Record immigration has been a driver of the housing boom but the latest statistics show other factors are at play, say financial commentators Matt Goodson and Mark Lister.
Annual net migration hit another record above 72,000 in the May 2017 year, Statistics NZ said today.
Migrant arrivals numbered 130,400 and departures numbered 58,400 in the year ended May 2017.
Rising immigration is shaping up to be a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and has been blamed for inflaming property markets.
Yet the record migration highs now seem out of step with Auckland's falling house prices.
This showed that migration was just one of many factors effecting housing, said Salt Funds Management's Goodson.
"There has been [a] crackdown in China on capital leaving the country which could be a factor, process reaching the limits of affordability could be another factor, particularly with banks starting to be constrained in the amount of interest-only mortgages they can offer," he said.
The Reserve Bank's loan-to-value ratios had an impact but also demand had responded with the number of people per house starting to rise quite sharply.
"You're definitely seeing a tightening of financial conditions over there in China that will effect our housing market," said Craigs Investment Partners' Lister. "But look at all the other places where you've still got very strong interest in coming to New Zealand, whether it's Europe, the US or parts of Asia there's still a steady stream of people coming in the door."
It was also important to remember that it wasn't just about New Zealand being an attractive destination, it was about New Zealanders choosing not to leave.
One of the things that had been missed in the housing debate was that the number of people per house fell every year from WWII to 2009, Goodson said. Since then that number had risen every year.
"So the market has responded logically to higher rent and prices, " he said. "Whether you supply 8000 houses or 12,000 [new] houses [it] is a drop in the ocean in comparison."
Tougher immigration restrictions based on wage bands have been introduced by the Government but do not come into force until August.
On a net basis, New Zealand citizens leaving and returning to this country almost balanced each other out in the past 12 months. There was a net migration gain of 73,300 non-New Zealand citizens in the past year, Statistics NZ said.
The latest data will do little to cool the debate around immigration.
In some respects it was surprising how long it had taken to heat up in New Zealand, Goodson said.
"I think this election will be interesting because it's the first time the debate will be had. Hopefully there's some real solutions proffered as opposed to baiting."
It was also important to note that there were real positives from immigration and the economy had benefited, Lister said.
With GDP at 2.5 per cent but below 1 per cent on a per capita basis it would be foolish to deny the positive impact immigration had for businesses large and small, he said.
With the immigration debate "you have to be careful what you wish for," Goodson said. Particularly if there hadn't been underlying improvements in productivity made to the economy "which appeared to be the case".