Continuing in our series of Migrants’ Tales – first hand stories of the immigrant experience of New Zealand, gathered from locations around the net.
Today’s story is taken from a forum called Expat Blog, in it a young American immigrant says that Tauranga wasn’t as advertised and likens the small town to the US Midwest – passive aggressive, superficial, insular and drunk…among other things. Because of this she/he is seeking links with other expats to form friendships. It’s a pretty common story and explains why muti-national groups of expats are so prevalent in New Zealand:
“I recently moved from the US to Tauranga and seek my fellow expats. Where in the US? I’ve lived all over from New England to CA to Texas. I’ve traveled a lot for someone barely touching 30 and am very educated and seeking depth in friendships, not this superficial film I’m encountering here in Tauranga.
I will now share my experience so far in Tauranga. This may offend some but I’m sure will resonate strongly with many others.
Tauranga was not as advertised, namely clean, friendly, warm, environmentally-friendly, etc. Tauranga seems a lot like the midwest in the US: Passive-aggressive, superficially polite/friendly, standoffish, drunk, and insular.
I’ve been to social gatherings with other kiwis, including peers in their late 20s and early 30s in the healthcare field. Despite being outgoing and friendly and trying to talk to people, I was struck with how the native kiwis were so passive-aggressive and impolite, masking it with mask of “yeah yeah” as they continued to just spend time with their other kiwi friends and not let anyone inside their little circles.
Conversations center more around rugby, the weather, complaining about the Council, and drinking than anything of any substance. I don’t drink, care for rugby or cricket, or like talking about drinking, rubgy, or cricket. Is it me or are the kiwis so insulated in their little world that they lack the depth that comes with experiencing the suffering of others, from travel, from going through hard times, and from changing one’s life? Sitting around a table and hypnotically nodding one’s head with a “yeah yeah” is not conversation, does not create strong friendships, and lacks depth.
Where are those people who have traveled, who have dedicated their lives to helping others, who seek to grow and mature and become better human beings, to experience life? I meet kiwis who drudgingly do one’s job only to ‘enjoy’ the sugar-high of a drunken-filled existence on weekends only to repeat the cycle until the next rugby match. Kiwis here in Tauranga say they like the lifestyle, but they certainly don’t go out of their way to make recent arrivals feel welcome and enjoy said lifestyle. Look, I don’t mind if people sip wine, but I don’t like being around people who are drunk or who drink enough to alter their personality.
Kiwis are not friendly, they are polite and insular. Friendly means engaging with someone and sharing one’s experiences, helping each other, bonding, learning from one another. Being polite means smiling and nodding so as not to appear rude or standoffish, yet the real goal is to be standoffish.
In my experience, the people I bond with are fellow expats, and they have also experienced the above.
I am frustrated with the native kiwis and seek a community amongst the expats. I believe all us expats suffer some form of the above politeness-plague from the Kiwis. One expat colleague said it took her 4 years for the kiwis to open up to her and to allow her into their networks. 4 years!
I seek the educated expat peer group in Tauranga, those who have depth and insight, those that are seekers, ideally age 20-40ish. If you are out there, reach out. We need to create our community because we can’t rely on the Kiwis to have one ready for us or to even let us into theirs.”