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Migration boom continues but peak passed

NZN 21/07/2016 Sophie Boot

New Zealand's booming migration extended its run of posting new records in June, though economists say it may have peaked.

Annual net migration reached a new record 69,100 in June, rising from 68,400 in the year through May, and marking the 23rd month in a row that the annual net gain in migrants has set a new record, Statistics New Zealand says.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.31 million in the year ended June 30, up 11 per cent on the year earlier.

A swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists have helped offset the impact of a rural sector reeling from weak dairy prices.

At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland. The nation's per-capita growth has been anaemic.

Thursday's data showed the inflow of net migration was steady with the seasonally adjusted monthly gain at 5700, down from a peak of 6200 in November last year.

Visitors on work visas accounted for the bulk of new arrivals, up 11 per cent to 39,118 in the year ended June 30, while those on student visas were up an annual 6.7 per cent at 27,518.

The number of New Zealand and Australian citizens arriving rose 4.5 per cent to 36,428 in the year.

"June net migration data was a smidgen stronger than the last couple of months, but still consistent with our view that monthly net migration has passed the peak," Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said in a note.

Annual net migration would fall over the coming years, as foreigners who arrived on temporary work or student visas over the past three years begin to depart, and as the Australian labour market recovers.

Most holidaymakers came from Australia, with 37,456 travelling to New Zealand in the month.

On an annual basis, Australians made up 537,152 of the 1.7 million holidaymakers, while China was the second biggest pool at 307,504.

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