Migrant Tales – Returning Kiwi Felt Like A Pom in NZ

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from places around the net.

This tale is taken from an army social forum and the author, an expat Kiwi, speaks about how uncomfortable he felt when he returned to NZ after a long absence. He was effectively treated like a Pom, and it didn’t feel good.

His memory of how New Zealand used to be 20 years ago is one that is still used today to sell the country to immigrants. In reality a great deal has changed in that time – and not for the better.

Remember this tale every time you hear about all expat Kiwis’ desire to return home one day, now you know why so few of them don’t: New Zealand is a place for tourists, and immigrants looking for something that may no longer exist.

I’m a Kiwi anbut have spent over 20 years in the Services in the UK (and lots of other locations). I have always intended to return to New Zealand, but my life and family are very much centred on the UK (although we are in a remote posting at the moment). With the likelihood of leaving the Services in the next while, we are looking further afield and feel that teh UK may not have a lot to offer us (and our 2 young kids).

HOWEVER,

I was back in NZ late last year and I felt curiously uncomfortable. It was not the country I left 20-odd years ago, I could barely recognise the cities (anything older than about 30 years is regarded as ‘vintage’ or ‘historic’). Everything else is routinely demolished. We are great outdoors people (UK home is in the Lake District) and NZ offers wonderful opportunities but we enjoy museums, galleries, country parks etc and the range on offer in New Zealand is meagre compared with the UK – or, indeed, most of Europe. I have worked in London, Rome and DC and would miss the buzz.

The country has a temporary feel about it. The build quality of homes is appalling (qv references to heating, damp etc) and the climate is not much better than the UK’s. I was surprised how expensive it is and the level of violent crime is horrific. I also sense a little bit of animosity from locals who assumed I was a ‘Pom’; in fairness, the level of animosity in Australia is much, much greater and steps beyond gentle p!ss taking. But camping on a Northland or Coromandel beach, Pohutukawas in bloom, gentle swaying in a warm breeze with the azure seas beckoning…it is still a magical place…for tourists.

(This tale will also be published in our Migrant Tales section)

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9 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Returning Kiwi Felt Like A Pom in NZ

  1. The old “we’re only a small country” excuse is wearing thin now, “Caroline”/Chris (and, since we’re talking facts here, it is 4.41 million, not 4)

    There are scores of countries with far smaller populations than New Zealand’s with much better facilities: Qatar, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Gibraltar, the Vactican only has 500 residents yet you could hardly say its lacking in culture.

    Perhaps New Zealand thinks that the scenery and ‘laid back’ lifestyle should be enough for its residents. Unfortunately, for many people, it isn’t and they need more out of life.

  2. The facts are New Zealand is a small country with a 4 million population and the UK has 61 million. It’s obvious that the UK will have much greater facilities like museums and galleries. I think that is the “context” subsequent posters have failed to grasp in their haste to criticise life in New Zealand.

  3. P Ray :

    The disturbing trend of “debate” is somebody slinging around numbers without sources… it makes them look like people who only seek to divert attention.

    Yes indeed, and they look even more suspicious when they fail to produce the evidence when challenged.

    Saying that only the population of a country is taxed or responsible for maintanence is laughable… as an example, international students are charged 4.5 – 5x the rate of local students, that money gets taxed too – where is it going?
    And, another example, if universities are making so much money, why do they require donations? It’s strange.
    Simple answers without sources, or masquerading as authoritative without the term “in my opinion” usually means somebody trying to dodge questions without critical thinking (a CUP – certificate of university preparation – course paper).

    which is rather like saying “95% of statistics are made up on the spot”

  4. We asked first, shame you got cold feet as soon as you were presented with one simple piece of information on child maltreatment deaths. We’re still waiting for you to elucidate on your assertion

    And on the issue of violent crime. Well in NZ it constitutes 10% of all recorded offences. In the UK in 2007 it comprised 22%.

    Did you make that up or is it based in real world data? Provide the evidence to support your statement, or admit you’re wrong.

    If you can’t be bothered to look for more you could start with any of our NZ facts and stats pages in the tabs at the top of this page.

    If you’re genuinely interested in what this “army” employee had to say about New Zealand use Google to find the site he posted on, join and ask him.

    p.s.
    Submitting another comment under the name of “Caroline” won’t help you man-up either.

  5. I’ll tell you what E2NZ, since you started this debate, YOU produce the evidence to support the original claims, and I will follow suit to back up mine.

    If you fail to produce the facts to support what this “army” employee claimed, then readers will be entitled to draw their own conclusions.

    The ball is in your court. Let’s see you pick it up.

  6. The writer has been away from NZ 20 years, returns for a holiday and can barely recognise the place. So what? Life in NZ continued on in his absence. We didn’t stand around waiting for him to return.

    And then he complains about NZ’s meagre “museums, galleries, country parks” compared to that in England. Good grief, the UK had museums and galleries centuries before NZ was even colonised. And NZ has about 1/20th the population of the UK. Who pays to establish and maintain these facilities in NZ? Certainly not him, because he has not been a contributing NZ taxpayer for 20 years.

    And on the issue of violent crime. Well in NZ it constitutes 10% of all recorded offences. In the UK in 2007 it comprised 22%.

    If you are going to publish these types of stories as a series then at least add some context to them, and check the claims being made.

    • You have the facts to back up your claims Chris?

      And will you include including domestic violence and child abuse in those figures? Here’s one to get you started

      New Zealand is ranked joint third in the world by UNICEF for the highest number of child maltreatment deaths (1.2 per 100,000 children) only the US and Mexico have more. source

      Whilst you’re at it, care to provide some context?

      • The disturbing trend of “debate” is somebody slinging around numbers without sources… it makes them look like people who only seek to divert attention.
        Saying that only the population of a country is taxed or responsible for maintanence is laughable… as an example, international students are charged 4.5 – 5x the rate of local students, that money gets taxed too – where is it going?
        And, another example, if universities are making so much money, why do they require donations? It’s strange.
        Simple answers without sources, or masquerading as authoritative without the term “in my opinion” usually means somebody trying to dodge questions without critical thinking (a CUP – certificate of university preparation – course paper).

  7. They seem desperate to find police officers too. This post is older but it is becoming a thankless task to bring more suckers in. I think word is spreading that the hype is just that.
    http://www.movetonz.org/forum/introduce-yourself/7057-hoping-join-nz-police.html

    This returning Kiwi says stock up on things that are horrifyingly expensive in New Zealand, like medicines, pots and pans (lol) (!)
    http://www.emigratenz.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-18858.html

    More – Kiwis who stay away are sentimental about the country, but are well aware of the cost of living and lack of opportunity.
    http://www.emigratenz.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-13029.html

    Some of the women on the long New Zealand Family Court Victim list wouldn’t think too much of the statement on the link above that “Kiwis go home to breed!”

    More on Pommy abuse:
    http://www.emigratenz.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-13505.html

    More fodder, Air NZ:
    http://www.frommers.com/community/forum.cfm/australia-south-pacific/new-zealand/air-new-zealand-not-friendly-kiwi

    Possibly the only country where “bring a plate” means one that isn’t empty ROFL
    “Bring a plate – Sometimes seen on invitations to social gatherings, this constitutes a request that people should come with a plate-full of food, because catering isn’t provided. Many new arrivals in New Zealand have misunderstood and turned up with simply an empty plate – but only once!”
    http://www.escapeartist.com/efam/89/kiwi.html

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