Migrants are taking advantage of a Government policy to entice new arrivals to the Bay of Plenty region.
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 people 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 38 applications representing 77 people had been approved in the Bay of Plenty by February 4.
The principal applicant could include direct family members such as a partner and dependent children as secondary applicants in the application.
Multicultural Tauranga centre co-ordinator Janet Smith said the Bay of Plenty was a nice place for migrants to live but jobs could be limited for those skilled in areas such as administration.
Workers in the cafe, kiwifruit and taxi industries were being recruited from the migrant communities.
Ms Smith said it would be nice if there were more jobs which met the skill sets people brought from abroad.
It could be hard to retain highly skilled people from Western European countries. Some returned to Europe, relocated to Australia or moved to Auckland for jobs.
Ms Smith said the Multicultural Tauranga's client base always increased at this time of year with a new influx of parents coming to the area to have their children educated. The kiwifruit industry also attracted new people.
Many migrants came from South America, Korea and other Asian nations, she said.
Bangladesh expatriate Samira Hassain, her husband, and son had been in New Zealand for four months on a working holiday visa.
Initially the family were living in Auckland but moved to Tauranga — chasing the better weather, she said.
The family would love to stay longer than their two-year visa, she said.
At the start 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, Immigration New Zealand figures showed.
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 was optimistic it would be successful in time.
Recruiters in the regions were initially positive about the measures. However, economist Shamubeel Eaqub said it was shortsighted to use immigration to fill a massive skills mismatch.
Treasury also advised the policy changes were unlikely to have a consequential impact for regional development.
— Additional reporting Ruth Keber