Permanent and long-term migration to Whanganui is at its highest level in more than 25 years.

Whanganui had a net gain of 168 people as a result of permanent and long-term migration in the year to September, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

That was the highest net gain in more than 25 years, nearly triple last year's 59 and up on 68 in 2014.

Vijeshwar Prasad, president of the Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Wanganui, said he'd seen a gradual increase in new migrants.


He said many of the migrants arriving were retirees. Whanganui also needed more migrants with money who could invest in businesses and create jobs.

A Government initiative offering bonus points towards residency for migrants living in the regions was encouraging people to move out of Auckland, said Mr Prasad.

However, the Government needed to add a clause requiring them to live in the region for five or six years, he said.

He knew of migrants who had sold up in Auckland, bought property in Whanganui and lived "like a king".

The city was more relaxed, without traffic problems.

"This is what the people want," he said.

Many new migrants had been coming to the Multicultural Council for advice. They asked about schools, GPs and buying houses.

NZ Association for Migration and Investment chief executive June Ranson said Whanganui was attracting migrants from UK, Ireland, Asia, Pacific Islands, Australia and Middle East and Africa.

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 to live out of Auckland.

"The Government now is starting to show that there is 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.

Home is where family is

Colonel Jatinder Pal Bangia and his wife Neelain Bangia came to Whanganui from India to be closer to their family.

Col Bangia said he'd come to New Zealand several times before as both of his sons were citizens of the country. One now lived in Whanganui and the other in Australia.

Col Bangia, who is 75, said he retired from the army in 1993 after 30 years of service.

He was settled in India but missed his children and grandchildren and was losing contact with them so he and his wife decided to make the move to New Zealand.

Col Bangia said Whanganui was a beautiful, quiet place with natural beauty.

"The people are warm, they are approachable, they are kind hearted and very helpful."