9 Jul 2013

Researcher predicts fewer NZers will move to Australia

9:00 am on 9 July 2013

A researcher at Victoria University studying the migration patterns of Maori to and from Australia predicts the flow of New Zealanders heading across the Tasman will start slowing down soon.

Paul Hamer of Victoria University is carrying out a survey to find out why Maori go to Australia and why they return home.

He says for the past 40 years he has noticed a cycle: departures peak about every 10 years or when the New Zealand economy has gone into decline.

But Mr Hamer says even if the job market gets tight in Australia, New Zealanders will always perceive it as a land of more opportunities.

He says it remains to be seen if the recent spike in the New Zealand economy filters down into low-income communities and encourages some people to stay in New Zealand - particularly in the North Island.

Mr Hamer says Maori have been more vulnerable to economic pressures in New Zealand than most, but they are also economically vulnerable in Australia and if there is a downturn in the Australian economy then they, along with other New Zealanders, are at risk of losing their jobs - which could force many to return home.

He says compared to 2008 and 2011 - just after the Christchurch earthquake, when large numbers of people flocked across the Tasman - he expects migration to Australia will start to slow down.