Immigration advisers asked to help defend border when vetting clients.

Immigration advisers will be asked to be in the front line as part of a battle to stop international terrorists from migrating to New Zealand.

For the first time, a session "Immigration in the context of international terrorism" has been put on the agenda for the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) annual conference tomorrow.

Immigration New Zealand says the threat of terrorists coming here was "very real" and association chairwoman June Ranson said advisers were being urged to be more vigilant when vetting clients.

Between July 1 last year and June 30, 2280 at-risk or ineligible people were stopped from boarding flights bound for New Zealand, up from 1743 the previous year.


Over the period, 1345 people were also refused entry when they arrived at the New Zealand border, compared with 1026 the previous year.

Immigration assistant general manager Peter Devoy said most were cases of passengers who failed to meet immigration entry requirements, but would not say if any were linked to terrorism.

"INZ is very alive to the threat of terrorists coming to New Zealand and has taken a number of steps to improve security at the border to keep out unwanted people," Mr Devoy said.

"Anyone who is a member of a terrorist entity designated under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 is automatically ineligible for a visa."

An Immigration Profiling Branch was set up in 2005, he said, to ensure there was a consistent approach to handling applications from nationals of higher-risk countries.

Over the next four years, $33 million will be spent to boost the number of immigration officers at the border as well as specialist officers to manage emerging risk offshore.

He said the agency did not keep information "in a reportable format" on how many visas had been refused or declined because of possible terror links.

Police Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and lawyers Richard MacLeod and Deborah Manning are presenting a session on terrorism, and will also discuss New Zealanders who have been radicalised and the extra precautions required when dealing with would-be migrants from high-risk countries.

Ms Ranson said the threat of terrorist migrants was "very real" and an area of concern was of applicants who were born in higher-risk countries but held passports not of their birth nations.

"This is a very real threat as some nationalities can travel to New Zealand visa free.

"We need to be vigilant to pick up on anything odd and find out why and how they were granted another passport."

The conference at Eden Park will also discuss if New Zealand has sustainable business policies and strategic migration from Auckland to smaller New Zealand cities and communities.