Big jump in migration in New Zealand with Chinese replacing the Brits as top nation

by Ray Clancy on February 1, 2010

New Zealand saw the biggest jump in immigrants in 2009 for six years due to a strategy aimed at boosting its skilled workforce, according to the latest published figures.

During last year some 20,000 permanent and long term migrants arrived in the country, the figures from Statistics New Zealand show. Most of them arrived under the skilled migration category, which is aimed at skilled people under the age of 56 years that meet the category’s health, character and English language requirements as well as the threshold of 100 in the Points System.

Net migration figures are watched closely by the Reserve Bank and housing forecasters as it is an indication of housing demand, particularly as the economy can be boosted by demand which increases new building and construction.

Figures also show that more international students are choosing to study in New Zealand, with numbers rising sharply. The Ministry of Education has released figures which show that between January and August 2009 some 76,562 international fee-paying students took up studies in New Zealand, up 5.5% on the same period the previous year.

International students also injected 7.8% more into the economy, with income from their tuition fees rising from NZ$2.4 million in 2008 to NZ$2.6 million this year and making international education one of the top five earners for the economy.

Experts are citing New Zealand as a value-for-money destination for international students, as the global recession means people are looking for cheaper, more affordable options. Also the immigration process is less complicated than most other countries, allowing students to feel more secure when making applications.

The biggest increase in student numbers came from India and China, where there is a growing number of middle class families who can afford to send their children overseas to study, and Saudi Arabia, because of their government scholarships.

The figures also show that the UK has been ousted as the top nationality in the family immigration table with China as the new leader. And adult migration, those aged twenty years or over, was also headed by Chinese nationals, only the second time this has happened. In 2009 the number of new residents aged twenty or more in New Zealand of Chinese origin was 6,361 as compared to the UK figure of 6,302.

Reasons given for more Chinese arriving include the fact that New Zealand is politically neutral and was recently voted least corrupt nation on earth. The education system is of high quality, the health system adequate and for families there are few better places to raise young children.

China’s one child policy has also meant that many families are gravitating towards countries which promote family togetherness, with some immigration experts predicting that New Zealand could soon become the centre of gravity for Chinese nationals.

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