Lonely Planet Writer

Buoyant New Zealand entices exiles and Australians

For the first time in decades, New Zealand’s buoyant economy is attracting more people from Australia than the other way around.

New Zealand economy is attracting a flow of migration from Australia as Kiwis return and Australians relocate for jobs on offer.
New Zealand’s strong economic performance  is attracting a flow of migration from Australia as Kiwis return and Australians relocate for jobs on offer. Image by Edward Hyde / CC BY-SA 2.0

Not just foreigners – the Kiwis are returning from employment elsewhere to begin working at home.

The Melbourne Age reports on new figures by Statistics New Zeland which revealed that over 25,000 migrated last year across the Tasman Sea. This was 769 people more than those who journeyed the more traditional way to the larger country.

Air New Zealand's planes are fuller landing back home than bringing people to Australia looking for jobs
Air New Zealand’s planes are fuller landing back home than bringing people to Australia looking for jobs Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

The figures represented the most sizeable increase for 25 years, while the number going to Australia was at the lowest ebb since 1991.

The change in economic fortune for New Zealand coincides with a time that the country’s 4.6 million population has experienced strong growth and political stability while other countries suffer a reversal of fortune.

The surge in home opportunities became apparent over the past few years and reversed a migration rate that peaked four years ago when over 53,000 landed in Australia seeking employment.

Halting the ‘brain drain’ was an integral part of Prime Minister John Key’s platform in getting into government. Professor Paul Spoonley of New Zealand’s Massey University claimed that the change became apparent last year when there was a flip around of economic indicators in both countries.

Up to recently it was the mining boom and better wages in Australia which had drawn New Zealand the other way.

Prof Spoonley explained that the smaller country was now attracting back citizens who had gone aboard or their offspring. There was also an influx of Australians relocating to Australian-owned business, while there was also an upsurge in professionals following boom industries like wine making and film production.