Fewer people leaving region each year

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 25/06/2014

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More people chose to leave the region than arrive last month, but a steady drop in year-on-year departure numbers is a positive sign, an expert says.

According to permanent and long-term travel data, which was released this week by Statistics New Zealand, more people left the Manawatu-Whanganui region than arrived during last month.

Permanent and long-term departures and arrivals include New Zealand residents migrating for an intended period of 12 months or more, plus overseas visitors leaving the country after a stay of 12 months or more.

The Manawatu-Whanganui region lost 213 people while only 130 arrived last month. Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford linked the figures to international students graduating.

"Palmerston North's data is affected a lot by the student arrivals and departures."

The picture across 12 months is different. Net migration increased by 341 people in the year to May, compared to a net loss of 219 people in the year to May last year - a difference of 560 people over 12 months.

He said it was a positive sign for the region that year-on-year departures were decreasing and linked it to better job prospects in New Zealand.

"Some of it will be reduced job prospects in Australia. It may be that people think their prospects of getting a job are better here so they may not have a job at the moment, so they're preferring to stay rather than move elsewhere."

Vision Manawatu's regional business manager Mark Hargreaves said it was a recognition that the New Zealand economy was buoyant.

"There are plenty of job opportunities in plenty of different sectors, but equally so, the climate for job opportunities in the traditional markets of Australia are shrinking."

New Zealand had a seasonally adjusted net gain of 4000 migrants in May 2014.

Statistics New Zealand said this was partly due to fewer New Zealand citizens leaving for Australia.

For Ripeka Ohlson-Fiamatai, originally from Palmerston North, the appeal is still there.

Ohlson-Fiamatai, 26, moved with her husband and three children from Palmerston North to Sydney in December last year.

She said they didn't plan on moving home any time soon.

"Living over here is way easier . . . it's so much better."

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- Manawatu Standard

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