Reasons not to move to New Zealand. Revisited.

Today we’re revisiting an earlier blog in which we asked people to give us their reasons not to move to New Zealand.

The response thread has been quietly ticking away, thanks to everyone who’s contributed. You can read all of the replies here.  Some of them are replicated below.

This is a long thread but one that is worth reading if you’re thinking about emigrating to New Zealand. If you’re already been-there-done-that feel free to leave your reasons too.


“1. Small-minded, xenophobic locals (not all, but many)
2. Hugely expensive produce, no variety in supermarkets
3. Above also applies to clothing
4. Above also applies to housing. Prohibitively expensive
5. Above also applies to child care
6. Shocking youth culture (drugs, alcohol, boy-racers etc)
7. Weather – better than some places, but if you come from a sunny, warm climate, NZ’s climate is a shock to the system. Lots of rains, lots of wind and extremely high humidity in summer
8. Low wages and jobs-for-buddies system. If you don’t know the right people and speak with the right accent, getting a decent job is almost impossible. Prepare to be washing dishes, driving a taxi, working in a call-centre or coffee bar etc (no matter how good your qualification/s and experience)

All that said, if you have a lot of money and know enough people in NZ, in other words if you don’t need to work for a living and don’t need the locals for your social life, you might like it. It is beautiful and, for the most part, peaceful. Not great for teenagers though, but possibly to retire. NZ Immigration will welcome you (or more accurately, your money) with open arms as long as you don’t expect to earn a living or integrate into Kiwi society.”

“I moved my family back to South Africa and I have not regretted it for a moment. People are amazed when I tell them that – one person I told in NZ said he couldn’t believe I want to go back to ‘that hellhole’. For me, NZ was the hellhole. SA has a major crime problem and dysfunctional politics, there’s no denying that, but it also has incredible, interesting, resilient people. People actually live their lives, do interesting things and strive for better. To me, NZ was like the land of the living dead. I have never been more depressed in my life than when I was living there. I came alive again when I came home and I suspect many other South Africans living in NZ are faced with the same dilemma. Stay in a place that slowly drains all the joy and life out of you, but where you are relatively safe, or go back home to the crime and poverty? My only advice is: follow your heart. Yes, your children might be safer and more protected in NZ, but at what price? A joyless, depressed parent can not raise happy, balanced children.”

William Boot

“My husband is self-employed and makes a very good living, I don’t need to work. We have money enough to travel abroad, travel in New Zealand, and pay for private education for our child. My husband is a NZer, with family and connections in the country. In other words, the kind of people you say might like New Zealand, yet we can’t wait to leave! My husband is pushing to move to the States by next year, so our child won’t have to attend a New Zealand school. I’ve wanted to move back to the States within a year of living here (I’ve been here more than five years).

Many of the reasons people choose to leave, or not even move to New Zealand in the first place are still there even if you have money. There is still a shocking amount of vandalism and robbery. The stores are still stocked with junk at extortianate prices. The housing stock is still substandard even for millionaires, which means you have to spend a lot of time and money and go through inordinate inconvenience just to have a comfortable home (and then it’s value may not necessarily increase because insulation, energy efficiency and comfort are not valued here), the supermarkets still lack variety, it’s not so easy to find a good meal when eating out, the hoons still dominate the streets, and most of all, it’s just a grubby and littered place that I find depressing to live in.

As for the scenery, it’s nothing special, and certainly nothing you couldn’t find elsewhere and better, in many cases. I’d rather travel abroad than stay here when I do travel, just like Kiwis themselves! I find it a bit depressing to go hiking and see so little birdlife in the bush. Most of the native wildlife has been exterminated, and the locals don’t seem to care much. There’s not much culture life in the cities either, so that avenue gets dried up pretty quickly. You end up living your life online, reading the papers to know what’s happening outside of New Zealand, and buying online to get things that are unavailable, or to expensive, or both.

Perhaps New Zealand is good place for some people – those that like to go pig hunting with their dogs, those who believe endless, treeless pastures are visions of a pristine landscape, young people who like to alter their cars to make them as loud as possible and race them at night, kleptomaniacs who are looking for an anemic justice system, people who don’t like to use public trash bins, people who don’t mind walking barefoot into a public restroom, those that are not picky about what they eat and are not interested in trying new things or cooking with a variety of ingredients, those that like canned spaghetti, sausages made with less than 70 percent meat, meals that are seasoned with ketchup, meat pies made with little meat and lots of powdered gravy…

In the end, there are beaches, you can go fishing, go can go boating. Living in New Zealand day to day seems an awfully high price to pay to do such things that can be done just as well elsewhere.

… the so-called brain drain that afflicts New Zealand is very real. The educated and by extension, those that will make a good living, leave in large numbers ( The number of New Zealanders that live abroad all told is about 1 million. There is a reason New Zealand immigration so desperately wants people to go live there, especially professionals.”

P Ray

“And yet the immigrant professionals can’t find jobs because they don’t know the right people, don’t speak with the correct accent, or have the right name.
For some it becomes an endurance test. One would wonder whether NZIS “wants them” or “wants their money”.


“Not to mention that see no evil attitude given all the above, I couldn’t stand it, it was like this –”


“Hyped, very false advertising

So overpriced it is crazy, for the quality of anything you get, but especially basic needs such as housing

Nothing much to do but scenery, drinking and sports

Too far away from anything to make travel inexpensive

Poor public transportation

Provincial minded (only interested in national affairs, and in the national take on foreign affairs), parsimonious by necessity

People dodge as much responsibility as they can, and are not very friendly except superficially, Culture of Just good enough, whatever you can get away with is ok

Winters are cold, rainy, windy, no preference of a warm indoors exists

There is a predatory mentality towards immigrants and foreigners

The people are not curious intellectually and have a myopic sense of humour

The people want to minimise conflict to the point of ignoring problems until it is too late

Drug problem is all over, they are too permissive and too many teens are out of control and degenerate

Palm greasing society, it’s who you know not what you know, even in official or justice situations where there should be transparency and rectitude

Bully culture with high youth suicide rate.”


“I’m a Kiwi, born and bred and it’s with total sadness I would have to agree with much of what has been posted. The old New Zealand, before NZ started trying to be better than everyone else and started to claim superiority, was a much happier and welcoming place to live.
NZ is now a grab what you can and stuff everyone else society and has become simply an unpleasant place to live. We are simpletons trying to play an inteligent game and not doing very well at all. We would be far better off if we accepted the fact that we are a third world country simply trying to play first world and wiped the facade we portray to each other and the rest of the world.”


“Everything! EVERYTHING that people are saying about this unfriendly, ungenerous, parochial small-minded, big-headed arrogant country is correct, We are currently in the process of moving back to the UK as having to exist amongst these appallingly opinionated self-centred people is utterly intolerable. We have enough money not to have to work but we find it excruciating being here. And did anyone mention thin-skinned??? Even the most casual criticism of anything Kiwi will see you face a barrage of defensive rubbish that soon verges on personal hatred. Kiwis like to dish it out, but even when presented with facts refuse to accept them. If you’ve ever lived anywhere in Europe or North America, you’ll find the Kiwi mentality and outlook and cheapness, their parsimony, and their personal and national self-delusion utterly intolerable. It’s a shockingly horrible place to isolate yourself (and you WILL be isolated). Cannot wait to get out of here – we’re talking weeks, not even months – and get back to civilisation and decent people.”


“I agree with all of the above. I moved here 3+ years ago from the Canada, and am homesick often. Although there are some issues with the Canada, I find the people here to be incredibly ignorant — yes, it is the “just good enough” mentality, and customer service is something foreign. No one strives to be better. I have no one to have an intelligent conversation with. The health care system is akin to a 3rd world country with people on waiting lists for 2 years for surgery. Nurses are essentially nurses aides, by American or Canadian standards. There is a “nark on your co-worker” mentality here, that I have not seen elsewhere, but have been told this also exists in Australia. I guess this is what they call TALL POPPY syndrome, and it is very real. In other words, if you are a go-getter — they will cut you down. They actually punish people who are creative or innovative here, and that defines tall poppy syndome — if one is standing too tall, cut it down. What I would have to say I miss most is my profession (nursing) being PROFESSIONAL, and the sense of humor the doctors from other countries had compared to here. But then again, we had different standards of nursing – and the nurses here who have RN’s are equivalent to enrolled nurses elsewhere. Doctors have GOD mentality, so if you question them (as you would in any developed country) — they look at you as if to say “How DARE you question me?” My education is better than most of these doctors, and I was told that most 2nd year NZ med-students don’t have basic understanding of human physiology. I asked one of the nurses here how many years of Anatomy & Physiology she has had, and she said “What’s that?”It took me 2 years to get the heck out of nursing, and I have a Master’s degree. I had to take the fact that I was Canadian off my resume. No one will give you an interview for even the most menial jobs if they know you are a foreigner. This is so sad….there are tons of really smart Indian doctors here who cannot get registered (they think their own health care force is high & mighty but their education here is the bottom of the barrel compared to other countries) so they are driving cabs. I would rather have these guys as a doctor than the small-minded NZ doctors who DO NOT listen to their patients.

A woman told me that her mother went through breast cancer, & the doctor simply would not listen to her. The doctors do what is best for THEM and not the patients. I know someone else (another immigrant) that went back to school to do engineering work because she watched a doctor kill someone (after she warned him that the patient immediately needed IV meds) When she complained to the DHB, they asked her to retract the letter. So you see, if you are a nurse – you are simply not valued here. I make 20% of what i made in Canada for the same work.

My partner loves it here. We do talk alot about the mentality — and I have very few friends really. NZers like to gossip, and I am not into this…I find it petty. For this reason, I keep to myself.

I honestly don’t think we will be here forever — but I am getting out of nursing. Going back to school to do something else. I believe all the good nurses go to Australia. They cannot go to USA or Canada, because these nurses would never be able to pass the exams to practice.

I figure, since we are here — I want to get SOMETHING out of it, and not feel that being here was a complete waste of time.

Oh yeah – the racism… unbelievable! Never seen anything like it. If you don’t look or talk like they do, they will have a label for you.

And Kiwis never compliment each other — so if you do it, they just look at you suspiciously.”


Hi Jonesie, finally someone who ‘gets’ it about nursing in New Zealand.

I have been in NZ for 35 years, came from Australia for a working holiday aged 16 and never left. (Bad family environment back home so nothing to go back to really). My first exposure to the strangeness of NZ’ers was during my first job here. I was shocked and mortified at how my colleagues treated me as an Australian. The jokes were not nice. The men were strange, several accusing me of being “selfish” for choosing to wear knee length skirts rather than mini skirts. Though I did not realize it at the time, I had been greeted by xenophobia and misogyny. Several weeks later, staff began a nasty argument, insulting remarks flying, the subject matter being who were the superior NZ’ers, North or South Islanders. I was utterly floored, it was proof that NZ’s were just plain weird, and I never took any notice of Australian hate jokes again.

In ’77 I joined the RNZN, serving for eight years. Two of us were Australians, 38 were NZ’ers. IQ tests… guess which two recruits scored the highest? Hmmmm That was an issue that came back to wreak havoc in my life years later, following my divorce from my misogynist violent kiwi husband.

In 2000, I chose to study nursing as a mature student. I absolutely loved it and did believe that nursing was my calling. I was also exceptionally good at it, and had a very particular talent at establishing a rapport with patients. To this day I remain proud of having changed lives during my time as a student nurse. Somehow patients were able to confide in me their most embarrassing secrets, sufferings they had lived quietly with for years, too embarrassed to share with anyone, yet they did with me. I was able to arrange life changing interventions for them. Perhaps they recognised integrity, a very rare character trait in this country, and almost absent from the medical professions here also. (But you know that).

I had absolutely no problems with the academic portion of the training before my real problems began, and at this point must add that I loved Anatomy & Physiology, always have, from the time I used to make my family ill when I would choose dinner time to discuss the frog, liver fluke & sheep head dissections in biology lab at school, and describe the digestive tract from mouth to anus. In fact my mother once said as a joke that I should be a nurse. Who knew???

Something unsettling began to happen though. I found myself a regular contributer during class. I do not think I was a smart-arse, I was simply well read and knowledgeable. (I loved research too!) I found often that when a question was put to the class, I seemed to be the only student with the answer. I am not talking about difficult questions here, to me most of the answers were just plain common sense. On several occasions I challenged the tutors and proved myself correct and them incorrect, albiet in a friendly professional manner, as one does! One tutor, the Year Two Head began making comments. She would often say “L you seem to know a lot”, or “L you are very knowledgeable”, but the comments were delivered sarcastically. This is when the other students began avoiding me, unless they needed my help with something, because even they sensed the tutors had me in their sights. I became frustrated, deliberately not contributing, not making myself a target, just trying to find that right balance. Have you any idea how difficult it is to dumb down?? It is VERY hard. Something else that frustrated me was… I left school at 14. I did not have higher education prior to these studies, yet every body around me was so GOD DAMNED DUMB! How the hell did these people even feed themselves? I mean the tutors also, or most of them at least, not all. So many of the students were so clueless but were being given a free ride, free re-sits etc., time and time again. I just thought “OK, ignore it, find the right balance, just sail through it”. Then however I hit rocks, and the fight for my life began.

One of my patients had been abused by a nurse. I went in in the morning to find her cowering in her bed, knees drawn up, covers pulled up tight under her chin, looking terrified. She was a very nice American woman in her early 50′s, very frail, a great deal of pain much of the time, wheel chair bound 80% of the time, couldn’t touch her anywhere without feeling the grating. You know the diagnosis. All she wanted was help to go to the toilet at 3:00 in the morning, so she rang the bell. The nurse must have been watching the shopping channel or something equally important to her, and did not take well to the interruption. My patient told me everything that was said (read screamed) and done. My patient was so genuinely terrified she said to me “What if she comes back tonight, what if she puts a pillow over my face! It happens you know, you read about it! If I have to go to the toilet tonight, I’m too scared to ring the bell. I’ll just wet the bed. You don’t mind do you, If the bed is wet tomorrow morning…do you?” She was wide eyed and rambling, and quite scared, so I advocated for her. To be honest I gave the nurse not a second thought, and an incident report was filed.

I had cut my own throat. Every ward i went to received word ahead of my arrival that I was to be got rid of. I was not wanted in the profession. I had committed to greatest sin in nursing, I had betrayed a nurse. My professional responsibility was to turn around and walk away from the patient, protect the abuser, but oh no, I had to protect the patient. My sin was unforgivable. I was set up, fitted up, harassed where ever I went. They actually broke board policies as they harassed me. On campus I was being worked over by the tutors, harassed and victimised, deliberately failed on my formatives because they could do it, my summatives gone over with a microscope and failed on something as small as a missing full stop. And they lied. They just lied and lied and lied. Like many people I have viewed the odd American Soap Opera. You know how some of the characters are just so EVIL. I thought people like that could not exist in the real world, that it was just fiction, a fairy tale, but at my School of Nursing I met evil and looked it in the eyes. It’s real.

I was under so much stress my hair was falling out, I had a bald patch on one side. The student association president faked helping me, didn’t want to piss off the faculty. The New Zealand Nurses Organisation student rep led me right up the garden path. I learned that they are not the union they pretend to be at all, that is a joke, the are a club, and I was no longer welcome to join. I fought hard but in the end they broke me. They got me on my last clinical placement, I was fitted up and hung out to dry. Six weeks to go till State Finals, and they broke me. I had been fighting to survive for 18 months. The incident with the nurse abuser was the middle of year two.

It’s been 10 years and it still makes me cry. I still cry sometimes when I muse over what they stole from me. They stole my future, my hope for independence, and left me with a Student Loan debt I will never be able to pay off in my life time. I wonder though if perhaps this was the way it was meant to be, if it was to save me, to prevent me from turning into one of THEM. I saw so much abuse in nursing, horizontal and vertical abuse among the staff, and abuse of patients. I saw a nurse kill a patient; she refused to carry out a task she was asked to do, said it was “yukky”, did not do it, the patient died, she got away with it because the order from the doctor was verbal, through me. He told me to tell my preceptor, which I did. I couldn’t say anything because the order was not in writing so he could deny having given a verbal order, and she could have denied having received the verbal order through me. Death by nurse!

New Zealand nurses are incredibly unhygienic, it’s no wonder there are so many nosocomial infections in this country. They just don’t wash their hands and rarely wear gloves. One example – a nurse handled with her bare hands an expelled urinary catheter (female patient), did not wash her hands, then responded to another patient’s request to peel his orange please, which she did for him, with filthy hands. I could cite examples that would make your skin crawl.

The incompetence and arrogance is mindblowing. I saw one nurse irrigating a wound with cold saline and mentioned warming it to tepid, citing research, and her response was “Oh, I don’t believe that”. Another patient in Cardio Thoracic exhibited a slight Parkinsonian gait, but Parkinson’s Disease was not in his records. When I pointed it out to my preceptor she replied “Ignore it, that’s not what he’s here for”. In that ward all post op’s used a commode chair, but the chairs were never cleaned. Some had fecal matter on them, the nurses didn’t care, the patients didn’t know because the chair was behind them. I cleaned all the chairs and the nurses considered me an upstart for doing it. I must have seen one example of blatant incompetence every day. Some disgraceful, some downright dangerous. NZ nurses do not like learning either. Once they graduate they undertake only the further learning they are forced to do. They have no interest in voluntary professional development. It’s just about the money, which happens to be very good. That is the only thing nursing has going for it today. Also, when I studied some openly admitted their primary goal was to marry a doctor. A few, but just a few, complete, graduate, and never pursue a nursing career. They are just so disgusted with nursing culture, so offended by it, they don’t want to be part of it. At my local pharmacy one of the assistants was a nurse who left the profession before it killed her soul, and I have met a few others.

The medical professions in New Zealand are a horror story. Most doctors are exactly as you have described. Except mine that is, but he’s Chinese LOL. (True that). It has been a long letter, and maybe no one will ever read it, and I must not forget to state exactly where I studied. It was Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, north of Wellington. The hospital where the patient abuse incident took place was Hutt Hospital, Medical Ward, but revenge was carried out at various wards at Wellington Hospital. The Whitereia School of Nursing will be no different to any other in New Zealand. I believe the same thing would have happened no matter which school I enrolled with. I also believe I would have received the same treatment at every hospital in New Zealand. The entire nursing and medical culture here is evil and rotten to the core. Well that’s me. Astro out!

PS I could not have moved to another town to do it again, it would have followed me. Somehow where ever I went, it would have found me, and it would have started again, I firmly believe that. Going to Australia to study there was never an option. I have children here, they were teenagers who needed me then so I could not have gone on my own, and I could not have ripped them away from their lives, schools and friends just to pursue my dream. Now, I am just too old to start again…..and I am ashamed to say that if I had a do over, I would calm my patient down, and take it no further. A student nurse does not have the luxury of ethics. Ethics can destroy her/his career before it has ever begins. That is also the reason New Zealand RN’s rarely possess any ethical sense, or integrity. By the time they graduate any of it they ever had has been killed, they are immune to good influence. They have become pack animals. That is the nursing culture in this country. The nursing council periodically discusses workplace violence, but they don’t really care. They have no interest really in stopping it. They just have to be seen discussing it, that’s all. Bad nurses here are not pushed out, they are pushed up. The violence will never stop. Why do nurses eat their young? Why not…it just feels so damned good.”

Keep them coming…

One thought on “Reasons not to move to New Zealand. Revisited.

  1. Attitudes.

    “But I have to say that one of the most surprising things I’ve learned while in New Zealand these past months is the country’s level of violence against women. Before coming here I mainly knew that New Zealand was rightly proud of the fact that it was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote (in 1893). I also knew that there was a healthy cadre of New Zealand feminists at work influencing national policy through research, direct service, and the arts. What I had not realized was how deeply ingrained the sexism is here, perhaps as yet another direct descendant of British colonialism? That is what one of my Maori female informants and experts on this topic asked somewhat rhetorically in answer to my question to her about this topic. I had not realized that prostitution is legal in New Zealand (the photo here is of the Calendar Girls strip club/’gentleman’s club/brothel left standing in the Red Zone of Christchurch.) I had not realized that New Zealand is one of the worst industrialized countries in terms of violence against women. (See: Facts on Violence Against Women, by Janet Fanslow, New Zealand Herald, 11-25-11.) Of course, those issues are all interrelated…”

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