Key: Migration numbers 'badge of honour' for NZ

Key: Migration numbers 'badge of honour' for NZ

In 2015, 70,000 foreigners moved to New Zealand -- with 17 record months in a row -- and despite Labour wanting to "turn the tap down", Prime Minister John Key says this is positive for the country.

Earlier this week Labour Leader Andrew Little caused a stir when he said his party would put a cap on immigration, and even took a dig at the number of foreign chefs in New Zealand.

"We need to moderate our intake at times when we are struggling to find jobs and houses for newly arrived folks as well as locals," Mr Little said on Wednesday.

However Mr Key told The Nation this morning he is happy to see migration record numbers broken "for as long as they add value to New Zealand". "People don’t want to go to some other far-flung because they don't think they can have a good life there," he says.

"So we should see it as a badge of honour that people want to come to New Zealand."

He could not confirm to the programme whether the Government was putting a cap on the number of migrants allowed in New Zealand.

"I'm not going to put a number on it because I think it will vary a bit and I don't think it's a perfect science."

Instead, he thinks migrants are beneficial to the economy.

"Realistically, obviously, we need to be able to accommodate them and while on the one hand they put some pressure on the system… they're also a source of growth and actually they add to the richness of New Zealand.

"The question is: would we be a better country if either less people came, or nobody came, and in my view, we wouldn't be."

Finance Minister Bill English said last month there is already a strain on facilities.

"These surging migration figures, for instance, are putting quite a lot of pressure on early childhood education for growth; on our schools for growth; growth in numbers at our hospitals; prison numbers are going up. So we’ve just got to balance these things up -- the need to accommodate that growth but to stay on track," he told The Nation.

Mr Key says the Government's infrastructure programme has been spending "literally hundreds of millions of dollars building new schools" and expanding the capacity of existing schools.

And there are concerns for the amount of available and affordable houses.

Numbers based on Statistics New Zealand show around 120 people arrive in Auckland every day, despite there only being housing space for 80.

The Government's affordable house price sat at $436,000 two years ago for Auckland, and it's now more than $570,000.

Mr Key says "the question isn't whether prices can or should go up, the question is can you manage the increase in a more acceptable way, and the answer is yes when you have a volume of supply."

He says what Auckland is experiencing with house prices is not different to London, Dubai, Brisbane or Melbourne.

However, he says he would like to make sure that wages keep rising faster than inflation.