Migrants’ Tales – American Says Tauranga ‘Mis-sold’

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.”

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3 thoughts on “Migrants’ Tales – American Says Tauranga ‘Mis-sold’

  1. I was struck by the comparison with the Dharma initiative. It is like that in more than one way here. For one thing, clothing themselves in a moral shiny “light unto the world” sort of armour that in no way matches the horrid starving backstabbing nepotistic dog-eat-dog reality you experience inside the society.

    The Dharma Initiative was supposedly founded to alter any of the six factors of the “Valenzetti Equation”, which predicts the exact number of years and months until the end of humankind, to allow humans to exist for longer by changing their doomsday, and Kiwis do tend to avoid their deadlines. The longer they can make things “not happen”, the better they like it. With some risky consequences.

    Other things: Weird energy fields. The island sucks your energy off you. You become more and more tired and poor, and then just turn into a plasma-seeking member of the zombie club like the rest of them, off yourself in a blaze of glory, or leave. 8-\ Take your choice.

    In one episode a guy says the DI is the source of all energy on the earth (just watch a 100% Pure ad – forever young, LOL). Another guy then says, “Wrong. It is an corporation created by aliens.”

    New Zealand isn’t a nation. It’s an alternative reality game, and the trick is not to start playing it in the first place, because it’s damned hard to leave once you’re in.

  2. We note that the author of this thread is no longer active on that forum – he (or she) appears to have had their account inactivated, (for being ’emotional’ or ‘negative’?)

    This comment, left on the same thread is worth a read too, Pic’s comments raised some red flags for this person. Unfortunately he’d already spent $$$ on his NQA assessment, but at least he’s stopped to reconsider his options before losing a lot more:

    I am a Business Development Manager in Dubai, my wife and I were excited about applying for skilled migration to New Zealand. A friend who has recently gotten his Canadian PR got me thinking, he is very well read and I do give his opinions some weight. He just made a cursory remark about housing in New Zealand being expensive.

    I made the mistake of googling more information (after I just paid for my degree assessment from NQA; I am about to submit my EOI). Honestly, pic’s comments regardless of all the emotions raise a lot of red flags especially for us immigrants looking for an up on their quality of life.

    I am Pakistani and my wife is Russian and we already are sensitive to racism and being an inter racial couple in an immigrant hating country is scary. I will now start some serious research into New Zealand. I will also begin a Canadian application.

    I am quite sad after reading this thread but glad I read it. Thank you pic, you have at the least raised an alarm loud enough for me to not blindly assume New Zealand is a 1st world country. Honestly, if even 50% of what negative was said here was true it would make Dubai a 1st world country way ahead of New Zealand. And I had complaints about Dubai.

    Perhaps he should come here and read the migrant tale – “Refuge from NZ found in a Muslim country” whilst he’s looking around for other options.

  3. have you seen this french one yet? someone is upset here:
    I just noticed this today
    http://www.expatforum.com/expats/new-zealand-expat-forum-expats-living-new-zealand/39453-observations-about-some-downside-new-zealand.html

    don’t know if it is an activist known to you or not (it is not me) but it mentions Lost, LOL

    Observations about some of the downside of New Zealand
    The best advice one can give skilled NZ immigrants today is to wise up about NZ. Imagine working in a third world country or the former “DDR” and you get the picture. And befitting to a country only pretending to be a democratic capitalist economy, NZ is known amongst those who dare to read the fine print, to influence media and falsify statistics to appear like a “Britain in the Tropics”. This can only be explained with the quite feeble and bribe/nepotism-riddled economy and the bad living conditions (bad housing, low wages, high crime) that apparently leave the government no choice to lie. If you haven’t heard about these facts in the daily press it is due to the intelligent NZ news management. NZ earns as much (about 8 billion $) from Immigrants as from tourism. If you look closely, you can detect a policy to incorporate the immigrant savings within the first 2 years into the NZ economy without paying out any government benefits (not even if you are working and paying taxes). The majority of immigrants who has not “worked themselves poor” after these first two years, leaves, usually empty-handed and without savings. A government statistic states that 98% of immigrants are still there after 2 years. It was publicized on international travel and placed in “quality of life” articles. The truth is that only immigrants already in the country for more than 2 years have participated in it, so the majority of immigrants who had already left the country never showed up in the figures. Other “big claims” are just as unreal when you live here, like “green country”, or “educational system that scored high in PISA”. This is a place of make-believe. A prop-country.

    In relation to work permits there are no rules that you couldn’t find overthrown tomorrow. The economy is weak and unstable due to soft laws, bribing, nepotism and a brutal government employee attitude of “squeezing out money for oneself no matter what” commonly only found in this quantity in third world countries with an economically traumatized middle class like Guatemala. Any government official who can afford it has a house in other countries. That alone says a lot. And it is simply not true that the average person works less. If they want to get ahead and not drift through life with minimal money, they work the same hours, but in cold and damp offices, earnings half of what you get for the same work in Europe (if you get 40.000 EUR, expect to get 40.000 NZ$ here, which are 20.000 EUR). Yes, living costs are “the same” compared to the rest of the industrialized world, but you earn half, so what does that mean for your spending power in a country that imports everything from toothbrushes to TVs for regular EUR and US$ prices? Many working adults in Auckland can’t even afford their own apartment and you can find many groups of 3-4 40 year olds accountants, sales people, bank employees or other middle class workers, sharing houses just because the rents are so ridiculously high and they are still paying off years for a simple TV. Buying houses can be a shocking experience. The houses are not insulated and without proper heating giving New Zealanders the highest asthma statistics. It’s the kind of housing you buy as “garden sheds” in Europe. This alone must be one of the weirdest aspects of this bloated, false palm tree-economy and one of the main reasons my husband and I are leaving the country soon. No realistic relation between house prices and what you get for the money. A normal garden shed type house (a timber frame with wood panels nailed on) costs about as much as a “real” house in Europe made of stone, with heating and insulation, which you pay off with halved wages. Which means, NZlers actually never own their houses, but pay “rent” to the banks all their lives. Pretending to be more than one is, is a big sport here.

    Recently a lot of European immigrants have been chased out of the country after they were fired and lost their work visas. It was a little national scandal going through the leading papers, Currently New Zealand is loosing many of the foreign skilled laborers they so feverishly tried bring into the country in the past years. Also 40.000 Kiwis leave for Australia every year (which is a lot with a population of 4 million), because of the bad wages while government agencies stall applications of immigrants. What you have heard about “better have a job before coming to NZ” is a result of of that blind, confused nationalistic activism. The job situation is especially bad for everyone “skilled” like Ad and Media professionals, teachers, consultants or other office or class room professionals. There are many stories of Europeans and US citizens being mobbed and excluded from positions which are continuously advertised as free. This is not Europe or the US, so being forced to work under inhumane conditions or being subjected to mobbing and racist jokes or being excluded based on gender, race or nationality is not something you can bring to court here. It is more likely that the police will come to your house to harass you, because one of his cousins works in the same office with you and heard that you had been complaining about NZ (when all you might have said is that you are freezing at your desk because the room is unheated and that this is something that could not happen in Europe)

    Under such conditions, should you still try to get a work visa from Europe or the US before coming here? Why not, but it might not be worth the paper that it is written on, because you can easily spent 6 months to a year here (finance with your own money) without being hired (despite several jobs available you would be a perfect match for) and then you have to return anyway. And you couldn’t even enjoy the beach, because you are burning away your savings and subjecing yourself to unjust treatment and a world of abuse where you as a person count little. If you really need to be in this country, come here for three months on a tourist visa in a test run, and see if you could get a job in your line of work and if the money would be enough and if you can stand the “socialist economy” attitudes, store inventory, housing, and the constant degrading comments about foreigners meant to be funny, but that just get on every immigrants nerves never after the 10th time while you degrade to just another NZ cash cow. The over-eagerly nice NZ people that do everything for paying tourists are the same people that will harass and ignore anyone who attempts to settle down here and take away “their” jobs.

    In any case NZ itself is always the winner, financially, but at what cost. I shudder when I think about what moral values NZ destroys, just for a short-sighted, greedy gain of undoubtedly heavy immigrant savings. And if you see yourself in old age and think about your contribution to the world, is it really the right thing to do to spend your life supporting a degrading, nature and value destroying little country with low morale? I’m not a social worker or doctor, but the thought of me supporting this country by living here, while I see what it does to people and nature, and values is something that has gotten to me over the past two years. I don’t think anyone serious about not only their carbon but also their “moral” footprint wants to have that on their conscience. And also, even if you get used to being the immigrant idiot everyone takes advantage of (especially when you are an intellectual and skilled and like doing a good job), and eventually learn to steal and bribe and cheat your way up the NZ social ladder “Number 8 wire” style (because there is no other way to do it), can you get over the fact that you’ve been compromised by a society where dishonesty is a high moral value?. How much can you enjoy a nice beach so that you forget that constant bad feeling in your stomach of supporting the wrong cause in a place far away from friends, family and decency? Europe and the US are not great achievements of mankind in many ways, but at least, they’re not prop countries, a film set where everything looks like the real thing, but isn’t. The only real thing here is the nature, and it comes down to living in a “Dharma Initiative” tropical camp that rewards the ones that bribe, steal, cheat, kill and torment, and slowly destroys the honest people.

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