Attitudes toward immigrants and immigrant experiences

Published 2011. Contact: Colleen Ward


In a globally competitive market, New Zealand has set about formulating immigration policy and practices for economic growth and development. At the same time, due consideration has been given to the social impacts of immigration and the challenges of maintaining a socially inclusive, harmonious society.

To manage the risks and realise the benefits of immigration it is critical that New Zealand is able to:

  • attract and retain skilled immigrants
  • ensure that immigrants’ skills and talents are used effectively to contribute to economic growth and development
  • facilitate immigrant integration and ensure that social cohesion is not threatened.

It is important to consider both New Zealand’s receptiveness towards new migrants, and the challenges that new migrants encounter during settlement in this country.


The five key findings were as follows.

  • Attitudes towards immigrants in New Zealand are largely positive.
  • After controlling for the other factors listed above, most indicators of attitudes to immigrants did not show a significant relationship with the density of immigrants in an area.
  • There is some evidence of a curvi-linear relationship between the density of new immigrants and attitudes towards them. While New Zealanders tend to value immigrants more as their numbers increase, at the high end (specifically in Auckland) further increases are associated with more negative attitudes.
  • After controlling for other factors, levels of perceived discrimination decrease as immigrant density increases.
  • Contrary to international research findings, unemployment trends were not found to be related to attitudes towards immigrants, once control variables were included in the model.

You can read the full report online here.