Net migration may have risen 10 percent in the 12 months to January, according to provisional data.

By Stats NZ’s provisional estimate, annual net migration in the year through January was 58,400 people, up from a still provisional estimate of 52,880 in the same period a year earlier. Stats NZ said the latest 12-month figure could be plus or minus 1,600.  

Migrant arrivals are estimated at 151,600, while migrant departures are estimated at 93,300. New Zealand citizens were the largest group of migrant arrivals, at 36,400, followed by China with 17,500. Among those departing, 44,100 were New Zealanders, followed by China with 8,500.

Stats NZ has changed the way it measures migration. Its estimates are subject to revision, with net migration for the 12 months through December today revised up to 56,200 from 48,300.  Arrivals for the year to December were revised up 2.4 percent while departures were revised down 4.6 percent. 

The government no longer requires people leaving or arriving in New Zealand to complete the arrival or departure cards from which the data was previously compiled.

The new data is based on an outcomes-based migration measure, something Stats NZ said is more accurate as the outcomes measure reflects actual – not intended – durations of stay or absence.

Under the new approach, it takes 16 months before the migration estimates are finalised so Stats NZ uses a statistical model to produce provisional migration estimates. It noted that the revised estimates are more variable in the first few months, but the size of revisions to arrivals and departures are expected to reduce after about five months.

“The migration estimates generally become more certain after each subsequent month,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said.

Meanwhile, annual total traveller movements across New Zealand’s border reached 14 million for the first time in the year ended January 2019, Stats NZ said.  

“Annual total traveller movements are equivalent to the sum of all arrivals and departures for New Zealand-resident travellers, overseas visitors, and migrants,” said Theyers.

Visitor arrivals were 399,300 in the month of January 2019. That was up 21,100 or 5.3 percent from January 2018. Australia led the increase with visitor arrivals up 7,800 versus January a year ago while visitors from China were up 6,600. 

Total visitor arrivals for the year ended January 2019 were 3.88 million, up 151,500 from the year ended January 2018, Stats NZ said. 

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