Migrants are taking advantage of a Government policy to entice new arrivals to the Bay of Plenty.

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 measures took effect on November 1. Immigration New Zealand figures show 38 applications - representing 77 people - had been approved in the Bay of Plenty as at February4.


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

Rotorua Multicultural Council vice president Dr Margriet Theron said the issue of skilled migrants being permitted into the country but still not being able to find work was frustrating.

"It just breaks my heart when I see these people who were only allowed to come to New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand because they have such excellent skills and then they are cleaning motels and they are packing supermarket shelves and they are driving back and forth to Te Puke, pruning and packing kiwifruit or they are pumping petrol."

She hoped the bonus residency points would help get more migrants to Rotorua.

"Once people are here, you often hear them say this is a fabulous place to live because there are so many events, so many free things that they can go to, all the lakes are here and there's a good range of migrants already here," said Dr Theron.

Dr Theron said people had a much better chance of getting a job in their skill area if they could speak with more confidence and clarity. For this reason, the multicultural council provides a course called Professional Speaking for Migrants which helps skilled migrants with job applications and interviews. She said the course taught migrants to speak about their career, skills and community involvement.

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At the beginning of last 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.

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.