New Zealand Atlas of Population Change

Internal Migration (Arrivals and Departures) by Territorial Authority and Regional Council Area

With the exclusion of data for the Chatham Islands (on the basis of small numbers), these maps illustrate where each of New Zealand’s remaining 66 territorial authority area’s internal migrants came from (Internal Arrivals), and went to (Internal Departures), between 2001 and 2006, and 2008 and 2013, based on the Census question ‘where did you live five years ago?’.

The regional council maps do so similarly for each of New Zealand’s 16 regions for the periods 1991-1996, 1996-2001, 2001-2006, and 2008-2013.

The index ‘percentage share’ refers to the proportion of internal arrivals from each other territorial authority area (or region), enumerated as living in their new area at each census, and the proportion of leavers from that area to each other territorial authority area (or region), in the same years.

Also shown in the accompanying information box to each map are the number and proportion of people who were Stayers (people who were enumerated as residing in the same territorial authority area or region five years previously), the number and proportion living overseas five years previously, the number not born five years previously, and a summary of net internal migration (internal arrivals minus internal departures).

Because those living overseas at the time of the census cannot be enumerated (until they return), there are no equivalent data for overseas departures.

Key observations: The data indicate that the majority of both Internal Arrivals and Internal Leavers concentrate around the territorial authority area or region from which they came or to which they went. This concentration is indicative of the presence of ‘functional labour market areas’ (Papps and Newell 2001), where people with certain skills move towards related jobs, and these are likely to be determined by local industry and landuse.

Other common points:

  • In the majority of cases, Stayers account for around two-thirds to three-quarters of each area’s Census population at each census. The percentage of each population categorised as ‘Stayers’ remains remarkably similar over each observed period.
  • The percentage of each population categorised as ‘Internal Arrivals’ was generally lower at the 2013 Census than the 2006 Census. This suggests that people were less likely to move within New Zealand between 2008 and 2013 than between 2001 and 2006.
  • The percentage of each population categorised as ‘Overseas five years ago’ was generally lower at the 2013 Census than the 2006 Census. Reflecting international migration trends, people were less likely to move to New Zealand between 2008 and 2013 than between 2001 and 2006.
  • The percentage of each population categorised as ‘not born five years ago’ was generally higher at the 2013 Census than the 2006 Census. This will in part reflect an increase in birth rates and numbers that, for most areas, began around 2002 and peaked between 2008 and 2010, and in part the fact that Internal Arrivals and Overseas Arrivals were generally lower at the 2013 Census than the 2006 Census.
  • Prorating the ‘lived elsewhere in New Zealand/not further defined’ and ‘residence 5 years ago not stated’ categories (see methodological notes) generally resulted in increasing the Stayer percentage and reducing any net internal migration loss.

Data Sources and 'Mover-Stayer' Methodology

These data were originally sourced from Statistics New Zealand (2014) and are based on the Census question ‘where did you usually live five years ago?’ Because some people fail to provide this information on their census form, a methodological decision was made to prorate the data for those people according to the local (regional or territorial authority area) distribution for those whose address five years ago was stated (see disclaimer for additional information).

Data for people who gave both their current and past address were categorised as either:

  • Stayers (people living in the same region or territorial authority area at both censuses—although they may have moved elsewhere within that area, and/or out of the area and back in, between the censuses);
  • Internal Arrivals (people living in the specified region or territorial authority area who elsewhere in New Zealand five years ago);
  • Internal Departures (people who lived in the specified region or territorial authority area five years ago, but now live elsewhere in New Zealand);
  • Overseas Arrivals (people who were living overseas five years ago);
  • or
  • Not Born Five Years Ago (children aged 0-4 years, born since the previous census and whose address five years ago cannot therefore be determined).

Those who did not provide their current and/or previous address are recorded as either 'living elsewhere in NZ/not further defined', or 'not elsewhere included/address five years ago not stated'. The process for prorating these data according to the regional or territorial authority area distribution for those whose address five years ago was stated, was as follows:

  • Apportioning of ‘Lived Elsewhere in New Zealand/Not Further Defined’: Both Stayers in each region or territorial authority area, and Arrivals from each other region or territorial authority area, were summed and their distribution calculated as a percentage. This percentage was then applied to the number ‘living elsewhere in New Zealand/not further defined’, and the resulting number added to the number having stated their previous residence.
  • Apportioning of ‘Not Elsewhere included/Address Five Years Ago Not Stated’: Stayers in each region or territorial authority area, Arrivals from each other region or territorial authority area, and Overseas Arrivals, were summed and their distribution calculated as a percentage. This percentage was then applied to the number ‘not elsewhere included/address five years ago not stated’, and the resulting number added to the number having stated their previous residence.

Disclaimer: The methodological assumption that people who ‘lived elsewhere in New Zealand/not further defined’ or ‘not elsewhere included/address five years ago not stated’ have the same residential distribution as those who did specify their previous address, may be incorrect. We took this approach because it is preferable to calculating movements based on ‘known’ previous residence only, as these proportions differ substantially for each region and territorial authority area. The resulting data should thus be viewed as a best approximation of the situation, and will differ slightly from the raw data that Statistics New Zealand publishes, and other analysts may generate. The 2001, 2006 and 2013 data are based on 2013 regional council and territorial authority area boundaries. The 1996 data are based on 2006 boundaries.