A record number of people left for Australia last year with 53,200 heading across the Tasman, Statistics New Zealand says.
And while 13,800 people moved here from Australia, that wasn't enough to also avoid an annual record net loss of 39,500. (numbers are rounded)
Overall, New Zealand had a net loss of 3400 migrants in the March 2012 year. Annual net migration has been negative since the October 2011 year, and peaked at 4100 in the February 2012 year.
In the March 2012 year, there were net gains of migrants from most other countries, led by the United Kingdom (5500), India (5200), and China (5000).
For just the second month since the big Canterbury earthquake, New Zealand posted a small net gain in migrants in March - but it was just 100 more arriving than leaving in seasonally adjusted terms.
Unadjusted raw figures showed 600 more arrivals and 400 fewer departures of non-New Zealand citizens in March 2012. There were also 300 more departures of New Zealand citizens to Australia.
The number of Christchurch residents migrating overseas in March 2012 was 600, returning to a level similar to March 2010 (500), before the quakes.
Departures from Christchurch in March 2011 (1100) jumped following the previous month's devastating earthquake.
- © Fairfax NZ News