The New Zealand government is set to introduce a package of immigration measures aimed at improving the spread of workers, skills and investment across the country.

At a time when thousands of people from all over the world are moving to New Zealand because it is a good place to live, work and raise a family, there needs to be a better way of matching jobs to demand, according to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

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The aim is to encourage more people to move from overseas to regions outside of Auckland as their skills are needed in other areas such as Christchurch where a major rebuild programme is under way following recent earthquakes.

‘Currently, many new migrants settle in Auckland, which faces infrastructure challenges as it transforms into a truly international city. At the same time, business owners in other parts of New Zealand often struggle to find enough skilled workers to meet their demands,’ said Woodhouse.

‘While there are already incentives to encourage migrants to move to areas outside of Auckland, we can do a better job of matching the needs of regions with available migrants and investors,’ he added.

From November this year the new measures will mean that skilled migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside of Auckland will have their points boosted from 10 to 30.

The new measures will also see the doubling of points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.

The labour market test to provide employers with more certainty will be streamlined earlier in the visa application process and from the middle of 2016 there will a new pathway to residence for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.

‘Unemployment across the Mainland is nearly half that of the North Island, and labour is in short supply. Most workers in lower skilled jobs must apply to renew their work visas every year. Some of these people have worked hard and paid tax to New Zealand for many years. They are valued at work and in their community, but have no avenue to settle here permanently,’ Woodhouse explained.

‘We’re looking at offering residence to some migrants, who have applied at least five times for their annual work visa. In return, we will require them to commit to the South Island regions where they’ve put down roots,’ he added.

Woodhouse also revealed that the Government is considering a new Global Impact Visa to attract high impact entrepreneurs, investors and start-up teams to launch global ventures from New Zealand.

‘I will announce further details later this year, but we envisage this visa would be offered to a limited number of younger, highly talented, successful and well-connected entrepreneurs from places like Silicon Valley,’ he added.