International migration to Northland is at its highest level in more than 25 years.

Whangarei had a net gain of 513 people as a result of permanent and long-term migration in the year to September, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

The Far North gained 214 and Kaipara gained 115.

The total net gain of 842 for the three districts is the highest in more than 25 years. The districts typically recorded net annual losses in the decade to 2014.


Women's International Newcomers Group Social (Wings) co-ordinator Liane Blair said the group would see five new people on average at each monthly meeting. Some had been in the region longer than others.

Usually they would secure a job before moving to the area, although every case was different.

Many migrants were coming from South Africa, Europe and America, said Ms Blair.

She said new migrants added a lot of job skill to the community. Many also got involved in volunteer work.

Wings co-founder Gina Eiger suggested the migration numbers were high because people weren't leaving.

Ex-pats were also returning to the region and the children of Northland migrants were arriving.

Statistics New Zealand defines permanent and long-term arrivals as people arriving for a stay of 12 months or more, including New Zealanders returning after an absence of more than a year.

Permanent and long-term departures are New Zealanders departing for 12 months or more, and migrants leaving after more than a year.

NZ Association for Migration and Investment chief executive June Ranson said Northland was attracting migrants from India, the UK, Philippines, China and South Africa.

The new migrants included health professionals and hospital service managers.

She said the cost of housing in Auckland would have been part of the reason for the increase in migration to the regions.

The regions were developing, more work was becoming available and people had more money to spend.

Ms Ranson said the regions had been suffering with vacant jobs and migrants were able to fill them.

"These migrants are actually providing a benefit to the economy by paying their taxes."

She said a Government policy offering bonus points toward residency for migrants living in the regions gave them more incentive live to out of Auckland.

"The Government now is starting to show that there are opportunities out there in the regions . . . going right down to Southland where they've been crying out for help."

Migrants would increasingly go to the regions as their friends and families settled there, but that wouldn't happen overnight, said Ms Ranson.