The number of Kiwi citizens leaving the country has hit an all-time high.

In the year ended March 2024, there was a net migration loss of 52,500 New Zealand citizens, according to estimates released by Stats NZ.

“This is the first time the annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens has exceeded 50,000,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

“That equates to 1,000 more New Zealand citizens departing long-term than arriving long-term each week.”

The overall loss of New Zealand citizens was made up of 25,800 migrant arrivals, and 78,200 migrant departures.

Stats NZ said for every migrant arrival of a New Zealand citizen, there were three migrant departures.

The last record annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens was 44,400 in the year to February 2012.

The NZ citizen migrant departures was also a record – exceeding the previous record of 72,400 in the February 2012 year.

On where the New Zealand citizens are headed to, Islam said “over half” of the departures were to Australia.

“Changes in migration are typically due to a combination of factors. These include relative economic and labour market conditions between New Zealand and the rest of the world, and immigration policy in New Zealand and other countries,” Stats NZ said.

Non-New Zealand citizens drive overall net migration gain

There was an overall net migration gain of 111,100 in the March 2024 year, despite the record net migration loss of New Zealand citizens. This was driven by a net migration gain of 163,600 non-New Zealand citizens, mainly citizens of India, the Philippines, China, and Fiji.

“While the current annual net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens is below the peak in late-2023, it is still high by historical standards,” Islam said.

The net gains follow a progressive relaxation of Covid-19-related border restrictions from early 2022, as well as changes to immigration settings.