“NZ its Own Worst Enemy”


Connections are everything in NZ

Its not just migrants who are denied professional recognition in New Zealand, its happening to Kiwis too.

Even government departments are remarkably narrow minded about what they consider to be relevant experience and qualifications.

This is a reminder to all that getting work in New Zealand is all about the network – who you know, not what you’ve got to offer. This is a country where nepotism, looking after your own and rewarding mediocrity are genuinely considered virtues. If you’re out of the country too long and lose your network you’re stuffed. What hope do migrants stand?

This story was sent to Stuff Nation by Michael Alexander, a New Zealander with a multilingual Polish doctor for a wife. She can’t get a job because of institutionalized racism against Poles and certain other ethnicities.

His brother can’t get a job either because his overseas experience isn’t recognized. New Zealand’s loss has now become Switzerland’s gain, much like other migrants who contribute to E2NZ.org. Is it any wonder there are a million Kiwis living abroad and many other countries are benefiting from their skills and intellect?

Did you know there are skilled and experienced expatriates who can’t get a job in New Zealand?

I’m talking about engineers, doctors and tradespeople wanting to come home and bring their experience with them, but no-one will employ them.

My brother was one such victim. He was over-qualified for a post with the New Zealand Government, but it told him it did not recognise his experience.

Because he didn’t spend the past 10 years in either Britain, the United States or Australia, it would not accept he had a real job.

His job in Khartoum in Sudan was not exactly your typical line of work, but the United Nations certainly recognised his skills.

His job in Zimbabwe helping people in the outback get access to healthcare, specifically making sure children got their vaccinations by using mobile phone technology, was not recognised in New Zealand, but the UN was grateful.

New Zealand officials won’t recognise my wife either – a Polish-trained doctor. She speaks four languages fluently and has spent the past few years working in Switzerland.

I’m in the medical field and won’t be bringing my skills home just yet.

The list goes on for skilled Kiwis – my wife the exception, of course – who can’t get work in New Zealand.

As a result, there will continue to be a doctor shortage, and junior locums will continue to pillage the public health system – $100 an hour, plus flights and housing.

New Zealand will continue to become more unaffordable for the average Kiwi. No competition, lack of tradespeople and people with less experience means poorer quality service. If you want to get a job done well, you’ll pay a whole lot more.

Do I sound bitter? Probably, but I choose to live in a cheaper place than New Zealand. It’s called Switzerland.

You wouldn’t expect that, would you? Certainly some things are more expensive here, but overall, New Zealand is far more expensive. I don’t know how the average person survives any more.

I remember going to buy a book at the store; nothing much under $30. I stopped at Luton Airport on my way through to Gdansk and paid £10 for three books.

I always thought New Zealanders loved stories of Kiwis doing well in the big world. They love the image of the underdog succeeding, especially when taking on the big boys. It’s a lie.

There are so many good things about New Zealand, the best of which is the friendliness of the people. I had forgotten about that.

I don’t know how they get by, or how my parents get by, for that matter. They’re too proud, but I find ways to help them – ways in which it’s too late to say “No thanks”.

Sorry to be so depressing, or perhaps bitter, but it’s bittersweet thinking about home, thinking about family, thinking about how New Zealand doesn’t really want me, my skills or the skills of my wife.

Damn it; should have played rugby

He added in the comments section (emphasis ours)

As for NZ not recognising my wife’s Polish medical qualification, I’ve done the research, and they do not acknowledge it at all. If she spends a couple more years here in Switzerland, then there may be a path. But simply, it’s not a matter of her skills, training and experience not being good enough, it’s about the powers that be in NZ deciding that if you come from a specific area, then the answer is no,

I’ve also lost track of the doctors in NZ from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and so on, that could barely speak English, and whose skills were awful, but making a fortune off the health system.

Yes, we kiwis love to have our house, with the section. Kiwis don’t do the whole apartment thing. Yes, I do live in an apartment, and I do miss the yard, but then my apartment is about 1400meters altitude, and it’s warm, even though it’s dumping snow outside right now. But so many average kiwis, with their front and back yards, and struggling to get by. Both parents are often working and they’re not managing to save, just survive. Students whose parents do this, miss out on a student allowance because their parents are considered too well-off, when this is so not true.
And it’s not just me that can’t get a job in NZ (i can get one at any old hospital anytime) but there is an actual community of here of expats that cannot get jobs, when they’re too qualified.
As for ”first world countries’ not recognising my brothers experience in third world countries, he can get great job anywhere in Europe/UK, USA and Australia, but NZ is home, but I guess it’s just too small. I suppose B class NZ managers don’t want to employ A class employees.
As for being a loser and ‘fleeing overseas for the big bucks’ I don’t make a fortune, and I didn’t flee NZ, I went for the experience, to broaden my perspective and mind, and to work with people from all walks of life. What better experience can there be to develop the mind? NZ could be a lot less expensive, but when you have no true competition, that’s what happens.

Other comments included

I tend to agree. I moved to Austria in 2000, at that time NZ was cheaper to live in..now its the other way round. Last trip I did to New Zealand (2012) I kept our restaurant reciepts. Back in Vienna I did a comparison ( with similar restaurants) NZ dining out, for us at least was 48%, more expensive than Vienna. As for jobs in NZ , we would have to take an 60% drop in income to move back to NZ. The disappointing thing is NZ is slipping further and further behind……its the she’ll be right attitude that is destroying a wonderful country. NZ should be light years ahead of European cities.


NZ is the land of rip offs! Yes we are a small country, but why are companies here trying to rip off the average Joe Blow on a mediocre salary? Because they can, and most likely the companies here are foreign owned! These foreign companies are quite happy to rip off hard working citizens, yet would more likely pay their employees peanuts to do their dirty work. Unless this Government pulls up their jock straps, these companies need to pay their dues in higher company taxes, if they don’t like it, get lost back to Australia or where ever you came from, that’ll lessen competition and a local start up company can compete without some conglomerate beast putting them out of business. If I was an ex-pat I wouldn’t bother coming back to this backward country with a incompetent Government only worried about big business and bailing out their rich mates.


Migrant Tales – New Zealand is draining the me out of me (from a US citizen in NZ)

…I can no longer live in damp, moldy, rotted houses. Last night I woke up from a deep sleep having a coughing fit because the room was so cold and damp. I have lived in a new house, but still there was no central heating, so the heat had to come from a oil heater which heated only that room, so I changed to a heat pump, had to move my bed downstairs into the lounge to sleep under it and then got a huge power bill. I never ever had issues with my health before and now I find myself being so careful to try to stay dry, to and to sleep with my face under the covers to try not to breathe the dampness.

At first I felt like it was good for me to experience a new culture, however now I feel like this place is destroying me. I feel like who I am, how I feel, what I think is unwanted, and that I cannot grow. The US has it’s own issues, but at least I’m allowed to grow, make mistakes and learn from them and have people around me who may or may not be my friends, but who at least share a common sense of patriotism, and who would never say to me “I’ve decided to hate you the rest of my life”.

I’m serious, this isn’t funny, this isn’t an exaggeration. My employment ends in September and I’m going home. I’m done trying to change the very fabric of who I am to live somewhere that while gorgeous is draining the very “me” out of me…

3 thoughts on ““NZ its Own Worst Enemy”

  1. The author of the Stuff piece speaks the truth. I find living in Switzerland cheaper than New Zealand in many respects, albeit with much better quality of offerings and much higher wages.

    I must also confess my amusement reading the vitriol from a subset of ignorant, insecure, and insipid Kiwis. They are too thick to realise that New Zealand is only number 1 at driving its productive and most enterprising citizens outside the country. The smart Kiwis are contributing to places like Australia, the USA, the UK, and even Switzerland whilst the bogans remain behind to milk what they can of the remaining passive sheep. New Zealand is negative natural selection at work.

  2. An interesting comment from the “NZ its Own Worst Enemy” article:

    slowloris19 hours ago
    I have never travelled overseas for work because I wanted to stay in New Zealand and must say I have also experienced the same difficulty in finding work. It is like NZ does nothing to help itself. I graduated with a degree in IT in 2012, and did very well, winning a few prizes along the way. Despite applying for over 50 jobs and getting only 8 interviews I could not even get a job on an IT help desk, despite there being a supposed shortage of IT staff.

    Seems employers want experienced people only for every position and are not prepared to invest any time developing anyone. And don’t get me started on the recruiters who know nothing about IT and are interviewing people for IT roles. I’m not sure if it’s the state of the economy which is responsible, the city I live (Wellington) experiencing lots of public sector job cuts, or a case of it’s not what you know but who.

    Meanwhile my education is going to waste as I work in a very unchallenging admin position hoping that something one day soon will change to give me a foot in the door I desperately want. Or perhaps I should just move overseas like the everyone else and let another country’s economy benefit from my NZ tax payer funded education.

    Obviously either some unqualified people fear for their jobs if a competent hire comes on,
    there is chicanery at the workplace which should not be exposed,
    the person in charge of hiring has no clue,
    there is counterfeit software at the workplace which the new employee may discover (it’s more common than you think!)
    they may be asked to perform potentially illegal operations towards “client-of-the-company’s” hardware, e.g. install remote viewing software (under the guise of “we need to monitor client hardware without going on site … despite having an “on-site diagnosis” charge)

  3. This may certainly be very representative of the “not recognised as Kiwi” experience in NZ:
    Demisse fled Ethiopia as a teenager in the 1990s, looking for a better life in New Zealand. But it has not been easy.

    He has tried everything to get work – gaining a computer science degree, offering to volunteer, sending out hundreds of applications and door-knocking employers.

    He said he would be happy to take retail work at a computer store, or a call-centre job, but the rejection letters were piling up.

    “I spend most of my time looking for jobs. Sometimes I feel lonely and bad because I can’t find any work.

    “I’ve come to the reality that it is just getting tougher and tougher to get a job.”

    Despite all the hardship, he has no regrets about moving here. “Coming here was the best decision of my life.”

    It’s better than getting massacred, surely … but disallowing a certain segment of the productive, educated people from meaningfully participating in society,
    means they are content with allowing the (possibly) mediocre and connected to continue dictating policy.

    Probably because they “have New Zealand experience”, 🙂

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