It's a good thing New Zealand has plenty of cattle, because these days it needs a lot of fatted calves: its prodigal sons are coming home in record numbers. Long resigned to losing its best and brightest to the bright lights and big cities of Asia, Europe and North America, the country is suddenly witnessing a reverse brain drain. The global economic downturn, combined with post-9/11 anxiety, is driving many expatriate Kiwis back to their antipodean homeland. It helps that New Zealand's economy, like Australia's, is bucking the global trend and growing at around 4%.
Last year produced a 13% increase in the number of New Zealanders coming home, and a 28% fall in the numbers leaving. Immigration numbers are up, too. The country recorded a net permanent and long-term migration gain of 32,820 people, compared with a net loss of 9,270 the year before.
Apart from economic considerations, psychologists say many returning expats are "cocooning" away from the insecurities of war and terrorism which helps explain why the greatest increase in resettlement occurred after 9/11. In these troubled times, the other side of the world seems the safest place to be.