Survey of New Zealand arrivals since the onset of COVID-19 helps assess economic impact

Published: 21 October 2021

MBIE has completed a survey of recent arrivals to New Zealand that collected data on the characteristics and intentions of people arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand since the onset of COVID-19.

Survey participants included New Zealanders returning to live in New Zealand, along with a small proportion of essential workers and other arrivals.

A total of 10 government agencies contributed to the development of the survey including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Statistics New Zealand, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Primary Industries, Te Puni Kōkiri, Treasury and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The information collected is intended to give government a fuller picture of those arriving in New Zealand during the COVID-19 period. This information will help agencies to develop more responsive policies, as well as examine the longer term outcomes in a number of areas including employment, social services, housing and education” said David Paterson, Manager Migration Evidence and Insights, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The survey data reflects the results for all people aged 18 years or over who arrived in New Zealand between 1 August 2020 and 1 April 2021, had been living overseas and were intending to stay in New Zealand for more than 3 months. A total of 9,553 arriving during this period participated in the Survey. These data are weighted using StatsNZ border arrival data to ensure the results are representative of the 46,316 arrivals during this period.

Survey findings

The top reason for returning to New Zealand was for family-related or compassionate reasons. 48% of arrivals said COVID-19 was a factor in their decision to come to New Zealand, while 22% said they would leave New Zealand if the COVID-19 situation improved.

40% of arrivals are living in Auckland, 13% in Wellington, and 11% in Canterbury.

The survey also showed that half of those who arrived live in a property they own, partly own, or that is owned by family or friends. 27% are living in a long-term rental property. 80% of arrivals agreed that their current living situation met their living needs.

60% of those arriving hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher (17% of these had a Masters or a PhD) and 61% are in paid employment.

About the Survey of New Zealand Arrivals

The Survey of New Zealand Arrivals was commissioned by the All-of-Government COVID-19 Group at The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Government worked in partnership to ensure that the information needs of multiple government agencies were collected in a coordinated way, while reducing the burden on respondents of completing surveys from multiple agencies.

The Survey is now complete and this is the final reporting of high level data for all arrivals during the survey period. A further Māori-focussed dashboard is to be developed in November 2021. This is in response to MBIE’s consultation with the Data Iwi Leaders’ Group who expressed a need for the data on Māori returnees.

The Survey data will be made available in the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to allow data access to government researchers and subject matter experts to investigate longer term outcomes that will inform policy development across a wide range of areas including employment, education and training, social services and housing.

More information

For more information on the results, see the survey webpage:

Survey of New Zealand Arrivals(external link) – Unite against COVID-19 website

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