Welcome to our popular Migrant Tales series – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Here’s another tale from the ex-CIB officer. This one is about a computer training course and Christchurch
“So…after some wonderful feedback and encouragement from you, I would like to contribute further to this great site, this time I would like to share my experience wih tertiary education in the vast well of ignorance which is NZ.
As we all know NZ likes to take advantage of unwitting foreign students and parents alike, claiming world class facilities coupled with amazing lifestyle to give those with enough money the chance to advance themselves and obtain qualifications that will allow them to be competitive anywhere in the world… What an utter load of codswallop.
After suffering through high school (please refer to my first contribution for some examples of the horror that is NZ schooling), I took some well intended advice and applied to attend a course in Electronic Multimedia.
All I needed to do was apply for my student allowance and then of course the infamous student loan, a $10000 millstone tied to my neck, haunting me for years to follow.
I moved to Christchurch with my then girlfriend and three cats in tow and settled into a new beginning.
I had applied with a private training institute called Carich Computer Training. A small company founded by a Maori couple, Caron and Richard Taurima, they were lauded for being innovative and inspiring with Caron winning the Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award not to mention all the other hype they would recieve, particularly from the Maori corner because… when a Maori actually achieves anything in life (other than a criminal record) it becomes quite a newsworthy event.. Suffice to say, with credentials like that, what could go wrong? Those of you familiar with this site will all be leaning closer to their screens thinking, here we go… sock it to me baby!
I can’t say that doing this course with this company was the worst decision of my life, that dubious honour belongs to my decision to live in NZ… but it was a decision I regretted for a long time.
So, being a reasonably talented artist and possessing a vocabulary that consists of more than just single syllable utterances, I thought doing this course would stand me in good stead. Upon completion, I would aquire national certificates one and two in electronic multimedia, giving me proficiency in programmes such as Adobe photoshop, freehand, dreamweaver, 3D Max and an understanding of web development yada yada yada.
Well the first week started with a whizz and a bang with the course co-ordinator apologising for the fact that our first week we would be doing nothing as they were having issues with acquiring a suitable teacher to take us… Alarm bells should have been ringing from day one. After failing to obtain said teacher, the course coordinator deigned to share his limited knowledge of Freehand with the already unimpressed class.
Next came the Photoshop segment and of our course Carich really went to great lengths to ensure excellence with this teacher. His name was Keri and he bore a striking resemblence to the company owner so I would hazard a guess and suggest he was a cuzzy bro or something. He openly admitted that he had absolutely no credentials in relation to the software or teaching for that matter and had gained his vast knowledge from tinkering around altering naked photos of his ex-wife. To him this was a great joke and he relished showing the class these aformentioned naked photo’s of not only his ex-wife but other conquests foolish enough to allow him to photograph them naked. This was turning out to be a wonderful way to spend $10K of my yet to be hard earned money not to mention interest… *sigh
So.. then came the Dreamweaver segment, and at least this teacher was qualified, and he was a very nice man, I can’t remember his name but a very lovely nature, unfortunately he was Chinese and his English was absolutely deplorable. Try as hard as you might, he was impossible to understand so each and every segment became increasingly frustrating. The final segment, 3D Max was taken once again by the course coordinator but after the previous tutors, we were just relieved to get someone we could understand who performed with some modicum of professionalism!
As you can imagine, our class collectively had become quite fed up with this joke. Really. We were coming to the end of the course and were hit with a real punch to the guts. With only weeks left, Carich were asking for a $500 administration fee as there had been (apparently) some sort of oversight in the initial fee provided and our certificates would be withheld until the fee was paid in full. I refused to be held to ransom and to this day, have not paid a single further cent, in fact I felt a refund was in order… That $500 fee soon made sense when Carich made national headlines again, not for being amazing super Maori’s but because their sorry excuse for a company was going into recievership… Yay! Karma wins again…
I didn’t intend on this entry being a long one but let me take the chance to tell you a little bit about Christchurch while I’m at it. Firstly, part of the reason I didn’t pay that surprise fee was because I was so bloody poor! I was on the bones of my arse. So much so that I had to go to the city mission to get food to survive. I lived in Pines Beach at the time situated some 26 KM from the city centre. I did have a small scooter I had bought from a father and son who appeared trustworthy at the time, lo and behold they sold me a lemon and the motor shat itself after a week and they were never to be heard from ever again. So I had to ride my bicycle some 52 km every day, wind, rain, hail and on some occasions with two weeks of groceries obtained from the city mission hanging precariously from my handle bars, the odd tin of tomatoes or beans escaping en route. I can tell you it’s a degrading experience waiting in cue with homeless drunkards and dead beat maori’s for donated food… But certainly character building…
Christchurch is a weird place, foreigners are despised in New Zealand but in Christchurch, they are at least held in higher regard than Aucklanders. In fact this is a sentiment shared by everyone who doesn’t hail from Auckland where they are called JAFA’s… (Just Another Fucking Aucklander). Australians are even held in higher regard than Aucklanders!!!
I learned this very quickly so when asked where I came from, I would always say I was Australian, my girlfriend however didn’t have such luxury so no matter how hard she tried, for that entire year, she could not find a job and believe me, you would never have found a more honest, hard working friendly person. It didn’t take long for her to become depressed, thankfully she found a way to distract herself from the misery of day to day life by volunteering at a nearby animal shelter.
There isn’t such a large Maori/Pacific Islander population in Christchurch yet the Mongrel Mob and Blackpower gangs are still very strongly represented. After getting fed up with riding my bike to Pines Beach every day, we ended up moving to a street just off Linwood Avenue. We soon discovered we were now living around the corner from a Mongrel Mob pad (gang house) which was heavily fortified with 3 meter high fencing and believe it or not, sentries posted as look outs, partially looking out for enemies (Police/rival gangs) but more importantly to sell drugs through a small hole situated down one side. So at all times of the day and night there were all sorts of scum bags and filth hanging around. Very intimidating.
Skin heads and neo nazis have a large presence in Christchurch so daily existence with these shining examples of humankind make for interesting experiences.
Christchurch itself was once a pretty town until the earthquake struck. I was a Police Officer in South Auckland at the time and I was part of a group of emergency responders sent down to assist the stricken city to guard and cordon the city centre to prevent looting and provide support. Who knew that there would be looters amongst us dressed in uniform. It was very disapointing to learn that whilst there, certain uniformed individuals were stealing sunglasses and other sundries from the ruined stores during the night shift. There was one occasion where a Police officer thought it would be funny to take a blow up sex doll from one of the stores and place it in the driving seat of an unattended fire truck. This was amongst the ruin and rubble of this city and the smell of death still pungent in the air… Such reverence!!! This typifies the maturity and sensibility of your typical kiwi.
Another example of the kiwi attitude was their reluctance to rebuild the fallen landarks that made that city famous. Case in point, the Cathedral. A majestic building heavily damaged in the Earthquake. The resounding attitude was… Naaaaaahhhh, fuckit… too difficult, too expensive, lets just make a cardboard church instead, she’ll be right mate!!! (for those with knickers twisting in their office chairs, I am being flippant and I am aware the cardboard church was always only meant as a temporary measure), but that magnificent church will never stand again. Let me share a German example for comparison, in the town I live in now, 80% of the city was demolished in the second world war. When the war finished, the woman rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt this town stone by stone! Just think about that. It would be a cold dark day in hell before a kiwi dedicates their time, energy and resources to something for which they wouldn’t gain from financially.
So in summary, you want to get a world class education for yourself or your children, for heavens sake stay away from NZ.”