23 Oct 2008

Record numbers heading to Australia

6:09 am on 23 October 2008

The number of New Zealanders leaving for Australia is at record levels.

New statistics show 33,900 New Zealanders migrated to Australia in the year to September - 7,500 more than the previous year, and the most in 19 years.

The previous peak of 33,700 was recorded in 1989.

The figures also show the number of visitors coming to New Zealand have dropped.

Overseas visitor numbers fell 7% in the year to September, largely due to fewer arrivals from China, Australia, Korea, Japan and the United States.

Fewer New Zealanders are taking short-term overseas trips, which were down 8%.

Departures to Australia, France, the United Kingdom and China were down, but departures to Canada were up.

Permanent migrant numbers were down from 8300 to 4440.

'Brain exchange, not brain drain'

A senior lecturer in geography at Auckland University, Ward Friesen, says increasing numbers of New Zealanders have been moving to Australia since 2002.

Dr Friesen says the people leaving for Australia, and those that migrate to New Zealand, tend to be well educated so the country is experiencing a brain exchange rather than a brain drain.

He says its also possible that some of the people heading to Australia now, were once migrants to New Zealand.