New Zealand Is Third World

This is a statement we’ve often seen and heard bandied around, how true is it exactly and what does ‘third world’ mean to people these days?

This blog post is going to be progressive one, as we collect more information it will be added to but here’s the starter to get the ball rolling- some comments from an expat forum, this is what immigrants are saying, let’s see where it takes us:

“Is New Zealand a 3rd World Country? Sometimes it feels like it, what do your think? Poverty is one reason. Broadband connection another. I am sure there are many others for and against

  • The longer I stay here the more crap I see. I think NZ is not going the ‘right’ way. I want my kids to have citizenship if only so they have a life in Oz if they don’t chose Europe. I would hate for them to be ‘stuck’ here. Oz offers waaay more opportunities for the long as there’s enough water for everyone in the coming years. NZ may be better from that point of view. So they will have a great career but will wilt into oblivion through lack of water. I’ll get my coat.
  • I wouldn’t say a third world country either but I am feeling more unsettled now after 3 + years than ever, just wondering now that I have lived here could I do it again somewhere new. Must be watching too much of A place in the sun on UK tv!! Europe calls to me but at our age I think we are kind of stuck now!!
    we have a nice warm insulated house in a nice suburb on the south island out of chch but even I am wondering what the North would be like if we could afford to relocate and find a job! Maybe that is the answer to getting bored here! Maybe I just need a holiday 🙂
  • It,s not exactly third world but it is way behind in attitudes, there is a huge divide between the have,s and have not,s I think the place needs another 10 million people to become viable but it will never be allowed to happen
  • Never thought this would cunjure up such a debate from both side sof the camp, really really surpised that everyone has talked about what they have and how they feel and themselves etc etc.
    Has anyone seen the poverty around them all over the place there are some people/families out there who have not eaten in days, some kids going to school with our children who have no shoes, or have not eaten and are not going to be eating soon. I heard a story last week from my friends kid who said he gave his lunch away to a boy at school who said he had no lunch and hadn’t eaten since the day before and all he had was dry bread.If we don’t live in a 3rd World country, well what sort of a world do we live in, I find this sort of stuff the things that make a country what it is, look after your future by looking after your young make them what we want them to be and this country will thrive, but no everyone is looking out for themselves. “the rich get richer and the poor are getting poorer”, this statement is so New Zealand.Please do not take this as a dig at anyone on here, it just angers me that some people in New Zealand are so short sighted.
    Glad to see most people are enjoying their time here anyway!”

Politician Winston Peters, ex NZ foreign minister who thinks that NZ is descending into third world status, he had this to say in a recent speech:

A trip to the third world – watch your wallet (March 2010)
Today let us to start by asking a question – how do you describe a country in the following situation:

Most of its banks are owned somewhere else – just like New Zealand. No other developed country has such a high proportion of its financial system in foreign ownership.  The country has lost control of its strategic and prime assets. A great proportion of the productive economy is owned by foreigners. There are few restrictions on foreigners gaining key assets -like energy and communications – just like New Zealand.

The main cities are full of immigrant taxi drivers – a form of disguised unemployment – like New Zealand. Wellington alone has 1700 cab drivers.

The country has a chronic balance of payments problem –like New Zealand.

The telecommunications system is prone to breakdown and failure – even the emergency numbers – like New Zealand.

Regulation of the financial sector is a sick joke. Thousands can be robbed of their hard won savings by rascals who avoid being called to account – just like New Zealand.

The young, the educated, the talented and the enterprising see opportunities elsewhere – not in their own country – like New Zealand.

Nothing is sacrosanct – even the conservation estate can be plundered (often by foreign owned mining companies) – just like New Zealand.

It loses its commuter train services around the capital, leaving passengers to walk along railway lines – and once again just like New Zealand.

Makes political decisions about changing the electoral system behind closed doors – just like New Zealand.

Increases taxes on the poor and the elderly to give to the wealthy.

This is how you describe that country – and it hurts me to say this – you describe it as descending into the Third World.

That’s right.

This country – once described by that famous West Coaster Richard John Seddon – as “God’s Own” is in a spot of trouble and nobody appears to be doing anything constructive about it…”

But Mr Peters didn’t say anything about the poverty in New Zealand, the ever widening gap between the haves and the have nots or the health of its residents.

Can you believe that New Zealand is afflicted with third world illnesses like Rheumatic Fever that are rampant in Maori and Pacific Island children? Rheumatic heart disease isn’t found that much in Europe or America any more, but it is found a lot in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa – and in pockets of New Zealand. (source)

We’ve often seen the telecommications industry in New Zealand berated for being third world:

“Telecom customers in Manawatu-Rangitikei say they are sick of “Third World” phone and internet services.

Customers, many of whom live in rural areas, have complained of noisy phone lines, disconnections and crippling internet speeds.

Stacey de Vorms, from Levin, said she had been unable to use her phone line for about two months…”

January 2008. John Key said on the eve of the election

“We are among the foothill nations at the base of the OECD wealth mountain. Number 22 for income per person, and falling…”

• Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
• Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?

• Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
• Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
• Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
• Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
• Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
• Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
• Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?..

..This time a year ago, I talked about the underclass that has been allowed to develop in New Zealand. Labour said the problem didn’t exist. They said there was no underclass in New Zealand.

But who now could deny it? 2007 showed us its bitter fruits. The dramatic drive-by shooting of two-year-old Jhia Te Tua, caught in a battle between two gangs in Wanganui. The incidence of typhoid, a Third World disease, reaching a 20-year high. The horrific torture and eventual death of three-year-old Nia Glassie. The staggering discovery of a lost tribe of 6,000 children who are not enrolled at any school…”

18 thoughts on “New Zealand Is Third World

  1. I once had a friend who lived in Uzbekistan, which IS a second world country.

    When talking to her I was shocked to find out how badly New Zealand compared. Even today the numbers, shown in the CIA World Factbook are very revealing:

    Uzbekistan. New Zealand

    National GDP: $55 Billion USD $181 Billion USD
    GDP Purchasing Power: $112 Billion USD $136 Billion USD
    GDP Per Person: $3,800 USD $30,400 USD
    GDP Growth Rate: 7% 2.5%
    Unemployment Rate: 4.9% 6.4%
    Taxes 32.3% of GDP 38.2% of GDP
    Pop. Below Poverty Line: 17% NA (we know this is a lie)

    These are only a few of the numbers, but even this sampling is very revealing. New Zealand has a GDP over 300% higher, and the average wage is nearly ten times that of Uzbekistan, yet the purchasing power is only marginally higher. Taxes are actually LOWER in Uzbekistan.

    When it came to reporting its poverty rates NZ revealed its tendency to hide the reality of life within its borders with typical statistical dishonesty. This statistic is based upon NZ’s OWN reporting, which clearly the country was too embarrassed to carry out. With frequent comments that 20% of children in New Zealand are living in poverty it is probably fair to estimate that the percentage is at least that high, possibly higher.

    Uzbekistan’s economy has grown by 7-8% for the last three years while NZ’s has been largely stagnant at between 1.4 and 2.7%.

    In other words, Uzbekistan, a genuinely second world country, run by a dictator listed in the worlds worst ten despots, has almost comparable purchasing power, better economic growth, lower taxes, lower unemployment, and (probably) less poverty than New Zealand, despite the fact that NZ has a GDP over 300% that of Uzbekistan and the average individual earns earn nearly ten times that of an Uzbek.

    Here are the links to the CIA World Factbook should anyone want to check the numbers for themselves.

  2. NZ is rich country
    but sad to say…..if racist country….especially to ASIANS….asians to them are dogs
    or pigs……

  3. Since 2001 when PHO’s were introduced NZ has been rolling out community health care for chronic conditions. The most prolfic being asthma,bronchitis,arthritis,heart failure and diabetes. This is to cut down on hospital admissions which the country can not afford. Britain is about to change to this system and many other European countries have been trying it out as has Australia. The USA too has tried the system with Medicare patients in fact I think the idea comes from there like putting the mentally ill back in the community back in the 80’s in NZ. In fact it was back in the 80’s that medical wards were fased out.

    I am constantly told since returning to NZ last Dec (and I wished I had stayed where I was where I was getting much better medical care) that NZ can’t afford chronic patients and a huge amount of pressure is placed on me not to go to hospital. In fact my G.P and the practice he is in are more worried about keeping people out of hospital than what the patient actually needs. It has taken a huge amount of research to finally find out why I was treated so badly before I left 4 years ago. I had thought it was due to the cutbacks with the building of a new hospital but its not that at all. In the future NZ is facing the aging of its specialists and the plan is to upskill G.P’s to take their place for the common conditions quoted above. My condition is rare so hence the poor care I received though its always been true that anyone with a rare condition is not getting the treatment you would receive in a more populated country where there would be more patients like you or even if there is not a lot of said patients there will be hospitals that specialise in your condtion and other similar conditions. None of the NZers that I know know anything about community health care but the chronically ill are being trained up not to use the hospital.

    By the way if you know your very, very ill than I recommend going to an A&E rather than your GP as their current training is to keep you out of hospital. I had a serious illness when this new regime came in which turned out to be septicima (confirmed by a specialist), I saw 4 G.P’s none of the them did a blood test or better still sent me to hospital. if I had not had ciprofloxin at home that I increased and anti inflammatories than I don’t think I would be here. I worked out it was a tooth myself and had it out. I had a root canal a year before and the hospital dentist could not find the 4th root and recommended a $1000 dentist which I could not afford, so as I was on cipro permantly I thought I would be okay- ayear later I was not. It is the sickest I have ever been even compared with my liver and I looked very, very ill.

    BUt before everyone runs from the country a shortage of doctors is also a world problem. The aging population is the biggest crisis facing 1st world countries in the next 20+ years. I personally don’t think there will be any money left for welfare benefits of any kind accept in a few countries like Norway. Norway has the same population as us but a higher standard of living and far better health care and social welfare– they have oil.

    If the elderly do not have enough money to look after themselves than they will have to be looked after by their family, the same with the ill and disabled. Those elderly that are well enough will have to keep working. Initally, I thought work houses/alm houses may come back but after researching them they were more expensive to run than giving people money to live on in their own homes, they were later turned into hospitals and rest homes in Britain and America.Those that have no family to care for them may well end up on the street so people need to strengthen their family bonds.

    NZ immigration laws are too strict and people I know are suffering abuse from some NZ employers because of that. Many give up and go home as it’s so tough and so expensive to get in. Someone I know who is in IT had an employer who paid for his flat and electricity–I’m not sure about food. The employer held on to the papers the guy needed for months. He looked for another job thinking he had finally got away (he also had an employer promise him a job who used him to clear a back log and than announced there was no more work), but this latest employer has announced he can only pay $300 a week as they are going under. he has found work with a school teching IT but has to change his visa, so he has to go back to work at the $300 a week job otherwise he would have to leave the country. Hopefully the visa can be changed but it will cost over $1000 to do that. My friend is someone this country needs , he loves it here , I don’t quite know why when he has been treated so bad. I’ve never known someone go after so many jobs. Some of the time he hasn’t had food in his effort to stay here.
    I think countries will close their boarders in the future when the aging crisis is underway. I also think some countries will bring in euthanasia and the elderly will be put under huge pressure by some people if they have an expensive illness. Keeping chickens, growing vegetables etc will have to come back to the suburbs in the future. 9Obviously your allowed to grow vegetables now but not many do.)

    In Wednesday’s Dominion 1st Aug 2012 the front page had an article telling people that it is their responsiblity to cut the risk for cancer in their lifestyle, as there will not be enough money to treat everyone that needs it in the near future. The Goverment have increased spending on health care but I have read it is being used up because the Goverment no longer pay the staff ‘s employer Kiwisaver deductions. The Health Boards pay those payments now.

    For anyone who hasn’t started SAVING for their future I recommend you start now.

    I would suggest almost all countries have problems with poverty ,education, some areas where people are living in squalor though not necessarliy shanty type towns like those in Central America, South Africa, ghettos of the USA, large areas of Northern Britain where people have not had jobs for generations. Australia too has pockets of poverty and very high taxes, high cost of housing etc. Ideas for creating jobs.

    You must let Goverment know about views on Health care,education, creating jobs,taxes etc etc.

  4. I have personally tried to find fair representations of this poverty on the web, as part of a project, and there are a few problems. One is that Google street view only shows views of the main streets (High St etc, the Mitre 10s and Foursquares and petrol stations) in the larger towns, and not the side streets or neighbourhoods where you find the poverty and crime, or the more remote settlements where people are walking around with mats in their hair and without front teeth. In addition, the poorer rural Maori own their own land and shacks on large tracts, and do not or cannot sell them, and do not let non-family into their tracts readily. So you do not see them for sale on trademe, nor do you see pictures of them. For the farther-flung poor small towns, all you can see is clusters of rooves on Google street view, in the main. The resolution is no greater than that. Many of these places are not areas you would want to go and drive around taking pictures in anyway, to be frank. Typing in “known troubled community names” often reveals nothing except for PDF reports on the web describing problems with “access to services” and illiteracy preventing them from filling out medical forms. If you check on Trademe, most of the insides aren’t shown if they are bad. Just a flattering distant view of the outside of the house and possibly a cleaned-up room or two… and always multiple shots of the “views”, which as we know, fully compensate for all the peeling paint, mildew, water incursions and 1950s carpeting. It is an age-old strategy for New Zealand to overexpose its few best aspects as falsely representing the whole.

    This one is classic, a converted garage on one of the nicest roads in town (check the carpet in the kitchen).
    You can get an idea from this “perfect rental”
    or this rent to own gem

    I urge you to consult the Welfare Working Group submissions late last year on long-term welfare dependency in New Zealand. Low wages are a problem. Most people can make more on welfare plus working under the table and not reporting the income, and many do.

    You can see small slices of this life at youtube on
    or the NZ Film Commission, for example The Strength of Water.

    Making access to pokies more difficult has increased the quality of life in some communities such as Horeke, a move that was in the news last year.

    Kiwis seem to find their landscape so sublime that it minimises the problems involved with living there. Not all migrants, as you know, agree.

  5. Asheri, if you (or anyone else) would like to send links to Google Street Views of these types of dwellings we will dedicate a section of the blog to them.

  6. Moonlight – It is true. What astounds me personally is how few of THOSE photos of the actual poverty ever make it to the web..anywhere. Google image search doesn’t turn up the sort of housing you find in some of these spots, much less the insides of the houses which are sometimes appalling with large holes in the walls and 1970s carpeting all threadbare and dirty. Sometimes a look into trademe houses at the lower end of the scale will give you a better idea of how too many NZ residents live, but generally the agents are smart enough to tell the owners to clean up some for the trademe pictures.

    • Thanks Arctic slip, we’d seen it too and were waiting to get a sight of the source documents before commenting on the report.

      Is it just a coincidence that Paul Bennett just happened to announce today a independent inquiry into the serious abuse of the 9 year old year girl from Auckland?

      I have received a final report from Child, Youth and Family’s Chief Social Worker and at this stage there appears to be no single glaring failure on the part of any of the agencies involved with the child’s family,” says Ms Bennett. “However, I believe elements of this unusual case warrant further investigation.

      Looks like the UN’s “staggering” report may have prevented the CYF report from becoming a whitewash?

    • They are backpedaling, of course.
      “Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was asked about the UN report at a press conference she called yesterday to announce an independent inquiry into a serious case of child abuse. She said she still believed New Zealand was the best country in the world to raise children.” She goes on to say that the abuse and neglect was just an undercurrent (Yea Right!). Let’s not scare off the money- bringing foreigners.

      Executive Director Grant Taylor of “What’s up”, a NZ youth organization, said of the endemic bullying that “New Zealand-based research showed mounting evidence that children were exhibiting signs of significant problems in their social and psychological development. “We have seen child development studies indicating a quarter of New Zealand children will experience a mental health disorder by age 15”.

      Otago University’s Christchurch National Addiction Centre came up with terrible statistics for that subset of children who go to the alcohol and drug treatment programs that NZ says it will “start more of, in order to tackle these child mortality problems” – study here: had reported that the Committee on the Rights of the Child would be holding its fifty-sixth session in Geneva from 17 January to 4 February 2011, and that the situation of Children’s Rights in New Zealand, among other countries such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Laos, Mexico and Ukraine, would be reviewed at that time. The information that just came out was the “results for New Zealand”. NZ is in good company there, along with Singapore (child labour I preumse) and Denmark (kiddie porn) problems.

      According to the Global Youth Network, it was a concern that children were being used in the drug trade in New Zealand and Philippines.

      The latest update is this one, just as I am tailing off reading about this subject, a more general tarted-up picture of the report –
      It seems like they pass a lot of laws and throw a few coins at some issues, but their typical attitude to problems they can’t fudge the reporting on is to go for the No. 8 wire quick fix, blaming (for child deaths) Maori mothers, for instance, for smoking and family bed practices. In general, they’re pointing the finger at Maori families, trying to make them scapegoats for a problem that is much more generalised than that. According to the NZ Parliament Care of Children bill debate, “in many aspects, particularly child assaults and homicides, there is indeed a crisis situation in New Zealand”…”Suicide rates are enormously high, and, of course, so are our teen pregnancy rates, which are amongst the world’s highest”.

    • I have seen lots of advertisements saying “Thousands of Kiwi kids live in poverty”…when I first came here I couldn’t get it, because NZ wasn’t supposed to be that kind of country, but now it doesn’t surprise me any more. NZ is third world, in fact, if you go to some areas you could as well be in any Central American country, and you wouldn’t notice a difference.

  7. To give you an example of the misleading advertising just in the area of housing alone (this aspect is just one of many) – according to the immigration assistance agency here

    “New Zealand proudly boasts one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. Housing in New Zealand is very affordable compared to numerous other countries”

    Yet the 2010 6th annual Demographia survey says (as paraphrased on newgeography blog)
    “New Zealand: New Zealand’s overall Median Multiple was 5.7, for a severely unaffordable rating. Housing had been affordable in the early 1990s, with a Median Multiple of under 3.0. Five of the 8 markets were rated severely unaffordable, while 3 markets were seriously unaffordable.”

    Many Kiwis have houses they are spending a third of their income on, and no affordable dental care. This may be a lifestyle for some people, but it was not for us, and we are anxious to leave as soon as we can manage the move.

  8. One reason we never wanted to move to a Third World country is that the inequality causes problems in your relating to the greater community. We did not expect to have these sorts of problems moving to New Zealand. But for instance children would come playing at our house and seem starving. And moreover they seemed to want to snack out on those of our foods that their own parents would not purchase for them, like berries or juices, foods that were luxuries for us here in New Zealand, unlike where we lived previously. They didn’t have many good toys, and would try to take or borrow my children’s toys constantly. This created some trouble. Many of them go barefoot to school and had no decent jackets, and my children had to constantly be watching their shoes and jackets, lest they be stolen. They had any number of items stolen from them because their parents spend most of their income on their housing, and there is nothing left after that for the children.

  9. people are saying we are like a third world country but are not i say give it a few more years and the government greed will devour us into that never ending black hole of poverty, lets say 2,000,000 pay taxes per average income lets say $100 each week thats a total of $200,000,000 a week that and product tax on items like ciggeretes and gst items where is this money being spent, give me some figures please and why does it cost us $5 for milk when its made in our back yards why does it cost us $10 for chesse when i live across the road from the largest chesse factory in the southern hemisphere heres an idea stop sending our products overseas and think of your own nation first politicians us fisrt

  10. It is more like rural second world. It has never, ever been first world and will never BE first world.

  11. I’ve heard it so many times “this country is stuffed”. No longer are we comparing ourselves to Australia regarding the standard of living but Portugal and Spain. My own view point as to how we got into this state is as follows.
    1) Taxation in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s was manageable and we had one of the highest standards of living in the world. However we now pay twice as much as we did back then and we STILL need to borrow billions of dollars.
    Where’s the money going?
    With the introduction of so many different types of welfare and government departments, government have created a giant money eating monster. As a well known politician (who is currently in government) once said to my sister “It’s got nothing to do with the betterment of New Zealand it’s about staying in power and pushing your way to the top”. If you introduce so much welfare and departments then at the end of the day SOMEONE needs to pay. The handout’s look good form a voters point but who’s going to pay? YES US.

    2) With regards to the cost of living, and I refer to just that, the cost to just live. I’ll sum it up this way. Food, power, petrol, rates, water, clothing, mortgage /rent and communication and go over them one by one.
    Food: With only two main players in the market it’s just a playground for price fixing. Checking on line with similar products overseas we are paying one and a half, sometimes twice as much as other westernized countries. Milk is the biggest joke. It costs less to buy milk in OZ that it does here. Isn’t this the backbone of NZ? Once the corporates get involved ie: Fonterra, Food Stuffs and so on, she all down hill from there.

    Power: Once again you didn’t think about leaving the light on back in the 70’s but now it’s become just other bill that people struggle with. Each time your power bill come in do we really think about the REAL cost it takes to provide this power. Probably not. Power that is generated by water is a good example. Water unlike people doesn’t push its price up, people do. It has bugger all to do with real costs. Just look at what happened to Contact Energy a couple of years ago when they looked at giving their board of directors a massive salary increase. And the start of a resection?

    3) Oh yes I remember so clearly when we were all asking for the government to remove the GST off the price rise on petrol. Those immortal words spoken by Dr Cullen, “ No we won’t remove the GST as you will probably spend it on something stupid” Something like food Mr Cullen?
    Strange how the price was around $140.00 US per barrel and petrol cost $2.11 NZD per litre yet now it’s around $74.00 US and it’s $1.70. You would think it should be around half. Maybe it’s not that simple but if it was I’m sure there’d be some lame excuse.

    4) Rates/water: Over the last few days we have seen on TV how the Supercity will reduce your water bill. WAKE UP AUCKLAND !! Do you honestly think that any council is going to lose money by being nice? There’s always a catch. Just the other day I got a letter from Manukau City Council telling me that my rates were going up by 6.3%. They claim that this is to provide the public with their ongoing services. Yeah right. One of the reasons for this increase is the leaky home issue. Rate payers nationwide are forking out thousands of dollars for what is not even their fault. I could go on forever on this topic but believe me I’ve seen this all unfold over the last 18 years and there’s only one main player that is at fault and that’s the BIA… oh sorry that was quickly dissolved by Clark and Cullen. It’s now the Department of Building and Housing. Funny that.

    5) Clothing: Ok I can deal with the price of clothing. It’s not too bad. However my wife buys all my cloths so I can’t comment any further other than it seems to be affordable.

    6) Mortgage /Rent: I can’t see anything being done here other than a government appointed statuary manager walks in and takes over. Just makes me wild to see banks raise their interest rates with the slightest wispier that things are on the up and up. Not that long ago the OCR was raised on the back of the government telling us that we need to slow things down. WHY !!

    7) Now for my favourite, Tele Communications. That poor man Paul Reynolds of Telecom having to try and scratch a living after taking a 2 million dollar pay cut . What’s a man to do when reduced in 5 million p/a. Last week there was an article in the NZ Herald which talked about some of the biggest rip offs and Telecommunications was one of the areas of concern. Regardless of how many times this ongoing debate rages on there is simply no major movement. As I hear it, ACC has some significant interest in Telecom. No wonder the government won’t move. Just think of all that lovely GST poring in.

    In summing up it is my opinion that the lack of Government compassion coupled with an ever increasing corporate attitude has stuffed this ONCE proud little nation. I’m afraid that unless our nation of apathetic people finally stand up to the corporates nothing will change.

Comments are closed.