Record migration to NZ continues

  • 21/04/2016
Record migration to NZ continues

New Zealand set a new annual migration record for a 20th month in March, as more people moved across the Tasman from Australia.

New Zealand had net migration of 67,600 in the 12 months through March 31, Statistics New Zealand said.

Migrant arrivals rose 9 percent to 124,100 while departures slid 2 percent to 56,400.

Net migration from Australia was a gain of 1900, the highest since August 1991 and the sixth straight month of annual gains.

Record migration has helped underpin economic growth, with the economy expanded at a 2.3 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter of last year, boosting demand for housing, vehicles, services and retailing.

Migration has continued at a stronger pace than Treasury and the Reserve Bank expected, keeping wage inflation low even as demand rises.

"Strong growth in the population as a result of net migration has been a key contributor to growth in spending and economic activity more generally, and has boosted the economy's productive capacity," Westpac's Satish Ranchhod said

The seasonally adjusted net migration slowed to 5300 for the March month, from 6000 in February for the lowest monthly increase since May 2015.

"Migration can be volatile on a month-to-month basis, so we're careful not to place too much weight on one month's data," Mr Ranchhod said. "This could be the first sign that things are starting to turn."

The biggest influx was to Auckland, where migrant arrivals rose 10 percent to 52,443 in the March year while Canterbury attracted 12,864 while 9,194 headed to Wellington in the period.

Tourism continued to boom, with visitor arrivals rising 10 percent a record 3.26 million in the year through March.

"China's burgeoning middle class is boosting the pool of potential tourists," ASB Bank's Kim Mundy said. "Combined with increased numbers of holidaymakers from the US and Australia, tourism growth continues to grow strongly."