Earthquake makes NZ's 32-year high monthly migration loss

11:11, June 21, 2011      

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The number of New Zealanders emigrating to Australia last month was the highest for the month of May in more than 30 years, driven largely by an exodus from the earthquake-stricken city of Christchurch.

Permanent and long-term departures to Australia outnumbered arrivals by 3,300 last month, more than the previous record for a May month of 2,900 in 1979, said a statement from Statistics New Zealand, the government statistics agency, Tuesday.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, that resulted in a net migration loss of 400 people in May, said the statement.

Net migration had been negative since March, when departures from Christchurch jumped after the earthquake that killed at least 181 people in the city on Feb. 22, it said.

An estimated 800 people left from Christchurch last month, compared with about 500 in May last year, bringing total departures from the city since Feb. 22 to 1,300 more than the same period last year.

The number of arrivals was down by 400 from the same period of 2010.

New Zealand had a net migration gain of 4,600 in the year to May, down from 18,000 the previous year, and below the average annual net migration gain of 12,000 over the last 20 years.

The decrease in net migration compared with 2010 was mainly due to an increase in departures to Australia, said the statement.

Meanwhile, short-term trips by New Zealand residents were up 10 percent last month from May 2010, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The 181,900 short-term departures were a record for a May month, higher than the previous record of 174,000 in 2008, with more trips were taken to Australia, the Cook Islands, and South-East Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore).

"The increase in trips to Malaysia and Singapore follows the launch of new flights to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore earlier this year," population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.

"The increase in trips to Thailand, while influenced by the new flights, was also a recovery after civil unrest in that country in May 2010."

Visitor arrivals in May, at 140,700, were just under the 141, 300 recorded in May 2010.

More visitors came from Australia and twice as many visitors came from Malaysia, said the statement.

The increase from Malaysia was also influenced by the launch of flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch in April 2011, and additional Singapore-Auckland flights that started in March 2011.

Fewer visitors arrived from Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom had declined in most months since April 2007, while arrivals from Japan and Korea dropped noticeably after the Christchurch earthquake in February.

Source: Xinhua
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