Kiwis a globe-trotting bunch

In the third of a five-part series on what it is to be a New Zealander, reporter Natalie Akoorie, of The New Zealand Herald discovers travel is a big part of our DNA.

Kiwis are an outward-looking, globe-trotting bunch who want to explore the world, with many planning to move overseas for work, new research shows.

The survey by Colmar Brunton shows travel is a big part of the New Zealand psyche, in part because of our country's geographical isolation.

Of the 1009 survey respondents, 85% said they wanted to travel internationally for leisure, with 49% planning to visit Europe, 35% North America, 33% Australia, 18% the Pacific Islands and 15% the United Kingdom.

University of Auckland historian Associate Prof Caroline Daley said the fact so many Kiwis were interested in travel indicated New Zealanders were open-minded and outward-looking.

''It's positive the number of people who want to go and eat different food, see different things, learn about the history of other places, have a new cultural experience.''

The survey showed more than a third of people were prepared to go to countries where the main language was not English.

''I think New Zealanders have always been outward-looking. We know that we're a long way from other places ... and we've always made efforts to be connected.''

That ethos was long-standing, she said. New Zealand had at least a 150-year history of reflecting news, culture, entertainment, fashion and other trends from overseas countries.

The survey also found 17% of respondents intended to move to another country for employment, with 58% of those nominating Australia, followed by the UK (23%), the US (17%) and Canada (9%).

Dr Tahu Kukutai, of the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at the University of Waikato, said 650,000 Kiwis lived and worked overseas.

''We're a really high mobility country - we have a lot of population churn. ... we have an increasing inward flow of immigrants so now we have one of the highest proportions in the OECD in terms of our foreign-born population.''

Almost a quarter are born outside New Zealand, but at the same time a large number of Kiwis lived in other countries. Maori were highly mobile, with one in five living overseas. This differs from other countries, where movement abroad was not commonly seen among indigenous populations, such as Australian Aborigines, American Indians or Canada's First Nations.

Dr Kukutai said that made New Zealand unique but she added there were reasons behind emigration, with economic factors at the forefront.

''The growing income gap between New Zealand and Australia just means it operates as a vacuum - it pulls people over.''

Despite New Zealand's higher cost of living, Kiwis still had money to travel and that - combined with our geographic isolation and easy entry to Australia - meant that leaving New Zealand was an attractive option for many, she said.

The survey also found that if employment opportunities and cost of living were equal across New Zealand, 22% of respondents would choose to live in Auckland, compared with Wellington (11%), followed by Christchurch (8%).

Among those Aucklanders who answered the question, 55% would stay in New Zealand's biggest city, while only 5% of those not living in Auckland would choose to live there.

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