NZ immigrants ignoring regional areas

Newly released official figures show that plans to encourage more migrants to settle in regional areas of New Zealand are failing.

Since November last year, migrants have been able to get more points towards residency by choosing to settle outside of Auckland. They are eligible for the points if they stay outside Auckland for at least a year.

However, figures released to Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reveal that the majority of migrants are still flocking to Auckland rather than regional areas.

The figures show that since the rule changes came in, just over 51 per cent of skilled migrants chose to base themselves in regional areas of the country. In the corresponding period the year before, prior to the new rules coming in, just under 50 per cent had chosen to do so.

Immigration adviser, David Cooper, told RNZ that the majority of immigrants settle in Auckland through necessity rather than choice.

“The preference isn’t based on the city, the preference is based on where the jobs are,” he said. “So the jobs are in Auckland, so that’s why the migrants tend to go to Auckland; or, as they have been doing, going to Christchurch during the rebuild. Or going to other major centres.”

Professor Paul Spoonley argues that the regions themselves need to do more to push themselves to potential residents.

“I think we need to do more to incentivise migrants to go to regions other than Auckland,” he explained. “And I think the regions themselves need to work harder at recruiting and settling immigrants.

“We don’t want to send immigrants to regions where there aren’t jobs or where there isn’t a welcome or there isn’t the facility to settle them in those regions,” he added.

In a statement, Immigration New Zealand said feedback on its new policy had been positive but it would continue to review its effectiveness to ensure the regions got the help they needed.

Article published 4th October 2016