Many New Zealanders living in Australia change their Kiwi accents because they are sick of getting picked on, a University of Canterbury researcher says.

Rosemary Baird has completed a doctorate thesis on Kiwis living in Australia, looking at New Zealanders who had migrated to Australia from 1950 through to the 1990s.

Baird found that while some became loyal Aussies, many were adamant they would remain New Zealand citizens.

The majority felt that although New Zealand still claimed their national loyalty, over time Australia had become their home, she said.


"A lot of Kiwis in Australia love to show their New Zealand connections during a Trans-Tasman sporting match but others try and hide their Kiwi heritage because they get sick of being teased," Baird said.

"Many Kiwis over there are proud when they choose to be, although many are happy to fly under the radar."

Baird carried out her research under supervision by Professor Philippa Mein Smith and Associate Professor Lyndon Fraser.

Professor Smith said the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated in 2009 that 529,000 New Zealanders were recorded as living in Australia, although she said the number is believed to be substantially higher than that.

Baird's survey found the strain of sustaining relationships with those across the Tasman led them to return to New Zealand but most ended up returning to Australia.

"Most Kiwis disliked Australians' negative attitudes towards indigenous Aboriginal Australians and prided themselves on New Zealand's supposedly superior race relations with Maori," she said.

"Those Kiwis who lived in rural Australia interacted more with aboriginal Australians and were more likely to have witnessed severe social problems among Aboriginal communities."

New Zealanders are the second biggest migrant group in Australia, Baird said.

"Kiwis in Australia are in many ways invisible migrants. Once in Australia, trans-Tasman networks sustained migrants emotionally but also caused feelings of homesickness. Creating networks with others in Australia was vital in helping migrants find companionship, practical support and a sense of belonging."

Baird said the economically-focused coverage of New Zealand migration to Australia is a one-sided representation, failing to account for the range of motives Kiwis have for moving across the ditch.

"Kiwis who move to Australia are neither traitors, nor faceless participants in a social trend. Rather they are individuals with their own complex mix of hopes, dreams, problems and relationships," she said.