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International migration to New Zealand: Historical themes & trends

Cover International migration to NZ historical themes and trends

New Zealand Productivity Commission

Date published

8 November 2021

The Productivity Commission has been asked by the Government to examine New Zealand’s immigration system, and make recommendations that would best facilitate its contribution to long-term economic growth and the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Policy does not exist in a vacuum. It is the result of current political, economic and social pressures, but also historical trends and developments. In order to make recommendations about the future, it is important to understand the origins of current policy and the issues that this country has faced in the past. This working paper aims to identify common or recurring themes in New Zealand’s immigration policy and key turning points, and answer the following questions of relevance to the inquiry:

  • What influence has the Treaty of Waitangi had over immigration policy, and how has its role been understood in the past?
  • Who migrated to New Zealand, and why did they come?
  • What objectives have New Zealand Governments sought to achieve through immigration policy?
  • What have been the notable features of migration into and out of New Zealand since the signing of the Treaty, and how and why have these patterns changed?

About the Commission's immigration inquiry.



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