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Next stop Auckland as NZ's record inflow of migrants continues unabated in January

Monday 27th February 2017

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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 Jan. 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. 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 Jan. 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 figures show the growth in the outflow of people from New Zealand is stalling on some measures. Permanent and long-term departures of about 57,000 were virtually unchanged from a year earlier. Kiwi residents heading off on an overseas trip rose 9 percent to 2.64 million.

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.

"Record levels of net migration are continuing to underpin strong growth in New Zealand’s population, reinforcing the outlook for demand over 2017," said Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp.

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. Eight Indian students facing deportation for immigration fraud have agreed to leave New Zealand by today but they are also asking the Ombudsman to review their cases, the NZ Herald has reported.

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.

China made up the biggest source of permanent and long-term arrivals on residence visas, rising 29 percent to 3,403, while the total residence visas rose 18 percent to 16,722. People from the UK made up the biggest group arriving on work visas, up 11 percent to 7,075, while the total on that class of visa gained 11 percent to 42,415.

Those whose visa type classed them as New Zealand and Australian citizens rose 4.6 percent to 37,890.

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