Lincoln Tan, the immigration affairs reporter for the NZ Herald has written about the desperate financial plight of immigrants in New Zealand who have been reduced to living in vehicles. Some can’t even afford campsite fees. And it’s set to become harder with with a raise in GST to 15% (even on food) and tax claw-backs on landlords tipped to push up home rental prices.
The insanitary conditions, often lacking basics such as hot water and electricity are absolutely, positively third world.
With the cold long winter setting in, living conditions are set to become even more miserable for many people as skilled professionals from OECD countries become New Zealand’s new ‘trailer trash‘.
Those not forced into either living rough on the streets or in vans, are crammed illegally into over-crowded houses. A three bedroom house in the affluent North Shore is home to 11 people, that’s three families living in one property.
“Well at least they’ve got a safe, warm roof over their heads” you’d think?
Not necessarily, the condition of some NZ homes isn’t much better than vans (see Toxic Homes Still a Nightmare for Many in New Zealand and 250,000 New Zealand homes are so damp, cold and poorly insulated that they ruin people’s health)
Once more, it’s a story of more lives ruined by emigration and of bait and switch. The reality of the ‘Kiwi dream’ is a far cry from the images used to attract migrants from countries such as Singapore (see A Singaporean Says Living in NZ a Different Experience)
This is what appeared in The Herald:
“Cheng Goh, of Settlement Support North Shore, says high rents have resulted in many people struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Some had become really desperate.
Unlike locals, who could move in with family and friends, newly arrived immigrants faced limited options on who they could turn to, she said.
“It’s quite sad to see people who come here to set up a new life, only to have their lives turned upside down,” said Ms Goh.
“It’s just unfortunate that when you come at the wrong time, everything seems to work against you.”
She said many failed to do enough planning for their New Zealand move and under-budgeted. The recession – which cost many migrants their jobs – and high rents had aggravated the situation.
A migrant worker from Russia said he spent his last $1500 in February on a van which had now become his home.
“Before I bought the van, I had nowhere to go and I had been sleeping on the streets since I lost my job last year, but I knew winter was coming and this is the cheapest way to make sure I have shelter,” he said.
The former engineer, who has a work permit that runs until September next year, says he knows which office and commercial buildings have shower facilities that he can use early in the mornings before workers arrive.
A 33-year-old German architect, who was made redundant a month after she gained her New Zealand residency last year, said she had been living in a $1200 van with her partner, also unemployed, since Christmas.
“I have to think positive. I came here with dreams to own my own home, and the van is my first home,” she said. “It is temporary and I can it take with me anywhere.”
An unemployed woman from the Philippines who has two children is sharing a three-bedroom rental house with two other families.
She did not want to be identified because the landlord did not know that 11 people were living at his North Shore property.
Before people give up their comfortable lifestyles in other countries for the ‘Kiwi dream’ they should know:
The settlement support co-ordinator at Auckland Regional Migrant Services, Bevan Chuang, said it was hard for new migrants because those who had been here for less than two years were not eligible for support from Work and Income.
“So these people have got no choice but to find ways to help themselves if they want to stay in New Zealand.”
But all these people came to New Zealand because they were led to believe that there are skills shortages in their areas of work. Why are they not working and why are people like them still being attracted to emigrate? (see the Singapore link above)
Skilled emigrants should be asking themselves – Is NZ worth the effort, why bother? aren’t there other countries that offer us a far better deal?!
“Philippines consul-general Emilie Shi says Immigration New Zealand is not doing enough to warn would-be applicants about the difficulties of finding a job or telling them that Kiwis will be given preference by employers.
“Immigration New Zealand continues to say what a great place this country is to come live and work in, but they cover up the fact that it is very difficult to find a job here, or that they will be treated as second-class workers under the scheme,” Ms Shi said…”