Continuing in our very popular Migrant Tales series- first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Amir fled Iran as a child with his family in the 1980s, his parents were offered a choice between Australia and New Zealand.
This is his story…
There are many words to explain NZ, its identity and where it stands on the world stage.
From early times and my background:
I immigrated here in the 80’s when I was a kid and we never chose NZ as a destination. As from Iran, at the time Iran-Iraq war had been raging and although we were in Tehran which is about 1500miles away from the war, we felt the hardship of political and economic hardship the country had been going through in the 80’s so we left to Pakistan, than from there we sorted out our papers and the UN office gave many Iranians there options such as immigrating to US, Canada, UK, Australia, NZ and various other countries that were taking people abroad. Some went to US, they just had wait in line for several years which meant living in Pakistan in 50 degree heat in an over populated 3rd world country. If you were without wife or kids it would not be hard and you could bear the environment and heat.
Anyhow we stayed for about a year and were given the option of NZ or Australia. My cousins left to Sydney and are prosperous now, they live in Campbelltown which is a posh suburb south of Sydney.
We came to NZ, to Auckland and to south of Auckland to a small piss of a little town called Pukekohe..just the name wants you to laugh and say what a name..lol
Now this is the mid to late 80’s…here we are in this town, we see street gangs such as a group called “Black Power” with dogs and patches on their jacket walking the town center and trying to scare residents. Once I remember we walked in town, their dog started barking and my mum screamed and we ran and they just laughed, there were women among them too.
After that my parents worked in farms, season job there, this and that. In school ofcourse there is bullying and racism, you are a middle eastern kid in a foreign environment or for them, a foreign kid in their environment, some indian looking kid, curry muncher as they call indians, and them , maori and white..the rugby playing haka dancing super race..lol
Than I went to Polytech, similar thing..I had times were I came across Polytech teacher’s or lecturer’s or whatever you like to call them with little knowledge, all they did was read out text books and pre worded answered assignments that you would think to yourself, where do they hire these people. And they asked me the most famous question, what is my nationality or where am I from and tried to talk nonsence..lol…because they feel so insecure and inferior that they have to know! It is funny to me.
I started working as a graphic design and architectural draughting and I remember job after job, working for them is a disaster..no professionalism, I remember times they would shout and use profanity over very small minor things and if you are a non white, specially Asians they will try to pay you low, not that it is a rare thing..NZ has the lowest wage in the developed world because the country is so small with a weak economy the only relies on agriculture and tourism.
Than in 2001, I went to Washington DC, in US and met friends there. When I saw how vast the place was, how alive and cultural it was, just the thought of getting on the plane and making a 18 hour trip to New Zealand made me depressed. But I had no choice, I did not have means or support to stay. I tried the US again in 2003 but again had to return.
I met Americans that came to NZ and we got along well and they all told me how small the place is and what makes them laugh is kiwis going on about Rugby and the All Black, Rugby a British colony sport which is only played by 10 countries in the world and how kiwis or some kiwis believe to themselves that they are important on the world stage..I remember I met one American guy in Auckland through another friend, he was a gentleman, calm type of guy..he told me the mentality of people in NZ is laughable…they do not realize how small and insignificant they are on world stage till they leave NZ and look at the place from the outside. They laugh and said, they do not even have a freeway or motorway between their capital and Auckland..freeways that we in US had built in the 70’s…lol…yet they talk crap about other countries. laughable..
In other countries, say US or Canada, the place and environment and society is big and diversity is vast. You do not feel that you are an outsider. Whereas in NZ..you can spend a life time in this small society country and still feel you are an outsider..first you cannot be a kiwi…than there is the indiginous people who are given high praise but yet very rarely they are on the top society ladder, most work at low jobs and are racist and have a mentality they have high entitlement and will do whatever to get it and know that they can because the country allows it.
All this tolerance comes at the high cost of the average tax payer and everyone has to tolerate it.
I also went to Australia in 2010 but by that time Australia’s economy slowed down and too many people in NZ had gone there. There is racism issues in Australia as with other countries, but the country is vibrant, its big and if you mind your business and work ,you prosper. Actually even in the short time I was in Melbourne, I formed friendship fast, I met Aussies, some Italians..it was fun.
I talked to one Aussie guy who said he had nothing against kiwis and thinks its funny how kiwis try to bash Australia because Australia is so prosperous and said why Aussies see a negative image in kiwis and specially maoris is because they are indigenous people of NZ whom most live on handouts and are known for their evil street gangs whom are out there to cause harm in society and when you see them in Australia you have to be aware and I think to me that is a fair call because I have seen these low lifes in Auckland and they will stop at nothing to have their way…and the law cannot do much or will not do much.
Trouble with NZ is, its too small and no diversity, its all about themselves and they are insular, they will not make friendship easily…it is like they live in a bubble..and even if you keep to yourself you still find you have imbeciles, some whom never left the island in their life time getting in your face…its laughable.
Now I am 40, I have changed career path and work in transport, still in NZ as I have nowhere to go now..Just to tell you why the mentality here never changes, only say about a year ago there was a maori guy in my work place and on several occasions he kept saying to me that was I born in a tent? or am I related to the Bin Laden family…lol…you can see how small the mentality is..now this is a man who is 45 and has never left the country and even told his friends he does not even have a passport. He is not the first one, I have met many just like him over the years who feel inferior and they try to talk on top of immigrants that they know a lot more and are very talented! lol
I wont go on anymore but to understand the country, you must understand that the place is very small, it has fragile infrastructure and it is just a small British colony at a remote part of the world, struggling to make its way in the world and trying to deal with countries like Australia which is 10 years ahead.
In saying that, I have met nice kiwis in recent times also, I will not bash the place too much, I have met extremely nice people whom are kiwis but there are not many.
I find it amusing that they think the place is a paradise because of its nature and that is it. For example I know the good and bad points of Iran, if you tell me I will not be offended, if you tell me its policies and the good and bad points of the country itself I will not jump up and down..but if you insult my race, than that is different..you are attacking an ethnicity, not a country.”
A year after this article was written Amir came back with an update…here it is
One Year On…
“I have last year posted a story about my migrant experiences in NZ, it is called Amir’s Story, you may have read it. Well as you may or may not know, I have been in NZ since the 80’s and have traveled overseas many times.
Now recently I took a month off work and traveled to Australia, I visited the state of Victoria and stayed in Melbourne and traveled through the state of Victoria and got a good feel of Australia in city and small towns.
As you know Australia is New Zealand’s so called bigger brother, the much bigger British colony and the two countries have similar laws and rules.
Now during my stay and because of my NZ accent, nobody could tell I was a foreign tourist so I acted like I lived in Melbourne and worked in Melb to see how people interact to me both in Melbourne and in other small towns.
Firstly I found Melbourne huge and extremely vibrant. So multicultural and the city is well designed, there are trams running inside the CBD free tram zone area and yes, its free as long as its inside the big CBD boundary. The city also has been intricately built and it has huge beautifully designed buildings that resemble Europe in the empire days. Also any cafe or eatery that I went, I found the prices very competitive and decent. Now comparing that back to Auckland where it is simply a small CBD with cafe’s that even once charged me for water, Auckland is a joke.
Also in Melbourne, because it is Multicultural, you never feel you are alone or bored because there is too much to do and see. For example one night I went to Carlton district which is North Melbourne, an Italian restaurant precinct. I found people welcoming and connected with me easily whereas in NZ if I go to a kiwi restaurant I get a feeling of exclusion. And as I said even in Carlton which is an upmarket area the restaurant prices are competitive whereas say in Parnell, they will rip you off in an unseen way because they feel it is Parnell…lol
Than I traveled in my friends car to small Victorian towns on the outskirts of Melbourne. I was astonished to find that in small towns, almost all buildings were in beautiful brick exterior and very detailed and well designed. The houses amazed me, yes I did see wooden exterior homes but not as many as huge brick homes that were intricately designed. Compare to NZ, most homes are over priced wooden shit boxes. Kiwis simply do not have the money nor the taste in design.
Even in the the town centres of small towns there were huge stone built churches and statues, I was astonished. And being a middle eastern I thought they would stare at me or be rude but actually they were very friendly. Whereas in NZ, say if you go to Rotorua as I wasted 2 days there last year, the town has nothing other than the thermal spa in which they overcharge for. And I had people stare at me and try to get in my face as kiwis lack confidence. Also in almost every small town in NZ there always has to be gang presence or morons who are xenophobic.
Whereas I did not felt that in Australia small town.
And the basics of say milk, bread and petrol are cheap in Australia. Petrol ranged from $1.20 to $1.40 max whereas in NZ it is over 2 dollars a litre!
Overall Australia is vast, there is racism there too but because the country is big and prosperous and multicultural, you do not have to tolerate at and can stay in your own circle whereas in NZ you really cannot avoid it, there is always a kiwi this and kiwi that and as a migrant you are outnumbered you often feel trapped.
When you look at NZ on a map compared to Australia, NZ’s size is laughable, it looks like a scenic rock in the middle of the vast Pacific ocean.
Overall NZ is simply too small, its economy is too small and prosperity is limited. I give credit to some kiwis who are decent and not ignorant and are trying hard to move the country forward, but they are outnumbered by the amount if racist and xenophobic imbeciles who roam the country.
you cannot advance the country by ways of agriculture and tourism as your main source of income with a very small population.
If I get lucky I really like to land a job in Australia but it is hard.”