A Victoria University researcher who works at the School of Maori Studies is investigating the impact of Australian law changes made in 2001 - which restricted New Zealanders gaining access to social welfare benefits.
Paul Hamer, who is Pakeha, has previously published a series of research papers on Maori in Australia, including a major report for Te Puni Kokiri in 2007.
He is conducting two surveys: one for Maori living in Australia and another for Maori who used to live there but have now returned to New Zealand.
Mr Hamer said he is curious to know why some Maori have come back home.
He said he is interested in how those law changes have made New Zealanders return for economic reasons.
Mr Hamer said there are examples where people have come back to Aotearoa because not having full citizenship rights barred them from entering Australian tertiary institutions.
He said he wants to work out what the impact of those changes have been both in terms of return migration and for Maori who still live across the Tasman.