21 Oct 2013

Migration to NZ highest in 10 years

9:31 pm on 21 October 2013

The number of people moving to New Zealand has hit its highest level in a decade, attracted by a growing economy.

New figures show more New Zealanders are choosing to stay put and more people are moving from overseas to live in the country.

Statistics New Zealand figures show a seasonally adjusted net gain of 2800 immigrants in September.

Australia's weak jobs market is also playing its part, with the number of people leaving to live and work across the Tasman falling to its lowest level in 10 years.

The numbers leaving for Australia has been declining every month since December 2012.

On an annual basis, the net gain was more than 15,200 people - which is above the long-term average annual net gain of 11,300 migrants over the last 20 years. Immigrants from Britain led the way, followed closely by those from China and India.

Statistics New Zealand's manager of population statistics Andrea Blackburn says the figures show that Australia is no longer the drawcard it once was, with the seasonally adjusted net loss of 800 migrants there in September 2013 - the smallest since September 2003.

Ms Blackburn says Christchurch saw a net gain of 3909 migrants over 12 months from September last year, with more than 25% of those arrivals from Britain.

An immigration researcher at Canterbury University, Dr Rosemary Baird, says New Zealanders no longer see Australia as such an attraction, with the mining industry on the wane and a lack of social security.

ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley says net migration figures have changed little overall in the past year, but there has been a shift in the movement of New Zealanders to Australia.

"Primarily, fewer New Zealanders going to Australia and a lot more coming back. We're actually seeing more New Zealanders coming back from Australia than we've seen at any time since 1991."

Mr Tuffley expects net migration to rise to about 25,000 sometime in 2014, which will put added pressure on earthquake-hit Christchurch and Auckland's already heated housing market.