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Migration dwindles adding to weaker economic outlook

Wednesday 22nd October 2008

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New Zealand immigration growth fell to a seven-year low in the 12 months ended September 30, adding to the outlook for weaker economic growth.

Net permanent long-term migrant arrivals were 4,400 in the latest year, the lowest since the October 2001 year, Statistics New Zealand said. Arrivals almost halved from 8,300 a year earlier.

Migration helped fan a boom in property in the past 10 years as demand for housing drove prices higher. Home-building approvals fell to a 22-year low in August, according to government figures on Sept. 30. The economy contracted in the first half of the year and some economists are predicting growth won't revive until 2009.

Visitor arrivals fell from China, Australia, South Korea and Japan, according to the latest figures.

Tourist and short-term visitor arrivals fell 6% in September from the previous month, the second monthly decline, seasonally adjusted.

Shares of Tourism Holdings, the nation's biggest campervan rental company, tumbled 54% this year and traded recently at NZ$1.07.

By Jonathan Underhill

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