“No Science Or Skills Shortages In New Zealand – We’re Off”

NZ finds it hard to accept criticism

This account was recently added to our highly popular Migrant Tales series, we’re putting it on the daily blog because it covers so many issues that exasperate migrants in New Zealand at present, it also demonstrates why so many are leaving.

This tale was originally published on a  British expats emigration forum.

The author is a highly skilled British research scientist who said that there are no science or skills shortages in New Zealand and that he is dissatisfied with the level of science, equipment, funding and salary offered in a country that is expensive to live in. A wider, more challenging and rewarding world beckons.

Hi all – we moved here in 2005. I am a research scientist and left Oxford to fill the skills shortage in NZ.

Unfortunately there really is no science or skills shortage in NZ and so we are off.

Nowhere is perfect and everywhere is different. There are things we will miss but if you cannot earn a decent living then there is no point in being in NZ. Earning only $50k a year for advanced medical research going into clinical trial is no good.

The people I work with tell me that $50k is a good salary. Most people outside of my work in NZ think it is a poor salary! May be we will return one day but at the moment the UK, USA, Canada and Europe beckon.

We have a good 265sqm, 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 living area house here. Fully central heated with double glazing. It is very warm and dry, everybody says it is very English. We would not be able to afford this in the UK but, on my salary in NZ, then we can’t really afford it here either! We also have a 5 acre section with decent costal views. Unfortunately all this will have to be sold to return to the UK.

The estate agent is also about to start marketing. We are looking forward to relatives, good roads, historic buildings, castles, warm sunny hols, twice the annual leave you get in NZ and more than twice the salary with much lower living costs. We’ll continue jet skiing and scuba diving when we leave.

…I work for the ***** ****** NZ. I have been isolating, culturing and characterizing adult multipotent stromal cells (ie ‘Stem cells’). We are due to have a clinical trial going ahead fairly soon based on the previous work of **** **** in Portugal. Used to have sabbaticals at Yale, Harvard etc with international conferences all fully funded. I have had nothing in NZ and this will continue until I leave. Simply much better science, equipment and funding elsewhere in the world

The author continued

I used to work with ***** ***** at **** Oxford. You can google him, we did a good but of immunological work and illiciting T-cell respose to tumour etc. His wife ***** ***** was one of the pioneers in the field of HLA. Medical Laboratory Scientists generally tend to have higher pay in NZ than those in academic research, I guess this is often the case. I have been fully designing and validating PCR’s for nearly 20 years but could not get a job running routine molecular diagnostic tests here because I am not a Med Lab Scientist. They employed a Med Lab Scientist with no experience or expertise in PCR. Go figure!

You can take a look at another expat site for a different point of view on NZ. Google expatsexposed. The more info you have the better your decision will be. We found it near impossible to get a balanced view of NZ immigration before we left the UK. We are not returning to the UK for ever but I can sped some more time at Oxford or cambridge and then head to US/Canada etc. Maybe I’ll head back to NZ in the future when I’ve progressed my career a bit further. Also considering retraining as a Radiographer. A 2 year accelerated course supported by NHS. Gives me another string to my bow, always useful.

We are not in England yet but…feel that we will be much more appreciative and accomodating of England when we return. We know what to expect when we get back, unlike moving to NZ where the facts are very different from the propoganda you are fed as a skilled migrant. Even extensive research and a few trips cannot fully prepare you for the facts of living in NZ.

For all the issues in the UK, which continue, it is still one of the best Countries (If not the best) in the world. There are reasons that so many flock to England from around the world, it is a leading light. No, it is far from perfect but better than most. NZ is certainly not the best Country in the world, as the kiwis keep trying to force down my throat. England is mature enough to take constructive critisism on the chin and English will agree with many criticisms. However kiwis will not hear or accept any criticism, no matter how small or constructive. See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil. Everything is rosey in paradise. This is not productive! It is a false image and not real!

Further comments were made shortly afterward

a) We came to fill an immediate skills shortage; there isn’t one and I can’t get interviews for the few jobs there are (Jobs for the boys). It is very anti-English. NZ has a huge chip on its shoulder about England and the English. It is not blatantly open racism but it is very definately there.

b) Low cost of living – No it is the second highest in the world behind Australia.

c) Better work/life balance – No you work longer hours with half the annual leave and practically no sick leave. Employers treat employee’s like crap and the system is so weak that they get away with it.

d) Affordable housing – No it aint, salaries are so low and living cost so high that housing is not afordable. In addition most kiwis live in conditions Brits would consider third world, literally!

e) Low crime rate – No it is actually quite high and rising, gangs and black power gangs are prevelent and allowed free reign in NZ. All sorts of crime are actually very high considering the population size. I was born in Manchester and lived in Oxford for several years. Crime in NZ has more in common with Manchester than Oxford. People in Dunedin have stopped going into town on weekend evenings because of the gangs of kids hooning around attacking people

f) Other facts – NZ has the highest rates of child poverty, child abuse, family violence, depression, respiratory illness in the civilized world.

g) Massive ‘boy racer’ culture – idiots in old wrecks hoon around attacking and terrifying people with exhausts like megaphones. Gangs of hundreds gather and attack the Police. They have targetted numerous private addresses for months at a time. Hospitals in Christchurch have had to move patients away from the road side of the building. Kids of 15 years old drive around legally in NZ, there is no requirement for insurance and the cars are ancient wrecks. Most school kids drive to school. Traffic is bad in Dunedin for its size, worse elsewhere in NZ and parking a nightmare.

h) Clean and green – No it is not. The WHO report stated that if everybody in the world lived like the average kiwi then we would need 3.5 planets to support us. Cars that should have been crushed decades ago are still driven in NZ and NZ has virtually no emission tests for vehicles. The fleet of vehicles on the road is the oldest in the civilized world. Dunedin frequently fails international standards for air quality

i) NZ has frighteningly high road toll – the driving is very selfish and totally inconsiderate. The driving ability is low and they drive like idiots, and die a lot!

These are just some of the facts about NZ. It isn’t all bad and you experience variable degrees of some things depending where you live. But it is there and you need to remeber that. DO NOT THINK OF NZ AS A FIRST WORLD COUNTRY – IT IS NOT! Some kiwis have admitted this to us on occassion but most won’t. NZ is closer to third world.

We also agree the many kiwis are rude and ignorant, partly because they are anti-English, partly because it is the culture (Or lack of). Bearing all this in mind I don’t want my son growing up as a kiwi! The education system is very weak too, way behind the UK (Depending where you go). An NZ first class BSc(Hons) is equivalent to a third class or 2ii BSc(Hons) in England. This has been confirmed by numerous migrant senior lecturers at the Uni.

Just a bit of info for thought and further research

You may also like to read the following blog post (links open in new window)

Lord Robert Winston Says NZ Fears Technology and has poor values – Rugby more important than research

Returning Kiwis views about New Zealand

Jason (United Kingdom)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“My wife and I looked at returning to NZ last year but the jobs just aren’t there for us.

My wife graduated with a doctorate from Oxford University in record time and has an outstanding publication history. She applied for a job at Auckland University, jumped through all the necessary hoops and time-zone differences for conference calling and then they gave the position to a much less qualified person currently working in the lab in Auckland with no publication history.

Many other colleagues from sciences and medicine have said the same to us – the field is so under-invested in that there is no potential for NZ to contribute in anything but agricultural sciences and departments in NZ are too busy protecting the interests of current staff that they can’t take on expats returning. When i first came to the UK, NZ had the edge in internet and IT, banking services, etc – now, when i come back for a holiday, i notice it hasn’t progressed in the past ten years, it’s just another quaint little island in the south pacific that you go on holiday to, slowly slipping down the international development scales.”

kk (Canada)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“We are currently living in Canada and have also lived in the US. Coming back to NZ is a bittersweet decision for us, the main drawcard is family, the beautiful countryside, and our children growing up literate.
But for a small country, NZ has developed a shocking culture of violence, I have felt safer in these countries at night than in NZ, granted we have lived in great towns but there wouldn’t be many places in NZ I would walk at night.
We’ve been reading the news regularly to ease back being home and Im ashamed to read headlines like the ‘h’ in Wanganui rubbish next to one about yet another abused/killed child.
When people ask me about the utopia they believe is NZ , I say sure its a stunningly beautiful country with clean air, but never hitchhike, be careful where you camp for the night, walk down to the dairy at night, stare at anybody, walk home from the pub, sleep on a beach or leave anything not bolted down outside and you’ll be fine.”

4 thoughts on ““No Science Or Skills Shortages In New Zealand – We’re Off”

  1. Indeed. I personally would like to add to this thread, which I just found, that fat Pommie pensions moved over here, money that foreigners add to the economy by simply participating in it (through supporting local banks with loans, renting, buying properties off of property-flipping desperate Kiwis, purchasing food, petrol and utilities, picking fruit, etc.) may not be easy to quantify, but the importance of this money to their survival is huge. I cannot think of a single Kiwi who isn’t somehow making money off a foreigner. They are no different from other countries who benefit from migrants’ invisible contributions while dishonestly reviling them as invaders of Kiwi turf. There is no national debate about it, however. Being defensive about their image, they do not hash issues out so openly that their food sources can see what New Zealand is really like.

  2. Of the 3 NZ warning sites (I will not call them anti-NZ since the purpose is not to blindly bash NZ) I know of, two of the owners left NZ after finding they had been completely duped by the hype, and just wanted to warn other people with their sites. The 3rd one, I don’t know who owns it or where the person/people are. As for the posters on them, some have left NZ and just post sometimes to warn other people, or lost so much in NZ that they post as a way of coping with what they will never get back even after they have gone home, in the way that people turn activist after a tragedy. Some are still there but are trapped somehow such as not being able to sell their houses in this market, or find a job in another country to move “to” because they can’t travel to interviews from such a remote nation, or non-financial reasons such as stuck there because of family legal problems or a contract they can’t get out of quite yet.
    It is true that some of the stories seem to be picked to show NZ’s bad side, but NZ actively hides that side from the international press. The Kiwis are aware that if money from abroad stops coming in, they can’t survive. So there is total collusion to protect NZ’s image abroad. If it’s big, word gets out. There is not a complete news blackout. But the many many unfavorable local and regional news stories, that are easy enough with some searching to find in print in NZ, can’t be found anywhere on the web. Or are censored and gutted ridiculously to protect NZ’s image. These sites have sprung up in response to pervasive and collusive falsehood about New Zealand’s problems. Migrants and tourists are this nation’s lifeblood. They understandably wish to keep the IV nutrition flowing down the line.

  3. Yup – two different people, written independently, without the other person knowing, but we had been discussing what we’d read here earlier in the day and although they came from two different computers our household uses the one modem. We were curious to see if you would publish them as the site appears to be so anti-NZ.

  4. Well, I have found this blog very interesting to read. I wonder why all you people stay in NZ – or why you came here in the first place – if you hate NZ and NZers so much? Surely, you would be better off back in your own countries where clearly life was so much better in every respect.

    Note, my comment applies to various pages on this blog, not just this particular thread.

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