New Zealand's population surges by the highest amount in 43 years

By Ekin Karasin

New Zealand's relative safety, natural beauty, political cohesion and isolation makes it a popular location for migrants. Photo / 123RF
New Zealand's relative safety, natural beauty, political cohesion and isolation makes it a popular location for migrants. Photo / 123RF

New Zealand's population has surged by the highest amount in 43 years, as people seek out somewhere deemed safe and politically stable.

The small nation has had an influx of 100,300 people since last March, which is the largest rise since 1974.

Experts have dubbed the country an 'island of calm in troubled waters' where people can escape political turbulence caused by the likes of Donald Trump and Brexit, reports Daily Mail.

New Zealand's relative safety, natural beauty, political cohesion and isolation makes it a popular location for migrants - who make up the majority of the population increase.

Record immigration added 71,900 people in the year through March 31, while natural population growth contributed 28,300 to the rise.

The number included a surge from Britain that may be partly driven by fears of the effects of Brexit.

Britons make up 12 per cent of arrivals, the largest proportion from any one state.

Meanwhile the strong economy - underpinned by low interest rates, a booming construction sector and improving terms of trade - adds to the appeal.

"New Zealand is an island of calm in troubled waters," economist Shamubeel Eaqub told Bloomberg.

"You've got uncertainty with Trump, with Brexit, the rise of the far right in Europe, pollution in Asia.

"There's a whole bunch of different drivers that set New Zealand up as a great place to be."

The rise is the biggest nominal increase since European colonization began in the 1840s, Statistics New Zealand revealed.

The 2.1 per cent gain is the largest since 1974, when unrest was caused by US President Richard Nixon being forced to resign after the Watergate crisis and the price of oil quadrupling.

Economic growth has averaged about 3 per cent each year for the past five years - a figure that incites New Zealanders not to seek better wages in Australia.

However the rising number of city dwellers has led to house price surges and roads becoming congested with traffic.

Auckland, New Zealand's largest city with 1.5million people, has seen its average house price surge above NZ$1 million ($683,000).

The International Monetary Fund predicted that New Zealand's population could reach 5million in 2021 from 4.6million in 2016.

The agency noted that the recent influx in migrants since 2013 was partly driven by Australia's labour market being weaker in comparison to New Zealand's strong job opportunities.

This was at the same time as the country attracting strong numbers of international students.

It comes as New Zealand's central bank left its base rate at a record low of 1.75 per cent on Thursday and signaled it would stay there "for a considerable period".

In a widely anticipated move, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said there was no need to change rates amid modest inflation and positive economic growth.

"The growth outlook remains positive, supported by on-going accommodative monetary policy, strong population growth, and high levels of household spending and construction activity," central bank governor Graeme Wheeler said.

The base rate has remained unchanged since November last year, when it was cut from 2.0 per cent, and analysts do not expect any movement until mid-2018 at the earliest.

- Daily Mail

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