Life in New Zealand

You’ve probably seen the 100% Pure New Zealand ads, Lord of the Rings films and “documentaries” (I use the term loosely) showing new migrants’ first few days in New Zealand. You may also have read the following statement from the Department Of Labour’s Website:

Source: New Start. New Opportunities. New Zealand

“In many ways it’s not what we have that’s important to our quality of life – it’s what we don’t have! We don’t have high crime rates, our police don’t carry guns and instances of corruption are virtually unheard of. We don’t have abject poverty or hunger and we don’t have the pollution, congestion, health issues and cramped city living that we see elsewhere.

More on that later.

There are some other avenues of research to wander down if you’re interesting in getting a more balanced view of NZ life, away from the glare of the scenery. First, some mainstream works depicting life in New Zealand:

Once Were Warriors

source: Wikipedia
“New Zealand author Alan Duff‘s bestselling first novel, first published in 1990. It tells the story of an urban Māori family, the Hekes, and portrays the reality of domestic violence. It was the basis of a 1994 film of the same name, directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison. The novel was followed by two sequels, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? in 1997 and Jake’s Long Shadow in 2002.

Whale Rider
Source: Wikipedia
“A 2003 film directed by Niki Caro, based on the 1987 novel The Whale Rider by New Zealand Māori author Witi Ihimaera. The world premiere was on September 9, 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival”

World’s Fastest Indian

Source: Wikipedia
“A film based on the legendary New Zealand speed bike racer Burt Munro. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1000 cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Many of his records still stand to this day.”

Where else to look? Most of the Daily Newspapers have an on-line edtion. A list is here, you may like to find the news for the region you’re interested in. There are also many online forums where migrants discuss the ins and outs of migration in many countries, some of these sites have a tendency to supress what are perceived to be negative comments about New Zealand.

“We don’t have high crime rates”

Crime Statistics
According to Nationmaster New Zealand has the second highest rate of reported crime in the world at a rate of 105.881 per 1,000 people. The top ten countries are ranked as

  1. Dominica
  2. New Zealand
  3. Finland
  4. Denmark
  5. Chile
  6. UK
  7. Monteserrat
  8. USA
  9. Netherlands
  10. South Africa

A more detailed breakdown for the statistics of different types of crimes may be found in the document New Zealand Crime Statistics 2007.

As you can see the incidence of violent crime is cause for concern (click on image to enlarge)

Hardly a day goes by without a news report of an armed robbery, unprovoked assault, incident of domestic violence or other violent crime. Here are just some of thre crime reports from around the country that are in the news today.

Woman’s Body Found in Flat
Source: NZ Herald, Wed 3 Sept, 2008
“Police have launched a homicide investigation after a woman was found dead and a man injured at a central Auckland apartment building yesterday.

Police were called to the apartment in Winchester St by ambulance services shortly before 4pm.

A man in his 20s who called police to the apartments is expected to remain under police guard at the hospital for several days, as he is treated for a serious injury to his hand.”

Gang role in Bashing Probed
Source: NZ Herald, Wed 3 Sept, 2008
Police are investigating whether youth gangs were involved in a brutal attack which left a South Auckland teenager in a critical condition.

“Tuatu Cecil, 19, is in Middlemore Hospital with head injuries after he was attacked by a group in Papakura about 2am on Sunday.

Police found him unconscious after responding to reports of a group of people fighting near netball courts on Smiths Ave.

Detective Inspector Mark Gutry said police had been busy interviewing people in the area where the attack happened. He said Mr Cecil had been attacked after a fight or altercation between two groups of people.”

Police Hunt Sydenham Sex Attacker
Source: wed. 3 Sept, 2008
“Christchurch police are seeking information from the public after a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at 6.30 last night.

The girl was walking along Selwyn Street in Sydenham when she was attacked from behind and dragged onto the grounds of Christchurch South Intermediate School.

The offender is described as a male, possibly wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and it is believed he left the school grounds via the Selwyn Street exit.

Police would like to hear from a man who was seen walking a white labrador in the area at the time.

Girl Told Accused About Sex Abuse
Source: Dominion Post Wed. 3 Sept, 2008
“A 10-year-old girl sexually abused by a paedophile – who was killed in a vigilante attack to avenge the abuse – feared he would hurt someone else if she did not speak up.

Glen Stinson, a paedophile with convictions dating to the 1960s and on bail for fresh sex charges against young girls, was killed on July 31 last year. It is alleged that he was punched and kicked to death after he was found touching the girl at a party. His body was dumped on the country driveway of a poultry farm in Foxton.

Aubrey Harrison, 27, and a woman who has name suppression, 32, have been jointly charged with his murder. They deny the charge. Bruce Tamatea has pleaded guilty.

Ambulance officer guilty of indecent assaults on patients
Source: NZherald Wed. 3 September, 2008
“A 35-year-old former ambulance driver has been found guilty of indecently assaulting patients in the back of an ambulance in Auckland in 1999 and 2000.

A jury at the Auckland District Court found the man guilty of six counts of indecent assault, four of which were on a 16-year-old schoolgirl who had been injured in a car crash.

He was acquitted of sexual violation and four other indecent assault charges.

The man has interim name suppression.

Xue Strangled Wife With Tie
Source: NZHerald Wed. 3 September, 2008
“Nai Yin Xue, who abandoned his daughter in a Melbourne railway station, used a yellow tie to strangle his wife before dumping her body in the boot of his car, a court was told today.

At a depositions hearing in Auckland District Court, crown prosecutor Brian Dickey presented evidence in the case against Xue who is charged with murdering his wife An An Liu last September.

The depositions hearing has been set down for two days, before two justices of the peace.

“Our Police Don’t Carry Guns”

Rise in Public Support for Police to Carry Guns
Source: NZHerald Thurs 24 July 2008
“New Zealanders have changed their minds about an unarmed police force. More than half of those in a new survey want the police to carry firearms.

Just five years ago a majority were still opposed to the idea. Only 33 per cent supported it. Now 53 per cent would approve.

The survey of 500 people by Research New Zealand has also revealed that 44 per cent of the public are more concerned about their personal safety than they were last year.

People were asked: “How much do you approve or disapprove of the Police carrying guns?”

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said the findings reflected a nation worried by a steady increase in serious violent crimes, mostly related to methamphetamine.

“It’s a clear reflection of the disturbed public feeling about the amount of violence out there,” he said.

A 2003 survey of (police)association members showed that 64 per cent did not want, or were opposed to, the general arming of police, he said.

By 2005, that figure had risen to 69 per cent.