NZ-bound immigrants need regional incentives

One of New Zealand’s leading academics has said that the NZ government should do more to encourage new immigrants to settle in regional areas of the country.

Currently, the high majority of NZ-bound immigrants tend to settle in Auckland, while major cities such as Wellington and Christchurch also attract their fair share. In spite of the current record net-migration levels, though, the rest of the country is still struggling to attract a sufficient number of skilled newcomers.

According to Professor Paul Spoonley, one of the country’s leading immigration experts, this clear discrepancy in where immigrants choose to settle could leave many parts of the country facing huge problems, including regional decline in areas that don’t receive enough suitably qualified newcomers and housing shortages – and by proxy overheating property markets – in those that receive too many.

Speaking on the TV ONE Breakfast show earlier this week, Professor Spoonley acknowledged that you can’t order new immigrants to live in a particular area but suggested the government should follow the example of countries like Canada and Australia by providing “very clear incentives” for new arrivals to live in the regions.

“In order [for immigrants] to get approval to come [they would] need to go to particular centres and stay there for a period,” he explained. “The condition of their approval to come to New Zealand is they’ve got to go somewhere other than Auckland. We can’t afford to allow regions to age and lose their younger population.”

Currently, immigrants who settle outside of Auckland are awarded five bonus points through the skilled points test that all newcomers must meet in order to be awarded a skilled visa.

Australia’s states and territories and most Canadian provinces, meanwhile, operate systems whereby they can target certain immigrants, including those who have skills that may not be in demand on a national level.

Article published 28th November 2014