New Zealand



  • Rank: 3 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 70
  • HEALTH 75

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Traditional and growing destination country, with the foreign-born accounting for 17% of the population in 2000 and 24% in 2012
  • Nearly zero net migration rate, due to high levels of immigration and emigration
  • Large family and increasingly temporary migration: Nearly 1/4 of annual migration flows are permanent immigrants (around 60% are family migrants), while nearly 1/2 of temporary migrants are international students
  • Comparatively high employment rates and GDP growth
  • Generally most positive attitudes towards immigrants in NZ than rest of developed world, alongside other English-speaking countries and Nordics
  • Centre-right minority government since 2008

Changes in policy

The NZ government has maintained its overall path to citizenship and settlement for migrants and refugees and its wider policies to promote cultural competences and non-discrimination in society. However, the current government, following certain international trends, restricted the definition of the family for immigrants in May 2012, leading to a 4-point-drop in NZ's MIPEX score on family reunion. These new caps on parents and closing routes for adult children and siblings were followed by a 23% decrease in approvals in the capped family stream and largely responsible for the 4% decrease in permanent residence approvals from 2011/2 to 2012/3, as recorded by the OECD. 

Conclusions and recommendations

According to MIPEX, recent immigrants in NZ benefit from slightly favourable policies to guarantee their equal rights and opportunities in many areas of life. They enjoy similar opportunities in NZ (ranked 3rd, scoring 70) as in other traditional settlement countries, such as CA (ranked 6th, scoring 68) or AU (ranked 8th, scoring 66). Many immigrants and their families are eligible to arrive as or later become permanent residents and then full NZ citizens. Already after one year of permanent residence, they can also vote in all elections in this inclusive democracy and confident country of immigration. Newcomers and immigrant communities receive support in many areas of life from language learning to education, health, citizenship and voting. 

To improve, NZ can still be more inclusive of newcomers, more ambitious on multiculturalism and more effective in access to services. Newcomer migrants, especially temporary residents, face high costs for family reunion and permanent residence and delays to access general job, training and social support. NZ's standards on multiculturalism and non-discrimination could be better targeted to the needs of immigrant communities. Many eligible migrants may not take up the most effective settlement services due to limited access, coordination and evaluation as well as outreach by mainstream services and advisory bodies.


  • MAY




    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 12 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 9 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 3 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Real Beneficiaries



    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 1 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 4 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 14 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 4 of 38


    New Zealand
    MIPEX 38
    • 8 of 38

Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Newcomers looking for jobs or training can benefit from strong targeted support, but limited general support and benefits, which may delay their full integration on the labour market in NZ, unlike in CA and most Northern European countries

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Immigrant workers and their families who move to NZ do not all immediately enjoy the same access, general support, and rights as NZ workers. While most temporary and permanent residents in NZ can benefit from strong targeted support and work in most sectors under the same conditions as NZ citizens, 2-year-restrictions delay newcomers from investing in the right jobs and skills with the same general support and workers' rights as NZ citizens. Newcomers face similar restrictions to access general support and social rights in AU, IE, UK and US, but not in CA or most Western European countries. Because of these restrictions, NZ's labour market mobility policies are ranked 12th, alongside US, and may lead to 'brain waste', with immigrants in jobs and careers below the level of their qualifications. 

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • As in most major destination countries, all but a few categories of temporary workers in NZ have equal access to all sectors of employment and self-employment
  • Immigrants arriving as permanent residents and family members can work in any job or sector, including self-employment (see instead great facilities for temporary workers in US, ES/PT/IT, Nordics)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • In NZ (similar to AU), newcomers must wait two years to access student loans and allowances, while access to active labour market programmes is limited for temporary workers
  • Newcomers can access well-established procedures to recognise their foreign academic and professional qualifications, but not necessarily to recognise their informal prior learning and skills
  • Overall, newcomers enjoy better access to general support to find a job in half the MIPEX countries, including CA, US, UK, JP and most Western European countries
  • For instance, most countries open immediate equal access to public employment services to all newcomers with the right to work as well as access to study grants, at least to permanent residents and family members

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Under the New Zealand Settlement Strategy (see box), newcomers can benefit from strong targeted measures to secure the recognition of their qualifications, job-specific language skills as well as information and connections to find the right job
  • This targeted support is as extensive in NZ as in AU, CA and most Northern European countries
  • Foreign-trained workers can get their foreign qualifications recognised thanks to binding national guidelines and a one-stop-shop (NZQA)
  • Authorities and providers are constantly trying to improve the available range of subsidised ESOL courses, settlement information websites, face-to-face services (e.g. SSNZ and Migrant employment assistance funding), bridging/work placement programmes and equality/diversity policies in the public sector 
  • Similarly to NZ, other major destination countries are piloting and evaluating new forms of targeted support, such as individual settlement coaches (BE, Nordics), large-scale mentoring programmes (AT, DE, PT) and one-stop-shops for settlement services (PT best in Europe) and qualification recognition (e.g. DK, NL, NO, SE, UK)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Non-NZ citizen workers are entitled to the same working conditions and access to trade unions as NZ citizens, but not to the same benefits and support from the state
  • In their 1st two years, newcomers cannot access unemployment benefits and many parts of the public health system, while temporary workers cannot reply on social welfare other than the Accident Compensation Commission scheme
  • Their entitlements are more restrictive than in 25 of the 38 countries (similar restrictions in AU, UK, US, see instead Nordics, CA, FR, DE, NL, ES)
  • In contrast, around half the MIPEX countries grant equal access to social security for all workers, permanent or temporary

Policy Box

New Zealand’s settlement and multicultural policies have only recently been formalised at national level. The New Zealand Settlement Strategy (NZSS)  was established in 2004 and updated in 2006 to reflect the New Zealand Immigration Policy Framework. The Framework’s three key areas of focus are skills, security and settlement. Its two most relevant objectives related to settlement are to ‘attract and retain quality people to meet our labour market needs’ and ‘support good settlement for migrants and their families (including their children) through responsive services, a welcoming environment, and a shared respect for diversity.’ The 2006 update also put greater emphasis on the two-way nature of the settlement process. A parallel New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy was developed in 2013. 

Family Reunion

Key Findings

NZ's traditionally family-friendly immigration policies were slightly undermined by 2012 restrictions on adult children and parents 

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Immigrants’ chances to start their life in NZ with their family are only slightly favourable and less attractive than in CA. Reunited families in NZ enjoy equal rights as their sponsor and a relatively short and secure path to permanent residence (two years). This is also true in other traditional destination countries, such as AU, CA and US, which promote both family and labour migration. The current NZ government has picked up on certain international trends to restrict the definition of the family for immigrants, dropping 4 points on MIPEX in 2012. While family reunion was restricted since 2010 in 10 often high-scoring countries, the procedures and rights were improved in 12 others (usually the most restrictive countries). Interestingly, CA, AU, NZ and UK chose to introduce similar restrictions in the same period. These types of restrictions expect immigrant famileis to live up to standards that many national families could not, such as higher incomes and no need for social benefits. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • NZ's new restricted definition of the family is no longer a favourable basis for the long-term integration of newcomers living in extended families
  • As in other traditional destination countries, NZ Immigration law allows newcomers to arrive or quickly reunite with any spouse or partner, minor children and, traditionally, other dependent family members
  • Since May 2012, children aged 18-20 and adult parents face greater restrictions to reunite with their sponsor in NZ, while the entire category of Sibling and Adult Child (over 21) was abolished
  • The justification was that dependent adult children and parents bring insufficient economic benefits to NZ. 
  • Similar restrictions and rationales were made during the same period in AU, CA and UK
  • In contrast, dependent adult children/parents have a greater entitlement to reunite, mostly without caps/quotas, in 25 of the 37 other countries, with full entitlements for parents in 10 and for adult children in 6

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Eligible families must meet slightly more restrictive criteria in NZ than in AU, CA and US, with NZ ranking 17th alongside mostly European countries
  • While most countries require a basic income and accommodation, NZ is the only traditional country of immigration with a pre-departure language requirement for reuniting family members
  • Adult family members who cannot pass an English test abroad must pre-pay for ESOL tuition to later complete in NZ
  • Several professional English courses and tests are available abroad, but the costs are prohibitive for some families and thus an obstacle to family reunion
  • In Europe, such requirements are rare and new (see FR or KR for more favourable practices and exemptions with free pre-entry courses/tests) 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Overall the procedure is also potentially long and costly, depending on the family’s category and location (similar to CA, US, AU but unlike most other MIPEX countries, which have legal time and fee limits)
  • The major weakness is the backlog, which has applicants waiting for years without knowing when they will be reunited with their family (similar problem in AU, CA, US) 
  • Family members can also be denied or lose their permit based on a few discretionary grounds depending on their sponsor's status

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Once reunited, family members of permanent residence have access to the labour market immediately and permanent residence after 2 years, with special considerations in case of death/separationt/violence)
  • Access to social rights and programmes can be still restricted, depending on residency requirements

Policy Box

As in AU, AT, CA and the US, families face a long waiting time for their visa to be processed. In NZ, demand far out-strips supply of this visa, which is not the highest priority for immigration officials, who prioritise business and investment categories. Family Partnership and Dependent Child applications should be processed before other categories and allocated a case officer within six to nine months after receipt of the application. All other types of Family Category applications have a lower priority, with waiting times reaching 18-24 months for a place to become available within the cap advised by Immigration New Zealand. 


Key Findings

On par with CA but behind AU and SE, NZ goes long way to assist immigrant pupils with specific learning needs and teach all children to live in a multicultural society

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

According to the 2012 OECD PISA data, foreign-born children (i.e. 1st generation) make up 16.8% of all 15-year-old pupils in NZ (slightly higher than in AU and CA). These traditional countries of immigration also have a large number of 2nd generation pupils (9.6% in NZ).

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Immigrant and NZ children enjoy a slightly favourable learning environment for integration and diversity on all four MIPEX dimensions. Overall, NZ's support for integration through education is ranked 3rd, similar to CA and NO but behind SE and AU. NZ school system go a long way to address newly arrived pupils' specific learning needs and teach all children about living in a multicultural society. Immigrant pupils are increasingly benefiting from new initiatives to ensure equal access throughout their school career and to seize the new opportunities for learning that they bring to the classroom. Like NZ, AU and CA have developed strong targeted support and diversity policies through their official multiculturalism policies. In contrast, similar policies have been adopted in the US through a focus on vulnerable racial/social/language groups as well as in the Nordics, due to their individualised needs-based approach for all pupils. 

Dimension 1: Access

  • NZ guarantees legal access to all immigrant pupils, regardless of status, to most levels of education and tries to place and orient them properly in the system
  • These protections cover undocumented pupils and most pupils with legal residence, with some exceptions in higher education (see box)
  • All toddlers, regardless of residence status, can benefit from 20 hours-a-week of free early-childhood education
  • More targeted measures could guarantee that immigrant pupils, regardless of their age at arrival, are equally represented in vocational and higher education (see US, AT, DE, Nordics)

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Children benefit from strong targeted support in NZ, similar to AU, CA, US and Nordics
  • Newcomer pupils receive additional high-quality resources and support to learn English and catch-up academically with their peers, from pre-primary through secondary school
  • Newcomer pupils and parents are oriented through translated materials, interpretation services, and resource persons, depending on the institution
  • Students with limited English are entitled to enough support to attain academic fluency based on established ESOL standards
  • Students with the greatest needs (e.g. refugees, language needs) are entitled to several years' targeted funding for e.g. in-class support, small group teaching, bilingual resource persons and additional ESOL (see also regional migrant and refugee education coordinators)

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • NZ is far behind AU, CA and several Northern European countries in recognising and using the new opportunities that immigrant pupils bring to the classroom
  • Immigrants and their interested peers receive less support in school to learn community languages and learn about the cultures of their classmates, which receive greater government support in countries such as AU, CA, NO, PT, or SE
  • At least overseas teachers are brought into the classroom through support to study/requalify (TeachNZ scholarships) and teach (bridging programmes, see also AU and CA)
  • Regional migrant and refugee education coordinators try to bring newcomer parents and communities into the classroom and school life

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • NZ has one of the strongest approaches to multicultural education, alongside AU, CA, NO, NL, and UK
  • Schools can adapt the curriculum to reflect local realities and hire culturally-sensitive staff, including immigrant teachers themselves
  • Cultural diversity is written in throughout the curriculum as well as outside school, most notably through the Office of Ethnic Affairs

Policy Box

NZ's 2009 Immigration Act allowed undocumented children (normally resident without legal status for at least six months) to attend school and the 2010 Budget allocated funds for state schools to enrol them. The government made this change following the advice of the Human Rights Commission based on NZ’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Still, more could be done to facilitate access to vocational training and higher education (see programmes in DK and FI), including for undocumented pupils (as in half the MIPEX countries).

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

Targeted literacy support is available for the majority of 1st generation pupils with low-literacy skills, according to data collected by the 2012 OECD PISA study. The share of foreign-born low-literacy 15-year-olds enrolled in extra out-of-school literacy courses was 56.5% in NZ (similar to AU/CA/UK and a few EU countries, e.g. DE, IE, NO). Enrollment in this type of extra support was slightly lower (42%) for 2nd generation pupils with low-literacy skills.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • Minority of both immigrant and non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools in NZ, unlike in most destination countries
  • 1/2 of 1st/2nd generation pupils speak official language at home in NZ, similar to CA, IE, UK and OECD average
  • >25% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 in NZ and other EN-speaking countries (except US)

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

While nearly half of first-generation 15-year-olds with low-educated mothers end up as PISA low-achievers on math, by the second-generation the number of low-achivers is the same as for non-immigrants with low-educated mothers (26% vs. 25%, similar trends in AU/CA/US and IE). 


Key Findings

NZ ranks #1: Legal migrants and asylum-seekers enjoy relatively inclusive entitlements and support to access healthcare in NZ, whose services and policies are some of the best equipped to serve the needs of a diverse population

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

With a long history and large population of immigrants, NZ's migrant health policies are slightly favourable for guaranteeing equal quality care for migrants and their descendants. As in the other English-speaking countries, Legal migrants, asylum-seekers and, in a few cases, undocumented migrants are allowed and informed on how to access  the same healthcare as NZ citizens. This rather inclusive approach is similar to most Western European countries and ahead of most other English-speaking countries. Patients in NZ benefit from healthcare services and policies that are some of the most culturally competent –  committed to properly treating patients of diverse cultural backgrounds. The focus on Pacific Peoples and Maori can also be adapted to serve immigrant communities. These types of standards in NZ are similar to the other English-speaking countries, where the concept of cultural competence has developed and spread in healthcare. 

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Ranked 8th on entitlements alongside JP and many Western European countries, NZ grants equal healthcare coverage to legal migrants and asylum-seekers with the right documentation and to certain vulnerable undocumented migrants based on discretionary exemptions.
  • Legal migrants' entitlements to healthcare depend on their visa category
  • Other than treatment for accidents, equal healthcare coverage is denied to undocumented migrants in NZ and only 9 other MIPEX countries (AU, BG, CZ, KR, LV, NO, PL, TU, see instead provisions in CA, IT, JP, CH, Nordics, Benelux countries)

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Migrant patients should benefit from some language support and targeted information in NZ, ranking 9th on accessibility (see also FI, FR, CH, US)
  • Migrants and service-providers can regularly receive targeted information about entitlements and health issues, using dozens of languages and several methods (e.g. online, face-to-face, Language Line, ad hoc campaigns), similar to practices in AU, US and several Western European countries
  • Cultural case workers are only available at a few specialised organisations (see stronger provisions in US and Western European countries)

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Health services are well-prepared and responsive to the needs of diverse set of patients through the high standards in NZ, ranked 2nd just behind the UK and alongside AU and US 
  • Free interpretation services are required and provided in dozens of languages through various methods
  • Standards and guidelines  for cultural competence and diversity must be respected by services and taught through pre- and in-service training, though mostly focused on Pacific Peoples and Maori
  • Migrants themselves are involved in health services through community development, consumer feedback and cultural navigators
  • Diagnostic and treatment methods can be adapted to respond to specific cultural needs (e.g. Asian & Pacific groups, refugees, non-Western alternatives)

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • NZ's health policies are also highly supportive of these changes and the 3rd most responsive of all MIPEX countries, tied with NO and US and just behind AU and UK
  • Migrant health is a priority in the Auckland Regional Settlement Strategy (Migrant and Refugee Health Action Plan) but not yet at national level
  • Data and research disaggregated by ethnicity is extensive and used to develop migrant health practices, although strategies and stakeholders are stronger on Pacific Peoples and Maori Health and, to some extent, refugees than on migrants 
  • All service providers are required to provide interpretation, but other migrant health practices are mostly located in specialised organisations and departments

Political Participation

Key Findings

NZ is one of the most inclusive democracies in the world

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

NZ is a world leader in granting equal opportunities for political participation to recent immigrants, alongside half-a-dozen European countries. Most significantly, NZ is the only MIPEX country to grant the right to vote in all elections to citizens and permanent residents after 1 year’s residence. This right to vote is used by the majority of permanent resident newcomers, with compulsory voter registration likely playing a significant role. In the 2008 elections, 87% were registered and 55% voted compared to a 79.5% overall turnout. NZ ranks 4th on political participation policies (alongside PT and just below FI, LU and NO) because newcomers in these countries enjoy more diverse opportunities to be consulted and politically active beyond voting.

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Permanent residents can vote in all elections after 1 year but cannot stand as candidates, not even in local or regional elections (see instead 14 European countries, e.g. IE, NL, and Nordics).
  • Only 3 countries in the world currently grant equal voting rights to foreigners: Chile after 5 years, Malawi after seven years, and Uruguay after eight years
  • Specific nationalities have national voting rights in several countries; Commonwealth citizens can vote in all elections in the UK and most Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean; IE entitles UK citizens to vote in all elections; PT can grant some Brazilian citizens with ‘special status’ to vote in all elections
  • 20 out of the 37 other MIPEX countries grant local voting rights, while 9 also grant provincial voting rights

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Ordinary residents enjoy the same civil liberties as citizens in NZ, as in most destination countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Another missing element are Ethnic Peoples and Pacific Peoples Advisory Panels
  • Generally immigrant NGOs such as the NZ Federation of Ethnic Councils are only consulted on an ad hoc basis
  • Authorities are not required to respect the consultation best practice guidelines developed by the Office of Ethnic Affairs
  • The only such Panels exist in a halfway decent form in Auckland since 2010 (see box)
  • Consultative structures are long-established in Northern Europe and spreading to new destinations (e.g. Southern Europe, KR) as well as traditional ones (e.g. US Councils of new Americans) 

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Immigrants have been encouraged to become civically active through the migrant and refugee community development programme, "Settling In", founded in 2003/4 and transferred to the Office of Ethnic Affairs in 2014
  • Immigrants are a major target group for voter registration and education by NZ's electoral agencies through individualised and online information in dozens of languages

Policy Box

The Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel and the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel were both established by the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 (section 86) in the process of creating the ‘super-city’, which amalgamated three local authorities into the Auckland city council. Auckland stands out compared to most other cities because of its recent major overhaul of local body authorities and its self-image as the ‘gateway to New Zealand’ with the largest share of recent immigrants and the greatest diversity within its population. Although the Panels’ members were not directly selected by residents or their associations, they do have favourable powers to write their own reports and recommendations for policies, to which the City Council must respond. 

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

NZ's path to permanent residence is similar to other traditional destination countries and a slight boost to the settlement process

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Like AU and CA, NZ traditionally grants permanent residence upon arrival or after just a few years, so that migrant workers, families and refugees can start their settlement process with secure and near-equal rights. NZ's policies give immigrants a slightly favourable chance at a rather secure future and equal rights in NZ. A wide range of legal residents have the option, but not the right, to apply under various conditions, though with high fees, backlogs/delays and an increasing number of quotas. The path is similar in CA and clearer than in AU/IE/UK/US. In contrast, nearly all temporary residents have a clear path to become permanent residents in Western European countries (e.g. Nordics, PT/ES).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The conditions for immigrants to become eligible for permanent residence are relatively flexible, similar to AU, and some of the most favourable in the developed world, especially compared to the 5-year-wait in most European countries
  • Immigrants may arrive with an indefinite visa, while most types of temporary residents can apply after 2 years’ continuous residence
  • However, no any special track exists for former international students (see instead  DK, JP, KR, NL, SE and former routes in AU and CA)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Like other traditional countries of immigration, NZ have rather demanding requirements in terms of language knowledge (in all except US) and in terms of costs, depending on immigrants’ visa category and location

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Immigrants are only halfway certain about obtaining and keeping permanent residence in NZ, similar to CA and UK (see less discretionary approach in Northwest Europe)
  • The backlog is the major weakness in the procedure in NZ (see legal time limits in most European countries)
  • Successful permanent residents obtain a permanent status, but few protections against expulsion (see instead protections in AU, FR, DE, NL, and SE)
  • Permanent residents can see their status withdrawn at the discretion of the minister, mostly for criminal misconduct, but open to judicial review

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Permanent residents enjoy many of the same rights as NZ citizens
  • However they must wait 2 years for equal access to most social security benefits(e.g. Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment), unlike in 29 out of the 37 other countries (similar restrictions in AU and US, see instead CA and UK)

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Well-established path to NZ citizenship encourages immigrants to become citizens and likely boosts their settlement outcomes

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Nearly all permanent residents can quickly become citizens and fully participate in NZ, whose citizenship policies ranked 4th, alongside PT, SE and DE. Its core principles on citizenship are shared with other established countries of immigration (AU, CA, FR, UK, US) and newer countries that have been inspired to reform. These principles are: dual nationality (now 25 MIPEX countries); some form of citizenship entitlement with children (18); a short residence requirement (13); and ceremonies (26, recently AT and SE). 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility provisions are favourable, as in most traditional destinations and Western Europe
  • Although no special provisions exist for citizens’ spouses (unlike in most MIPEX countries), all permanent residents can naturalise after five years
  • Since 2006, only a child born in NZ to a permanent resident is a NZ citizen at birth. This change was made in an attempt to stop ‘birth tourism’, despite scant evidence of this

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Immigrants are encouraged to apply through ceremonies (since 1954) and more favourable conditions and procedures than in most countries, where citizenship policy is an area of weakness for integration. For example, the language requirement is flexible and supported through some government-provided ESOL courses (see box) 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Government tries to keep the procedure short and objective, so that all immigrants who meet the requirements are granted citizenship
  • Naturalised NZ citizens are generally secure in their new citizenship, unless they committed fraud in their naturalisation or act contrary to the country’s interests

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Dual nationality has been allowed ever since the creation of NZ citizenship in 1949
  • Nowadays immigrants are allowed to become dual nationals in most destination and origin countries (25 MIPEX countries total)

Policy Box

The Citizenship Act (section 8(2)(d)) requires applicants for citizenship by grant to have 'sufficient knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges attaching to NZ citizenship.' This does not constitute a ‘citizenship test’ but rather applicants must sign the citizenship application form attesting that they are aware of these responsibilities and privileges. Similarly with the English language requirement, there is no standardised test to be passed. Rather, Department of Internal Affairs policy requires case officers to look at an applicant’s standard of education, the nature of their employment and any face-to-face communication that they have had with the Citizenship Office. If questions remain, applicants may be required to complete an interview.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

In 2014, 27,947 immigrants became NZ citizens. The top nationalities of origin were British (16%), South African (13%) and Filipino (10%). The numbers have remained stable around 20,000 per year looking back over the past decade.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • High share of permanent residents
  • Humanitarian migrants and immigrants from developing countries most likely to naturalise
  • Large numbers of immigrants from countries not allowing dual nationality (CN, IN, KR)

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

NZ's citizenship policies contriute to one of the highest levels of naturalisation in the developed world, alongside other traditional countries of immigration, such as AU and CA as well as European countries with inclusive citizenship policies, such as IE, PT, UK, the Nordics and Benelux countries. 


Key Findings

NZ's Human Rights Act and Commission are stronger than AU's but behind global leaders like CA, US and UK

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

All residents of NZ enjoy some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws and equality policies, ranked 8th slightly stronger than those in AU but behind global leaders like CA, SE, UK, and US. Thanks to NZ's comprehensive legislation, all residents can turn to strong bodies and mechanisms to enforce laws prohibiting racial/ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination in all areas of life. 

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • With the 5th most comprehensive definitions of discrimination among MIPEX countries, NZ's 1993 Human Rights Act and the 1990 Bill of Rights Act (section 19) protect all residents from discrimination in many forms and on many grounds including race, ethnicity, religion or belief, and nationality
  • Legal gaps still arise on important issues such as intersectionality/multiple discrimination and racial profiling (see instead leading countries like CA, UK, and US)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Residents are protected against discrimination in all areas of life from employment and vocational training to education and access to public services in NZ, as in 15 other MIPEX countries

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Ranked 9th on enforcement, NZ provides potential victims of discrimination with favourable mechanisms to enforce the law
  • These mechanisms include short procedures, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, legal aid, interpreters, class actions and wide sanctions and the use of statistical data and situation testing
  • The major weakness is that most claimants still carry the burden of proof to prove discrimination (as in AU and CA, but unlike most other MIPEX countries, including UK and US)

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • Potential victims can turn to some of the strongest equality bodies in the developed world, ranked 4th alongside CA, FI, SE and PT
  • The Human Rights Commission is strong and independent enough to help potential victims by instigating its own investigations and proceedings
  • However, the NZ government is not obligated to do much more to promote equality in its own work, other than monitor the compliance of legislation with its human rights standards
  • Governments in other MIPEX countries go further through government-led social dialogue, equality duties, supplier diversity, and affirmative action (e.g. CA, SE, UK, and US)


New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!