Quake likely to add to emigration momentum

9:31 am on 10 March 2011

An economist expects migration patterns to be affected by the Christchurch earthquake, with some "fed-up" Cantabrians likely to move to Australia.

Statistics New Zealand figures released on Wednesday show that the number of long-term and permanent migrants to New Zealand fell to a seven-month low in January.

ASB economist Jane Turner says immigration has been slowing in the past year, as more New Zealanders head to Australia to take advantage of its stronger labour market - and she expects the quake will only add to that momentum.

For people getting out of Christchurch, she says, "It will be relatively more difficult to find a job somewhere else in New Zealand compared to Australia, so that will attract some more people across the Tasman."

On the other hand, Ms Turner says, that would help the economy in some ways - for instance, by easing demand on a tight housing supply.

She also says that, while things were looking up for the tourism sector before the quake, with visitor arrivals climbing 1.4% in December and 2% in January, that improvement looks unlikely to continue.

Ms Turner says the Rugby World Cup should provide a much-needed boost to tourism later this year.