A Victoria University researcher who specialises in Maori in Australia says Maori migrants may be the first ones to lose their jobs if there is a downturn in the Australian economy.
Paul Hamer is investigating the impact on Maori since Australian law changes in 2001 which restricted New Zealander's rights to access government benefits and services, as well as the reasons why Maori come back home.
He said there are hundreds of Maori working in the mining industry across the Tasman, and if the industry experiences further problems then those New Zealanders will be put at risk.
Mr Hamer said without the security net of social welfare and federal government benefits they are vulnerable.
He said it might seem for most Maori migrants that the Australian economy is buoyant and that they are thriving, but if there is a big downturn in the economy, then New Zealanders without full citizenship rights will be the first to fall over.