Today’s tale was sent in by a British migrant in Christchurch whose wife has suffered terribly from bullying and victimisation at work. He himself experienced the country’s culture of brutality while carrying out renovations on his home. He also discovered that quotes were subject to the usual 50% rich pom tax.
However, despite the obvious drawbacks the perception of conflict and crime in Europe is enough to keep them in New Zealand. Perhaps they’ve been there for too long, are things really that bad back in the old country compared to high crime ridden, dirty politicking, gang controlled NZ?
It raises the question – does living in New Zealand alter one’s perception of the world and how much of a role does Kiwi generated Tall Poppy Syndrome play in that? Think about it, New Zealanders are constantly drip fed the message that the world is a dangerous place and they’re so much safer staying put.
We have been in NZ now for coming up to eight years, just for the record.
I don’t want to address all of the issues raised here, but would just like to give an overview of our findings and a couple of examples.
There has been much mentioned about the tall poppy syndrome, and yes, this does exist, very much so. On the occasion where I have to mend something or make-do (given the lack of the “real thing”), I have noticed that you get a pat on the back and a “you would make a good Kiwi” comment. The same doesn’t always go however, if you have the real thing (you might have bought it with you from overseas) or if you want to improve something that the kiwi’s have, or improve on a method they use. The number of times that my wife and I have heard things like “we don’t do it like that here…” or “this is New Zealand mate… what do you expect?”, or “We’ve always made do…” or, “this (describing an object or method) has always been good enough for us!”, etc.
It sort of reminds me of an old werewolf horror film where two Americans travelling through an old English village are warned by the yokel locals, “whatever you do… don’t stray off the path!”
Bullying. Yes, well my wife has a good corporate job, and she has been bullied by some colleagues at work. It got to the point where she nearly quit her job. As it was, she changed from a warm, happy, easy going lady, into an edgy bag of nerves. Her boss was useless, as he (by his own admission) didn’t want to upset the pair of bitches who was making her life hell. It took dogged determination on the part of my wife, and intervention from the all but reluctant human resources guy, who eventually had to get involved; in order that the problem be looked into.
More recently, my wife also witnessed the same aggressive bullying of an older lady at work, by another member of staff. This was for no other reason than the bully disliked her. The older lady was tormented to the point of near breakdown, and this was from a woman whom herself was in her fifties!
Now I’m going to say something which will offend some kiwi’s, but it can’t be helped, and it is my honest opinion and not a cheap shot of sorts. Kiwis (generally) have a schoolboy mentality. They are overly competitive in such things as sports, driving on the road (my God, you have to just see some of the driving here in Chch!), boozing, being “tough” and not showing pain, discomfort, sadness, emotion etc. Bullying fits right in here! If you don’t stand up for yourself, or if you tend to shy away from in-your-face conflict, you will be a target for bullying. My wife, well she is good at her job, has no agenda’s, and doesn’t like conflict for fun. Unfortunately, this may be perceived as being weak, an easy target.
Racism or dislike of tall-poppy poms. Well for want of a better way of putting it, that’s how we sometimes feel. A few days ago for example, I had a tradesman over to do a job which I couldn’t do myself (I do nearly absolutely everything but didn’t have the large machine needed for this particular job). The guy was arrogant on arrival, obviously didn’t want to speak or have any form of dialogue with me whatsoever it seemed. Before he started the job, one which was about to make much mess, noise and throw stone chips everywhere, I asked him if he had a cover for our NEW double glazed door/windows. He didn’t even glance at me and just said “no’. It was obvious that he wasn’t bothered about damage to the $5000+ unit, so I said, “errrm okay, maybe I can find something”. I did, and started to fix it best I could to the unit. Being curious, I asked what he would normally do to prevent damage… his answer “Nothing”.
Now this wasn’t a handy man picked from obscurity, this guy had a newish vehicle, a registered company, business cards etc…
Anyway, he then started the machine up, before I had quite finished taping up the door, and right at the side of me. Unlike him, I had no safety glasses, hearing protectors etc… he didn’t care.
I went inside and left him to it, until I noticed that he had started using out brand new hose (which cost nearly $200 with fittings!). I saw him dragging it behind this machine, and I just knew he would wreck it! This one being a replacement for the one that a previous tradesman had used and mangled up!
Anyway, I went outside, saw that he had taken his own hose from his van, and just not used it. So, I uncoiled his hose, layed it out across to near the tap, and gestured (he had hearing protection on) with a smile, could he swap hoses. This guy flipped out. He stopped the machine and went off on me, seriously. He tore our hose from his machine, breaking the brass hose coupling in the process, then started to berate me how dare I blah blah….
I was speechless. He shouted at me, asking what the hell was wrong with him using our hose (it was now covered in crap and had a broken fitting)….
I said, look, why didn’t you just use your own… his answer, I saw yours and couldn’t be bothered uncoiling mine!
When I said well just didn’t want another hose wrecked, he said (and I swear this is true) “you’re in New Zealand now mate, spread the wealth”!
It was at this point I knew who I was dealing with. A 120kg schoolboy bully. A kiwi who saw a “rich pom” with a big house, and he didn’t like it! Man he was so transparent. But more importantly, this guy squared up to me like he was going to take a swing at me, I mean he came charging up and just stopped short. What a moron, what a complete and utter moron. And this is from a tradesman with his own business, who has come onto someone else’s property in order to do a job of work!…. its mind boggling!
THIS is the extreme, but this is an example of the prejudice you are likely to come up against. Oh, and yes, we are seen as cash cows. That is why I try and do most every job myself (we are renovating a large property), save going over it every time when trades come around. By which I mean telling them we are getting multiple quotes, yes we are poms, but also we are clued up with costing jobs etc. Nearly got caught a couple of times previously. Had a fencing company come around to give a quote. Got his quote, nearly died of shock. Decided to ask a friend (a kiwi) to get a quote on the same work. He rang them, gave them a detailed measurement (same spec as ours), his quote was about 50% lower! This wasn’t the last time we experienced this. Once, I even quizzed a contractor, and he told me “yeah, well you’re a pommie, you can afford a bit more than the locals can.. your pound by three times what our dollar does!” This upset me so much, I thought what the hell we have done coming here. Not only are the people stupid beyond belief, they are also in your face offensive, whether they even know it or care less!
However, to give a balanced view, not all are like this obviously. We have made two lovely kiwi friends, who have been so supportive and welcoming. That said, you must see how bad the flip side is though!
With the global climate what it is, I can say that the feeling of safety here is a good thing. Well, at least from the threat of Islamic terrorists that is… so far! We do have crime, and locally we have started seeing much more of it recently. Burglaries, theft, armed assaults at corner shops, banks etc. The trend is worrying, but still lower than many other places we could have moved to I guess.
Are we glad we moved, well on the whole yes. Is it as good as we hoped it would be? Well, maybe not. We have traded some bad stuff for some good stuff, and vice versa.
I think for us, the feeling of being safely away from the growing European conflict/s, huge crime rate, cramped living etc, well it trumps not having the best material goods available, and we have weathered the jibes and bullying, and are aware that we have a “kick me” sign on our backs. Fortunately we have a tenacity of our own, and we are intelligent enough to not let school kids bully us into submission!