Young Kiwis leading the charge to return home

The largest influx of returning Kiwis is coming from Australia as its economy weakens.

Young New Zealanders are leading the homeward charge, with the largest influx of returning Kiwis coming from Australia as its economy weakens.

A Treasury note on trends in external migration says "net inflows for several age groups have turned more positive very quickly, (but) 20 to 24 year-olds have seen the sharpest change".

"This has come through both a fall in departures and an increase in arrivals. In keeping with overall trends, a significant proportion of the increase is arrivals from Australia, with a high proportion of these arrivals New Zealand citizens (i.e., returning Kiwis)."

Treasury notes that the recent trends mean net inward migration and consequent population growth is far higher than its forecasts, and could put additional pressure on the overheated Auckland and Christchurch property markets, where a disproportionate proportion of new arrivals settle.

"If the recent pace of net inflow is maintained, the net inflow of migrants could reach 20,000 by the start of 2014," says Treasury, whose own forecasts had seen net inflows peaking at 13,000 by the middle of next year.

"It is difficult to say and when at what level this cycle of net migration will peak," although it was a logical consequence of a weaker Australian economy and the prospects of "solid expansion" in the New Zealand economy in the next few years.

Smaller numbers of people leaving to live in Australia are also contributing the large net inflows, as the end of that country's mining boom and softening economic conditions made it less attractive to New Zealanders, who have an automatic right to work in Australia.