Tensions in Hong Kong are prompting some New Zealanders living there to consider returning home, say Auckland real estate agents.
Peter Thompson, managing director of the city's largest agency network Barfoot & Thompson, said political protests and instability meant both Kiwis and some Hong Kong citizens were being drawn to this country.
Some were considering shifting back permanently, he said.
"There were big changes when China reclaimed Hong Kong [in 1997] and some of the people who moved here, then went back to Hong Kong after a time, are now considering moving back [to New Zealand] again," Thompson said.
One salesperson told Thompson of a Kiwi couple -- a dentist and a doctor -- who were returning for good.
"He says Hong Kong is no longer the same," Thompson said the agent had told him.
And it's not just Barfoot & Thompson clients: agents and their friends are being drawn here.
"Two new salespeople who have both lived in Hong Kong for many years before relocating to New Zealand were discussing with a branch manager on Wednesday that many of their friends were thinking of moving across here due to the recent unrest in Hong Kong," Thompson said.
Victoria Bidwell, one of Bayleys Takapuna's top-end salespeople, said she was fielding inquiries from expatriates around the world at an unusual time of year -- mid-winter -- and believes Brexit is another factor prompting thoughts of a safer haven.
"Expats are looking to return from Hong Kong and often we get a lot of these inquires in December, January and February. But I've had them from Seattle, Hong Kong, Brussels and the UK. It's often where there's one New Zealander in the partnership."
One Kiwi couple had left Hong Kong to buy in Devonport while another was still looking, she said. Others who live here permanently, having left Hong Kong some time ago but kept ownership of their Hong Kong property "now think that's not a good idea". So they were considering selling in Hong Kong, she said.
Marcus Beveridge, immediate past convenor of the NZ Law Society's immigration committee and principal of Queen City Law, said it was not just Kiwis who were coming back, but some Hong Kong citizens were fleeing to New Zealand
"We've noticed a spike in inquiries from ones with $10m-plus," he said of new applications for investor visas. "Some have been approved," he said, referring to results in the past fortnight.
"A few of the smart operators are trying to exploit that, offering low-key seminars [to] 'get a bolthole'," said Beveridge, referring to New Zealand-based immigration consultants.
Josephine Kinsella, managing director of LJHooker and Harveys, said the Hong Kong situation was naturally a concern for expats but her network was yet to see any flow-on effects.
James Wilson, valuation innovation director at property information platform Valocity, said that if kiwis did leave Hong Kong, it might not be immediately, "Generally, the larger-scale migration away from a location comes after the initial unrest settles down."
The Herald reported last week that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had drawn up contingency plans to evacuate Kiwis from Hong Kong if necessary, as China increases its military presence across the border. Kiwis planning to travel to the Chinese territory were being told to check with their airlines, as at stage protesters had invaded airport terminals.
The ministry said last week that it routinely prepared and updated contingency plans for all locations where New Zealanders might be affected.
"These plans are kept under review to reflect our travel advice. Our current travel advisory for Hong Kong is that New Zealanders should exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest, and should contact their airline or the Hong Kong International Airport for information on flight disruptions," Mfat said then.
There are 309 New Zealanders registered on the government's Safe Travel site as being in Hong Kong. The site advises New Zealanders in the territory to avoid any protests and demonstrations. Even peaceful gatherings have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning, it says.
"New Zealanders are also advised to monitor local media for developments and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities. Expect road closures and disruptions to public transport as a result of demonstrations."
Statistics NZ data shows that more overseas people have been selling their New Zealand properties than buying them in the recent past. In the June quarter, 327 New Zealand homes were sold by overseas owners, but only 183 were bought by overseas buyers.
Many people believe New Zealand's property boom from 2001 was sparked partly by the 9/11 United States terror attacks, prompting Kiwis to return home.
But Statistics NZ studied whether that was the case.
"In fact, the number of New Zealand citizens arriving on a permanent long-term basis from countries other than the United Kingdom and the United States had been increasing since early 2001. This followed an increase in permanent long-term departures of New Zealand citizens several years earlier. Permanent long-term migration data for the last three decades shows increases or decreases in New Zealand citizen arrivals a few years after a similar trend in departures.
"This myth is a good example of how international shocks or high profile events can shape people's thinking and distract from underlying trends and facts," said Stats NZ.