Monday, 4 February 2008

'Exodus' myth pepetuated on Kiwiblog

On Kiwiblog, there are complaints about the 'exodus' of Kiwis from New Zealand (1), citing figures showing that 77,801 permanent or long term residents left the country in 2007 (2). Fair enough, and entirely accurate. New Zealanders have always gone abroad in droves, to see the world. It is called the 'Great O.E.' I'm sure Mr Farrar is familiar with the term.

The fact that more people are going abroad long term does not indicate an 'exodus' (a term deliberately chosen, I suspect, because of its suggestion of harried slaves fleeing tyranny), but that ... um ... people are choosing to go abroad long term. Which would be a worry if they weren't coming back. But there is nothing in the figures provided to support that. In fact, quite the opposite.

He forgets to mention that 2007 saw 82,572 long term ENTRANTS - either new immigrants, long term visitors (12 months or more) or - and this is the important part, ladies and gentlemen - New Zealanders returning home after long periods abroad (3). So the country is not being depopulated as people flee to foreign climes.

That's one strike. There is another, far more serious flaw in his complaint. This year shows a net gain - a thumbs up. And in all but three of the last ten years (1998, 1999 and 2000 being the loss years), the country has been given the migrationary thumbs up (4). There has been sustained, positive net migration. That important factoid appeared to escape Farrar's beady eye.

What does this mean? It's obvious. People want to come here. New immigrants are coming to the country. Kiwis living abroad are returning. It's perceived as a good place to be. Farrar, of course, can't acknowledge this - after almost of Labour and Comrade Clarke, it is essential to maintain the idea that the country is on a par with North Korea, in terms of residential desirability. But it just isn't true.
1 - 'Record numbers leaving,' post on kiwiblog, 4th of february, 2008. (http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/02/record_numbers_leaving.html)
2 - The figures were obtained from Statistics New Zealand, detailing arrivals and departures, long and short term, in 2007. (http://www.stats.govt.nz/products-and-services/hot-off-the-press/external-migration/external-migration-dec07-hotp.htm?page=para004Master)
3 - ibid.
4 - ibid.

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