Where have all the Kiwis gone? Looks like they’ve jumped the ditch to Aussie, bro

New Zealand suffered a net migration loss of 27,000 people to Australia in 2023, the highest number for a decade.

Jul 10, 2024, updated Jul 10, 2024
Nett migration from New Zealand to Australia was more than 27,000 last year, figures have revealed.  (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Nett migration from New Zealand to Australia was more than 27,000 last year, figures have revealed. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

More than 44,500 Kiwis sought to escape the post-pandemic economic downturn, compared with 17,500 Australians heading the other way.

While the number of Australians heading to NZ was roughly steady since 2021, the number of Kiwis in the departure lounges is spiking.

Not since 2013 have so many NZ citizens sought to make Australia their home.

In recent decades, NZ has generally experienced a loss of citizens to Australia each year.

The exception was in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, when border settings resulted in a net migration gain with Australia.

The gains are attributed to the go-home factor during COVID and favourable NZ living and economic conditions through the pandemic.

However, the restoration of business-as-usual border settings and an slumping economy has pushed Kiwis to the exit door.

From a net trans-Tasman migration gain of 7500 in 2020, NZ lost 5500 citizens in 2021, 14500 in 2022 and now 17500 in 2023.

New Zealanders are able to live and work in Australia, and vice versa, through specially-created visas.

Recent Australian policy shifts have sweetened the offer for would-be Kiwi migrants.

In 2023, Australia improved the path to citizenship for migrating Kiwis, allowing them to apply after four years of residency.

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Citizenship brings a raft of benefits, including a social security safety net, access to student loans and to work a range of public service and defence roles set aside only for Australians.

Australian employers seeking workers in key industries – including policing and nursing – have also invested in campaigns to lure workers, including sign-on bonuses and covering moving costs.

The growing number of Kiwis choosing to up sticks for Australia comes as NZ radically lifts its population through migration from other countries.

It has been welcoming more than 10,000 migrants every month since the start of 2023 in a record boom, primarily to fill skills shortages.

Migrants from India lead the way, with 51,000 arriving in 2023, along with many from Philippines (36,000), China (26,900) and Fiji (11,100).

Kiwis leaving for Australia in 2023 skewed slightly younger and more overseas-born than the general population.

More than one-third (36 per cent) of trans-Tasman migrants were born overseas (27 per cent of the general population), with 52 per cent than half aged 20-39.

The record single calendar year brain drain – or brain gain for Australia – was 2011, when a net 43,000 left: more than one per cent of the population.

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