Homelessness the downside of 'positive' immigration story - Paula Bennett

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has admitted there are more people homeless in New Zealand than there was when National took office.

But she says the reasons for that tell a "positive story".

Speaking to The AM Show on Friday, Ms Bennett said New Zealand's quick recovery from the global financial crisis (GFC) and the growing threat of terrorism overseas has seen people flock to our shores.

"New Zealanders decided they wanted to come back to New Zealand and stay here, so as a consequence we've had more people in this country pretty much in a really short period of time, and that has put pressure on the housing market - there's no two ways about it," she said.

But Statistics New Zealand data shows in the last 40 years, there has not been a single year in which more Kiwis came home than left.

The exodus peaked in 2012, which saw a net 39,507 New Zealanders depart. It's since recovered to a net outflow of 1284 Kiwis. On a net basis, most immigrants in 2017 have been from China, India, the UK and the Philippines.

Net New Zealand migration.
Net New Zealand migration. Photo credit: Statistics NZ

At the same time, immigration has hit new highs - hitting more than 72,000 this year, up from an average of around 18,000 a year under Helen Clark.

Net migration statistics.
Net migration statistics. Photo credit: Statistics NZ

Regardless of where new arrivals come from, Ms Bennett says they've put pressure on the housing market.

"It's those at the bottom end who feel the effects of it. But no one expected us to come out of the GFC so quickly, and for the rest of the world to really suffer the effects of terrorism that they did, which meant that New Zealand became a really safe place. People wanted to be here, stay here and move here.

"As a consequence of that growth we have seen pressure... it's a positive story."

On Thursday, the Government announced it would put $27 million towards the Auckland City Mission's plans to build 80 new units for rough sleepers and vulnerable Kiwis.

Ms Bennett brushed off criticism the announcement was too little, too late to help the city's thousands of rough sleepers, saying the Government had to wait for the City Mission to finalise its plans.

"It's more been them getting the plans that they wanted. It's their project, that one. We're merely putting funding into it."

Newshub.

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