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Migrant arrivals numbered 129,500 in the March year, Statistics New Zealand said today. Migrant departures were 57,600 in the 12 months to March.
Work visas contributed the most to migrant arrivals in the March year with 43,700 visas issued, an increase of 5100.
Returning New Zealand citizens contributed the second highest, with 31,995 (up 1300) visas issued.
The number of student visas dropped 3800 to 23,900 and 16,800 residence visas were issued, an increase of 2000.
Of those arriving, 57,710 were bound for Auckland while 10,080 were headed to the capital city of Wellington.
In the South Island, 12,719 were bound for Canterbury.
In terms of departures, 21,938 left Auckland while 5890 left Canterbury.
China continued to make up the biggest source of permanent and long-term arrivals on residence visas, rising 20% to 3435 in the year to March, while total residence visas lifted 14% to 16,763.
Work-visa migrants from the UK rose 14% to 7341 while those from France were up 14% to 3956.
New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years as economic growth outpaced Australia's, meaning fewer locals moved across the Tasman.
Rising immigration is shaping up to be a key election issue as the number of people coming into the country strains infrastructure and has been blamed for inflaming property markets.
Last week the Government announced it is committed to a "Kiwis first" immigration policy, making it harder for firms to hire overseas with new restrictions on temporary work visas for anyone earning less than the median wage, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said.
Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.543 million in the year ended March, up 8.9% from a year earlier, Statistics NZ said. That number also equalled the previous annual record set in February. However, the 343,800 visitors arriving in March 2017 were down 600 on March 2016.
New Zealand residents took a record 2.68 million overseas trips in the March year, up 10% from the March 2016 year. In March 2017, New Zealand residents left on 192,200 overseas trips, up 11% from March 2016.
- NZ Herald and BusinessDesk