Wairarapa is recording positive net migration, with immigration outpacing emigration throughout the district.

Statistics New Zealand figures show the district, including Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa, had a net gain of 67 long-term or permanent migrants in the year ending March.

These latest figures represent a stark turnaround from 2011 and 2012, when Wairarapa was losing hundreds of people overseas each year. Since then, trends have reversed, with positive annual growth recorded since October 2014. Last year saw record high gains with a net increase of 120 people a year.

Masterton Baptist Church pastor Scott Lelievre said he had witnessed a large increase of foreign immigrants into the area recently, particularly from the Philippines.


"We had a South American beekeeper and he hired some Filipinos. He hired a couple and they brought some family over, and we had a row of them, then we had two rows, now probably half our church is Filipino," he said.

Mr Lelievre said that finding a social community could be tough for new residents, something he said the church tried to help with.

"When you come to Masterton, if you're a white New Zealander or a Maori there's a community for you to come into. Whereas if you're something different, sometimes it can be hard to fit in," he said. "There's quite a big community [of Filipino immigrants] now. We've also had some Koreans, and we do have some other cultures as well. We're actually quite a multicultural church. It's been a good addition."

Nationwide, net migration is also the highest since at least 1990.

More than 124,000 immigrants entered New Zealand in the year to March, while 56,450 emigrated, resulting in a net gain of 67,619 people, the highest net figure in at least 26 years.

These figures include New Zealanders returning after being away for more than a year.

Multicultural New Zealand executive director Tayo Agunlejika said immigrants created a diverse and dynamic New Zealand.

"It's a very positive thing. It gives you a vibrant society where not everyone is the same. It comes with its own challenges but it's good for society," he said.

He said the most difficult factors for new immigrants were culture shock and isolation.

"They have to start fresh with social capital, and for some of them there's a language barrier, too.

"Some of them don't get employed in an area related to their skills and experience, but for most people it's the cultural shock," Mr Agunlejika said.

However, he said many immigrants were still poorly treated because of their ethnicity; an area Mr Agunlejika was trying to improve.

"We still have the challenge of discrimination. We're trying to run a campaign to encourage people to realise it's okay to be different that being different is positive and it makes a rich society. You don't need to be afraid if people are different to you," he said.

In the past 12 months, 1862 more people moved from Australia to New Zealand than the other direction -- a huge reversal from 2012, when almost 40,000 people a year were leaving across the Ditch; more than 100 a day. Between May 1991 and September 2014, a period of 281 months, 280 months saw a net loss of migrants across the Tasman.

Migration figures
Net migration, year ended March:
Masterton 29
Carterton 7
South Wairarapa 31
Permanent and long-term arrivals to NZ, year ended March:
Australia 25,767
India 13,486
United Kingdom13,445
China 11,722
Philippines 5476
USA 4326
Germany 4033
Source: Statistics NZ