Labour is promising to cut immigration in a bid to curb Auckland's rampant growth and creaking infrastructure.

Labour's election campaign manager and Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, said the party was still working on the policy, which was not about slashing immigration but would probably have a number on it to find a better balance.

He said Labour was still working on the policy and it was too soon to say what cap Labour might put on immigration.

"The current levels of immigration without proper investment in infrastructure is totally irresponsible," Twyford said.

It's easy to say we will turn off the tap or curb it for a while...but I don't think any dramatic change to immigration settings is appropriate

The latest Statistics New Zealand figures show migrants continue to flock to New Zealand in record numbers. In the year to February, net migration rose to a record 71,333, of which 57,156 were bound for Auckland.

Deputy Labour leader and Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern said no-one could deny the role immigration has played for New Zealand's economy and diversity, but it was time for a discussion about whether Auckland could offer the "kiwi life" to new migrants.

"I want people who choose to make Auckland their home to have their best shot to live in an affordable home, move across the city with ease and swim in a healthy environment," Ardern said.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse acknowledged immigration was contributing to Auckland's growing pains, but said National had no plans to make big changes.

He said it was easy to talk about cutting immigration but it was a complex issue with a longstanding trend of internal migration to Auckland, a recent trend of Kiwis not leaving New Zealand and Kiwis coming home.

Woodhouse said the numbers of overseas migrants were mostly working holiday makers and international students and the number of labour market tested work visas was dropping.

If Labour were to curb immigration, he asked whether they would they stop people coming on working holidays, students or workers for industries like wine, horticulture, fishing and construction.

"It's easy to say we will turn off the tap or curb it for a while...but I don't think any dramatic change to immigration settings is appropriate," Woodhouse said.


National's Central Auckland MP and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said a reasonable chunk of the change in net migration was fewer Kiwis leaving and more Kiwis coming home.

"The sensible path to navigate is one that doesn't block Kiwis coming home or highly skilled migrants from helping businesses with skill shortages. Any politician saying stop migration needs to be specific about which category and how many people," she said.

Alongside the need to invest more in infrastructure - National had made significant progress in roading, rail and schools - Kaye said "we will need to continue to review and adjust our immigrations settings to be looking at it with the lens of overall contribution to New Zealand".

In a speech to diplomats at the Swiss Embassy in Wellington on Thursday, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said a lack of investment in infrastructure, Auckland's housing crisis and a "bogus surplus" made possible by funding cuts and freezes, meant the "wave of discontent" behind Brexit and Donald Trump's rise to the White House had arrived in New Zealand.

Labour's plans to propose a cap on immigration comes after widespread feedback to twoWeekend Herald stories showing the city's growth of 120,000 new residents in the past three years is increasing traffic chaos, fuelling house prices and pouring sewage into the harbours. Many readers pointed the finger at immigration.

Don Conway said 120,000 new residents was too many. It was okay for returning New Zealanders, "but the others are clogging infrastructure - schooling, health, facilities etc".

Said Niko Kloeten: "Auckland simply cannot cope with the insane level of immigration, which exacerbates our existing problems around infrastructure and land supply. Unless something is done to reduce the number of people flowing in Auckland, we will always be playing catch-up."

"Stop letting people in. We are sinking," said Jo Jeffries.