New Zealand Initiative on immigration: Part 6 The economists

Chapter 4 of the New Zealand Initiative’s immigration advocacy report is headed “It’s the Economy, Stupid”.   In opening it, they note

While the effects of immigration are broad, the economic impacts often receive the most focus.

That is certainly true of economists, although I’m less sure it is generally true.  But my background is in economics, and I came to thinking about immigration, and immigration policy, in the context of thinking about New Zealand’s disappointing long-term economic performance.

In my previous couple of posts I’ve touched on the Initiative’s treatment of the impact of immigration on government finances and house prices.  But chapter 4 gets to what many economists will think of as the most important economic dimensions of immigration: what it does for productivity and for material living standards.  Economists often get queasy about distributional questions, but since we are talking about policies made by national policymakers I have no problem in narrowing down these questions mostly to the impact on the people already in the country (“natives”), rather than to the latest/next wave of migrants.    As an economic matter,in any particular country policy-controlled immigration of non-citizens should benefit “natives” as a group.  If it doesn’t, the policy should be reconsidered. But answering that question, in any specific country or even more generally, isn’t easy.  There aren’t that many countries that have had significant inward non-citizen immigration, and of course some of the most successful emergent economies of the last century have had very little immigration at all – Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.   Sample sizes get very small very quickly.  Time and place probably matter quite a bit too.  Most economic research suggests that emigration from Ireland in the 19th century materially benefited those left behind.  But the dominant economists’ argument today would assert that the Irish are now benefiting from substantial inward migration.

As the Initiative notes

By and large, economists favour immigration….

The Initiative’s interpretation on this is that

…as migrants benefit the countries they move to through knowledge spill-overs and global connectedness. Growing the population through immigration also produces ‘economies of agglomeration’ (i.e. the abilities of larger, denser populations to support more commerce and knowledge exchange).

Their prior seems to be not only that non-citizen immigration will benefit natives, but that a growing population –  whether from immigration or natural increase – will also raise productivity.  And the impression I’ve taken is that they seem to believe this is necessarily (or at least almost certainly) true wherever the immigration occurs.

As a descriptive statement, I think there is little doubt that economists generally do favour a fairly open approach to immigration.  But not all the evidence the Initiative adduces even on this point is quite as persuasive as it might first appear.  For example,

An open letter emphasising the benefits of immigration to the US president and Congress in 2006 had no difficulty amassing more than 500 signatures, the majority from practising economists.

Which sounds quite a lot, but the US is a country of around 320 million people.  In New Zealand –  with 4.7 million people –  the equivalent of that 500 signature open letter would be one signed by seven people.    In the New Zealand Initiative’s own offices they just about muster that number, “the majority from practising economists”.   I could probably find seven people, mostly practising economists, in New Zealand to sign letters for or  against free trade, for or against capital gains taxes, for or against almost anything.

But there is better data than that.

The IGM Economics Experts Panel regularly surveys economists on policy questions. Almost all experts agree that high-skilled immigration benefits existing residents, and the majority agree unskilled immigration would benefit existing residents.

It is worth remembering that these surveys are of economists at US universities, answering in a US context.  Looking through the list, many of the respondents are themselves immigrants, likely predisposed to believe their own migration was mutually-beneficial.    And, in the US, of course the overall rate of legal non-citizen immigration is much smaller than that in New Zealand, and the selection criteria are strongly skewed towards family reunification, rather than emphasising skills.

I’ve seen three IGM questions about immigration.

The average US citizen would be better off if a larger number of highly educated foreign workers were legally allowed to immigrate to the US each year.

Of the respondents, 89 per cent agreed, and none disagreed.  Of course, even sceptics of immigration might be inclined to favour more highly educated immigrants, if it were at the expense of the current family focus.

In asking about low-skilled immigrants, there were two questions.  The first was

Question A: The average US citizen would be better off if a larger number of low-skilled foreign workers were legally allowed to enter the US each year.

52 per cent of respondents agreed (and most of the other responses were “uncertain”)

Question B: Unless they were compensated by others, many low-skilled American workers would be substantially worse off if a larger number of low-skilled foreign workers were legally allowed to enter the US each year.

Note that the phrasing is “substantially worse”, not just “slightly” worse.   50 per cent respondents agreed with this proposition, and against most of the other responses were “uncertain”.

There was a more recent poll specifically about the immigration of people with advanced degrees in science and engineering, again a two-parter.

Question A: Allowing US-based employers to hire many more immigrants with advanced degrees in science or engineering would lower (at least temporarily) the premium earned by current American workers with similar degrees.

71 per cent agreed with that proposition.

Question B: Allowing US-based employers to hire many more immigrants with advanced degrees in science or engineering would raise per capita income in the US over time.

86 per cent agreed with that proposition.

So that even among this panel of economists, who believe that US natives generally benefit from immigration to the US, there is quite clear recognition that low-skilled immigration would be likely to disadvantage substantially many low-skilled American workers.   Consistent with this, they also appear to believe that importing lots of any particular type of worker will lower the relative returns of Americans working in that field (if it is true of people with advanced degrees in engineering and science, it is no doubt true to a greater or lesser extent in other specialities –  including perhaps chefs and aged care workers?)

My point here is not to dispute that most economists are quite sympathetic to immigration.  And even most sceptics of immigration won’t have much problem with genuinely highly-skilled migrants.  But when the reality is that the average migrants (and perhaps more importantly the marginal migrant) isn’t that skilled at all, then even in the US context, the views of economists suggest that distributional considerations matter.  As Professor George Borgas, a leading researcher on the economics of immigration, at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, put it in a recent New York Times op-ed, in thinking about immigration policy a key  question for policymakers is “who are you rooting for?”  Borgas reckons there are small overall gains to natives as a whole from immigration to the US, but that the distribution of those gains is such that people at the bottom of the skill distribution are clearly worse off.

In typically flamboyant style, the Initiative talk of economists “loving” immigration, and pose the question “Why do they love it so much?”.      New Zealand doesn’t get much specific attention in the Initiative’s report, but it is as well to remember that in this country there was a long tradition of leading economists being really quite sceptical of the economic gains from immigration to New Zealand –  I wrote about one prominent example here.

But lets stick with the current overseas perspective for now.  The Initiative seek to explain:

To understand why economists generally favour immigration, think of the opposite. If immigration was not generally beneficial, why stop at the national level? Migration flows occur far more significantly within than across nations. Would stemming these domestic flows improve outcomes? Would Wellington’s economy improve if we prevent Christchurchians and Aucklanders flooding in?

And, of course, there is an important element of truth in this argument.  The ability of people to leave Taihape or Invercargill as the economic opportunities declined in those places, relative to other places in New Zealand, has been an important part of internal adjustment.    There is no actual evidence that natives of Wellington or Christchurch benefited from people migrating from Taihape or Invercargill, but we can be pretty sure the migrants themselves benefited (or they wouldn’t have moved), and there are reasonable grounds to suppose that the people who stayed behind in those declining towns also benefited.  One of the other basic insights of economics –  not, I think, mentioned in the Initiative report at all, but strongly backed by empirical research on, say, pre World War One migration –  is that mobility of resources encourages what economists call “factor price equalisation”.   In other words, wages in Wellington or Christchurch might actually be a bit lower than otherwise as a result of the internal migration.

Of course, we don’t stop internal migration, because that is what being a country (or at least a free country) means.  We share some sense of common identity across Auckland, Dunedin, Kawerau and Westport, that we mostly don’t share with people in other countries.  It is the similarities that matter –  we are ‘New Zealanders’, whatever that means when one digs down –  and in particular it is the right to dwell in this land that is common to us all.    It is an arbitrary line to some extent, but little different in concept to the notion, practised by us all, surely, in which we treat family differently than we do outsiders.

As the Initiative notes, economists (rightly) emphasise the potential gains from trade.   Winding up the rhetoric they argue

Larger and more diverse markets of potential traders have more opportunity for specialisation and greater advantages from trade.  These insights lead economists to broadly favour free movement of goods, capital and money – so why not labour, too?

Indeed, the arguments are similar – immigration improves economic performance for much the same reason international trade improves economic performance. Individuals vary in their capabilities, and freedom of movement allows people to move to where their skills are needed most. The fewer the constraints on labour mobility, the more countries prosper. So large is the potential prosperity gain that open borders are estimated to double world GDP.  The implications of economic theory are clear: New Zealand can benefit from those who are like us and those who are not. Those  who have skills similar to those of New Zealanders can help sectors that hold comparative advantage to reach efficient scale. Those with different skills can improve the market at the micro level by creating new industries or rejuvenating old ones with new ideas.

New Zealand benefits by embracing those who can offer new and challenging ideas and perspectives.  Simply by being from another country, migrants help bridge the gap between New Zealand and the rest of the world. Global connectedness is vital for
prosperity, and welcoming migrants can help New Zealand improve those connections.

There is a lot one could unpick here.  Even if they won’t actually call for it as policy, the New Zealand Initiative want us to think of “open borders” as the natural default, which only fear, racism, selfishness or whatever holds us back from.

But note that the exercise in which open borders –  no immigration restrictions anywhere –  could double world GDP assumes that massive numbers of people (hundreds and hundreds of million) migrate, and yet in doing so they do not change what it was  –  the culture/institutions etc –  that made the country they migrate to rich and successful.  No one takes that very seriously.  People bring their cultures with them –  which isn’t just tastes in food, but views about how things are and should be done.  That the ancestors of today’s European citizens of New Zealand did so is a big part of why New Zealand is a fairly wealthy country today.  But that migration involved people moving from the then-richest, and most economically successful, culture/country to lightly-populated temperate New Zealand.   In small numbers, there is little doubt that migrants from poor countries to rich countries benefit, often very considerably, and in doing so they don’t change the recipient country/culture much.  In large numbers, one simply can’t make the assumptions the authors of that exercise did.

Note too that there is no sense in any of this that fixed factors of production might matter.  Land and natural resources are the most obvious example.    They may not be overly important in some places –  one might think of Singapore or Hong Kong as examples, or at a city level somewhere like London.  On the other hand, no one doubts that natural resources are hugely important to the prosperity of Norway or Australia –  not the only factor of course (the human capital to exploit the resources matters a lot), but hugely important nonetheless.  From memory, Norway had about twice as much North Sea oil and gas reserves as the United Kingdom, but with less than a tenth of the population of the UK, that natural resource might much more difference to the living standards of the average Norwegian, than it did to the average Briton.   The economics of adding lots more people to a particular place depend a lot on what that place has going for it.    And yet the New Zealand Initiative pay no attention to this consideration at all –  barely mentioning that New Zealand is the most remote significant economy in the world, and demonstrably still heavily dependent on fixed natural resources.  There is simply no obvious reason why the economics of immigration should look quite the same for the United Kingdom or the Netherlands as for Kuwait or New Zealand.

Perhaps large-scale immigration to New Zealand –  of the sort the Initiative champions – has been, and will be, beneficial to New Zealanders, but you can’t just get away with asserting it, while largely ignoring key facets of the New Zealand economy.

Should alternative perspectives be welcome?   Well, mostly yes.  And so to that extent I’ll agree with the Initiative when they claim that

New Zealand benefits by embracing those who can offer new and challenging ideas and perspectives

But the proportion of migrants who will actually offer “new and challenging ideas and perspectives” is inevitably pretty small –  as no doubt it is for natives –  and most ideas and knowledge simply aren’t transmitted primarily by immigration.  I’d be happy to see us welcome leading researchers as migrants, but mostly you’d have to ask yourself –  what no doubt they’ve already asked themselves –  why would they come (to a small, remote, not-overly-prosperous corner of the world), rather than staying nearer global centres of knowledge-generation and dissemination.  Typically they won’t.

The Initiative goes on

Simply by being from another country, migrants help bridge the gap between New Zealand and the rest of the world. Global connectedness is vital for prosperity, and welcoming migrants can help New Zealand improve those connections.

Silly extreme examples illustrate how empty this rhetoric is.  Half a million Syrian immigrants or Turkmen, Bolivian or Zambian immigrants would be exceptionally unlikely to strengthen our “global connections” in ways that enhance our national prosperity (they’d happily come, to a much richer country).   In considering national policy, you simply can’t –  or shouldn’t –  operate at this sort of high level of generality.  Evidence abour New Zealand, and analysis of New Zealand, illuminated by perspectives from other similar countries is surely critical to reaching robust policy perspectives on what immigration policy we should adopt.

I should stress, as I have noted for many years, that my main interest is New Zealand (as I hope the New Zealand Initiative’s is).  So my main interest is not whether immigration is sometimes good for natives, or even generally good for natives, in some or most other countries. My interests is in whether modern (say, post-war) immigration to New Zealand has been, and is likely to be, good for New Zealanders.  Since places differ, and location oftenr matters in economics, one cannot simply assume that what is good in some places (even most places) is good in all places.  As I noted, the number of countries with large scale immigration programmes (and hence the effective sample size in any study) is small.   In an age when personal connections seem to matter more than ever, particular on the production of things other than natural resources,  and when more and more production is done through global supply chains, there is at least a reasonable prima facie case for why conclusions one might reach about immigration to the Netherlands or Singapore might be different from those for New Zealand.

And all that is even before considering New Zealand’s actual economic experiences over the decades of high non-citizen immigration, including the (barely mentioned in the Initiative report) huge exodus of our own citizens over recent decades.  In my next post, I’ll look at some of the papers the Initiative cites in their report, and look at their response to my own arguments,  but it is worth remembering that in no other country I’m aware of has there been both a huge exodus of natives, and a huge policy-controlled influx of non-citizens.  A diagnostician would usually pay some attention to the voluntary market-driven outflow of natives in considering the prospect that government-led large inflows would benefit the natives who remained.

25 thoughts on “New Zealand Initiative on immigration: Part 6 The economists

  1. When it is industry that is driving immigration, the government is reacting from this industry demand. Clearly natives are gaining from its businesses that are thriving and from the jobs that these NZ businesses can generate. No business want the prospect of declining sales as population declines. Productivity measures may look good but as businesses start to fail, GDP falls and as a consequence it becomes a spiralling death trap ever downwards. The exodus of natives is pretty much due to already the lack of jobs. Fewer jobs from declining businesses is not going to attract our young natives back. Recent statistics have indicated that the huge net loss is now mitigated by those natives that have decided to return to participate in our growing economy.


  2. “In typically flamboyant style, the Initiative talk of economists “loving” immigration, and pose the question “Why do they love it so much?”.”

    Reminds me of the McDonald’s commercial.

    There was another economist not doing the profession any favours last week – I’m sure you read that piece, but perhaps you haven’t seen this blog entry that rebuts it;

    Third chart of particular interest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. I had a modicum of sympathy for Tony’s perspective – lifestyle choices etc – but, yes, his comments seemed to fundamentally misrepresent the extent to which regulation has put land prices thru the roof, and rendering first home purchase a pipedream for many, whereas in my parents’ generation it was taken for granted (small house on a bare section in a new suburb and all that).


      • On the lifestyle choices, I liked the 22 years of not going out for brunch (on a daily basis) needed to save the deposit for an AKL property at the (current) median house price. Prices in AKL however have a huge speculative element to them however – its not just a land scarcity thing. Someone should do a study of the churn up there as compared to nationwide. There has been an over-abundance of ‘next greater fool’ in that market – which to me doesn’t reflect either a supply or demand function.

        This example was pointed out on another blog this morning;

        Flipped every other year – the ‘next greater fool’ scenario. Check out its 2014 CV. The inflation since then is (to my mind) purely the speculative effect. Multiply that across the AKL market and just think of the capital gains revenue the government has squandered over this time.

        We would be swimming in far, far greater surpluses – that’s for sure.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I was quite taken by the 22 years as well. But I’m still old-fashioned enough to have “take care of the pennies….” in the back of my mind.

        Re speculation, I agree there is likely to have been a component of that, but the speculative opportunities are made possible by land scarcity – – otherwise land prices tend to revert relatively quickly.

        Re CGT, we differ. Yes, there would be a lot more revenue right now, but (a) there would also be less turnover, and (b) revenue would be flattered at this stage of the cycle, encouraging extra spending, and leaving a large hole in the fiscal accounts when the housing market flattened out or reversed (as happened in Ireland).


      • In my opinion – the NZ Government made a fatal mistake when it set the “significant investor program” bar at $1½ million – invest it wherever you like – indirectly it set the base price of an AKL house at $1½ million – for those with funny money – and that’s exactly what happened

        No secret – in the public domain since 2012 – refer observer Basel Brush at

        Basel Brush in 2012
        New Zealand has a significant investor visa program requiring an investment of $1½ million.
        With hindsight you could see (and so could the authorities at that time) what was going on
        An off-shore buyer pays $1½ million for a house worth $800k without blinking or inspecting the property
        That is an outright purchase of NZ citizenship and NZ passport and NZ residency Without regard to the spill-over consequences into other property

        Basel Brush July 2012
        I was told today of a local Asian RE agent buying on behalf of a China buyer, sight-unseen, a property in Botany area. The price negotiated is

        $1.6m for a property with a CV of $800k


      • I don’t think that all speculative opportunities are made possible by land scarcity. Sure, on the periphery that is very much the case… i.e., re-designate all land in Drury from rural/rural residential to residential for example, and the land value in Papakura plummets.

        But I suspect it will make little difference to the price of land in Remuera. What might lower land value on a m2 basis in Remuera is intensification in the general vicinity. Initially those re-zoned for intensification will benefit land-value wise and with time everyone will want to be re-zoned in order to capture that benefit. What is needed in Drury is vacant land with no covenants attached – so that there is a secondary market for the renovated bungalows in Remuera that will need to go to accommodate intensification.

        But, these are just my ‘in a perfect world’ aspirations. Vested interests both at the centre and the periphery will fight such a scenario all the way. And of course, with intensification at the centre – stormwater infrastructure will I suspect, need to be significantly upgraded – not to mention wastewater capacity issues.


      • Gareth Morgan’s TOP wants to tax home owners rather than speculators. Speculation is a mugs game. It is actually rather foolish to think that speculators make a huge profit. They merely make the difference between yesterday’s market price versus today’s market price.and have to pay tax on it. The most profit is made by home owners who sit on non productive assets. In order to move investments from non productive assets to more so called productive assets ie speculation in the share market is by taxing the homeowner.


      • Yes, I’ve been reading all of the TOP policies in full. Now waiting on the UBI one – then one can at least consider their policies for both sides of that tax/welfare ledger together.. which was the fundamental point of the Big Kahuna! That’s the only reason it deserved the title they gave it 🙂 Why they ever launched half a Kahuna I’ll never know.


  3. Thank you once again Michael and glad you touched on the resources aspect. More people reduces the individuals share of resources. I know economists tend not to take much notice of undeveloped natural resources but it is a very real part of our endowment whichever way you look at it.
    I have grave concerns for the state of our inshore marine habitats due to overfishing; crayfish and Hapuku are now effectively extinct in the Hauraki Gulf and in deep trouble elsewhere on our northern coast. The official line is that it’s business as usual from the government agency responsible (MPI) with the outrageous objective to double seafood exports. Snapper is at less than 20% of the natural level (and far worse in some areas) with sever consequences for our reefs and inshore marine habitats.
    In effect our seas, rivers, our environment are being sacrificed to support our swelling cities; cities that seem to be hopelessly ineffective at delivering much in the way of overseas earnings yet this is where the bulk of recent immigration is ending up. What’s the matter with them.
    Seems like they’re operating the old “mowing each others lawn” economy at it’s worst. Who’s paying for the lawnmowers and petrol though?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You should be more concerned with the billions of dollars of oil reserves that we do not extract due to marine reserves concerns. That oil reserve will soon be worth zero when the oil age passes into the solar power age of cheap and free energy.


      • Thank you for pointing out what I should be concerned with Getgreatstuff but there are no “billions of dollars of oil reserves” or at least none that can be exploited economically at today’s prices. There has never been any oil exploration even suggested anywhere near our pathetically tiny marine reserves.
        When is all your “free energy” happening? Just think what a cock up it would have been if we started one of these hugely expensive multi decade oil fields and the oil’s worth nothing.
        I think you are just making things up – a bit like the Nats cunning plan a few years back telling us how rich we’d be if we ripped into up our national parks.
        That’s not rich; that’s desperate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not our costs to develop. We would have just sold the rights to mine and would have benefitted from the jobs and from the taxable export revenue these past 20 years if not for Do Gooder groupies blocking off shore drilling and mining. Anyway too late now. The oil age is passing fast. Tesla is rolling out its first 500,000 electric cars and setting up giga factories to replace all gas guzzling cars. The first electric autonomous drone taxi services kick off in Dubai, China puts into operation the first 300 fully autonomous and electric buses, France requires all new buildings to have a green roof or solar panned roofs, etc etc


      • New Zealand’s Taranaki Basin is located on the West Coast of the nation’s North Island.

        The large basin covers some 118,000 square miles, and yet it has been quite nearly untouched…

        The first wildcat well was drilled in the area in 1950. Since then, around 400 have been drilled — but none have breached the edge of the shelf. This has left much of the resources virtually undiscovered.

        To date, the basin has proven oil reserves of 534 million barrels, while gas reserves total 7.3 trillion cubic feet. But considering the still-low exploration of the area, the actual numbers could be much higher.

        Just an example of untapped oil reserves. Oh well lost opportunity when oil prices hit a high of $100 a barrel and do gooder groupies prevented that extraction. What a waste. Bye bye billions of oil export dollars that would have improved our productivity poverty immensely.


  4. Sorry, the economics and lack of substantial resources are what stopped offshore oil development. In any case the big international oil companies profits flow to their overseas owners, they pay little in tax, tend to employ their own mobile international workforce and pay an embarrassingly modest royalty of 5%. Have no doubt; they would be here if it was worth their while.
    What you’re saying is nothing new (usually coming from city based ignoramuses) – how we need to trash our environment to cover their lifestyle. The Moa, the Kauri tree, the lowland forest, the whales and seals the fish in the sea, the gold and coal – degraded or destroyed beyond recovery. We are better than that surely. Perhaps you could turn your attention to working out how our centres of consumption, our cities, can start paying their way.


    • City folk wastes is self contained. Blame the 10 million cows that only generate $10billion in GDP but contributes to dumping millions of tons of chemical wash to get rid of lice and ticks and excrement into the environment and subsequently washing into rivers and the coastal waters with green and red and bacterial infection from rain water runoff. Nothing to do with cities, our waste is treated. Everything to do with cow dung droppings everywhere. Our decimated fisheries is due to this untreated excrement.


    • Auckland with 1.5 million people generate $75 billion in GDP. Auckland Airport handles 18 million inbound and outbound passengers a year. Nothing really to do with city folk. Blame the regions, tourists and students that just keep coming into Auckland.


    • 2012 MBIE paper, New Zealand’s oil and gas industry is already making good returns with potential for much more development. It is the country’s fourth-largest exporter, behind dairy, meat and forestry. It directly employs more than 3,700 people and supports more than 3,900 jobs in other parts of the economy. Expected future royalties from the current production of oil and gas are valued at $3.2 billion in present value terms.
      If exploration continues as it is now, production from new fields could yield $5.3 billion in royalties in net present value terms. Under a higher exploration scenario, however, this figure could be $9.5 billion in net present value terms. Much of the government’s work programme in this area is targeted at achieving increased exploration and production in New Zealand.

      Click to access Economic%20contribution%20and%20potential%20of%20NZs%20oil%20and%20gas%20industry.pdf


      • 2012 -that was at the height of the fantasy that Brownlie and Key were peddling, please try and keep up Not a worthwhile single offshore oil development outside Taranaki has been found since despite some extremely generous concessions from “our” government.
        Add oil and gas to that list of extractive industries gone or in terminal decline. Moas, whales, seals, kauri gum, fish, native trees, gold, coal and so on. I was hoping you were going to come up with a cunning plan to get our cities generating overseas income.


      • The Character and heritage societies, the bird and fish societies, the Auckland 2040 groupies will simply block any large scale productive industry say for example A Tesla giga factory. The groupies have blocked monorail to the Milford sounds, blocked stadiums, blocked large scale hotel development, blocked high density, blocked anything that looks like progress to keep things the same.


      • Well at least there is a study that was done, one of many at the time. Nothing much has progressed due to groupie objections time and time again.Much better than your pure rhetoric with zero substance. Let’s see your references that supported your pure rhetoric?


      • Is that it?
        Anadarko completed their drilling programme on the field you refer to and came up empty handed. The protests delayed things a little but the drilling was completed.
        “Anadarko had previously quit a deep water Taranaki Basin prospect, where exploratory drilling failed to turn up commercially viable oil or gas deposits.”
        I don’t know how many times you need to be told the same thing but, for the last time:THERE HAS BEEN NO OIL DISCOVERED


      • Of course there is oil otherwise why keep looking? And also our 5th largest export after unproductive International students. Anyway, as long as they are looking they are spending export currency in NZ. All adds to the productivity equation. Its great they even bother to pay millions to come have a look. The engineers have to eat. They have to spend up big in the local economy.

        “More than 100 people, some in kayaks, have thrown an “unwelcoming party” for Statoil and Chevron on Wellington Harbour.”We’re making it clear to them and to the Government that we won’t stand for a future full of fossil fuels,” Oil Free Wellington spokeswoman Michelle Ducat said on Sunday.Those two oil companies have contracted the world’s largest seismic blasting ship, the Amazon Warrior, to look for oil off Wellington’s coast.”


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