The ability to find work is the determining factor in migrants choosing to settle in Auckland.

The Department of Labour has carried out in-depth studies of 64 of the 6,000 people who took part in its Longitudinal Immigration Survey (LisNZ) 6, 18 and 36 months after arrival. Twenty-four of them were from Auckland.

This study is the second published – after Wellington – into why and how migrants settle in different locations within New Zealand.

A report on the Why Auckland? study says that focusing on Auckland provides insight into the country’s largest and most dynamic migrant hub.

The report analyses interviews with 11 women and eight men living in Auckland at the time of interview and three women and two men who had shifted to another centre for lifestyle, career or family reasons. All were Skilled Migrant Category principal applicants and came from China (7), the UK (6), India (4), North America (3) Philippines (2) and South Africa and the Pacific (1 each). All had been in New Zealand at least 5 years since gaining permanent residence.

For all Auckland participants, the city was their first landfall and most gave no serious consideration to moving elsewhere.

The Head of the Department’s Labour and Immigration Research Centre, Vasantha Krishnan, says those who chose Auckland specifically as a destination acted either on advice about educational possibilities or to take up a job offer.

The excellent off-shore reputation of Auckland’s tertiary education sector attracted international students. As one had been told, “there are cheaper options, but this is the best”. For migrants with a temporary visa, finding employment there was the determining factor – “I lined myself up a job, went home, packed up and came back,” one woman in the study said.

The issues that brought people to Auckland were different from the reasons that caused them to stay. Remaining meant putting down roots, and in this context, family life, and cultural and social/community life were important.

Of those who first came as skilled migrants, all intended to start or raise a family in beneficial circumstances. A family home and good schooling were of primary importance. Living in a desirable school area was a major priority. As one young father explained, “it’s all about school zones”.
“Those who chose to settle in Auckland came initially because they were advised, or discovered, that it had the edge in work or educational opportunities,” Ms Krishnan says. “For migrants from China, issues of access to a vibrant Chinese community were very important.”

While the study offered indicative rather than definitive findings, there were consistent patterns. These differed from those offered by migrants to Wellington, where a portion of Wellington study participants had gone to Wellington as a preferred city after a personal visit to all possible cities of settlement. Auckland participants all arrived in the city without prior personal knowledge.

Additional studies of groups of migrants in smaller urban centres will develop the national picture further to help understanding of the different strengths of New Zealand cities and communities.

– Department of Labour