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Exodus to New Zealand: Kiwis fleeing back home, joined by Australians

This net flow of 769 to New Zealand is the biggest since 1991 and the number of people coming to Australia is the lowest since the same year.

It comes as the country of 4.6 million is experiencing consistent political stability and strong economic performance while other countries falter.

The trend began in the middle of last year and these new figures confirm the anti-New Zealand migration is over, having peaked in 2012 when a total of more than 53,000 fled to Australia.

In 2013, the net migration flow to Australia was 19,600. By 2014, this was down to 3800. 

Halting the "brain drain" was a major campaign commitment of Prime Minister John Key who, after more than seven years in power, is a popular leader running a steady, successful government.

The continued economic growth, low unemployment numbers, strong New Zealand dollar, budget surplus and migration success story of the country are all feathers in the cap of the Prime Minister, who last year joked that you "wouldn't know who's going to show up" when you're expecting an Australian prime minister.

One victim of this revolving door of political leadership, former treasurer Joe Hockey, last year insisted that the lower tax rates of New Zealand were "unquestionably" part of the exodus.

Professor Paul Spoonley of New Zealand's Massey University says the trans-Tasman migration is highly dependent on economic factors.

"The change began in mid-2015 when the economic indicators of each country sort of flipped around.

"Indicators like unemployment and jobs growth improved in New Zealand and declined in Australia," Professor Spoonley told Fairfax Media.

Previously, the high wages and mining boom of Australia were drawcards but then economic fortunes changed and tensions increased over entitlements offered to New Zealanders.

Most New Zealanders moving to Australia must apply for a Special Category Visa, which denies them the benefits of permanent residency.

Professor Spoonley says the smaller country is attracting three types of people: New Zealand citizens or their children returning, Australians filling jobs in Australian-owned companies, and professionals seeking employment in booming industries like film production and winemaking.