WELLINGTON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The number of immigrants settling in New Zealand hit a new high in the year ending January, prompting lawmakers to claim the record numbers were stretching infrastructure, social services and housing.
A net gain, the number of arrivals over departures, of 71,300 migrants arriving in New Zealand in the January year, surpassed the previous annual record set in December 2016, the government statistics agency said Monday.
The total migrant arrivals numbered 128,300 in the January year, a new annual record, according to Statistics New Zealand.
Work visas accounted for the greatest number of arrivals at 42,400, followed by New Zealand and Australian citizens at 37,900, student visas on 24,300 and residence visas on 16,700, said a statement from the agency.
The main opposition Labour Party said the record number of arrivals was helping to fuel the housing crisis in the largest city of Auckland, home to a third of the population.
"A huge proportion of our new migrants, 56,231, are moving straight to Auckland, which is an 8.5 percent lift from last year," Labour Party immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
"Migration has been one of the central drivers of rising house prices, which are now continuing throughout New Zealand as the Auckland housing crisis ripples out to the regions," said Lees-Galloway.
The opposition New Zealand First party said New Zealand workers were having to compete with "Third World wages and conditions" to get jobs, while paying for infrastructure and services for the expanding population.
"The net gain was 71,300 people, that's 1,370 people a week, most looking for a job and a house to rent or own that the government has made no preparations for," New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said in a statement.
"They'll want a GP (general practitioner) and they'll turn up at hospital emergency departments for the free care - that the government has not prepared for," said Peters.
"The taxpayer is paying for emergency housing, for hospital care and all other public services that immigrants get free and will have to pay for schools, roads, hospitals and the like that will be needed."