SAYit Blog
New Zealand's refugee quota

Recently in an interview on The Nation, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy stated she would like to see New Zealand’s quota for accepting refugees increased. This view is also shared with NGOs such as the Refugee Council of New Zealand and Amnesty International. Since Devoy’s comments garnered quite a bit of public attention we wanted to know how New Zealanders feel about the amount of refugees New Zealand accepts per year.

All numbers are again from a UMR SAYit poll of n=1000 New Zealanders conducted between March 31st and April 16th 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

We initially asked: ‘Currently the quota for the amount of refugees which New Zealand accepts per year is 750 refugees. Do you think this is…too little, about right or too high’

Across all New Zealand, 25% thought that the 750 quota was too low while 44% about right and 23% too high. The remaining 8% were unsure. The biggest differences between New Zealanders were which party they vote for.

  • 44% of NZ First voters think the current quota is too high, more than voters of the other four major parties. Slightly more National voters than Labour voters also thought the current quota is too high, 24% and 20% respectively.
  • 37% of Labour voters and 47% of Green voters think the current quota is too little. Far less National voters, 15%, and NZ First voters, 13%, thought the same.
  • 57% of National voters think the quota for refugees is about right, more than voters from the other major parties.

There were also differences between New Zealanders when looking at personal incomes and education level. Those with higher personal incomes, 36% of respondents with personal incomes greater than $70,000, were more likely to think the current quota was too little.

39% of those with a postgraduate qualification as their highest qualification felt the quota was too little compared with 25% of respondents with some form of tertiary qualification and 21% with only secondary qualification or less as their highest form of qualification.


We gave respondents some more information in the following question which asked: ‘The quota of 750 refugees was set in 1987. The New Zealand population has increased about 36% since but the quota has remained the same. As a comparison, Australia takes 5 times more quota refugees per capita than New Zealand. Knowing this do you think that the amount of refugees New Zealand accepts per year should…increase, stay the same or decrease.’

37% of New Zealanders felt the quota should be increased, 39% stay the same while 19% think the quota should be decreased. There was a shift in attitude once respondents were given information regarding the quota limit. 24% of respondents that initially said that the quota limit at 750 is ‘about right’ now think the limit should increase and 20% of respondents that initially said the limit is too high now think the limit should stay the same.

As in the first question there was some variation between the political parties respondents indicated they would vote for. NZ First voters were the least likely to want to increase the quota (19%), followed by National voters (27%), then Labour voters (47%) and a majority of Green voters (57%) think we should increase the quota limit.


What do you think?