Wellington, March 21: New Zealand's net gain in migrants -- more arrivals than departures -- hit a new record in the year to the end of February, driven by arrivals from Australia, China and the Philippines, the government statistics agency said on Monday.
The annual net gain of migrants hit 67,400 in the February year, making it the 19th consecutive month to show a record annual net gain, according to Statistics New Zealand, Xinhua reported.
Migrant arrivals reached a new high of 124,300 and departures fell very slightly to 56,900.
The increase in migrant arrivals was led by Australia, which was up 2,200 to 25,800, China (up 2,000 to 11,800) and the Philippines (up 1,500 to 5,500).
Student arrivals made up 23 percent of all migrant arrivals, with most of them - 10,100 - from India, followed by China (5,800) and the Philippines (2,300).
Strong inward migration was commonly cited as one of the main drivers of New Zealand economic growth, particularly with the ongoing collapse of global dairy prices.
When the Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut the official cash rate by 25 basis points to 2.25 percent on March 10, Governor Graeme Wheeler said that domestic growth was expected "to be supported by strong inward migration, tourism, a pipeline of construction activity and accommodative monetary policy."
In its quarterly survey of economic forecasts this month, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research said growth was expected to pick up to an annual average rate of 3 percent in 2018, before moderating to 2.5 percent in 2019.
In particular, expectations for household spending and residential construction had been revised up markedly beyond 2016 as strong migration-led population growth had boosted demand across many sectors and lifted housing demand.