This webinar conversation between Holly Walker, economist Brad Olsen, and WSP’s Graeme Sharman built on the Helen Clark Foundation’s shared research with WSP into the Kiwi diaspora. Holly, Brad, and Graeme discussed the challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand as we try to maintain our global position despite a public health crisis.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s population is growing, diversifying, ageing, and urbanising. We may be at the start of a new trend towards net positive migration of New Zealanders returning from overseas, and there are strong economic, cultural, and social reasons to encourage this. At some point, our borders will also reopen, enabling new residents to move to Aotearoa from other counties.

We don’t know what the immigration policy settings will look like when they do, but there are strong indications to suggest net migration will not return to the highs experienced immediately prior to the pandemic. While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what Aotearoa New Zealand’s post-pandemic future will look like, we know enough to anticipate and prepare for a number of key policy challenges. Our speakers discussed this as part of the Helen Clark Foundation’s Post Pandemic Futures series of events.

About the panellists:

* Holly Walker is WSP Fellow and Deputy Director of the Helen Clark Foundation. Holly is a former Rhodes Scholar, and was a Green MP from 2011 to 2014. Holly is also a writer, and her book ‘The Whole Intimate Mess’ described her experience trying to combine motherhood with her career as an MP. Holly’s research has focused on lonelieness in Aotearoa New Zealand, low-traffic urban communities, and exploring the issues faced by the returning Kiwi diaspora.

* Brad Olsen is a Principal Economist and Director at Infometrics and a leading economic commentator across New Zealand who focuses on getting useful information to businesses, decision makers, and the public. At present, he is focused on the economic effects of COVID-19 and the reimagination of the New Zealand economy, as jobs are lost, business practices change, and a “new” normal emerges.

* Graeme Sharman leads WSP’s Wellington and Government client strategy and engagement. He joined WSP in April 2021 after five years at AECOM New Zealand, where he was the Head of Government and Industry Affairs. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the aviation, transport and infrastructure sectors as a public sector Advisor and Transport Private Secretary, private sector consultant, and company director. He has worked on both sides of the Tasman, in South-East Asia and in the Pacific. Graeme is driven by the core belief that people flourish and reach their potential when they live in strong, and supportive communities. To this end, an economy and infrastructure focused on people’s wellbeing will lead to a society that is both prosperous and equitable.

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