Migrant Tales – the story of John Doe and Kimiko Suzuki

New Zealand is geared to parting immigrants from their wealth

New Zealand is skilled at parting immigrants from their wealth

Welcome to our series of Migrant Tales, accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Usually Migrant Tales are told in the first person, but this tale is told by another. It is the story of John Doe and Kimiko Suzuki

I am retired as a writer now, but there are just some stories you never told, and they just won’t go away. This is one, and it is not a pleasant one. I have seen all the papers, from the New Zealand family court, from the banks, the letters and emails. I can not pass that on, but I can tell the story, I feel I have to.

Let’s call them John Doe and Kimiko Suzuki, not their real names, I just plucked them off the web and made sure they do not easily associate to the real people.

Now, let’s roll the clock back some 30 years. John, had just finished his university studies overseas and was backpacking around Asia. There he met a pretty 19 year old, and a certain bond developed. Kimiko was honest about that she was looking for a foreigner to marry to escape her overcrowded home country. They had a lot of fun together, and finally got married. For the most it became a very happy marriage, but they had no children.

John was ambitious and successful, worked long hours and made it to real high flying positions. Kimiko was happy and lived a leisure life in luxury. They jetsetted the world together. John’s parents passed away, and he invested his own money and his inheritance, money the family earned through hard backbreaking work during generations in the farm industry, in a very nice country home in New Zealand.

They never got any children but had a maid who cared for the house, and Kimiko took the odd job she enjoyed. She worked less that half the time of marriage. She drove luxury special edition cars, enjoyed good wines and food, bought the most expensive clothes, and had lots of friends and an active social life. John worked, and drove a 10 year old 4WD, but he choose to do that.

Then disaster struck, John ended up in hospital for a long time, and had a very long, difficult and slow recovery. His career was destroyed and the money flow stopped. Kimiko complained. This was not the life she had been used to.

After a couple of years Kimiko wanted a divorce. They nearly negotiated a settlement, but then a New Zealand lawyer got hold of her and convinced her she could get much more, after all the had no higher education, had no career, John had given her a good life and she now had acquired a right to the lawyer said, and surely John could be made to pay – a lot.

It ended in the secret family court. John, who had a legal training, represented himself and could not believe what he experienced, the judge openly assisted Kimiko’s lawyer by making suggestions and constantly interrupted John to stop him putting his case foreward. John asked the judge to present his case, but the judge ordered him to sit in the whiteness box and ask himself the questions his lawyer would have asked. John asked to make a final address to the court, the judge denied it. The judge was openly biased and openly unfair.

Since John’s inheritance was invested in the home, the judge considered that it all should be regarded as matrimonial property and divided equally, plus that he ordered John to pay much of Kimiko’s divorce expenses and a few “extras”.

When John received the protocol from the court, of course written by the judge, it was right out falsified. Judges are supposed to be fair and impartial, but this judge was anything but that. The Family court is a secret court, so no public scrutiny is possible.

Johns life was destroyed. His dream family home was sold under him for a song. Most of his family inheritance was gone. A New Zealand accountant calling himself “investment expert” pretended to take pity on John and made friends with him. John did not want to live in New Zealand any longer, so the accountant offered to assist with an investment in China, and then John could live and work there. John accepted.

When the financial crises came 2008, the Chinese company John and others invested in went broke, and all the money was gone. Other investors tried to retrieve their funds, but nothing was left, as was the New Zealand accountant who quickly vanished.

John has given up on life now. He has become what he describes as a PT, Permanent Traveller. He drifts around the poorest areas of Asia volunteering as an English teacher. He say it gives him reason to live another day. He is receiving Super, but zealous bureaucrats at WINZ trolled through his records and found that he had lived overseas for his studies and some work, and they decided he was not entitled to full Super, so they reduced it. That he, or rather his family, paid for his education at no cost to New Zealand, and that he carried with him half a million of personal assets to New Zealand does not count at all.

John has glued in an extra page in his New Zealand passport. In several languages it asks that he is not to be given any life prolonging medical treatment if he gets sick, when he passes away his few remaining belongings to be given to the nearest school, his body is to be cremated and the ashes scattered in the nearest river. “That will bring me back to where I really belong, the oceans” he says.

I am sure New Zealand will gladly welcome more people like John.

Is it not time to update the laws of New Zealand? In the “good old days” when a woman got married she could be called to the boss and asked to resign her job so it could be given to a man who better needed it to support his family. Time have changed, but the New Zealand law has not.

Rick Harriss
Retired writer.

19 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – the story of John Doe and Kimiko Suzuki

  1. Admin, I was asked for some links, now I can’t find the comment to respond to and I have some information some suggestions and tips…snip

  2. Oh wow how progessive thinking that ‘living a leisurely life minding kids and cleaning the floor and doing the dishes’ counts for nothing. That’s so very last century and if that’s the man’s attitude I would gladly assist in making sure the lady took half of everything and more.

    • I completely agree with you, it is VERY last century. The problem is that New Zealand legislation is also last century, early last century. It need to be changed to reflect today’s world. Germany abolished secret courts at the end of the war, most countries have never had any, but New Zealand is still running them in the 21st century, the family court.

  3. Honestly folks, we should perhaps start a kickstarter campaign to run some google ads to direct traffic to this website for the people looking to immigrate to New Zealand. I run a digital marketing agency and ready to put my expertise for no cost if you all are up for it.

  4. The problem is this. After a marriage of say 25 years, it is usually a bit worn. Kids are gone, and New Zealand has one of the most corrupt justice systems of the world. Lawyers scout for ripe cases, approach one party, usually the woman, and inform her that she will get a windfall cash profit on a divorce, she will be rich, and of course the lawyer get 25 to 30,000 in the pocket for the trouble. Often she takes the money bait. All assets are added up, and spit in two, everything is sold, whatever there is a court case or not, and judges are highly unfair and favour the woman. The family court is secret court, nobody independent can find out what is going on, and as we know, irregularities and corruption breed best in dark places. China, where I live, has a modern legislation. Assets owned before the marriage is not divided, and assets obtain during the marriage are split in proportion how they were added. In other words, if one party is lazy and live a leisurely life minding kids and cleaning the flor and doing the dishes, he or she get just as much money as they put in, nothing. The Chinese law say everything is to be shared equally within a marriage, but housework does not translate to money at a separation. Trusts or prenups no longer work in New Zealand, the only way is to stay 100% in debt in relation to assets, and then move the money overseas out of sight and reach.

  5. How this can be fair? he worked and spent on his idiot, cheap wife who just didn’t want to stand with him in hard times, just took his money and left him broke…..the law is something that we put for justice…not to make people regret dreaming and trusting people……no wonder that 12 in 1000 is the marriage rate in NZ and no wonder that most of them split…too!

    • The point is, it is not fair, and it is corruption New Zealand style. The lawyers are running down each other to create these cases, “Hey, listen mate, you can get 500,000 tax free in your pocket if you divorce, I can force the sale of you 1 million dollar home, and you are guaranteed half of it.” Of corse the lawyer gets 25 – 30,000 of the loot for the trouble. That is corruption New Zealand style. That is how corruption works, but anyone of the closed secretive club of lawyers and judges, judges are lawyers as well, will tell you it is justice.

      • Would “flying your birds away” by sending any money you get overseas keep you safe? I heard when I was in NZ that the court can communicate decisions to other countries with reciprocal justice agreements!!!!……the only solution is to get an “unmovable asset’ overseas…..that can never be split or liquidated……the other solution I believe is to hire an ISIS guy to do the stuff….the other logical consequence of such damn corrupted laws!…..I heard about Chinese guys killing their ex for such reasons….hot blooded guys!

        • The trick is to keep yourself in at least 100% debt in New Zealand, it is only the net assets that are to be divided. The New Zealand courts can not communicate their decisions and implement them overseas. There are no such reciprocal justice agreements. Any party must obtain a local court decision, and that is very difficult, nearly impossible. Especially in jurisdictions as Hong Kong, and it is totally impossible in places as China. You can transfer the funds out of New Zealand to for instance a trustees bank account in Hong Kong, he will open a trust in a third jurisdiction, that trust will open a bank account in Hong Kong, the money go there, and your name does not appear anywhere. The trustee will follow your instructions, never use the internet, it is tracked, you must travel there, and never carry a switched on mobile phone. The tracks are covered and the existence of the account is not visible. You can borrow money overseas for ass little as 1.5%, but currency fluctuations may lose some, but compare that to 50% loss at a local separation. There are many ways to protect your belongings. It is only at serious crimes the money can be tracked, but even then, going via Bitcoin and physical gold, it is almost impossible for predators to track. In the case with the guy who got 10 million by mistake, sent it to Hong Kong, the bank had no chance to track it. They were thrown out. Killing people, sadly true. That is why we must change the laws to give protection, also protection of people’s lives.

  6. Like elsewhere in the world if you marry you either commit heart, soul and every cent to the marriage 50:50 or if you can’t commit the best get yourself a lawyer and make provisions to protect your assets beforehand. I find it very much a Kiwi thing to bitch and moan about having to give half of everything to the other half – too bad I say. He picked himself a woman with no education or collateral – so what match was she for him? Most likely took a few knocks and had a life of hell pandering to his every whim.

    • Sorry Rose, it is not so everywhere in the world. Some countries now have modern legislation to prevent this sort of corruption, and courts are open to scrutiny and not run by a secretive order of lawyers, where some lawyers are called judges.

    • I do not agree. I am the author of the article, and just for your information, they were both flat broke when they married. Besides, his earthly assets would fit in a box 2x2x1 foot he told me, and he had racked up a student debt in today’s value of about 150,000. When his father passed away he inherited a substantial amount. The assets were from his work and heritage. I have another story for you. Two middle age kiwis got married, both had a fully paid inherited house. She wanted to live in her house, so he moved in and sold his, gambled on the share market, and lost the lot. Now he wanted a divorce, assets to be split equally, so she had to borrow hundreds of thousand to pay him and refinance his life. If you call that fair, I do not, and just for your information, no protections as trusts or agreements are safe any longer in New Zealand. Judges just set them aside and invalidate then as “unfair”. Few people know or understand how backwards and unfair New Zealand is. I am just trying to point this out and I hope people will take care to protect themselves, or best, stay away.

      • This is really interesting me, and I read a lot. The simple answer is, no, not any longer. New Zealand trusts used to be a legal and financially impenetrable fortress against any raids from anyone, be it vindictive spouses, creditors, the state or criminals, but not any longer. A typical example is the case with former Bridgecorp director Rod Petricevic. He had some savings in a trust, but the court ruled that he “had access to the funds” (Justice Edwin Wylie), in other words, the judge completely nullified the protection of the trust. In another case the couple had signed a prenuptial agreement that the mans business was his only and could not be divided at a separation. After 25 years the wife filed for divorce. The business was worth 25 million, and the rest 1 million, the wife wanted half of everything, and she got it. The judge “set the agreement aside”, declared it invalid, because “the situation had changed”. A pretty lady got married to an older very wealthy man, and lived a fantastic life. After a few years she got tired of him and divorced. He had his assets in a trust, but the judge ruled that he must pay her alimony for the rest of her life to maintain the life style he had enabled during the marriage. Another wealthy guy ha a mistress, stupid guy, for about ten years. When he dumped her she demanded half of his assets despite there were no marriage, they had not lived together, and that the man had a legal wife. The court ruled that she had such a right, but the sum was settled out of court.

        • Somewhat related to “the problem of Chinese investors” and “costly divorces” …
          Many women in China will refuse to marry or be in a relationship with a local guy,
          UNLESS he owns at least 1 property (and even then there are different criteria among the different Chinese women about what is acceptable).

          Ma Nuo said it succintly “I’d rather cry in a BMW car than laugh on the backseat of a bicycle”

          However, a recent law in China states, that after a divorce, the party owning the house … gets to keep that house, it will not be touched or parceled off to the different parties in the relationship.
          http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/stories/new-chinese-marriage-law-protects-mens-assets-angers-women.html
          New Chinese Marriage Law Protects Men’s Assets, Angers Women
          Wednesday, August 17, 2011
          Guide: “Whoever paid the down payment is whoever the house should belong to following a divorce”, “The other party has shall have no right to divide up a house purchased and given by one’s parents following marriage”… The publishing of the Supreme People’s Court’s judicial interpretation of the latest Marriage Law immediately ignited fierce arguments between men and women online. Many netizens believe the new Marriage law is “good news” for men, protecting their advantageous position in a marriage, and damaging the interests of the weaker party.

          The new Marriage Law that “encourages completely ‘going Dutch‘” has also been made fun as “delighting real estate developers and pissing off mother-in-laws”. However, there are also netizens who believe that the new interpretation of the Marriage Law may change young people’s ideas on how to choose partners, going from preferring “wealthy second generation” [children of wealthy parents] to preferring mutually compatible “people with future potential”.

          There are lots of interesting comments about people in “love” who are asking to be “compensated for their love”.

          • That many women will refuse a guy without a property is a dying thing. It is rather so now that women buy their own home before marriage, and that become a safety net because it will become their separate property and can not be subject to be divided. China is not a single nation with a single culture, so it is difficult to capture like this. This is also a problem, because many women go for the money, not the right partner, and are encouraged by the older generation. Many marriages fail this way. The quote about that it protects men is wrong, it has nothing to do with deposit, but only who’s name is in the ownership book, and when it was entered. Men are not specially protected any longer. It is also common that the older generations buys and own the young peoples home. It is then not their property and can not be subject to be divided.

          • I’m not sure many people working alone can (now) afford a home on their salary, given that we live in an age of high graduate unemployment and “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”.
            Besides, even if the situation is that the previous generation owns the home and they just live in it … no guarantees that the relationship will NOT break down just after they inherit the property.
            An interesting trend I’ve observed is, “New Zealanders go overseas for jobs, BUT … that mostly happens to be New Zealanders in families with siblings, as it might be a way to make their way in the world, along with escaping a possible property tussle when the parents pass away.”

        • I know a bit about trusts and I must second what Rick says. Courts in New Zealand routinely pierce trusts to where it defeats the purpose of having a trust. If one is stuck in New Zealand, the most sensible thing is to keep one’s assets offshore safely out of the New Zealand injustice system’s reach.

  7. I am not so sure about the facticity of this. In NZ when you separate there is an automatic 50/50 split rather than a court case.

    Not that that’s fair.

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