Net migration is continuing to come off its peak.
Monthly Statistics New Zealand figures show net migration fell by 6.76% in December 2017 compared to December 2016.
Meanwhile a net 70,000 migrants arrived in the country in 2017 – a 600-person drop from 2016.
Annual net migration reached a record high of 72,400 in the July 2017 year, but has slowed since then.
The latest figures show there were 131,600 migrant arrivals and 61,600 departures in the year to December 2017.
“Most migrants are non-New Zealand citizens,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan says.
“While arrivals of non-New Zealand citizen migrants increased to 99,300 in the past 12 months, there was also an increase in those leaving the country after migrating here in the past.”
In comparison, the number of New Zealand citizens leaving this country intending to live long-term overseas and those returning home almost balanced each other out, which had only a small effect on total net migration.
Migration saw a net gain of 71,100 non-New Zealand citizens and a net loss of 1,000 New Zealand citizens in the December 2017 year.
Migrant arrivals were mostly from Australia (20%), United Kingdom (12%), and China (10%). Three in every five migrant arrivals from Australia were returning New Zealand citizens.
Most migrants arrived in New Zealand on work and student visas. Arrivals on work visas rose 11% in the year ended December 2017. The largest increases in work visas were from the United Kingdom and the Philippines.
Westpac senior economist, Anne Boniface, says: “Looking ahead, we continue to expect annual net migration to slow further as arrivals level off, while departures track higher as people who arrived in New Zealand on temporary work and student visas return home.
“In addition, a likely tightening of immigration rules is also set to see fewer non-New Zealand arrivals and fewer people on work and temporary visas staying in New Zealand permanently. However, this doesn’t appear to be a strong trend yet…
“Slower net migration and the associated drag on population growth is one reasons we expect GDP growth to slow over the coming years. However, to date, net migration has slowed only a little, and remains at very high levels.”