For many generations, New Zealanders were the ones moving to Australia in droves. The latter was traditionally viewed as the Lucky Country where anyone could flourish. Now, the tide has turned. More Aussies are crossing over to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, with migration numbers soaring to record highs.
According to Australian broadcaster Nine News, 25,000 people made the move from Australia to New Zealand in the last twelve months. The two-decade trend of more Kiwis heading to Aussie than vice versa was broken in 2016, when the country received a net flow of 769 people from its much larger neighbour.
But why New Zealand, exactly?
A growing economy and highly desirable living conditions are among the many reasons.
David and Kylie Craig, who migrated from Sydney to New Zealand’s third largest city, Hamilton, told Nine News that the semi-rural lifestyle the family has embraced since arriving three years ago was something they could never have attained back home.
“To do that in Australia or to do that in Sydney you’re looking at an hour, hour-and-a-half outside of Sydney before you could even get close to anything like this.”
On the economic side, New Zealand has seen a slight reversal in unemployment rates – with its 5 percent rate narrowly beating Australia’s 5.5 percent. Historically, Australia was the country with the better employment prospects.
Proximity is another draw card for Australian migrants. The biggest downside of moving to places like North America and Europe is the fact that close family and friends are further away. As Kylie Craig explained to Nine News:
“If we needed to we can jump on the plane and be there in a few hours, whereas, other side of the world would have been a different story.”
Likewise, mobility is a strong factor. Under the Trans-Tasman Arrangement, an agreement between Australia and New Zealand that has been in place since 1973, citizens of each country are allowed to freely visit, live and work across each other’s shores. Australia citizens and permanent residents are granted a Resident Visa to New Zealand upon arrival, allowing them to remain indefinitely in the country and giving them full rights to study and work. New Zealand citizens migrating into Australia are given a Special Category Visa, which also allows them to live and work indefinitely but is more restrictive in its entitlements.
It’s not just Australia, either
In recent years, New Zealand has been experiencing record high numbers of migration across the board. The latest figures from Statistics New Zealand placed the annual net migration for the year ended August 2017 at 72,100. Migrant arrivals peaked at 132,200 and while migrant departures were at 61,100 in the same time period.
Migration from the United Kingdom had the biggest increase on a net basis, up 47 percent to 6,700. South African net migration closely followed, with a 44 percent increase to 4,900. Chinese migration was the highest on a net basis, with 9,900 arrivals. India was the second largest at 7,300 net migrants, despite a reported drop in numbers of people entering with international student visas.
Rising immigration numbers have been at the forefront of New Zealand political debates, especially in the lead-up to the most recent elections. Infrastructural matters and property market inflation are some of the key issues encompassing these discussions. That being said, it is also recognised that strong net migration has contributed to an increase in New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product – which has seen a 2.5 percent rise in the past year.
New Zealand also gets a high influx of international visitors. In the year ended August 2017, 3.7 million people landed in the country for tourism purposes, working holidays or simply to visit their families. The number of travellers coming on holiday has been steadily increasing by 11 percent each year – which accounts for a total of 1.9 million people.
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