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Migration, tourism set new record in July

NZN 19/08/2016 By Sophie Boot

New Zealand's booming migration and tourism arrivals set a new record for July this year, driven by an influx of Chinese and Australian, though economists say the net migration trend may be close to a peak.

Annual net migration reached 69,000 in July, down slightly on June which had an annual net gain of 69,100 but setting a new record for the month with a 16 per cent gain on July 2015.

The fall from June snaps a 23-month run of record-breaking annual net gains in migrants, Statistics NZ said.

The increase compared to last July was driven by more migrants from China, South Africa and Australia.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.34 million in the year ended July 30, up 11 per cent on the year earlier.

Friday's data show the inflow of net migration fell slightly with the seasonally adjusted monthly gain at 5,600, down from a peak of 6,200 in November last year and below the average 5,700 per month since then.

The Treasury said in the Budget that it expected annual net migration would peak in June at 70,700, before returning to the long-run average of 12,000 by June 2019.

"Net migration is continuing to run around record levels, but there is some further evidence net migration could be close to peaking, with departures elevated," ASB Bank economist Daniel Snowden said in a note.

"We expect inflows from Australia to slow as the Australian labour market continues its recovery. However, some of that slack is being taken up by students from China and India (a significant and growing number of which are choosing to stay).

"This migration boom has been providing support to the economy, but has also placed strain on NZ's already tight housing market, a point made by the RBNZ," Snowden said.

Of those new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 31,951, or 46 per cent, settled in Auckland, followed by a net 9.9 per cent moving to Canterbury, net 4.7 per cent going to Wellington and net 3.6 per cent settling in Waikato.

Most holidaymakers came from Australia, with 52,384 Australians travelling to New Zealand in the month. On an annual basis, Australians made up 542,208 of the 1.7 million holidaymakers, while China was the second-biggest pool at 310,864.

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