Continuing in our popular series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand
Our second tale today was written by a biotechnologist who lived in New Zealand for 9 years before returning to the US.
There are many things the author won’t miss about NZ: crime, a substandard education system, lazy workers, high cost of materials, clueless investors, difficult working conditions imposed by “partners” and the lack of qualified talent. She describes New Zealand’s universities as a Ponzi scheme by the government to indebt students for degrees no one gives a toss about because the degrees are useless.
I just returned to the us after 9 years in NZ and despite the problems the US has, it still offers better opportunity than NZ will ever have. So the deal is I grew up in what is now Silicon Valley. After my wife died I decided to quit the rat race and move to NZ where the promise of better work/life balance a more laid back approach to life and the beauty were a real draw. I found a job in biotech and was made an offer. So the process to migrate began. I should have known from the very start when my case officer screwed up my application that this attitude was endemic in NZ. Bottom line is don’t drink the NZ 100% pure kool-aid. NZ does a great job of marketing, but there is little substance to what is there.
When I arrived it was clear from the beginning that there is a habit of new people going to NZ full of promise, ideas, energy and such. But after a few months of hitting brick walls, people saying “go back where you came from, being robbed and generally finding the cost of living to be much higher than the government sites would have you believe, the blom was already of the rose.
That’s okay, I have lived in many states in the US and in countries, so I am no stranger to adaptation. But what I did find was gross racism, nepotism, an attitude of “we don’t care” and having time off is more important than working. Unfortunately I didn’t learn that until I started a biotech company and couldn’t find talent, and the “talent” I did find was under qualified and not willing to work very hard. On top of that the investors I had, farmers and property developers, were expecting to get returns like they had with farms and housing. To top it of the government gave us a grant, but applied compliance terms that were unprecedented. It is no wonder there is no biotechnology in NZ (Sorry, that’s not true. they consider new forms of grass and breeds of cows and sheep to be biotechnology! What a joke!) All the talent we did find was imported from overseas and the resentment of the locals was palpable.
so now I have acquired the rights to the technology I had in New Zealand and brought it home to the US where the talent, resources and capital are literally falling at my feet! But wait, now my former company is not honoring my license, so what am I to do? Sue? Yeah, right. As others have posted the NZ courts are more like a criminal day-care system. After being burglarized twice, robbed three times and my son being mugged I found little to no solace with the police or courts. So I would rather live in the US where criminals are actually held to account, rather than NZ where crime is merely a way of life.
When I was recently asked what I missed about NZ, it came down to one thing: the scenery and being able to be in the country after a few minutes drive. I don’t miss the attitudes of (most) Kiwis, I don’t miss the high cost of living, I don’t miss the BS of “clean and green,” I don’t miss the horrible food, and I don’t miss the fact that Air New Zealand has a monopoly on air travel and will cancel you flight at a moments notice and not give a toss. As a business owner there are many other things that after 9 years I won’t miss. Lazy workers, high cost of materials, clueless investors who only want quick returns, difficult working conditions imposed by “partners” the previously mentioned lack of qualified talent, etc, etc.
Oh and to those of you who are thinking of getting an education in NZ, the educational system is also horrible. For example, my daughter, who attended a high school in the US ranked in the top 1% was told she was not qualified to graduate because she didn’t have all the UK and Maori historical BS. This despite scoring very high on her SATs. The solution? An online GED that allowed her to get into a top US University. To top that of, the university my labs are at offers a “Biotechnology” degree they proudly tout as the first “named Biotechnology degree in the world” Yeah? So what, when you idea of biotechnology is brewing beer! The “biotech engineers” I hired had never even seen a bioreactor. The university system is merely a Ponzi scheme by the government to indebt students through student loans for degrees no one gives a toss about because the degrees are useless. This is why most University professors are home grown. All the good Kiwi professors I have worked with are overseas at real universities.
So farewell NZ. Nice to visit, will never live there again.