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The political fires of immigration got another stoking yesterday when Statistics New Zealand released its May figures showing yet another record number of new arrivals.
Annual net migration reached 72,000 in May. Migrants numbered 130,400 and migrant departures numbered 58,400 in the year ended May.
Population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said the continued high level of net migration in the May year was driven by non-New Zealand citizens migrating to New Zealand.
Of the 130,300 migrant arrivals, three out of four were non-New Zealand citizens.
On a net basis, New Zealand citizens leaving and returning to New Zealand almost balanced each other out in the past 12 months.
There was a net migration gain of 73,000 non-New Zealand citizens in the past year.
China topped the list of migrants with 12% of the 98,300 non-New Zealand citizen arrivals, he said.
Ten percent were from the United Kingdom and another 10% were from Australia.
Annual migrant arrivals from India fell 31% to 9200 in the year, mainly due to a 40% drop in annual student visa arrivals.
Offsetting the Indian migrant drop were more arrivals from the United Kingdom, up 12% to 15,100, and South Africa, up 59% to 5000.
Work visas rose 5500 in the year to 44,500; Kiwis and Australians made up 38,300, up 2000; student visas fell 4000 to 23,700; and residence visas rose 1600 to 16,700.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the Government remained "brazenly deaf" to the concerns of New Zealanders with the torrent of immigration soaring to another record level.
The Government could not blame high net migration on returning Kiwis as New Zealand citizens leaving and returning practically balanced each other out.
"Even the mainstream media and the Labour Party, who slammed NZ First for years as racist and xenophobic in our call for greater restraint over immigration numbers, have changed their tune and called for cuts.
"Everyone sees it, just as they see the Auckland housing crisis which continues to be exacerbated by mass immigration."
The Government and Prime Minister Bill English were tone deaf and in denial, Mr Peters said.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said New Zealand’s relatively strong economy and labour market appeared to be the key driver of elevated net migration.
The number of arrivals on work visas continued to climb and now made up 34% of all arrivals compared to 31% a year ago.
Departures increased slightly for the second consecutive month, but remained at low levels, he said.
Australia’s labour market had been slow to improve and measures of underemployment remained high.
New Zealand’s labour market had recorded strong job growth over the past year and that would continue to attract offshore labour and retain New Zealanders who might otherwise consider moving to Australia, Mr Tuffley said.
In a separate release, Statistics NZ reported visitor arrivals were up 10% in the May year to a new annual record high of more than 3.6million.
Of those 3.6million overseas visitors, 40% were from Australia and 11% were from China. Most came on holiday or to visit family and friends.
At a glance
• Net migration reaches 72,000 in May.
• Kiwis leaving and returning balance out.
• Chinese provide most migrations, followed by United Kingdom and Australia.
• Record annual visitor numbers.