20 Mar 2009

NZ exodus to Australia easing

9:40 pm on 20 March 2009

The number of people leaving New Zealand for Australia has begun to decline for the first time in two years, according to latest migration figures.

In 2008, a record high of more than 35,000 people moved to Australia, but that figure dropped to 34,400 in the 12 months to February.

Ian Richards from Statistics New Zealand says the increase had been constant for many months, but suddenly came to a halt in February this year, with almost no increase in departures.

He said the numbers of New Zealanders moving home, and foreigners settling here, each went up by 200 more compared with February 2008.

Though the net loss of migrants to Australia remained high, Statistics New Zealand said it was more than compensated for by net arrivals from Britain, China, Fiji, India, the Philippines and South Africa.

As a result, New Zealand's overall population gain from long-term migration was 6200.

Tourist numbers down

Latest figures show the tourism industry is continuing to decline. In the year to February, 2.4 million visitors came to New Zealand, 60,000 fewer than February 2008.

The figures from Statistics New Zealand refer to short-term trips, many of them by tourists but it also included business trips.

There were more visitor arrivals from Australia, but fewer from Britain, the United States, Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong.

New Zealanders also went on fewer overseas trips, with a 7% fall in February.