Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – hundreds of first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale was sent to us by a British migrant resident in NZ for 10 years.
If you want a seasoned, non-sugar coated account of life in New Zealand you need to read this before you fill in that EOI or engage the immigration agent who promises to get you over the line.
Once you understand the high incidence of untreated mental illness in New Zealand everything will start to make sense. Here are some great reasons why other countries are far more worthy of your attention than one that will still be treating you like a second class citizen after 10 years.
“Thanks for making the great website, i thought i would add my own comments based on my experiences.
New Zealand – 10 years in.
After a decade in New Zealand, I am in a pretty good position to give a review of New Zealand life and culture. Coming from the UK I landed off the plane into New Zealand looking for less people, friendly environment and a chance to start a small business, which was hard to do in the UK. New Zealand is a great place for a holiday, but staying any length of time will have an effect on your life in ways hard to imagine unless you experience it. NZ leaves many financially, emotionally, and in some cases physically scarred for life. I highly recommend reading through the different sections below, and get a seasoned, non-sugar coated opinion on the true realities of living in NZ.
Coming from the UK, a complete mixed bag of less desirables and decent folk, were you can find everyone from high class gents, through to the hard working middle class (which unfortunately is shrinking) all the way down to the council sponges, I find a large majority of Kiwi’s are very mono colour, bland, carbon copies of each other which I would best describe as similar to council estate sponges in mentality, but they are forced to work 80 hours a week to (almost) make ends meet. If you would like a discussion regarding the finer points of morality, key notes in history or anything else where thoughts need to be created and not regurgitated you will be sadly disappointed. Most Kiwi conversations will be made around sports, beer, hunting, farming or stroking their own ego, and the size of that ego makes Mount Everest look small. The mountain sized Kiwi ego also fuels a rampant jealous streak, which in turn fuels hatred and animosity towards anyone working hard and making something of themselves (because getting ahead in NZ is insanely hard), and especially as a foreigner – why should you do any better than someone born here? (Except the fact, you don’t have a choice but to work smarter, not just harder, as NZ only takes and never gives on virtually every level).
Sense of Humour – Lack of it.
Kiwi sense of humour? To be completely honest… The sense of humor of the majority of Kiwi’s is about as great as the UK weather. Grey, wet and boring. Kiwi’s generally don’t get a foreigners sense of humour, and you might as well crack a joke with a brick wall, it will give you as much feedback.. You will often find also that Kiwi’s cannot accept jokes made about New Zealand or about the people here either. If I said, English people like to whine as soon as they exit the womb and rather than being breast fed, they are given a cup, a saucer and a choice of tea bags.. I can laugh at it and even relate to it without a single hint of defensive posturing. If I said NZ people are all born similar to most of the livestock here, and only live to shit, eat and sleep I would likely be set upon by a pack of mongrels. You learn to keep your humour to yourself, and only use it in the presence of other foreigners and family. The lack of humour also takes its toll in the work environment. These stale, dry offices sure make the days drag on much longer then required, and the old saying of ‘sometimes it’s the people you work with, and not the job that really counts’, really hits home.
Politeness & Fake Friendliness
After arriving in NZ, you will be hit with the friendly hello, how are you doing today? By almost every place or shop you go to and for the first few months, you will find this quite nice and seemingly friendly compared to some other countries where you can enter a shop and complete your business without virtually speaking to anyone. After sometime though, you will began to notice things about this ‘friendliness’ which make you question the sincerity of it. The deeper you explore the conversation with the majority of Kiwi’s the more you realise, there is normally some hidden motive or agenda being pursued, whether that be extracting dollars from your pocket, probing for information and suckling off the fruits of your experience or just generally wanting information on where you live, what you drive so they can unleash the ego rhetoric and put down the fact you bought a Honda car, and why they suck, and why everyone should have the same car as them.. and on and on it goes. I have never met a Kiwi who has ever given a compliment, just for the sake of it. Maybe it’s just my mind set, but as an example, If I saw a young person in the UK who wasn’t born with a silver spoon, carving out a life from the ground up driving a new BMW M3 and wearing a Gucci suit and I talked to them, I would say something along the lines of ‘you’re doing well for yourself kid, you must be working hard to own items like that, good on you’. In NZ, the response would be, German cars are shit, and break after 10,000k’s and I don’t wear new Gucci suits because I can buy a second hand ones from 1950 on trade me for only $20. So after the years, it makes me think – sometimes maybe silence is a good way to interact when little positive interaction can come from a fake friendly conversation.
The Passive Aggressive Attitude
One trait, I really don’t like about many Kiwis’, is that they are very, very passive aggressive, and when fuelled with alcohol the passive drops off and physical aggression appears (I prefer the physical, its more honest and usually only lasts a few minutes). Back stabbing, talking about you while you’re stood there, comments about foreigners and the ‘locals talk to locals’ are all part of the culture here, if you upset the wrong Kiwi in any shape or form, you can easily be labelled and banned from any jobs in which that person has connections. I highly advise you do not under estimate the power of this small country and population mentality, it can make life very miserable if your skill sets are in a set area with few jobs such as the medical profession, upset your senior (Can be done as easily as offering a suggestion) and your ability to get a job in certain sectors can be banned city wide, island wide or throughout the full country by the higher establishment and inner circles. New Zealand is by far the most incestuous country I have ever lived in on a personal and professional level. The level of this passive aggression towards foreigners has led many to severe depression, suicides, feeling isolated etc, this effect is also amplified when you have limited family assistance locally, and as I describe below – finding any true friends in NZ is a rare thing.
Do not come to New Zealand expecting to make any ‘true’ friends unless they are not New Zealanders, and when I say true friends, my idea of a true friend for example is if you lost your job and your family was on the verge of starvation they would offer you a place to stay and financial assistance, you will never get this level of commitment from a Kiwi, especially as a foreigner. You can have as many fair weather friends as you could ever want however, as long as you are willing to discuss sports, beer and hunting, and as long as you don’t say anything negative about NZ. A large amount of New Zealanders do not like foreigners from any country and have different beefs with each of them independently, they have a very big chip on their shoulder against anyone from overseas as they think you come to NZ with massive amounts of capital, and are very jealous because of it, even though most people don’t come to NZ carrying silver spoons.
The level of poverty in NZ cannot be under estimated, governments or independent bodies can quote as many facts as they would like, but living day to day and interacting with at least 20 different individuals during business hours, over a prolonged period gives me a far more accurate picture (Untainted, and less manipulated then data released), and in my humble opinion 85% of working people in NZ are worse off than people on UK Benefits. This is due to three main factors, House/Rent prices being astronomical, the cost of food being through the roof and the salaries never increasing. It’s very hard to understand just how poor people are here without living it. Some disturbing things I have witnessed which might give you an idea include:
· People buying tins of paint from second hand stores which have 25% of the paint remaining because they can’t afford a full tin.
· Kids walking around with no shoes (Because their parents can’t afford them), and charities supplying over 80,000 pairs to kids in the country.
· A person with terminal cancer working until they die as they cannot afford to take time off.
· A professor with a PHD living in 1 room shared accommodation who needed to cycle to work each day because he couldn’t afford to live anywhere else, let alone a car.
· A person walking down the street with a cardboard cut-out around their neck saying ‘Please give me a job, I have 2 kids to feed’
· A funeral where a coffin was placed hanging out the back of an estate vehicle as a hearse was too expensive.
· People crying on the Radio when they win $100 cash.. and comments like ‘You have changed my life being uttered’.
How Kiwis See Many Foreign Groups Who Come To NZ
So, how do Kiwi’s view the different groups of people who arrive fresh off the boat/plane into the Venus fly trap?
UK people – You must be from London, You must have just sold your two million pound one bedroom property and come to NZ with a nice juicy bank account, to any store/shop owner you are a ripe cherry to be plucked (Foreigners with money, very nice). You will always moan, complain, and buy a lifestyle block (bigger section of land) which you will steal from kiwi’s who cannot afford them anymore because of you.
Asian students from any region – You are a great succulent form of income (Licking their lips). They do something called ‘Home stay’ which basically allows a foreign student to stay in their house while studying and the Kiwi’s proceed to bleed them dry of about $200-$400 each week, these poor kids get hammered hard when they find out they are stuck in a freezing room, not allowed a heater, and are fed on a diet of cheap sandwiches for their entire stay – (very different from what they were told/sold in therr motherland).
Americans/Canadians – Your expectations of civilized life are not welcome here, don’t compare NZ to America/Canada because expecting your house to have insulation or heating is just plain wrong. Your highly educated self is intimidating and your progressive ideas which are normally years in advance are only perceived as arrogant and unwanted.
Indians – Without a doctor’s degree, the only jobs Kiwi’s want to give you is washing cars, working in a petrol station or you’re always welcome at Mcdonalds/KFC or on dairy farms working 80 hours a week for less than minimum wage.
Chinese – You must be filthy rich to leave China (Or so most think), and kiwis want to make sure you have access to deposit your dollars into their hands, NZ banks will always have a smiling Chinese representative to make you feel right at home while in the bank and depositing your princely sums into their coffers. After you leave the bank, the big retailers will also have a Chinese representative for you to come and kindly waste your hard earned $$ in their shops while the local kiwi’s hate your guts for spending more in 10 minutes on ‘non essentials’ then they earn in 1 month.
Japanese – The golden guys of Asia, every shop in NZ sings praises when they see a bus load of Japanese (Unfortunately the Japanese tourists are being replaced with Chinese), as they spend and they spend well… you are the royalty of all imported people and are much welcome and what’s even better is that after you have been wiped out of all your cash, you rarely stay in NZ and head back to another 100 hour working week in Tokyo so you can come and repeat the same process in NZ on next year’s holiday. Come back soon!
Finding A Job In New Zealand
Finding a job in New Zealand is very very hard. Its common place here that trained doctors are working in care homes wiping bums, and trained engineers are flipping burgers in McDonald’s just to survive. (I kid you not) The NZ job market is abysmal and there are very few opportunities for anyone, I strongly advise never coming to NZ before securing work, or this country will chew through your cash/savings and spit you out faster than you can ever imagine. 90% of the jobs advertised by recruiting agencies don’t exist, and are only listed to get your CV and contact details, so as and when required you can be pimped out for their commission.
Bullying, discrimination and harassment are all common place in any job in NZ. I managed to leave NZ employment and start a successful business but before I managed to escape the NZ job sector, I had been almost run over by a psychopath with a forklift, but luckily (Or unluckily as most Kiwi’s might be thinking) he stopped just before the fork tyne impacted my face and told me ‘I would have hit you, but you’re a good cunt’ which I can only take as a form of praise from a Kiwi. I had a cut above my right eye after an unstable office worker threw a stapler at my face, I had my car tyres slashed multiple times because I refused to accept verbal abuse from gang connected staff, I had abusive emails from managers threatening me numerous times and dragging me into rooms where 3 of them would lace into me with verbal attacks, and a wide list of other abuse over the first few years, and this wasn’t limited to one company, it was across a few. Many people working in NZ companies have mental health conditions which are untreated, or the drugs which they are given to ‘treat’ the high level of metal disorders make them highly unstable, from extreme highs to big lows and coming to work each day can make your nerves bad, as Forest Gump said – you never know which chocolate you’re gonna get. Managers who watch this obvious workplace abuse don’t do anything about these people because they make up a large segment of their staff, and hey.. They’re Kiwi’s, not foreigners so you’re already a second class citizen.
The wages in NZ compared to the cost of living are appalling. Salaries don’t increase at all over time unless you hop from job to job, which is not easy to do in a place with extremely limited job opportunities. If you dare to ask for more money, you will see the friendly fake managerial smile turn into a slimy look of disgust ‘More MONEY? Did you say the M word! How dare you?’ you are actually asking for more money? This is against company policies. All the time you’re thinking to yourself, well yes I am asking for more money, I think I deserve a pay increase, i have worked in this company for 5 years, done an excellent job and each year I have been told ‘the companies not doing well’ no pay increase, but the CEO has a new $200,000 car.. And guess what, the local supermarkets, house rates, mortgage/rent payments don’t care.. They still increased 30% + since I started the job!.
NZ companies in general, give you the standard BS about doing your best at work, being the positive light of helpfulness to everything and everyone and instead of rewarding you with the reason you go to the wonderful place each day (aka, money) the best your likely to get is a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ (The same as the A4 paper you got at school for being a good little boy or girl) and a chocolate bar. (No I am not joking, this happens once a year in many companies).
The Cost Of Living
The cost of living in NZ is extremely high. Much higher than most places in the UK, barring London and I imagine much higher than many places around the world.
Let’s take a look at a ‘civilized’ standard of living and the costs (Not surviving, but actually living), I will take a family of 4 as my example. Minimum wage is $14.75 an hour but you couldn’t afford to run your own property for this, so I will take two adults earning $40,000 a year each, $80,000 total.
Monthly Total Income = $6666 ($5663 after tax) and a ‘Liveable’ house outside Auckland based on a $450,000 mortgage.
So monthly income = $5663
Mortgage payment $3677 (Based on 15 years)
Car 1 HP $500 (Based on 6-10 year old vehicle costing around $15,000 spread over 3 years)
Car 2 HP $500 (Based on 6-10 year old vehicle costing around $15,000 spread over 3 years)
Petrol = $600 a month
Food = $800 a month
Car Insurance = $80 a month
Electric bill averaged over the year = $200 per month
Phone & Internet = $125
Mobile phone contract = $120 x 2 = $240
House rates = $210 per month
School donations = $200 per month
Car Maintenance $100 per month
Sky TV $100
I will leave clothes, holidays, updating the property, furniture, pets, dentists, flights, birthdays, having fun, savings for a rainy day, out of all of our equations as you already get the idea.. The basic living costs are already up to $7332 per month.. Which is already well beyond two people earning a standard NZ salary. Now you can see why, when people say they are trapped in NZ… they are really trapped! If you come to NZ without capital, the only way you’re leaving is through putting yourself through extreme poverty to save the amount required for an escape flight or banging it on a credit card, and getting somewhere you can earn enough money to pay for it.
Search anywhere online, and one thing you will never see praised will be NZ houses and it’s simply because they cannot be praised in any shape or form. They are overpriced, uninsulated, leaking boxes of depression. No central heating, no PVC double glazed windows, no insulation, no ventilation. Many are high maintenance wood similar to garden sheds, which in many countries the banks would laugh at when asking for a mortgage. Trying your best to bring these boxes into the 21st century will destroy whatever savings you brought with you.. as an example, a plumber wants to charge $650 to install a tap.. And what’s even worse.. You will never get the return back from your investment as Kiwi’s don’t pay for ‘modernization’.
Renting houses is a nightmare in NZ, properties are easy enough to find and sign up for and get into, but don’t be surprised if your landlord enters the property when they like, arranges 3 monthly inspections in which they like to point out that the oven is a little greasy… the same 1980’s oven which was installed when the property was new.. And you’re thinking to yourself, is he really commenting on the grease? The thing was due for the skip 30 years ago. Updating anything in a house would cost ‘money’ and landlords don’t like the idea of that because when they sell the property, even if its 50 years out of date it doesn’t matter because Kiwi’s are so poor they only care about saving every last $$ off the purchase price, and you never get your $$’s back from investing in keeping a property up to date internally in New Zealand, so tenants must learn to love oil heaters, 1980’s ovens, 20 year old heat pumps, carpets which are worn down to strands of nothing, and boilers which were last found on steam ships.
When you first arrive to NZ you will be surprised by the accessibility of the natural countryside, and some of the views around you, at first glance it can be quite stunning however after some years the landscape changes and you begin to see it for what it really is, it’s bland and boring just like the people. The forests are mostly 20 year old pine trees… and have no character (Most of the native forest was burnt years ago) the rivers are all shallow and have no character. NZ as a land mass is very new compared to the deep rivers and ancient forests found in Europe. The sea is nice and blue, but is freezing cold all year round. The scenery just repeats and repeats the same boring grass and pine tree forests through most of the country, great for a 2 week visit.. But very boring after staying here for a length period of time.
My honest advice for people thinking to come here.
My advice for people looking to come to NZ is that unless you are extremely wealthy and don’t need to work, and have enough income to travel frequently outside of NZ, is simply stay away. This country will chew through your finances, your mental health, and relationships to a point of total despair and regret. Don’t read the sugar coated fairy tales about ‘Friendly people, low crime, high standard of living’ and other propaganda aimed to sucker people in, take their hard earned $$ and flush them out when the countries done with them.”
For more in the Migrant Tales series click here.
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