Kiwis Are Coming Home


media release, new zealand,


Kiwis Are Coming Home With Hopes and Dreams for Our Nation

The ‘Unleashing the Potential of our Returning Kiwis’ report released today has confirmed that a significant number of expats are planning to return to our shores – and they’re wanting to make a difference.

The data within this report was gathered via Kea’s ‘Welcome Home Survey’, launched in August to enable New Zealand to better understand its offshore Kiwis. Within this research, Kea sought to understand returning Kiwis timeframes, skills, industry experience and wealth, as well as their needs.

‘The survey was met with an “overwhelming response” and Kea chief executive officer, Toni Truslove says the resulting data reveals surprising insights about this group and their potential impact on New Zealand, both economically and socially.

“It is clear that the pandemic of 2020 is causing a once in a generation opportunity for New Zealand, as many of our one million-plus expats look to return home seeking safety, family and a new future,” Truslove said.

“Kiwis are coming home as they always have, but the new trend identified sees a high volume of Kiwis returning at the height of their careers, with many of the skills that New Zealand as a nation is in genuinely in need of.

Truslove says the report indicated that the top industry for returners is technology. “And we also see a desire to return from teachers and healthcare workers, giving New Zealand a potential edge over countries with less distributed populations in this closed border era.

“And with a large majority planning to stay permanently, bringing family, pets and investment as well as a desire to give back to their communities, this group has the potential to be incredibly transformative for New Zealand, now and in the future,” Truslove said.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Over 15,000 people completed the survey, from regions including the UK, Australia, US and Canada.
  • 49% are planning to return, with half of those planning to arrive within the next two years.
  • The majority of those intending to return stated that Covid-19 was a key factor in their decision.
  • 75% of those intending to return plan to stay permanently.
  • 75% of respondents have been away for 5+ years, and are primarily aged between 35 and 54.
  • A large majority of respondents will potentially be looking for senior positions, stating their employment category as Senior, Manager, Director, Owner, or C-Suite.
  • 20% of respondents want to invest in a business and 11% intend to start their own business, with 8% intending to employ between 2-5 staff.
  • While 32% intend to reside in Auckland, the remainder are looking to return to regional New Zealand, with 22% leaning towards a region they haven’t lived in before.
  • Nearly a third are returning with a spouse, some bringing children and pets.
  • 65% of returning kiwis indicated they identify with progressive rather than traditional values.

The report’s analysis was supported by Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Economist Julie Fry and Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley.

Sir Peter Gluckman said he believed that Covid-19 is having an undisputed impact on the volume and calibre of returnees.

“Clearly New Zealand’s response in contrast to global impacts has triggered many offshore Kiwis of vast experience and talent to think about returning to contribute to New Zealand. This includes a significant number in an age range and talent pool at the height of their game, that previously had been assumed to be unlikely to return,” he said.

Anna Curzon, Chief Product Officer for Xero agrees, saying that as senior and experienced Kiwis return home, it will be imperative that we make the most of this ‘brain gain’.

“Their experience overseas means they can bring new perspectives to the problems we need to solve. They will help reinvigorate the employment market both as potential employees and employers, and ultimately, give us the ability to continue to innovate and produce world-class products and services,” Curzon said.

On social aspects of the report, the respondents have primarily been away from New Zealand for a not-insignificant amount of time. And for some of the respondents, they will be arriving back to a very different New Zealand from when they left.

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley said we need to welcome these overseas Kiwis home.

“New Zealand has more of its skilled population overseas than any other OECD country. But they are coming home, bringing with them skills and experience that make them an extremely important addition to our economy and society.

“It is critical that if this is to happen, then employers and others need to embrace these new arrivals and use their skills and experience – and their willingness to give.”

Toni Truslove agrees.

“This has never been more true and it seems that New Zealand’s pandemic response, contrasted with the ongoing challenges being faced by those offshore, has reminded Kiwis everywhere what an incomparable nation, environment and culture we have. New Zealand has a unique opportunity to make the most of this strong brand and to adequately plan on how we welcome these Kiwis home’

“To those remaining offshore, please stay in touch, and to those returning, we say, Nau Mai, Haere Mai, welcome home”.

Notes on the Research:

The survey and the analysis have been supported by:
Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman
Economist Julie Fry
Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley
Survey analytics, strategy and design by TRA Research

For more information contact:

PR Representative: Paul Blomfield, 021 970 871, [email protected]

Kea: Ele Quigan 027 773 7779 [email protected]


Media Release – November 2020

View the Media Release here

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