New Zealand’s Migrant Asian Nurses: Recent Trends, Future Plans


  • Léonie Walker New Zealand Nurses Organisation
  • Jill Clendon New Zealand Nurses Organisation



New Zealand, migrant, nurses, Asian, workforce


Nurses make up the largest component of the health workforce. New Zealand currently has around 47 thousand registered and enrolled nurses, of whom, about a quarter originally trained overseas. For the last six consecutive years, new overseas registrations have approximately equalled or exceeded the number of New Zealand trained new registrations, with 19 per cent of all new registrations in 2013 coming from India, China and South East Asia. The average age of nurses in New Zealand is now 48, and attracting and retaining younger nurses (both New Zealand and overseas educated) will be essential if the predicted increase in demand for nurses due to an ageing population coincides with peak retirement of older nurses in approximately fifteen years. Using multiple data sources, this paper summarises these changes and reports the findings related to career plans reported by Asian respondents from a recent New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) survey (the New 2 NZNO study) that have potentially serious implications for the sustainability of New Zealand’s nursing workforce. Foremost among these is that modelling assumptions currently proposed to ensure an adequate nursing workforce are likely to severely overestimate the effectiveness of relying on internationally trained nurses to fill a predicted skill shortage long term.


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