19 Dec 2008

Exodus to Australia at all-time record

5:25 pm on 19 December 2008

The number of New Zealanders moving to Australia permanently or long term has hit the highest level since records began.

Overall, there was a loss of 35,300 people to Australia in the year to November, the highest annual number since records started in 1979.

Statistics New Zealand figures show 48,500 people moved to Australia from New Zealand, while 13,200 moved to New Zealand permanently or long term from Australia - most of them New Zealand citizens.

Statistics New Zealand said the pattern of migration to Australia goes in cycles, with previous peaks in the late 1970s and 1980s.

New Zealand's net migration from all countries is at its lowest point since 2001.

The country gained 3,600 permanent or long-term residents over the year, about half as many as in in the previous year.

Separately, the number of tourists coming to New Zealand fell 4% in November, compared with the same month a year earlier because of fewer visitors from Asia.

The figures have raised fears that a continued fall in visitor numbers could cause job losses in the tourism industry.

The Inbound Tour Operators Council, which organises packages for visitors, says the global financial crisis is starting to bite. It says that fewer arrivals are also expected over the summer and beyond.

Tourism New Zealand says the downturn could also impact on recently established tourism businesses.