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Saturday, 9 January 2016


New settlers from Asia are giving the regions a wide berth, with migrants from the two main source countries preferring to set up home in Auckland. Measures aimed at improving the spread of migrants across New Zealand were introduced last November, but new data reveals that seven in 10 migrants from China - the country's largest source of permanent migrants - are not opting to live anywhere else but Auckland. AUT University Professor of Population Geography Richard Bedford said New Zealand's largest city is the preferred choice for migrants from China, India and other Asian countries. "They concentrate on Auckland because of the sorts of work they want, the concentrations of their co-ethnics and, for Indians and Chinese, this is New Zealand's only sizeable city," Professor Bedford said. The percentage of migrant applicants claiming points for employment outside Auckland has been declining. In 2004, two out of three principal applicants claimed points for work offers in the regions, but that fell to 51 per cent in 2012. There was a two point increase in the 2013-14 year to 53 per cent, which Professor Bedford attributed to the Canterbury rebuild. In 2014, seven out of 10 principal applicants from the UK claimed points for employment outside Auckland, while it was the reverse for the Chinese with 68 per cent choosing Auckland. "The migrants from Western countries tend to be attracted to the same things as New Zealanders, after all, they are not just coming to NZ to work in Auckland," said Professor Bedford. But with China now displacing the UK as the main source country for migrants, and more migrants coming from Asia, Auckland will become more cosmopolitan and diverse, while the regions remain largely "white". "The smaller towns and rural parts of the country will have populations that are closer to the national average in terms of diversity, and some places will be very heavily dominated by people of European and Maori ethnicities," Professor Bedford added. Changes to policy include tripling the bonus points for skilled migrants with job offers outside Auckland and doubling of points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions. But applicants who claim bonus points will also be required to stay away from Auckland for at least 12 months. "These changes are designed to encourage skilled migrants and entrepreneurs to settle outside of Auckland," Immigration New Zealand spokeswoman Emma Murphy said. Since November, 24 skilled migrant applicants have been approved with triple points - seven from South Africa, six from the United Kingdom, two each from the Philippines, Fiji and the US and one each from Austria, Canada, India, Ireland and the Netherlands. Most intended to settle either in Canterbury, Wellington or the Bay of Plenty. The single visa approved with bonus points under the entrepreneur category was to a Chinese applicant intending to start a business in Waikato. In the last Census, 71 per cent of immigrants from China were found to have settled in Auckland, along with 57 per cent of people from India. India is now the second largest source of migrants, ahead of the UK and behind China. Migrant groups who are most likely to settle in the regions are Australians, Germans (70-71 per cent) and South Africans (50 per cent). Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said the actual number of migrants heading to the regions had not gone down much, but Asian migrants moving to Auckland had spiked. "There is a very distinct economy and labour market in Auckland for immigrants from China and India whereas many of the other groups are recruited for regional labour markets - the Filipinos in healthcare or dairying, the South Africans in the healthcare system," Professor Spoonley said. "Key visa categories - international students, skilled migrants - are dominated by those Asian immigrant groups and occupations and they head for Auckland." Professor Spoonley said it would be a major challenge to encourage Indians and Chinese immigrants to go to the regions, but regional recruitment could be targeted at source countries other than China or India. Although half of Indian applicants claimed points for employment away from Auckland, many moved to Auckland after a few years. About 57 per cent of recent Indian immigrants indicated they lived in Auckland at the last Census. "Increasing the points value is a start but there has to be other policy changes," Professor Spoonley said. "Equally important is the question of what the regions will do to recruit and welcome immigrants and whether there are jobs for them."

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