Population growth from migration continues to decline, with a net gain of 2322 in May, the lowest it has been for the month of May since 2014.
On an annual basis there was a net gain, (the surplus of long term arrivals minus long term departures), of 66,243 in the 12 months to May, the lowest it has been since the 12 months to May 2015, according to the latest Statistics NZ figures.
The net migration gain in the 12 months to May was down 7.9% compared to the previous 12 months, while the net gain for the month of May was down 25.5% compared to May last year, suggesting the trend is continuing to decline.
The slowdown in the net gain is mainly due to increasing numbers of people leaving the country, while arrivals are more stable.
In the month of May there were 8140 long term arrivals, down 2.9% compared to May last year, and 5818 long term departures, up 10.4% compared to May last year.
China and Hong Kong continue to be the main source of new migrants, with a net gain of 8968 in the 12 months to May, down 18.7% compared to the previous 12 months.
India remains the second biggest source of migrants, although there has been a huge decline in net migration from that country over the last two years.
In the 12 months to May there was a net gain of 6767 from India, down 10.9% compared to the previous 12 months, and down 44.9% compared to the 12 months to May 2016.
The next biggest source countries were the UK with a net gain of 5513 in the 12 months to May, down 15.6% compared to the previous 12 months, South Africa with a net gain of 5048 which was up 6.7% compared to the previous 12 months, while the net gain from the Philippines was almost unchanged at 4550.
More New Zealanders are continuing to leave the country permanently or long term than are arriving back after extended stays overseas, with a net loss of 1386 New Zealand citizens the 12 months to May.
However that figure is almost unchanged form the previous 12 months but has fallen hugely from where it was six years ago, when there was a net loss of 39,413 New Zealand citizens in the 12 months to May 2012.
There was net gain of 67,629 citizens of other countries in the 12 months to May, down 7.7% compared to the previous 12 months.
That decline was almost entirely due to a 21.9% drop in the number of overseas citizens returning home, while arrivals of overseas citizens were largely static.
In a newsletter on the figures, Westpac Senior Economist Anne Boniface said the net gain from migration was expected to continue tracking down.
"We expect this trend to continue ... as many of the people who arrived in New Zealand on temporary work and student visas in recent years return home after completing their course or contract," she said.
"We forecast annual net migration to fall to a low of around 20,000 in around five years time."