NZ annual net migration slows in April as more non-Kiwis leave

The arrivals gate at Auckland International Airport. Photo: John Sefton

New Zealand's annual net migration continued to slow in April as more non-New Zealanders left the country, though the number of immigrants rose.

Annual net migration was at 67,000 in the year to April, from 71,900 in the year to April 2017, Statistics New Zealand said.

Some 98,300 non-New Zealanders arrived in the April year, up from 97,800 the year before, offset by a lift in the number of non-New Zealanders leaving to 30,200 from 24,500, leading to overall net immigration of non-New Zealanders of 68,100. A net 1,100 Kiwis left in the latest year, reducing total net migration to 67,000.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years, which made rising immigration a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and is blamed for inflating property markets. Net migration peaked at 72,400 in the July 2017 year.

Increasing numbers of migrants came on work visas in the latest year, up 5.4 percent to 46,400 from the previous year to April, with residence visa numbers down 14 percent to 14,300 and student visas dropping 0.6 percent to 23,700.

China continued to be the biggest source of migrants on residence visas, though that dipped 20 percent to 2,800 in the year, while the United Kingdom remained the biggest source of work-visa migrants, up 0.4 percent to 7,400.

Despite the drop in residence visas granted, Chinese migration remained the largest on a net basis, with 8,400 of net arrivals coming from China, though that was down 18 percent on a year earlier. India was the second-largest source at a net 6,800, though Indian net migration was also down 12 percent from a year earlier.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which includes tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.8 million in the April year, up 5.4 percent from a year earlier.