Twenty-eight migrants have taken advantage of a government policy to entice new arrivals to Hawke's Bay in the three months since it took effect.

The policy announced last July boosted the bonus points from 10 to 30 points for any skilled migrants who were applying for residence and had a job offer outside Auckland.

It also doubled the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.

The new measures took effect from November 1.


Immigration New Zealand figures show 15 applications representing 28 people had been approved in Hawke's Bay by February 4.

The principal applicant could include direct family members such as a partner and dependent children as secondary applicants in the application.

President of the Filipino Society, Brenda Cacho-Bevin, said the offer of bonus residency points for migrants would attract more to the regions - if there were jobs for them.

Some migrants came to Hawke's Bay on student visas but were unable to find a job in the region when they finished studies and left for areas such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

She suggested the Government should support employers to take on and train migrants.

Mrs Cacho-Bevin said Watties was taking on five new Filipino staff. The company had success with previous immigrants and went to the Philippines last month to recruit more - a good example of how the region could attract new migrants, she said.

Many people coming from overseas knew only the country's three major cities and didn't even know where Hawke's Bay was, she said. She thought any national tourism campaign should include Hawke's Bay and other regions.

Mrs Cacho-Bevin said she initially came to Hawke's Bay on holiday and stayed because "it's like a holiday every day if you have a job here".

"We have the rivers, we have the seas, we have the wineries."

She said the housing was not as expensive as in Auckland, the weather was consistent and the people were friendly.

However, the region couldn't attract professionals if it didn't have jobs for them.

"It's a job that they're looking for. Even if they knew where Hawke's Bay was, even if they knew how beautiful we are, if there is no job here ... "

At the beginning of this month, 273 skilled migrant applications representing 553 people had been approved nationwide with 30 points for employment outside Auckland.

Canterbury attracted the most migrants with 72 applications representing 156 people, according to Immigration New Zealand figures.

Next was Waikato attracting 42 applications and 86 people.

Just one entrepreneur work visa representing one person had been approved with 40 points for a business outside of Auckland.

This was in the Waikato region.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the policy was always expected to have a slower uptake in the short-term but a material effect over a long period of time on migrants moving to the regions. He remained optimistic it would be successful in time.

Cultural leaders and recruiters in the regions were initially positive about the new government measures.

However, economist Shamubeel Eaqub said it was shortsighted to use immigration to fill a massive skills mismatch in the provinces.

Treasury also advised the policy changes were unlikely to have a consequential impact for regional development. NZME