New Zealand has seen a strong inflow of migrants over the last few years. Now at record levels, Immigration New Zealand has launched an online guide to help inform the 125,000 workers and students arriving each year.

The main driver for migration tends to be a “push factor”, which are usually undesirable conditions in the person’s home country. Income, social mobility, human rights, air quality and food safety are common themes across Asia which help create this push to western countries. However, there are 3 other “pull factors” which are top of mind for migrants:

Pull factor #1 – Ongoing maintenance for Permanent Residence status

The top five western countries for migration are US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These all have similar qualifying criteria such as minimum stay or investment amount before being granted permanent residence. However, there are also ongoing conditions which migrants must meet to retain that residence status.

New Zealand stands out for this reason, because once permanent residence is issued in New Zealand, there is no ongoing maintenance such as minimum stay to keep the visa. It’s been termed as “True Permanent Residence” by many migrant advisors.

Pull factor #2 – Lord of the Rings country 

In 2001, when the first of film series was released, some dismissed the breath-taking backdrops as visual effect, but when people realised the majestic sceneries were natural landscapes of New Zealand, there was an increased level of interest to visit the country. This is a stark contrast to the beach/desert/outback images of Australia –which hold little appeal for Chinese visitors.

Sir Peter Jackson put New Zealand on world map in ways that no amount of tourism advertising budget could ever achieved. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were the best product placement of New Zealand in any movie in history, and visitor numbers clearly rose after the release of each series.

Pull factor #3 – Small nation with big ambitions

New Zealand is a small tiny nation of <5m (ranked 123 globally), compared to China (1.4b), India (1.2b), US (319m), Philippines (108m), UK (63m), and Australia (23m), yet New Zealand makes a striking impact on the world stage with iconic food, wine, films, recording artists like Lorde and Kimbra and the legendary All Blacks who are one of the world’s most successful sporting exports.

But ultimately what makes people curious about New Zealand is the people. Mention the word Kiwi and immediately words like “humble, fun, easy-going” comes into mind.

Sporting heroes like Lydia Ko and even politicians like Helen Clark have kept composure under pressure and help build the New Zealand brand overseas. New Zealander Sir Ralph Norris was CEO of Commonwealth Bank in Australia for many years, with a leadership principle:

He was succeeded by another Kiwi, Ian Narev. Kiwi Shayne Elliott is also now CEO of ANZ Group – a banking brand which is present in 34 markets that have an interest in picking New Zealand as their new home.

These international business leaders inspire curiosity about where they come from. What sort of environment do they grow up in? Is there special food that they eat? Is there something magical about the place?

That curiosity continues to drive professionals and workers to experience New Zealand and decide to stay. This was the curiosity which led me to New Zealand 3 years ago and I’ll continue to share my thoughts in future posts.