New Zealand immigration declining, emigration increasing

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New Zealand is continuing to experience a decline in immigration and more New Zealand citizens are leaving the country, mainly to Australia.

According to Statistics New Zealand, migration figures for the year ending in October 2007 showed a net migration gain of 7,500, down from 13,800 in the year ending in October 2006. The net migration gain for the year ending in October 2007 was below the national average of 12,200 recorded for the December years from 1990-2006.

However, there was a substantial variation in net long-term migration within the 1990-2006 period. Migration peaked in the April 1996 year at 30,200 and again at 42,500 for the May 2003 year. Migration outflows were generally experienced from 1998-2001, with the highest being a net loss of 13,200 people in the February 2001 year.

Net immigration to New Zealand from the United Kingdom for the year ending October 2007 was 7,700 -- down from 11,100 from the previous year. Net immigration from India and the Philippines each totalled 3,300 and net migration from Fiji during the October 2007 year was 2,400.

Australia was New Zealand's second largest source of migrants in the October 2007 year, behind the United Kingdom. Returning New Zealand citizens accounted for almost two-thirds of migrants from Australia.

The net long-term migration outflow to Australia was 26,500 in the October 2007 year, compared with 20,700 in the October 2006 year. The highest October year net outflow to Australia in the past decade was 27,100 in 2001.

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith highlighted that the exodus of New Zealand citizens for the year ending October 2007 was the highest in a decade.

"The only consistent feature is that 87 percent of New Zealand citizens leaving continue to go to Australia," Dr. Smith said.

"Clearly, more and more New Zealanders are voting with their feet as they find Labour's high tax, 'Government knows best' policies are leaving less opportunity for the future than they see in Australia," he added.

New Zealand citizens have special benefits when immigrating to Australia, including the ability to apply for offshore skilled visas under Australia's General Skilled Migration program from within the country, while citizens from other nations have to apply from abroad.