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Trans-Tasman migration flows revealed

29 July 20160 comments

The migratory links between Australia and New Zealand remain as strong as ever, according to a new data analysis.

But the new analysis shows periods of volatility and the historically dominant trend of flows of people from New Zealand to Australia slowing.

The report by Statistics New Zealand concludes that overall, the pattern of trans-Tasman migration has been one of volatility, driven by New Zealand citizens. Australian citizens make a relatively small contribution to trans-Tasman flows.

Half of all departures from New Zealand between 1979 and 2016 were to Australia, according to the report.

Open migration access has always been a part of New Zealand’s long-standing links with Australia, which for the most part allows an unrestricted flow of citizens between the two countries.

Historically, more people have migrated from New Zealand to Australia than vice versa.

The latest data shows that approximately seven out of eight people were New Zealand citizens, while one in five emigrant arrivals in New Zealand were from Australia. Of those individuals, two out of three were already New Zealand citizens.

Figures from June 2015 showed an estimated 611,400 New Zealand-born people were living in Australia and 653,800 New Zealand citizens had made their home in Australia.

The dominant historical flow of migrants across the Tasman is New Zealand citizens moving from their home country to Australia. Between June 1979 and June 2016, this averaged 27,600 arrivals per year.

But there have been considerable fluctuations, often within periods of a few years. For example, there have been 20,200 departures as of June of this year. 2012 saw another huge influx – a total of 48,600 new arrivals.

Over the past three years, an average of 15,800 New Zealand citizens have migrated from New Zealand from Australia compared with an average of 8,900 a year between June 1979 and June 2013.

Since 1979, Australian citizens have contributed an average of 3,800 every year to trans-Tasman arrivals. That number reached 5,000 as of this June. Some of these Australian citizens are children of New Zealand citizens.

The contribution of other citizens has historically been a small part of trans-Tasman flows.

But more than 3,000 non-New Zealand and non-Australian citizens and residents arrived in either country over the past three years. Three quarters of these migrants were citizens of the UK, Ireland and other European countries.

Despite a reversal in trends since 2012, there are still more New Zealand citizens departing to Australia than arriving from Australia.

However, the net loss has shrunk from 39,700 four years ago to 3,500 in 2016. This deficit was more than offset by small net gains of 3,000 Australian citizens and 2,400 other citizens so far this year – an overall net gain of 1,900 people.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist