As written in the Herald a few weeks ago, sometimes people move. Sometimes they move to Auckland. Sometimes they move out of Auckland. Sometimes they even move country. But paragraphs like this can be a bit misleading:

As house prices in the country’s biggest city spiral out of control, Auckland homeowners are cashing in their chips and buying mansions in the regions.

Thousands of property owners are now sitting on million-dollar goldmines thanks to rampant capital gain. The lure of a traffic-free, laid-back lifestyle with outdoor space for the children is proving tempting for many, and one-in-10 Hawkes Bay sales are now to ex-pat Aucklanders. The Bay of Islands and Marlborough are also drawing “Jafa” homeowners keen to escape the rat race.

I did a writeup on internal migration last year – long story short, of course people move for all sorts of reasons, and for that matter Auckland has had a net loss of people to other regions for some time. But it’s tiny in the context of Auckland’s overall population growth.

Overall Population Growth for Auckland

Even the largest internal migration loss – between 2001-2006 – was still pretty small compared to those other bars on the graph. The 1996-2001 and 2008-2013 figures are negligibly small.

Incidentally, I expect a larger internal migration loss in the next five years – after all, we’ve got massive international immigration, with many of these new Kiwis heading to Auckland. That has put pressure on our housing supply, and no doubt it is a factor prompting more Aucklanders to sell up and move elsewhere, for retirement or a quieter lifestyle. We did lose more people to other regions over 2001-2006, when we were also seeing major international immigration. That’s probably not a coincidence. We could very well see something similar this time around, especially with many baby boomers at around retirement age. Check back in 2019 to see if I’m right!

Articles like the recent Herald one, though, aren’t very useful for informing the issue, since they only look at people going one way, and rely on anecdotal stories rather than statistics. Here are the actual stats for movements in and out of Auckland in 2008-2013:

Internal migration

We lost a few thousand people to each of the nearby regions, gained a few from Wellington and Canterbury (with the earthquakes probably an influence), and had very little “net” movement to or from other regions. How about the places mentioned by the Herald? We lost a net 132 people to the Hawkes Bay, and gained 12 from Marlborough. The Bay of Islands is part of Northland of course, but looking just at the Far North district we lost 585 people.

Each of these thousands of people have their lives and stories to tell about why they’ve moved, but taking a macro view, the diaspora from Auckland to other parts of New Zealand is more of a trickle than a flood.

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  1. Waikato District are expecting 2,000 sections to go in at Pokeno. Are we going to see most of the growth of Auckland occurring in satellite communities like this?

    1. ‘Are we going to see most of Auckland’s growth like this’?


      Many more apartments are being built. This is a side show, anyway how many living there will work in the Tron from there?

    2. Tuakau and Pokeno are effectively Auckland’s new southern suburbs, but will be beyond the control of Auckland Council. So really, we will be returning to multiple council responsibility for Auckland’s development. Pokeno in particular is set to grow fast. Cross-border transport isn’t an issue for roading, with central government paying for the motorway, but neither council has the ability (or willingness) to fund a cross-border rail service.

      1. Geoff, it’ll be a very long time indeed before rail would stack up to Tuakau and even longer before it would stack up to Pokeno (it’s further down the line, adding travel time and making it less competitive with driving), and as you say, the councils can’t afford it anyway. Plenty of things to get right within the urban area first: CRL, airport rail, North Shore rail, unlocking potential for many millions of trips a year…

    3. There will of course be growth in satellites like Tuakau, Pokeno etc, but it’ll be a fairly small fraction of Auckland’s growth, not “most” of it by many means. All the indications in terms of population growth, land prices etc are that most of Auckland’s growth will occur as close to the centre of the city as it can.
      Auckland’s growing at 20-25,000 people a year – more at the moment – and most of that will be within the old urban limits or the new Rural Urban Boundary. Pokeno isn’t technically part of the region, but I’d expect that the main “spillover” you get from Auckland to Pokeno would be baby boomers looking for a quieter pace of life, and maybe the odd family with people who don’t mind commuting to Manukau.
      The Auckland region stretches much further north than it does south, so Pokeno (and Tuakau) are a bit unusual in the sense that they’re not part of the region but they’re closer to downtown Auckland than Warkworth is. Still, the Auckland Council has bigger issues to worry about than the comparatively small number of people wanting to settle just outside its border.

  2. the other story told by this data is that “sometimes people make babies”.

    In Auckland more than most developed places, apparently.

  3. Great post, John! Probably a bit wonky to compete for comments against the Skypath!!!! excitement, but I really enjoyed the charts and careful analysis.

    And yeah, I was taking a look at the Census population projections the other day and they show that around 60% of Auckland’s growth is picked to come from people having kids.

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