Migration adds fire to house prices

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014

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The relative strength of the domestic economy is acting as a magnet for migration flows, which reached the highest gain in more than 10 years during January.

But as well as more people staying put and an increasing number of New Zealanders returning from Australia, international visitors were also at a monthly record high in January.

Statistics New Zealand figures yesterday showed a net migration gain of 3100 last month, the highest in more than 10 years.

This was chiefly due to fewer citizens leaving for Australia, though there was a net loss of 17,100 migrants across the Tasman in the full January year.

The overall migration trend, however, had mostly been increasing since September 2012.

ANZ said the relative strength of the New Zealand economy appeared to be a major draw-card.

The net outflow to Australia had tapered off from about 38,000 a year ago to 17,100.

ASB said the strong January migration figures reflected more favourable domestic employment prospects, relative to most major economies.

The number of New Zealanders returning from Australia remained high as well, it said.

"We expect these trends to continue given the continued strengthening in the New Zealand labour market, in contrast to the slowing in the Australian market."

But the migration would add to pressure on house prices, particularly in Auckland.

For the year to January, there was a net migration gain of 25,700, which was well up on the net migration of zero for the January 2013 year.

Chinese New Year celebrations also helped lift the number of visitors coming to New Zealand. A total of 292,400 visitors arrived last month, up 12 per cent on the same month a year ago and the highest number ever for January.

Statistics New Zealand population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said the number was boosted by Chinese New Year falling at the end of January.

"New Zealand saw more visitors arrive from China and Hong Kong this month, compared with January 2013, due to the earlier timing of Chinese New Year . . . a popular time for travel to New Zealand," Blackburn said.

Visitor numbers from Australia, Britain and Germany were also up last month, compared to January 2013.

For the year to January 2014 2.75 million visitors arrived, which was 7 per cent more than in the previous period.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said it was positive to see the growth coming from three key markets, being Asia, traditional Western markets and Australia.

International visitor electronic card expenditure was also up 13.3 per cent in January, year on year.

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But New Zealanders also took more trips last month, as 127,800 residents departed in January. This was up 6 per cent on January last year, and in the past year Kiwis took 2.2 million trips. Fairfax NZ

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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