Hard NZ Life For Asian Immigrants “A Compromise”

We came across an interesting article on the TVNZ website a few days ago in which Asian immigrants gave their opinion of life in New Zealand and the lack of support they received from the state after arriving in the country.

The article seemed to be saying that there is a high satisfaction level among Asian immigrants (83%) despite the difficult compromises they must make and their personal lives suffering through emigrating to New Zealand:

“Asian immigrants who come to New Zealand in search of a better life say the experience is not always what they expect.

For many of the 160,000 Asians immigrating to New Zealand every year, there are trade-offs – better life in a clean, green environment and educational opportunities versus long work hours, quiet social lives, and language barriers. (ed. see our info pages for environment and education issues)

For New Zealand immigrant and Wonders Medicine shop owner, Chi Nan Xie, adapting to life in a new country is about compromising.

We couldn’t really settle down. My wife didn’t like living here. Our lifestyle became between China and New Zealand,” he says.

Xie says the culture shock and language barrier were huge.

“One time we had an argument with our builder. He messed up my window and broke in the wall, and threatened my family. We were scared about it and wanted to call the police but with 111 they can’t understand Mandarin.” (ed. perhaps 111 should be providing  interpreter services so that ethnic groups are not disadvantaged during emergencies? )

In a five-year study of more than 140 Asian immigrants, Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley learned that while New Zealand’s natural beauty and peaceful society matched their expectations, there are trade-offs of hard work, long hours and quiet social lives. “There’s a big gap between what immigrants expect and what they find when they get here,” he says.

Many of them felt very lonely, they didn’t feel particularly welcomed, although they acknowledged that New Zealanders are generally very tolerant and welcoming…”

Professor Spoonly says the NZ government should be giving immigrants more support, as in Canada and Australia. Immigrants appear to be left to their own devices on arrival in New Zealand:

Following the deaths of a Korean family of four in Christchurch earlier this year, a group of Koreans is setting up an Asian language helpline for support. But Spoonley says it should be the government giving more support.

Canada and Australia – they provide English language instruction as part of the deal. We spend very little in terms of post-arrival resourcing and support for immigrants in this country. It’s basically up to the immigrants…”

But isn’t that exactly where the migrant levy, ($300 each for most applicants, up to a maximum of $1,200 for a family; paid in addition to standard permit/visa fees)  is supposed to be going? and if it isn’t what is it being used for? According to the immigration service’s website:

“The purpose of the migrant levy is to contribute to the funding of programmes intended to assist the successful settlement of migrants. For instance, the levy funds help with costs related to the Language Line telephone interpreting service, the Migrant Employment Assistance service, and the Citizens Advice Bureau Language Link service. The funds also include a contribution towards English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tuition for adults and children.

The migrant levy is also used to carry out research into settlement issues and the impacts of immigration. For instance, the Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand (LisNZ) and short-term research on settlement and immigration. The information gained from this research helps Immigration New Zealand develop immigration policies that can best help migrants settle in and contribute to New Zealand.”

Why are those interpreting services not tied-in to the 111 emergency response system?

This article seems to be a re-working of the Massey University study that we commented on back in April – “Hard Slog for Chinese Coming to New Zealand” in which we spoke about a new report that showed Chinese migrants in New Zealand are working longer hours and have less time for family. There was no mention of high satisfaction rates at that time.

Migrants said they were finding their new lives harder in New Zealand than they did in China and their work/life balance  was suffering as a result.

Here’s a snippet from that report back then, notice the “but”:

“…the research participants chose to live in New Zealand for reasons including the lifestyle, the cleaner, less-crowded environment “and the possibility of a better future for their children”, but many are finding life tougher than what they left in China.

“Pre-migration, participants describe daily lives characterised by regular work hours and full social lives,” the report says. “Post-migration, hard work, long hours and quiet social lives are the common themes of interviewees’ daily lives.”

A former company manager in China who now runs a food business is quoted: “My life in New Zealand is much more stressful than in China,” he says. “I have to do both manual work and management work in my business. I do everything. I have no personal life at all, only work.”

Some participants referred to their lack of social life and entertainment as having a “simple” or “peaceful” life; others identified it as a source of loneliness and isolation.

While nearly three quarters of employers found communicating in English a major barrier to doing business and two thirds found recruiting staff difficult, participants had developed strategies to overcome these problems.

Two thirds of employees said their current jobs did not make use of their qualifications, but almost all who underwent training in New Zealand found it helpful in improving their work opportunities and local networks. Among the advantages of migrating, participants said they appreciated Auckland’s less crowded, less polluted environment, and enjoyed having greater personal freedom and more opportunity. Some felt their children had greater job prospects in China once they had completed their education in New Zealand…

The overwhelming story here is about the way in which migrants have to rely on their own personal networks for help with settlement and – at times – the indifference of some New Zealanders and New Zealand organisations.””

The researchers were also supposed to be studying other migrants too and this was the first of several studies into the experiences of New Zealand’s five main migrant source countries – Britain, China, India, Korea and South Africa. They were the focus of he Integration of Immigrants research programme set up by Massey and Waikato Universities. As yet we’ve yet to see anything of the other reports.

Interestingly the TVNZ article closes with the statement

“overall, the Asian migrant experience is positive with 83% saying they are happy with life in New Zealand”

Now  where did that figure spring from? it certainly didn’t seem to be mentioned in the Massey news release back in March, has it been used to give an otherwise dismal report a positive slant?

For more about ‘satisfaction surveys’ read: The Myth of 93% Satisfaction – the facts behind NZ’s Longitudinal Immigration Survey, on Expatexposed.com

11 thoughts on “Hard NZ Life For Asian Immigrants “A Compromise”

  1. P ray – Twisted and expedient. Brillian description. What we in other countries consider abuse, they define otherwise.

    I was amused by this seemingly earnest lifestyle pic:

  2. Asians find it hard to mix in because of the insular nature of New Zealanders, who (from my experience) do not like those who speak and use better English than they do. They had no problem mixing around with the guys and girls who did not demonstrate a proficiency in English; probably because those people did not understand the nuances of racism or chose to project a facade of naivete in order to fit in.
    Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, “getting on in NZ” for many people has meant accepting abuse without complaint just to prove that you accept “that’s the way things are done around here”. Which probably explains some of the twisted, expedient mentalities that I had occasion to witness.

  3. I think the government should stop letting in Asians that we don’t need the ones who choose not to mix in and get on with the rest of NZ should be sent back home ASAP. I’m not a racist person I just think we should stop people who want to establish their own mini communities, turning nice suburban areas into Ghettos like you see in the UK(London areas manily), and USA.

    I am sick to death of seeing people let in who only want to establish fast food place, and employ illegal immgirants on Student Visa’s, or holiday visas. I hope National have a plan which stops this from becoming the case which have seen over the last 10 years. What will tourist think when they come to NZ, expecting to be a Kiwi paradise which it should be known for, not confused with Asians cities like Shanghai, Bejing, or Hong Kong.

  4. What I take away from this is “the value of a New Zealand university education IN New Zealand”. Afterall, there are only 40,000 degree holders in the country of 4 million.
    And most aren’t even in the STEM fields.
    With the great “culture” of excessive physicality, that’s what happens. It doesn’t detract from the quality of the degree, but it does mean that you’ll probably do work unrelated to your degree if you plan to live and work in New Zealand… thus making yourself less employable OUTSIDE of New Zealand if you stay there for too long.
    And yet there are people who say they miss the New Zealand lifestyle: Probably if you’re living on your parents or the public’s dime.
    Not to mention it is pretty funny when you speak to University career advisors and ask them if there is any reason people should not want to hire you, and you get the stiff lip reply: “It’s not easy for ANYONE to find work now!”.
    They don’t even mention racism, Iwonderwhy?

  5. You could be right, many international students will leave the country after graduating and the funding will go toward courses that provide NZ employment.

    This statement, and the use of the word “forced,” perhaps reveals much about the real value of a NZ education.

    The suggestion has had a mixed reaction, with most opposing it, saying institutions will be forced to shift their focus to qualifications with the best employment prospects.

  6. The issue of Asians migrating to New Zealand is a contentious issue. What makes it even more distasteful is there seems to be a deliberate bias that is also sexist, especially so towards the Asian male (who are usually claimed as being the most sexist in the world. Hello, America, New Zealand, UK: Wu Zetian, Sitt al-Qudat, Sultana Radiyya and Go-Sakuramachi would like to have a word with you).
    My experience there bore out this fact: There was a deliberate bias against Asians, moreso if they were male and spoke English fluently. Females did not seem to have this problem. I pushed through over 100 job application forms, applied to over 10 HR consultancy companies and 30 retail outlets. I even applied for menial jobs. Of course, I was denied, with the good argument “We feel bad hiring a graduate to do this”, while the others said “You have no New Zealand experience” or “You are overqualified”.
    I will have to add though, that Universities are eager for newly-graduated students who have a strong work ethic. There I was given my chance – and certainly being placed where I felt I was both valued AND appreciated. Perhaps their international exposure gives them greater awareness about whom to trust with important, timely, and professional work.
    But for the average Asian male, I’d say you have very little to no chance. Your female counterpart, though, has a huge cachet with New Zealand which seems to have an Asian (female) fetish. They were hired in many spheres of public contact, despite having poor to unrecognisable language ability in English. Now, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be hired. But what I am saying is, the immigration figures would be very interesting if they were broken down by ethnicity, language proficiency, and gender.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • i sat bolt upright when i read this because of how i can relate to it. i have noticed that males in nz are treated with subtle disdain by kiwi women. sometimes they’re not even subtle. its an “in your face” aggression by the women themselves. people should not be surprised why the domestic violence rates here are off the charts. and true, asian males might be getting it worse.

    • the aggression must have something to do with the country being the first in the world to allow for women’s voting rights. an air of overprotection for them so to speak. no wonder the male population here is lower. the women drive them away with their anti-male attitudes. given the chance, the men will stay with women of other backgrounds or ethnicity

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