Record migration sets scene for Budget 2023 pressure

Net migration into New Zealand has reached a record level for non-New Zealand citizens. In the March 2023 year, the country gained a net 89,000 non-New Zealand citizen migrants – up by 10% on its March 2020 level.

It is amazing how quickly migrants have voted with their feet and come to New Zealand. Beating the March 2020 annual non-citizen migration figures is also incredible because that March 2020 high watermark represented an artificial spike as the Covid-19 border closures and visa leniencies had effectively held many migrants as willing hostages.

Half the number of kiwis ‘spreading their legs’ to a decade ago

If we bring New Zealand citizens into the mix, there was a loss of 23,000 kiwis overseas. At a headline level this sounds like a lot, but it’s only half what we were seeing each year a decade ago. Given that there will be a lot of pent-up demand from the two year period when our youth couldn’t spread their wings (legs if you are Prime Minister Hipkins) these 23,000 net citizen departures hardly represent a brain-drain.

Pressure on government budget

What does this mean? Well, clearly we have very strong population growth, and this will bring with it ensuing pressure on public services, infrastructure, and the housing stock! Quite the scene-setter for Budget 2023, where the government is trying to tighten the belt, at a time when it also needs to be lifting investment in closing infrastructure deficits and delivering essential services!

I attended Budget 2023, with a focus on unpacking what the government’s plans will mean for regional New Zealand.