Things are changing, however. Statistics released by New Zealand on Monday shows that 25,273 people migrated from New Zealand to Australia last year, making it the first time in 24 years that more people have migrated that way than vice versa. The statistics also show that the number of Australians migrating to New Zealand is the largest it has been since 1991.
The logic behind the shift seems simple enough: New Zealand's economy is buoyant right now, with a strong New Zealand dollar and a budget surplus as well as a stable government under Prime Minister John Key, who has been in office since 2008. Meanwhile in Australia, a mining boom that once made the economy the envy of the world has turned to a bust as commodity prices dropped, and it's not entirely clear what will replace it. Unemployment has soared, as has a sizable budget deficit, while cost of living remains high.
Additionally, Australia's ever-changing political leadership – the country has seen four prime ministers since 2013 – has made the nation the butt of jokes. Even Key got in on the action last year, telling an audience that it would be exciting if an event was held in Australia as people would say: "We know the Prime Minister's coming, we just don't know who's going to turn up."
While there has been some triumphantilism in the New Zealand press, analysts have cautioned that things may be more complicated than they first seem. Much of the migration appears to be New Zealanders returning to New Zealand, leading some to suggest that new visa laws imposed by Australia on New Zealanders in 2001 may finally be having an effect.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Michael Gordon, a senior economist at Westpac, also cautioned that Australia was now reporting strong jobs growth so the balance could tip back again. "If this trend continues, New Zealand will eventually become a less attractive destination," Gordon said.
Still, right now it looks like the shoe is finally on the other foot. As the Australian newspaper put it in one article published last year, it's time for the "Revenge of the Kiwis" – for the time being at least.