New Zealand experienced a brain drain in March not seen on a similar scale for over four years, latest Statistics New Zealand migration figures released today show.

Permanent long-term departures from New Zealand exceeded arrivals by 1440 in March.

The last time New Zealand experienced such a net migration loss was in early 2001, SNZ said.

There were small net losses experienced last year in March, April, May and June.

In the year to March, New Zealand had a net 10,000 migration gain. That is down 64 per cent from the 28,000 net inflow in the previous March year.

Permanent arrivals in the month of March totalled 5300 and for the year, came to 78,100. Departures came to 6800 in March and 68,100 in the year.

New Zealand is still experiencing reasonably strong immigration from other countries but New Zealand citizens are quitting the country in greater numbers, particularly for Australia.

In March, 4800 New Zealand citizens left permanently against 1700 arrivals for a net loss of 3100. Over the year, there was a net loss of 20,600 with 45,300 permanent departures against 24,700 arrivals.

Non-New Zealand arrivals in March came to 3600 against departures of 2000 while over the year there 53,300 long-term arrivals and 22,700 departures.

There were net inflows from Asia and Fiji of 200 each in March while the net outflow to Australia came to 2100.

Compared with the March 2004 year, non-New Zealand citizen arrivals were down 6900 and non-New Zealand departures were up 3000. There were 2500 fewer New Zealand citizen arrivals and 5600 more New Zealand citizen departures.