Migrant Tales – There’s a club and you’re not in it


New Zealand’s haves are in a small, exclusive club

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

Today’s tale was recently posted on a commercialised emigration forum, the author is an expat in the UK, and this was their contribution to a thread on the topic of 20% of children living in poverty in New Zealand. Actually, its more like 25 %  and New Zealand deliberately has no official measure for poverty (Government warned to measure child poverty in 2009: Green party).

Here’s the tale.

“A few years ago, when talking to my brother over here in the UK, I asked him what New Zealand was like, how had it changed in all the years I’d been away.

‘It’s become really Americanised’, he replied. Not exactly sure what he meant, but perhaps shredding the social safety net and a commitment to full employment might have been what he was aiming at. New Zealand: unquestionably adopting every nutcase theory coming out of Wisconsin, when many years ago, New Zealand was a model society that other countries tried to emulate. Used to be, many years ago, that those coming out of school in New Zealand with poor prospects for whatever reason, would have found stable and reasonably well-paid employment on the railways or in the meatworks, for instance.

Not sure what education can do in the cases of people working on minimum wages and having to house their family in tents, families sharing 10-12 in a two bedroom house with terrible insulation or countless sick children filling up hospital beds with third world respiratory diseases. Besides, New Zealand has a relatively high standard of education, especially childhood literacy…(E2NZ editor, no it doesn’t posts tagged PISA or Education)

…but instead of showing some insight and understanding how society is becoming increasingly systematically weighted against those with challenges and thinking things through as to how it impacts on the rest of the population in a range of areas from public health to crime and how it cascades down through the generations, it’s far easier and much lazier to point fingers and make sweeping generalisations. Only problem with this, is that for those with the eyes to see, is that this kind of cheap and ugly transparent prejudice is always and only about smugly making yourself feel better at the expense of others.

For those curious about what New Zealand was like before you arrived, or possibly in some cases, when you were a child, before your time, this is worth checking out for some relatively contemporary history:


You can see all eight parts by flicking through the clips on the right hand side of the linked page. Back then, New Zealand might not have been the most vibrant and glamorous of places, but it was certainly a more stable and egalitarian place to live for everybody from all walks of life.

So, when you stop to ponder why houses in New Zealand have become so absurdly expensive and why the cost of living seems to be so high, there used to be a time when that wasn’t so… and then think of how regressive the tax system has become since with GST levied on everything and capital gains remaining untouched. Great to think of how your house price must be steadily climbing… until you stop to think of all that unproductive capital, billions of dollars, all tied up in wooden houses with tin roofs, with money and ownership of assets streaming out of the country to Australian and Asian banks. And the question then arises: what purpose does an economy serve and actually who for?

There is a club… and you are not in it.”

You may also be interested in:

Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – or the lack of it – in NZ (July 2013):

On the day that the NZ Government launched a fresh campaign to rob beneficiaries of their basic human rights (further evidence of the runaway poverty gap the country suffers from) Sovereign life insurance has issued a press release showing that New Zealand fares badly in international standards of wellbeing.

In comparison to 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the leadread on


NZ’s Human Rights Record Stained by Child Poverty, Lack of Investment in its Young: Amnesty International; UNICEF and OECD (May 2013):

270,000 children, yes 270,000, children are now living in poverty in New Zealand, a country infamous for its low wage culture.

New Zealand’s high level of child poverty, violence against women and a proposed law affecting asylum seekers came under fire in Amnesty International’s Annual Report on the state of the world’s human rights.

New Zealand faces most criticism within the country for its high levels of child poverty, according to Grant Bayldon, Executive Director of Amnesty International in New Zealand… read on


NZ Poverty Not A Lifestyle Choice, Poor Families Can’t Even Afford Basics (March 2011):

Published research from the University of Auckland, which  shows that low income families in New Zealand can’t afford to buy basic nutritious food for their children, is now being used by the Child Poverty Action Group to call for more support for families in New Zealand. The results of poor nutrition is being seen in New Zealand’s hospitals every day… read on

5 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – There’s a club and you’re not in it

  1. I am also 4/5th generation NZer of European descent. I keep an eye on this site and have recommended that my local MP take a read of it…I doubt he even read my letter. The worst aspect of living the kiwi dream for me is that in my experience the NZers stop listening to you and will go into denial if you point (for example) out the massive differences in wages and work conditions between NZ and other countries….NZers hate to hear anything negative about their precious godzone country…I am 55…born in NZ although l have worked and lived in Australia periodically which has I think given me a sense of perspective…all my immediate family now live in Australia. Take it from me anyone considering NZ as a clean green paradise with a rockstar economy to run to…DONT…unless you have tons of money in reserve to get you out of the country to escape appalling wages and high cost of living, shitty climate, oppressive government rules and regulations…(we are known as government worshippers )..lack of opportunity…unless you want to milk cows and play rugby..and the blatant lies coming out of Wellington … If it were France we would take to the streets with pitchforks…here we just roll over and say things like…” oh well at least there is no terrorism here”. I am saddened disappointed and have come to the realisation that most good honest hard working kiwis…(there are some) will be punished severely for any get up and go… most with that “get up and go” have “got up and gone”….and it will be me again soon…never again to return to this country I should be proud to call home.

  2. Even when you’re a 4th/5th generation kiwi you’re ‘not always in the club’! I’m not into rugby at all, so I’m on the outer there… then there’s racing – I was brought up in the game and enjoy watching it on the telly but am not a fanatic. As for beer, I tend not to drink it, although I think we have moved away from that mentality compared to past generations – maybe not: my next door neighbour and his partner chug through a huge number of beer cans every week but I think he may have ADHD and she gives me the impression she’s an alcoholic…
    The worst thing about New Zealand is the appalling architecture! OMG! Have you ever driven into Wellington? …it’s like entering a city entirely dependant on the welfare state!
    Yet, despite that the rivers are receptacles for cow poo, the women are fat and ugly, the Maori have an entitled chip on their shoulder and respond by taking drugs, sleeping all day, beating up their partners and worse! …if you can ignore all of that and more, then it’s an ok place to live… just pray to Archangel Gabriel, Archangel Ezekiel and Archangel Michael every night before you drop off to sleep and they will get you through the next challenge…

  3. I visited NZ in 1998 for 3 months. I was shocked. Beautiful country, totally overpriced, and the kiwi’s themselves left a lot to be desired, As a friend once said: “There’s more culture in a yogurt”
    On the bright side I actually saw a KIWI, a real live one, Crawling out of my tent one morning, beside the beach on the south island west coast, there it was, standing there looking at me. 😀
    PS: I’ve been reading the other posts here on this excellent website and the experiences that people are writing about are mirroring the present day Ireland. I moved back here 5 years ago from switzerland and I’m still in a state of shock. I’m experiencing first hand how many people are struggling just to make basic ends meet. I can’t even get the money together for a one way ticket out of here.

  4. From my last 7 years based in Auckland, I can say this:

    Auckland (I didn’t meet many others) kiwis are polite, and friendly, but standoffish. Never warm. They don’t welcome you into their lives easily. It takes a LOT. It is the other immigrants that are warm people.

    Auckland houses are the biggest HOLES in the world, for which you will pay some of the most extreme rents in the world. They are either leftover state houses with zero insulation and drafts coming through the floorboards, or have been renovated in a make-do fashion with no regard for what the typical weather conditions are. One of the biggest kiwi sayings is “she’ll be alright”, which Kiwis proudly take to mean that they like being handymen, but which I have come to realise means that they will do a shoddy a job as they can get away with. If you look at some of these houses, you would swear they are based in a desert, which it most certainly is not. Which brings us to the Auckland weather… aaah the weather.

    Its rainy. VERY rainy. And windy. It rains every other day in winter, and winter extends from April to late December. It doesn’t get very cold a la Canada, but it gets cold enough to require you to wear down jackets indoors. Especially in the uninsulated, poorly constructed houses. Auckland weather is regarded as being “mild” by some, but actually its pretty extreme in terms of amount of rain, and high winds . It never gets hot enough to sit outside without a jersey at night. And you are never fully warm on the beach in summer. And even though you are never warm, you can feel the huge amounts of UV rays cooking you through that hole in the ozone.

    But the worst part is the fact that everything is so expensive because its such a small market and there is no competition amongst the two suppliers that there are for anything. And the house prices are nearly as bad as Sydney because NZ is a tax haven for offshore trusts, who invest in property because that gets better tax treatment than other investments. So you pay $1m for an ex state house hole in the ground with no insulation or style to speak of. So everything that should cost $1, costs $1.60. The middle class don’t even have disposable income there. So the bulk of the shopping is done at the Warehouse, where you are lucky if you get anything to last for more than 6 months. Its a black hole for money, with no sense of style, quality or pride.

    Thanks God I got out….

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