North vs. South - the regional fight for New Zealand migrants

With breath-taking natural surroundings, a relaxed lifestyle and competitive salaries, it's unsurprising that there's been a boost in new arrivals who emigrate to New Zealand via the country's skilled migration programme. While we see many of our clients travelling to the larger cities and towns in the North Island, there are a huge number of opportunities in the less well known pockets of New Zealand, such as the Southland Region. Fighting back, one Southland Mayor is now waging war against NZ's larger cities, in a new drive to bring skilled workers to the southernmost parts of the country.

In the most recent figures released by Statistics New Zealand, the number of permanent and long-term migration arrivals from the UK increased yet again and the majority of them headed straight for the big cities: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. There's no denying the attraction to these cities - Auckland is the country's economic hub, Wellington is NZ's culture capital and Christchurch is a comforting reminder of the Motherland left behind.

However, according to Auckland's ex-Mayor Tim Shadbolt, the Southland region is now the region that many migrants should be considering. His views could be seen as biased, considering he's since become Mayor of Invercargill (the Southland region's principal city), but the recent economic reports seem to back him up.

Boasting about the region's economic status, Mayor Shadbolt stated that "If Southland was a country it would be near the top of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for economic growth)".

So, it must come as some reassurance to Mayor Shadbolt that workers are starting to acknowledge the appeal of the Southland. While Auckland has traditionally taken the lion's share of skilled workers arriving to New Zealand, the trend is now reversing. Immigrants on a New Zealand skilled visa and Kiwis alike are now choosing using Auckland and other major cities as a stepping stone before migrating south.

Obviously keen to continue drawing skilled workers down to the Southland, Mayor Shadbolt has announced another offensive against his old home town, stating his intent to set up a career village to compete against Auckland's Your Career Expo to lure as many workers as possible to his region. Will it be a success? We'll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, the NZ skilled worker civil war rages on...

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the New Zealand Visa Bureau