Manawatu charm wins Aussies over

Last updated 12:00 11/03/2014

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People look at Stuart Edmunds quizzically when he explains that he moved from Melbourne to Palmerston North last year.

In reality he is one of a growing number of Australians choosing Manawatu as a place to live.

More Australians migrated to the region in 2013 than in any of the previous 20 years, newly released Statistics New Zealand figures based on airport arrival cards show. Mr Edmunds, his wife, and 333 others made the shift across the Tasman in 2013, up from 198 in 2011 and 219 in 2012.

Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford says the move has been buoyed by better economic conditions and a change in law that allows Australian superannuitants to bring their money with them.

"Because we are becoming a place where more people are retiring to, the changes in superannuation are probably pretty significant.

"We are not quite the Kapiti Coast yet but it's a growth industry and a lot of it is about affordability."

The number of Australians aged 65 to 69 who shifted to New Zealand in 2013 increased significantly, although it was hard to know whether that was also reflected in Manawatu as there was no regional breakdown of age splits, Mr Crawford said.

Nationwide the number of Australians migrating to New Zealand increased from 14,880 in 2012 to 19,549 last year.

"Given Canterbury is such a big driver of growth, there's a lot of data where you would expect us to be behind the eight ball. To be doing quite well in something like migration, particularly from a place like Australia, is really encouraging."

Mr Edmunds is not retired. The former Massey University student says the region is "a very mellow place and great for raising a family".

"If we want to go somewhere bigger for a little bit, like Wellington or Auckland, we don't have to think about it, we just jump in the car and do it."

Chief operating officer at the newly established New Zealand Taxi Communications call centre on Tremaine Ave, Greg Burgchard said he came to Palmerston North last year mainly because of a promotion.

He liked the city, and the cost of living meant he would have been earning more than in Australia, even if he had not been promoted.

The number of migrants to Manawatu from countries other than Australia and Britain decreased from 1023 in 2012 to 928 last year.

Mr Crawford said most of the drop-off could probably be explained by trends around international students, particularly roll caps.

"If there's New Zealanders waiting for places, then universities are having to turn down international students and allow New Zealanders in. UCOL are definitely feeling the effects of that, particularly in veterinary nursing. It seems a pity that these institutions are doing everything they can to attract students and the Government is getting in the way."

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- Manawatu Standard

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