New Zealand lost more than 10,000 people to emigration in the year ended June, newly released data shows.
June was the 16th month in a row more people left the country than arrived, Stats NZ said today. The agency said 49,200 migrants arrived and 60,700 left in the year to June 30.
The latest figures showed New Zealand was not doing enough to attract migrants needed to lift living standards and address nationwide worker shortages, the National Party said.
"Migrant arrivals and departures are at their lowest levels for a June year since the 1990s," Stats NZ population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.
But border crossings increased in June, reaching the highest for any month since border and travel restrictions were introduced in March 2020.
The new data reversed trends that typified the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when overseas Kiwis returned home in large numbers and many countries were off-limits.
Migrant arrivals for New Zealand citizens were down by nearly half (44 per cent) in the June 2022 year compared with the previous year.
But departures of Kiwi citizens were up 11 per cent.
Non-New Zealand citizens contributed most to the latest recorded annual net migration losses, with a provisional net loss of 6900 in the June year.
Citizens of China, the United Kingdom, and the United States were the main drivers of the overall net migration loss of non-New Zealand citizens in the June 2022 year.
The net migration loss of 2900 Chinese citizens was fewer than that of the June 2021 year, when a net loss of 5900 was recorded.
Migrant arrivals of Chinese citizens in the June year were 2400, down 8 per cent compared with the June 2021 year.
Migrant departures of Chinese citizens were 5300, down 37 per cent compared with the June 2021 year.
For US and British citizens, migrant arrivals dropped about 30 per cent.
But migrant departures of these citizens rose 26 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.
Net migration for Canadian, German, Japanese and French citizens also exceeded 500 for each country in the latest data.
The biggest net migration gains were in citizens of the Philippines, India, Samoa and South Africa.
The Philippines was by far the largest contributor, with 1450 more citizens of the Southeast Asian nation arriving than leaving.
Net migration from India was slightly over 1000. No other overseas citizens arrived in numbers greater than 1000.
National Party immigration spokeswoman Erica Stanford said the latest data showed the Government failed to lure migrants this year.
"The labour shortage and skill shortages are going to persist a lot longer than we thought."
She said the Government's vaunted immigration overhauls turned out to be ineffectual.
"What came out of the report that was most stark for me was the lowest arrivals since the 1990s."
On how she'd respond to any suggestions the Government needed more time after last year's lockdowns to address low migration numbers, Stanford said Labour's response was "too little, too late".
Stanford said National was working on a policy to assess how many net migrants were needed to address employee shortages.
"It's really difficult to tell because across every sector in New Zealand we've got skills shortages."
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Michael Wood said it would take time for new visa programmes and other policies to show up in net migration data.
But he said at least 7960 employers had already been approved for the accredited employee work visa scheme, translating to 15,939 job positions.
And he said under the critical purpose visitor visa, jobs for 2992 nurses had been approved and at least 2591 of those nurses had already arrived.
Wood took over the immigration portfolio from Kris Faafoi in mid-June.
The Act Party said today's data showed Immigration NZ needed a revamp.
"This is the result of bungles on both ends," party leader David Seymour said.
"People are leaving because Labour locked the economy down and borrowed $50 billion leaving us with a mountain of debt and rising prices."
And he said aspiring Kiwis were struggling to get into the country because of archaic Immigration NZ regulations and slow processing times.
Malcolm Pacific Immigration chief executive and director David Cooper said the main problem many aspiring immigrants reported was the absence of a clear path to residency.
Cooper said people weren't going to pack up and move countries if New Zealand couldn't guarantee the stability that a path to residency offered.
He said the border was mostly closed for more than two years and that affected even the most recent migration numbers.
"It is too early to read too much into it."
But he said indications were the Philippines would likely remain a major source of migrants for the next year or two at least.
"They've got highly qualified people who've got transferable skills and a population that's used to working offshore."
Migrant numbers from India might not be so robust, Cooper said.
"India was driven largely by the international student market."
So was Chinese migration, he said, and that market was suffocated during the pandemic and associated border closures.
Cooper said some developed economies such as Australia and the UK had low unemployment rates, much like New Zealand, but were being smart about luring migrants.
He said the UK currently had an attractive two-year visa option for recent graduates.
New Zealand, Cooper said, was still implementing policies that might have been great in 2019 but seemed increasingly unfit for purpose.