Record immigration tops 71,000

  • 27/02/2017
People on Auckland's Queen St (Getty)
Nearly half of migrants want to live in Auckland (Getty)

New Zealand continued to be a magnet for migrants and tourists in January, breaking 2016's records as the nation welcomed more people from the UK, South Africa and China, and the number of short-term visitors jumped.

Annual net migration rose to 71,305 in the 12 months ended January 31, eclipsing the record 70,600 set in calendar 2016, Statistics New Zealand said.

People arriving as permanent and long-term migrants outnumbered those departing by 128,290 to 56,985 in the latest 12 months - also an all-time high.

Of those arriving, 56,231, or 44 percent of the total were bound for Auckland, more than four times the number headed for the second-most popular destination of Canterbury with 12,785.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.54 million in the year ended January 31, up 11 percent from a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said.

Visitors from Australia rose 6.3 percent to 1.4 million while those from China climbed 14 percent to 422,256, American visitors jumped almost 20 percent to 296,640 and British gained 6.5 percent to 221,136. Japanese visitors rose 14 percent to 101,008, and a strong gain was also recorded from Germans who rose 15 percent to 99,472.

"The strong increase in visitor arrivals in January 2017 coincided with the Chinese New Year," said population statistics manager Peter Dolan.

"Over 54,000 visitors from China arrived in New Zealand in January 2017."

'No preparations'

NZ First leader Winston Peters, who has long called for brakes on immigration, said the strong figures are depriving Kiwis of jobs and housing.

"That's 1370 people a week, most looking for a job and a house to rent or own that the Government has made no preparations for.

"They'll want a GP and they’ll turn up at hospital emergency departments for the free care that the Government has not prepared for."

"Only this morning a caller to RadioLIVE told of going for a job in Christchurch. The employer asked the painter why would he employ him when he could take on two Malaysians for the same price?"

Economic trends

The Reserve Bank, which has been confounded by persistently high migration and its impact on the city of Auckland and its property prices in particular, expects the net inflow to abate as growth reignites in other economies. It is expected to start hiking interest rates as soon as this year in the face of resurgent inflation and sturdy economic growth.

There are some negative trends. While India continues to be the top source of arrivals on student visas, the total number declined 39 percent to 6,457 in the year, which may a reflect a crackdown on bogus or low-wattage courses and fraudulent recruitment agents for educational institutes.

Students from China rose 2.1 percent to 5,612. Total permanent and long-term arrivals on student visas dropped 13 percent to 24,297.

NZN / Newshub.