India has displaced the United Kingdom as the main source country for skilled migration into New Zealand.

The Migration Trends and Outlook 2011/12 report released this morning reveals that more than one in four permanent resident migrants now come from either India or China.

The United Kingdom remains the country with the largest proportion of residence approvals on 18 per cent, followed by China and India on 13 per cent and the Philippines on 8 per cent.

New Zealand also experienced a net 3200 migration loss - the first such loss since 2001 and a slight drop in the total number of permanent resident approvals to 40,448.


Also down were skilled migration (11 per cent), international students (down 7 per cent), and the number of people admitted under the essential skills policy (down 1 per cent).

Of the 18,843 people approved under the skilled migrant category, India accounted for 17 per cent, edging out the United Kingdom.

Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley said the Asian population growth was expected and Filipinos were "growing significantly as a new migrant group".

The report attributes the total net migration loss last year to the record departures by New Zealand citizens to Australia.

"With the significant number of New Zealanders leaving, and the number of Asians arriving either as temporary or permanent remaining stable, the proportion that are Asian would have gone up faster than we would have anticipated," Professor Spoonley said.

Roger Wigglesworth, acting general manager for research, evaluation and analysis, said the report highlighted the impact of local and international events on migration.

"The global economic slowdown and lack of skilled jobs in New Zealand have affected skilled migration inflows."

• 40,448 permanent residents

• 18,843 skilled migrants

• 68,980 international students

• 36,300 net gain of non-New Zealand citizens

• 39,700 net loss of New Zealanders to Australia

Source: Migration Trends and Outlook 2011/12