News / Migrants make up a fifth of the Waikato

Take a look at the people around you in the Waikato, chances are, about one in five of them was born outside New Zealand.

(Story from the Waikato Times)

And they're most likely to have a British or Irish accent, although a growing number are coming from Asia.

Census data shows 18 per cent of the people living in the Waikato were born outside New Zealand.

But that's still far behind Auckland, where the figure's almost 40 per cent.

The biggest group of Waikato migrants is from the UK and Ireland, a New Zealand Immigration report on Waikato migration and labour force trends in 2014 shows.

They made almost a third of the local migrant community while about a quarter came from Asia.

Work-wise, migrants were likely to be in the health, hospitality and retail sectors if they came to the country as skilled migrants.

Just over 70 migrants got an offer to work in the Waikato as nurses in the 2013/2014 year, although that was down on previous years.

Retail managers, chefs, cafe and restaurant managers and livestock farmers were the other top occupations.

Hamilton city councillor Philip Yeung came to the Waikato from Hong Kong about 19 years ago.

The former council ethnic development advisor is now so used to being here that he gets "culture shock" if he goes back home.

Meanwhile, he's seen better acceptance of Asian migrants - backed up by a 2013 Asia NZ Foundation report - and a wider ethnic mix develop in Hamilton.

"I always use myself as an example. Nineteen years ago, when I arrived, you hardly found anyone from Africa in Hamilton. Or not many Chinese or Indian or other ethnicities."

Many migrants set up a business, he said, and many of the Waikato Hospital staff were migrants.

But it wasn't easy for him to find work, even with 16 years of tourism industry experience.

He spent two of his early years in the country "underemployed" and working at a fish and chip shop.

Other people found their qualifications weren't recognised in New Zealand.

And while Auckland was a big drawcard for migrants, Yeung said traffic issues and house prices meant that could change.

Immigration rules already mean skilled migrants get bonus points if their application is for an offer of employment outside Auckland.

"Auckland is getting more and more difficult now so they will start looking at other places to go, like Tauranga or Hamilton," Yeung said.

Another change is the countries migrants are coming from.

The UK still features in the top five source countries for last year's skilled migrants but India is out in front.

Almost a third of the 2013/2014 group was from India, and the next largest group was from China (13 per cent).

The Philippines and South Africa rounded out the top five source countries.

The Waikato offered a "strong economy base" for skilled migrants to work from, Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive William Durning said.

Part of that was its central North Island location as part of the golden triangle, with Tauranga and Auckland.

"There's cheap access to land and cheap housing in relation to Auckland. There's proximity to Auckland," he said.

"Obviously we've got a strong dairying background and that does attract a lot of skilled migrant workers. With the recent impacts on the dairy payout we would expect that to slow down."

Qualification-wise, overseas-born Waikato residents are outstripping the Kiwis.

About 10 per cent have an honours or post-graduate degree - more than double the 4 per cent for New Zealanders.

Many people who come to the Waikato stick around, too.

Thirty-six per cent of our migrants have been in the country for 20 years or more.

Just under a quarter have been in New Zealand for fewer than five years.

Yet some migrants to the Waikato are here for a limited time only.

About 1300 people got work visas for the region in the 2013/2014 year, and student visas went to just under 3700 people planning to study in the region.

And migrants are expected to keep flowing to the Waikato.

The region was likely to gain about 8200 people through migration between 2006 and 2013, according to Statistics NZ projections.


(Story from the Waikato Times)

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