THE number of people from this district leaving to live in Australia has doubled in Gisborne and more than tripled in Wairoa in the past three years.
Statistics New Zealand figures show residents from both Gisborne and Wairoa are leaving in much higher numbers than before and are among the top 10 worst- affected districts in the country.
Gisborne is losing around one percent of its population with a 13.73 percent increase in the number of people leaving in 2011/2012 compared with 2009/2010. This is based on the number out of 1000 who have moved to Australia in the past year.
Statistics show 640 people from here left for Australia in the 2011/2012 year. This compares with 318 in the previous period.
Wairoa’s increase is 13.41 percent, based on the number of people out of 1000 who moved in the past year. In 2009/2010 there were 29. This more than tripled to 112 in 2011/2012.
Wairoa deputy mayor Denise Eaglesome said job instability and higher wages attracted Wairoa people across the ditch.
“It’s a little bit of a concern for us that people are leaving to go over there.
“Over the past couple of years with the Affco strikes is probably where the majority of the numbers have come from — they need to pay their bills, they need security and they need continuity in their work.”
Of those migrating to Australia from the Gisborne region, 52 percent were aged between 20 and 30 with a near 50 percent split between male and female.
One Gisborne man joined the exodus in November after finishing his mechanic’s apprenticeship.
“He worked for a year, then went to Australia,” says the 27-year-old man’s Gisborne-based brother.
“Because there are so many Gisborne people over there, it’s easy to bunk with your mates until you find your own place. When you’re in Perth, you hear Kiwis saying ‘where are all the Aussies?’ because most people they work with are New Zealanders.
“The incentive is to go into the mines. Even my brother said he wouldn’t mind getting into the mines because that’s where the money is. Perth is where the money is to be made because it’s supported by the mines.”
Gisborne Intermediate principal Don Niven said families moving to Australia were noticeable but not significant.
Last year four families moved to Australia and this year there were five.
With the schools roll at 550 this equates to one student in every 110.
“The number of families moving to Australia is more or less normal. We haven’t noticed a huge movement this year.”
Mr Niven said two families had returned home this year and enrolled their children at Gisborne Intermediate.
One local landlord said their former tenant had moved to Australia with very little notice.
“They seemed to feel that they had struggled for long enough and that there was not a lot here for them,” she said.
“But they didn’t seem to have a lot of support over there so I just hope that things are working out.”
Despite the exodus, Statistics New Zealand shows a slight 0.2 increase in the Gisborne district’s population in 2011 despite more than 1000 people migrating to Australia in the last two years.
This compares with New Zealand’s overall population increase of 0.9 percent.