Kiwi expats in Australian have always been a strong group, but figures now show that a record low number are moving to Australia.

It is easier, in terms of visa requirements, for New Zealanders to live and work in Australia and the sheer numbers of those choosing to do so over recent decades has caused concern amid talk of a brain drain.


However, the latest data from Statistics New Zealand shows that just 200 more people left for Australia than returned home last month, the smallest net loss across the Tasman Sea since records began in January 1996.

It's a far cry from the record 4,300 who left New Zealand for a life in Australia in February 2001. Some commentators claim that changes to Australia's welfare policy for New Zealand citizens could be part of the cause.

The slowdown means that the number of new arrivals in New Zealand exceeded departures by 4,100 in April, the second highest monthly total on record.

For the year to April, 34,400 more migrants arrived in New Zealand than left, up from 8,300 for the April 2013 year.

Overall, in the April 2014 year, migrant arrivals numbered 98,800, up 13% from 2013 and migrant departures numbered 64,400, down 22%. This resulted in a net gain of 34,400 migrants.

The only time annual net migration was higher was in 2002 and 2003. New Zealand recorded its highest ever net gain of 42,500 in May of 2003.

In the past year, New Zealand recorded a net loss of 11,100 migrants to Australia, well down from 34,100 a year earlier. Net gains were recorded from most other countries, led by India at 6,400, China 6,200, and the United Kingdom 5,900.

The data also shows that visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 224,200 in April 2014, up 12% from April 2013. Statistics New Zealand said that most of the increase can be attributed to the later timing of Easter and school holidays in some key source countries.

‘This year, Good Friday was in April, compared with March last year, boosting the number of visitors arriving in April 2014. In 2014, the number of visitors for March and April combined was up 1% from 2013,’ said population statistics project manager Joel Watkins.

In the April 2014 year, visitor arrivals numbered 2.78 million, up 6% from the April 2013 year. New Zealand's top four sources of visitors were Australia, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The record low number of Kiwis moving to Australia is good for New Zealand, according to Prime Minister John Key. ‘People are wanting to stay in New Zealand, and that's a good thing,’ he said.

Current Treasury forecasts predict a net migration gain of 38,000 by December, he said.