Website not attracting NZ expats as hoped

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A major campaign by the New Zealand government using a website to entice expats to return home is experiencing falling visitor numbers.

The site - - made headlines in December for publishing a list comparing English and New Zealand prices on items such as condoms, protein smoothies and Big Macs. The site was launched last year as part of a $3 million Department of Labour campaign to combat the brain drain.

The Herald on Sunday reported that the number of unique visitors to the site has dropped by 80 per cent since the launch, from 28,416 in November to 5465 last month. Almost half the visitors are from within New Zealand or an unknown domain.

Traffic bottomed out in January with just 4504 unique visitors.

Launching the website amid much advertising in November, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said the campaign's effectiveness would be judged by the attitudes of expats towards New Zealand and the number of hits on the site.

Despite that aim, Department of Labour spokesman Richard Ninness said the Department did not have targets for desired visitor numbers. The site's performance was in line with expectations. "That drop in numbers is not something we're concerned about at the moment."

Around 460,000 New Zealand citizens live overseas, including 355,000 across Australia (77 per cent) and 58,000 (13 per cent) in Britain.