New Zealand’s population is booming! In the year to June 30, New Zealand grew by nearly 100,000 people the largest population increase in the country’s history. In 2016 there are now 4.69 million kiwis. In percetage terms, this represented a growth of 2.1 per cent, the greatest proportionate increase in 42 years.
This record population growth was driven largely by net migration – New Zealand gained nearly 70,000 people through accepting more immigrants than it lost in emigration. This is a record number, and a large turnaround in a short number of years – in fact in 2012 there was a net loss of people from migration from New Zealand. In the past decade the annual net migration to New Zealand has only been just under 22,000 per year. But since 2013 the net migration figure has grown exponentially, largely due to New Zealanders returning from overseas and fewer New Zealanders leaving to go overseas. In the aftermath of the GFC New Zealand has seemed a better prospect for jobseekers than the traditional countries that young New Zealanders travel to to seek their fortunes: Australia and the UK. As the Australian commodity boom came off the boil there were fewer jobs in mining and in the economy generally across the ditch and so more New Zealanders are staying at home or returning home.
The average natural increase for the past decade has been about 32,300 births over deaths. Since 2010 this number has been steadily declining from around 35,000, although last year there was a slight increase of 500 to 28,200.
So there you have it, New Zealand is growing naturally, but its population boom is underpinned by a surging net migration. As the economic cycle changes I would expect this number to decrease to a level closer to zero net migration. In the meantime however, this population growth is putting huge pressure on New Zealand’s (particularly Auckland’s) housing stock. We simply can’t build enough houses to keep up with demand.