Earlier this week, we saw a record high net annual migration of 71,000, made up of migrant arrival numbers of 128,300 minus departure of 57,000.

(In case you’re wondering how these numbers are collected, they are based on the departure and arrival card that you fill in when entering or leaving New Zealand, indicating that you’ll be staying or leaving for 12 months or more)

With more migrants arriving every year, how is New Zealand embracing diversity and integrating with migrants to make this country truly multicultural and inclusive?

A report from MBIE in 2015 titled “Community Perceptions of Migrants and Immigration” shared some positive and negative insights:

  • 81% of those surveyed felt it is a good thing for any society to be made up of people from different races, religions and cultures. This is up from 80% in 2013, and 73% in 2011.
  • Yet, 1 out of 3 surveyed there is lack of migrant integration into New Zealand society.
  • In addition, 76% surveyed felt New Zealand is welcoming to migrants, down from 79% in 2013 and 82% in 2011.
  • And 85% of New Zealanders say they have friends from outside of New Zealand, down from 89% in 2013 and 90% in 2011.
  • Interestingly, the number of New Zealanders attending ethnic cultural festivals increased from 42% in 2011 to 50% in 2013 and 55% in 2015.

However, there is no data and insights about migrants once they arrive into New Zealand. For example, we do not know the challenges that they face, they support they need, or how they integrate with the society. From a corporate side, there is limited data to understand how migrants consider and purchase products and services, drivers for satisfaction or defection, and the holy grail customer loyalty.

It’s one of the reasons why I started Cultural Connections as a social enterprise to illuminate some insights into migrants which makes up 25% of population. Here are some of the initial insights in the first 15 days of launch:

  • The most common challenge that migrants face is language and communication at 29%, yet only 17% of migrants are aware of the Language Line service offered by The Office of Ethnic Communities
  • 46% of migrants felt unhappy when they first arrive in New Zealand, but that decreases significantly to 14% after settling down over several years.
  • At least once a week, 2 out of 3 migrants will call a family or friend back home, eat at restaurants or buy groceries from home country, and consume media from home country.
  • Surprisingly, only 1 out of 3 migrants send money back home.
  • Instead, more than 2 out of 3 migrants will travel back home or invite family and friends to visit New Zealand at least once a year.

We also asked migrants about some of the basic services from banks and telcos:

  • 1 out of 3 migrants are unhappy with their current main bank, yet only 4% are willing to change their bank, suggesting the difficulty in switching banks.
  • 1 out of 4 migrants are unhappy with their current mobile phone provider, and 10% of them are willing to switch to another provider in the next 12 months.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop a framework together with private and public entities to give migrants the highest possible chance to flourish and be happy in New Zealand.

After all, a happy migrant can only lead to a happy New Zealand.

Eric Chuah was the Head of Migrant Banking for ANZ and the founder of Cultural Connections, which is a social enterprise that helps multicultural community groups to flourish in New Zealand. We are currently inviting migrants to join our research panel which takes only 10 minutes. We will donate $2 to multicultural community for every migrant who joins our panel.