in employment to absorb the number [of new arrivals]."

Departure cards were removed from airports in November 2018, with Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway saying it would make travelling into the country smoother.

"It will also save more than 100,000 hours of time currently spent by travellers completing more than 6.5 million departure cards per year," he said when the decision was announced in August 2018.


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