Northlanders need to ask themselves whether they are willing to adapt to new cultures if the region is to capitalise on wealthy migrants, a recently arrived Asian couple say.
Figures from Immigration New Zealand show seven out of 10 people arriving from China - the country's largest source of migrants - are choosing to settle in Auckland. Though in November last year, the Government moved to change this through a new offer of triple points towards permanent residency for those with job offers outside major cities.
As of the start of this year, 24 migrants had taken this up, with one coming to Northland.
Eunice Tsai and Boon Choo bought Whangarei's Rose Garden Rest Home six months ago and said while they love life in the "safe, beautiful and friendly" city, locals here are less accepting of their culture than Aucklanders.
"For the past 15 to 20 years a lot of Asian people go to Auckland," Mr Choo said. "So after a few years [Aucklanders] also try to understand the culture. I think Whangarei is different because not many Asian people come here, so the people do not know a different culture ... So they do not click together.
"If Whangarei is willing to get more people coming here they have to think about how to educate people here to tell them, 'there are people from another culture coming' and how to work together and respect each other."
The Taiwanese and Singaporean couple said a lack of support services for migrants in Northland could put fellow Asian people off. As an example, they said there is no Mandarin-speaking GP in Whangarei and few options for learning English as a second language.
"Because we have been in New Zealand more than 10 years, the business opportunity presented and we just came up, we don't need a lot of support," Ms Tsai said. "For the new immigrant they need a lot of support ... that's not done enough of."
Asian migrants also simply did not know anything about Whangarei and more advertising was needed, Mr Choo said: "Information [about Northland] is not really translated to other Asian people and new immigrants.
"... So if nobody knows how good it is, they will not come."
He said the city's leaders and residents must consider whether growth from overseas migrants was something they wanted. "We need to ask, are they willing to have more Asian people come in to do business? The structure of the population, the culture and way of doing things will be changed. So first the question is, are people here willing to accept this change?"