Asians are dominating in visitor and international student numbers and in most family-migration categories to New Zealand.
Over a period of increased departure of New Zealand citizens, especially to Australia, this could change the country's social fabric faster than anticipated, Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley says.
"Asians have moved from being 'a significant number' to 'dominating' most immigration categories," Professor Spoonley said.
Over the 2011-12 period, New Zealand suffered its first net migration loss since 2001 - but the combined Asian temporary and permanent arrivals increased.
China by far outnumbered the rest in the visitor and student-visa categories, and had approval numbers more than three times higher than India and the UK in the family-sponsored and parent categories.