02 April 2013

Asia dominates New Zealand immigration rates

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Asian countries have become the main source of New Zealand immigration, although the UK remains the largest single contributor.

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The UK still remains the largest single source of New Zealand immigration but Asian countries are catching up.

Asian students already dominated the international education market in the country but now other New Zealand visa streams are also increasingly taken up by applicants from Asian countries.

While the UK still contributes the largest number of permanent residents, the combined total of applicants from China, India and the Philippines is more than double the number of British migrants.

"Asians have moved from being a 'significant number' to 'dominating' most immigration categories," said Paul Spoonley, professor of sociology at Auckland's Massey University.

Professor Spoonley said the change in migration patterns - which have traditionally focussed on West European migrants - would alter New Zealand society, although how quick and how well this change is taken by the local population is hard to predict.

"We haven't been very good at telling New Zealanders about the positive aspects of immigration," he said, adding that it was "hard for people to feel positive about immigration during times of high unemployment and economic downturn".

However, the professor said migrants are even more important to the economy during such times.

"Studies have shown that, overall, migrants contribute far more to the economy and what they pay in taxes than what they take."

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