New Zealand recorded its highest net migration gain last year and one in three permanent migrants now come from either China or India, new immigration figures show.

The Migration Trends and Outlook 2014/15, released today by Immigration New Zealand, shows a net migration gain of 58,300.

China was the largest permanent migrant source on 17 per cent, followed by India on 16 per cent. The United Kingdom, which used to be New Zealand's main source country, was third on 11 per cent.

India was the largest source country for skilled migrants (21 per cent) followed by the Philippines (13 per cent) and China was also the largest source country for family-sponsored migrants.

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Immigration expert Professor Paul Spoonley said the numbers from Asia coming to New Zealand under the various immigration categories were continuing to grow.

"The net gain is now north of 60,000 and growing month-on-month," said Professor Spoonley, a Massey University sociologist.

"Given that some economic indicators are less positive, I would have thought that the numbers might have tailed off or even dropped, but they keep coming."

Professor Spoonley said the spike in numbers as permanent arrivals, temporary workers and students had grown substantially in the past two to three years and New Zealand now topped the OECD in numbers arriving per head of population.

"The interesting aspect is that the flows are very ethnically diverse ... and will have a major impact on the ethnic diversity of New Zealand."

Under population projections by Statistics New Zealand, in 2038 the Asian population could increase by 714,600 and reach 1,255,900.

Over the same period, Auckland's Asian population could also rise 4.8 per cent annually to reach 1,135,600.

Professor Spoonley said New Zealand has continued to attract migrants because of the quality of its lifestyle, and compared well with Australia on economic activity and job availability.

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Immigration New Zealand said the record net migration gain was the result of a low net loss of New Zealand citizens (5600) combined with a large net gain of non-New Zealand citizens (63,900).

A total of 43,085 were approved for resident visas, down 2 per cent, and almost half of all approvals, or 49 per cent, were through the skilled migrant category, which was up 4 per cent. International student numbers rose 16 per cent from the previous year, with numbers from India up sharply.

China remained the largest source of international students on 27 per cent, followed by India (23 per cent) and South Korea (6 per cent).

As at June 30, 17 per cent of students had transitioned to residence five years after their first student visa.

"The growth in the number of students from India - the second largest source country of students and the largest source country of first-time students - has had a flow-on effect to work visas and skilled migration," the report said.

The number of migrants with residence staying in New Zealand long term is also increasing, with 83 per cent of those approved in 2005/06 and 88 per cent of those from 2009/10 still living here.

Migration trends

58,300 - net migration gains, highest recorded

43,085 - approved permanent resident visas, main sources China, India and UK

84,856 - international students, up 16%

170,814 - granted work visa, up 10%

88% - permanent migrants approved

The country he calls home

After four years in New Zealand, Indian IT analyst Raghurama Pankaj Reddy says this country is home.

The 26-year-old, originally from Bangalore, came to Auckland on a student visa in 2011 and graduated from the University of Auckland with a Masters of Engineering.

"At the time, I was researching different universities and found Auckland to be a good option for me," Mr Reddy said.

"After I arrived, people were really welcoming and I didn't have any problems finding a job and found offers even before I graduated."

He was granted residency two years ago under the skilled migrant category and is now developing an e-publishing platform for Academy Book Company, where he works.

Many students from India who gain residency go on to sponsor their spouse.

India has overtaken China as New Zealand's main source country in the partnership category.

Mr Reddy said arranged marriages were common in India, and he too may return for an arranged marriage.

"When I get married in India, I will most definitely sponsor my partner to come here."