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BUSINESSDESK: The net outflow of Kiwis moving permanently to Australia for a better life slowed in May, with the first monthly decline since April 2010.
There was a net loss of 3200 migrants to Australia last month, down from 3300 in May 2011, the first time the monthly net loss has declined since April 2010, Statistics New Zealand says.
The annual net loss eased back to 39,600 in May from 39,800 in April.
Total migration for May for all countries was a loss of 1800, down from 2100 a year earlier. The annual net loss was 3700.
People have been quitting New Zealand for Australia for years as they seek higher wages and a better standard of living, creating a political issue for the National government, which has vowed to reverse the trend.
Figures this week showing the New Zealand economy grew 1.1% in the first quarter, closing in on Australia's growth of 1.3%, which may hint that the appeal of migrating will abate.
The report also showed the exodus from Christchurch has slowed.
"After the February 2011 earthquake, 800 Christchurch residents moved overseas in May 2011," Statistics NZ said. "Five hundred Christchurch residents moved overseas in May 2012, the same as in May 2010."
Some 400 migrants settled in Christchurch last month, up from 100 a year earlier.
On an annual basis, the number of short-term visitor arrivals rose 1% to 140,800, with a 51% increase in visitors from China to 12,900, the highest ever.
Visitors from Japan rose 20% to 3000, showing a partial recovery toward the May 2010 level of 5300 visitors after Japan's own earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Overseas trips by New Zealand residents fell by 2500 to 179,300 when compared with a year earlier.