Russian Migrants Not Happy With Their Kids’ Education, nor the Lack of Culture in New Zealand

Bottle store

Russian doctor Natalya Tikhonova in her North Shore bottle shop


There’s an interesting article in Russia Beyond the Headlines on 31 May 2015 describing the experience of Russian migrants in New Zealand: Russians chase the New Zealand Dream. It will resonate with many of our readers, not just the Russians but those who are migrants from Western Countries.

According to Russian immigrants, New Zealand is a great place to sell dumplings and booze but has a lack of good jobs for skilled migrants. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’re an Indian engineer or a Iranian doctor reading this article while you wait to pick up a fare at Auckland airport.

Russians say New Zealand has a “child in a candy store” for a Prime Minister and a rubbish education system.

One migrant family, the Barbins,  find they have little leisure time, which they say was ironic because New Zealand’s attraction for them was its “laid back lifestyle (Yes. Its a myth, we know. But, it takes time for migrants to discover this for themselves and not everyone comes across before they emigrate). They’re also unhappy with their childrens’ education, saying it is behind Russia’s. (Many European and US migrants tell us New Zealand is two years behind their home country).

Another family says New Zealand is difficult for high achievers (which is what “laid back lifestyle” translates to in most languages other than NZ English) and find the absence of a culturally enriching life is a big disappointment. The Tikhonovs give New Zealand a big thumbs down and say its disappointing. Natalya (above) is a doctor and Denis is an electromechanical engineer. But in New Zealand they have been reduced to running a bottle store in the North Shore, Auckland.They also are concerned about the dumbing down of their children in their decile 10 North Shore school .

Natalya, who runs the store most days, can’t believe that she was good enough to be a doctor in an advanced country like Russia, but is not considered good enough to practise medicine in New Zealand, which is a dairy industry based economy…

While Denis has found work in his own area it isn’t anything close to what he was doing back in Russia. “He is desperate to return to Russia,” says Tatyana. “We think of Russia a lot.” Like the Barbins, they too worry a lot about the education of their two children. “Though the kids go to a top decile school, the school hardly teaches,” says Natalya. “Russian students in our children’s age group are much ahead.” The Tikhonovs, therefore, supplement their children’s schooling with maths and science text books sourced from Russia.

But what really upsets Natalya and Denis is the lack of cultural avenues in New Zealand. “From ballet to dramatics, from sports to leisure, there are an amazing number of activities for everyone in Russia,” says Natalya. “We used to live a culturally enriching life, and that’s something that’s just not available here.”

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand agrees: “Like earlier immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, some late 20th century immigrants from Russia found New Zealand still a disconcertingly ‘new’ country and missed the museums, galleries, theatres and sense of history they had left behind.”

The article concludes with the statement below.

But first, dear reader, you should know that it’s quite normal for skilled migrants to be found driving taxis in New Zealand. They have the skills and qualifications to pass through the difficult and expensive visa validation process, but being on the skills shortages lists somehow doesn’t translate in to jobs when they arrive in the country. New Zealand basically still has an agrarian economy and isn’t as developed as the countries from which it sources it’s migrants.

In New Zealand, because of the dairy and agriculture-based economy, Russian immigrants with expertise in high technology and science remain under-utilised. (In 2006, there was the well-known case of an Aeroflot pilot driving a taxi in Auckland.) While this has reduced the number of Russian immigrants to a slow trickle, those who have braved it to the Southern Hemisphere are determined to make it big.

Our advice to Russian migrants is to give New Zealand a miss. It simply isn’t worth your time, effort or expense.

The world is your oyster, in New Zealand you take the risk that you’ll be grit that never makes it to being a pearl.

You may also be interested in

Kids maths problems blamed on underfunding –

Isolated and lonely New Zealanders fare worst for social connectedness: Sovereign Wellbeing Index:

The latest biennial Sovereign Wellbeing Index has been published, and it’s still not good news for New Zealand, with no improvement since the 2013 survey.

It appears the lack of a social life, and an almost negligible sense of community, is affecting people’s wellbeing in the most remote country on earth, something to consider if you’re from Europe and leaving friends and family to emigrate to New Zealand. Having a support network and somewhere positive to raise your kids is far more important than you’d realise… read on

 Our very popular Migrant Tales series – LINK


17 thoughts on “Russian Migrants Not Happy With Their Kids’ Education, nor the Lack of Culture in New Zealand

  1. A resounding “Da!” to what Mrs. Tikhonova says, is printed in today’s NZ Herald:
    John Morris: NCEA / Cambridge debate – clearly the blinkers are still on at PPTA headquarters
    3:12 PM Tuesday Sep 22, 2015

    …Rather than blame CIE and IB for engendering a lack of confidence in NCEA, perhaps they should look at NCEA and discuss how best to improve what it offers which is gradually becoming no more than a credit accumulation exercise. The NCEA system encourages schools and students to choose soft-option unit standards and easier achievement standards so that schools reach the 85% pass rate demanded by the government.

    LOL … government “demands” smarter students … and the teachers “deliver”. Sounds like a “command economy” 🙂

    It is an inconvenient fact that while pass rates in NCEA are increasing year on year, our performance in international tests like PISA is steadily falling. This tends to indicate that our students’ learning/knowledge/skills are not genuinely improving. Rather, we are witnessing grade inflation.

    A “star” athlete (on a sports scholarship) at university said that my Cambridge qualification in Mathematics (besides my one in English) … was “inferior to NCEA”. Said person also said she would be “participating in Olympic sprinting” … but has to date … failed to make the cut, LOL.

    When I introduced CIE into New Zealand it was because of gross dissatisfaction with the entire NCEA reform process. I had been a member of the Principals’ Lead Group in the 1990s and the Leaders’ Forum in 2000-2001 that was set up by the government of the day to look at our qualifications system.

    I witnessed at first-hand how the entire process was flawed; research was limited; minimal trialling was done; moderation of results was, and still is minimal with no effect on a student’s final result; and the outcome, predictably, has been a qualifications system that is badly in need of review because it is a flawed system that is too open to ‘gaming’ by schools desperate for some positive publicity.

    The protected class – teachers – are loath to admit their ranks are filled with pen pushers.

  2. As someone born in New Zealand, I totally agree with the Russians interviewed for that story as well as those by SafeFromNewZealand and Rich. The country is disappointingly poor in culture. If you are an immigrant and have high qualifications, good luck trying to get ahead, or even simply respected for them. That’s tall poppy syndrome for you (I experienced it a lot in school there). My parents were immigrants to NZ themselves and while they initially did well, this lack of value for their qualifications and lack of opportunity drove us to look elsewhere: we moved to the US, where I have lived ever since. Our quality of life saw a marked improvement as a result. While the US has glaring issues, society here does try to address them, unlike NZ where many people follow a “stick your head in the sand” approach, and drink the “100% Pure” Kool-Aid (so do many gullible immigrants unfortunately).

    Here in the US a lot of people associate NZ with LOTR and assume it must be a scenic paradise and a lovely place to live. It is… if you are rich like James Cameron and can afford the overpriced, subpar quality of goods, and put up with the sheer isolation of the country.

    According to Natalya, “We used to live a culturally enriching life, and that’s something that’s just not available here.” Not available unless you are fanatically into rugby that is.

  3. Hi everyone, having now lived in New Zealand for 5 years after emigrating fro m UK. I can totally agree with the negative experiences of Russian people & others from around the world who have decided to move to NZ. New Zealand’s primary economy is farming/agriculture and the farmers in NZ are a narrow minded, inward looking & xenophobic bunch, without exception. Due to the parochial farming culture & New Zealand’s isolation in the world, NZ appears very backward compared to countries in western Europe, USA. New Zealanders are also extremely sensitive to criticism about their country even evidence based & objective criticism. This simply reflects their child like & overinflated view of their countries importance In the wider world. New Zealanders are similar to teenagers who have never matured and ventured out into the world, but decided to hide away at home, smug and arrogant about their own self importance displaying temper tantrums at anyone (ie people from other countries) who might question their smug and deluded perspective. I recommend that people from Russia and western Europe do not emigrate to NZ as the country is a cultural wasteland inhabited outside of Auckland & Wellington by inbred xenophobes. The main reason that New Zealand is so underpopulated, is not it’s geographical isolation, but that unless you are from a third world country, New Zealand simply isn’t worth visiting or emigrating to!

  4. “new qualification” ? And why would there have to be some “new qualification”?
    This is not even any kind of “new math”, this is regular old math. What bs.

    • No math until kiwi math !! – frankly until ‘invented in nz’ unlikely to be taken up.

      Frankly I’m convinced they’re still burning ‘witches’ somewhere in these isles.

  5. That’s actually true, as I had to teach someone working towards becoming a teacher, what fractions were.
    Keep in mind, the person was old enough to have an abortion without parental consent, but apparently not old enough to know what fractions were.

    • Forget about teachers, i have had an experience with a so called ‘CEO’ of a reputable company in NZ, who didn’t knew break even point calculation, during a product planning session. Only dumbos are promoted in NZ to such elite positions, because they happen to know somebody, who knows somebody.

      This is an island full of morons, with underage abortions, family violence and incests, alcohol and child abuse, and lazy students and unqualified teachers.

  6. I think this clip from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is the perfect allegory for educated immigrants.

  7. “Locals do not value international experience and most locals lack the brains to realise just how backward they are. ” Tragic but so true. They don’t even know that there is anything seriously wrong. Thus there can never be any improvement. Essentially there is simply no hope because of this.

  8. I can relate to this experience having spent almost three years in Retardicon 6 (New Zealand). New Zealand is a very challenging place for skilled migrants because of the paucity of opportunities and the insularity of the locals who fear migrants showing them up. Locals do not value international experience and most locals lack the brains to realise just how backward they are.

    The country is seriously overrated and one finds that most of its “good points” end up being exaggerations or outright canards. The government deliberately creates the impression that skilled migrants will easily find jobs, but this is often not true. Moreover, New Zealand salaries for skilled people are low by international comparison, especially given the recently plunging Kiwi Dollar.

    I am grateful no longer to be in New Zealand and instead to be in Switzerland. I earn more than triple what I did in New Zealand and I enjoy stimulating and exciting work. Switzerland has so many wonderful points compared to New Zealand. I am not a materialistic person, but I do believe that having access to good jobs, good education, houses that are actually warm, etc enhance one’s quality of life. There is also so much to do in Europe compared to Retardicon 6.

  9. I totally agree with them. Personally it took me a lot of effort, and still does, not to get stuck in the mud of New Zealand’s growing criminal culture, I was subject to mobbing, constant workplace abuse, discrimination and subsequent dismissals because (!!!) “I didn’t get on very well” with drug smoking, dirty and uneducated mobsters I was placed to work with while holding an engineering diploma – this is how our system tried to “bring us all together” in NZ. My diploma is “highly sought after” as our ridiculous migration system tells us, but the employers aren’t interested in your skills and education, neither they are interested in your dedication or your professional potential, they have their own selected few. Attempts have been made by the employers to put me into a semi office role, at some stage I was even performing some engineering duties, but for sure they were not interested in providing relevant professional renumeration or career opportunities. Their “reference” of me being a “loner and not a team player” still hangs in the system that all potential employers will see and this is based on what the druggies told about me. This is just absolutely disgusting. The system in New Zealand plays on their side and grades us down. Upon arrival in NZ you join all sorts of professional engineering societies that validate your overseas diploma (IPENZ, EEA) as equivalent to NZ degrees, membership costs you thousands of dollars, you put societies’ names as your professional affiliations on your CV, but no one ever takes any notice of that, while the companies list themselves as “professional partners promoting engineering” with these organisations – in reality they don’t. It all draws me to a conclusion that it’s not your skills or experience in NZ that play a crucial part in your professional career, selection process is based on other criteria, moreover someone may be persistently interested in criminalising you, because you are from a “wrong country”.

    • “dirty and uneducated mobsters I was placed to work with while holding an engineering diploma”. With all of the emphasis on “certifications”, you wonder: how all of these shlubs got their jobs? Typical “government” job scenario, 1-2 guys working, 4-5 guys standing around watching. It is all in who you know, not what you know, and nz is suffering because of this. Unqualified workers being granted access to the job market because their “mate” referenced them, and in the meantime, fully qualified migrants are sitting on the sidelines. I think that they are afraid that IF it is found out that they are as unskilled and unmotivated as it would appear, the jig would be up. So if all “outsiders” are kept out of these job markets, no one will be the wiser.
      Road jobs that seem to take forever, road jobs that seem to be worse off than when before they started, no one shows up when they say they will, everything takes longer [with little or no explanation]. These are the “qualified” workers doing the jobs?
      I am so disillusioned, I keep expecting a better result from “qualified” people.
      What is the quote? Definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

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