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).
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)