Migrant Tales – To the people here who say racism doesn’t exist, it definitely does. It’s 2016, who are you even kidding?

studying-in-nz

New Zealand is a long way from achieving some of the values overseas visitors hold dear

Welcome to our latest Migrants Tale – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand.

Today’s tale was sent in by a US resident of Asian heritage, who had the unfortunate experience of being a 4th year student in Auckland.

Here’s ‘Bye’s’ tale, left in response to Amir’s story

“I’ve never read anything truer and have had similar experiences in the past four months I’ve lived here.  To start off, I’m a fourth year student from the United States studying in New Zealand.  I’m also Asian, but having lived in the States my whole life, I don’t carry the accent one would often expect and I have found that catches a lot of people here by surprise.

I remember traveling to the university from Auckland Airport with my friends and family back home texting me questions about the air, the people, and the landscape.  The ride along that two-way road was un-scenic and miserable, and I later found that the place I had already shoveled out rent for was basically a cardboard box.  These two things were the last of my expectations at the time, but I lied to my people and myself to make me feel better about my decision to study here.

I began taking a New Zealand history class at the university, because I thought it would be interesting and mainly since it counts towards credit at my home university.  The first class was about colonization in the 18th century, relations between Maori/Pakeha, etc. and the rest of the classes followed chronologically.  Looking back, I’m glad I took it because it allowed me to see how the problems I experienced had perpetuated over the years.  This country has been selling itself as a paradise from the beginning, because they know that they’d fail if they didn’t.

One night, some of the other international students and I went into town to have some drinks and street food.  On the way there, I couldn’t help but notice how dilapidated and trash-laden the neighborhoods and city was.  Anyway, we’re walking to go back home and see like twenty Maori, probably 13-18 years old all posted up outside this one establishment trying to scare everyone that walked by.  Some of them cat-called and yelled racial slurs, but luckily if you don’t make eye contact, they won’t harm you… as I was informed by one of the others.  I was actually walking home the other day in a neighborhood and these fat Maori boys started shouting “nee-how” from across the street.  I just laughed because of how morbidly obese and incapable they were.  So to the people here who say racism doesn’t exist, it definitely does.  It’s 2016, who are you even kidding?.. typical New Zealander behavior though–they don’t like being told anything negative about their country.

I agree that one of the biggest things that frustrates me is these people’s sense of superiority.  They think people like themselves would bring greatness to other parts of the world.  It is extremely laughable.  They don’t realize how shit their economy is and how easily it would collapse if it weren’t for the help of the rest of the world (who could do without them).  People from the outside don’t even think about this place or its exports.  In reference to the heavily inflated prices, most of which I have found to be rip-offs, it blows my mind that the people here are okay with it.  The penny-pinching is real. I’m going to give you an example.  I have three roommates–one is from the U.S. like me and the other two are New Zealanders.  We don’t all stay at the flat every single night, which is fine.  Vacations and visiting people in other places is great.  Every month, we get a power bill for the flat to be split between ourselves (presumably four ways) but every single time, one of the girls from New Zealand would try to argue that “x” amount of the bill should be taken off her part of it if she spent a week out of town or wherever.  Let me state my argument against this.  First of all: The fridge and likewise appliances do not run for free.  Secondly: When you sign a lease to live with others, you are agreeing to share each others’ space, habits, and the benefit of reduced rental costs.  Third: When you own a house and go on vacation, you still have to pay your utility bills.  Yes, I realize they would decrease, but it’s more than usage that factors into the monthly determined payable (access and distribution fees, taxes, etc.).  I could go on but when I told her that, she tried to argue against me and got frustrated when I dismissed all of her excuses.  Also, I disagree with the general consensus that Whittaker’s chocolate should be sold everywhere in the world.  It’s not that good…

Likewise above, I’ve met a few Kiwis that are nice to be around but not many.  And you can tell me the good and bad parts of the United States.  I realize our political system is broken and violence does exist.  Those are facts.

When I leave, I’m not going to miss a single thing about this place.  Never in my life have I been so ripped off.  My flight back home leaves this weekend, and I could not be more excited.”

 

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28 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – To the people here who say racism doesn’t exist, it definitely does. It’s 2016, who are you even kidding?

  1. it basically inevitable not to be ripped of in New Zealand. You are lucky to be able to go back to the states ! Once set foot in this place one will get ripped of one way or another. I suppose most foreigners will have to deal with racism here whether you are black or white.

    This place has been in isolation for to long for most people to appreciate any other culture and people that are not kiwi bred. At least this is my experience. It’s a thoug life for most foreigners that I know.

    But for all of you that are looking for an better life whether kiwi or not. LIFE CAN BE AN DREAM ! How I know ? Because i have lived that life in USA , Europe and Middle east. So keep your hopes up guy’s

    best of luck for the future

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  2. Just to add a different perspective on this – I’m a 4th generation European Kiwi that emigrated FROM NZ about 16 years ago because I began to loathe the place for many of the reasons covered elsewhere on this site.

    For most of that 15 years I have lived in Asia (Japan, China, Singapore, Korea) and now I have a different perspective on racism than I did when I was just another kiwi lad. I have also worked for short spells in Europe, USA, Canada.

    Firstly, I would like to point out that while I am in Asia I have not been bothered by negative stereotypes of Westerners. I have encountered “no foreigners” signs in plenty of places and I respect that; they don’t want armed forces bar fights every night; they don’t want to deal with people who can’t speak the language (I know restaurant language). Overall I have been treated very well, and I also understand this is a source of resentment for citizens so I keep a very low profile. My kids are also treated well at school and everyone is generally super nice once I get to know them.

    And that’s where the darker side begins to surface. After getting to know people, their language, and “turning local” to the point where people let down their guard – I can say that the most openly racist people I have ever met in any country were from East Asia – towards each other! Generally the trend is lighter colored skin vs darker skin but it cuts just about every way you could imagine.

    I’ve had Singaporeans complain about how they are looked down upon when in Beijing, and I’ve also had the reverse. Bring Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam into the mix and you have some pretty strong words. It’s way worse than anything you will encounter in NZ.
    Don’t get me started on North Asia…

    Asian-style racism is very different to that you see in NZ. In NZ you will get street louts and uneducated bigots openly exhibiting racism – for example the OP noticed the “nee how” shouts outside at night,
    In Asia I hear the “we don’t want to deal with Chinese” in the office of the CEO, or at the after-work function that I have been invited to. Never shouted out loud on the street as that would be impolite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had Singaporeans complain about how they are looked down upon when in Beijing, and I’ve also had the reverse. Bring Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam into the mix and you have some pretty strong words. It’s way worse than anything you will encounter in NZ.
      Don’t get me started on North Asia…

      Asian-style racism is very different to that you see in NZ. In NZ you will get street louts and uneducated bigots openly exhibiting racism – for example the OP noticed the “nee how” shouts outside at night,
      In Asia I hear the “we don’t want to deal with Chinese” in the office of the CEO, or at the after-work function that I have been invited to. Never shouted out loud on the street as that would be impolite.

      Just had to chime in that that’s funny on so many levels:
      – on the one hand, a Singaporean Chinese complaining that they are being regarded as China Chinese …
      – on the other hand, someone unable to tell apart Chinese people.

      That’s like someone saying a White New Zealander and a White Italian are the same.
      (I can raise my hand up to say that I can’t tell apart the origins of an Asian person, whether from Korea, Japan or China and by extension the other Asians from Fiji, India, Pakistan or Bangladesh … on the flip side I don’t assume anything about them other than they’re of Asian ethnicity … and I’m Asian too)

      But I’ll reply that the growing trend of nationalism worldwide has a fairly uniform manifestation … “you will get street louts and uneducated bigots (and even politicians) openly exhibiting racism”. Also, despite (Western) papers talking a lot about Asian “respect for education” … quite a few Asian ministers (and Western ones too) have degrees from “degree mills”.

      The reality though, is that New Zealand very stridently markets itself as not having these problems.
      So naturally, it’s hard to avoid the expectation people have that New Zealand is telling the truth …

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      • I can tell you that this is most certainly not funny; it’s pretty strong stuff and pretty much out of bounds for any foreigner to discuss unless asked. It’s also not new, it goes back a loooong way. Racial prejudices run pretty deep in Asia; even provincial prejudices. Today’s borders are not the same as they were over centuries past.

        They may all look the same to tourists, but after a while it’s even easy for a westerner to tell the difference between all these races, and even tell apart some provincial accents within countries.

        I mentioned this not because I’m trying to diminish the significance of racism in NZ, but perhaps to point out that some of those who suffer it don’t seem to acknowledge that it is worse in their home country. Perhaps because at home they are the dominant race. (This may not apply to the original poster in this thread – but the USA is a big place; not all states are alike.)

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        • There does seem to be a problem with acknowledging racism exists in New Zealand, and migrants are often sold the lie that NZ is an egalitarian society. One only has to look at the treatment of Maori to see that is a long way from true.

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          • I might be misunderstood.

            I left NZ because of the overpriced, leaky, damp, cold, homes (after buying one). The overpriced everything else didn’t help. That my tax was subsidizing a bunch of ignorant racist lazy losers was the final push.

            The fact that I am a NZ citizen, not living in NZ, shows that the balance of my opinion is still not in NZ’s favour.

            The racist cretins are still there. I recall one time arriving at Auckland airport and overhearing some morbidly obese woman complaining about “f***ing Asians” in a broad NZ accent. I hate hearing that. It is embarrassing. I recall thinking if that woman had any respect she would keep her mouth shut. Perhaps her bucket of KFC was empty so her mouth was free.

            BUT, from an educated professional perspective NZ is reasonably progressive compared to Asia. I worked for a pretty big company in NZ 20 years ago and I was one of 3 NZ’ers out of 20 in my team. It was like the UN. Every accent under the sun.

            In Asia, not so much. Countries in North Asia are monocultures. If you are not pure local race then expect prejudice. Brown face? get the f**k out. Start polishing shoes or something. I worked for a large company here and it was 99.7% single local race.

            In South Korea we recently had a member of the National Assembly (like NZ Parliament) that was not Korean race. One member out of 300. A single representative. That caused all kinds of racial arguments. 1 in 300?! and that’s a problem for Koreans!

            Yes, NZ has plenty of racist cretins stirred up by Winston Peters and his ilk, but it is still generally pretty good. If there was a single good thing I had to say about NZ then it would be the egalitarian side. My mind has been warped by 15 years in Asia so please forgive this perspective. On race equality: NZ looks better than here, on other things: perhaps not so much.

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          • In other words your perception of New Zealand’s alleged ‘egalitarianism’ is based on what you witnessed 15 years ago and you’re judging it in comparison to what you experience now in Seoul? Things have changed somewhat in NZ since you left.

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          • Oh I’ve been back plenty of times – as recently as a February this year. I have Korean friends who have migrated to NZ, and ones who are wanting to join them. I’m always surprised by the number who have connections living in NZ and still have a strong desire to move. I guess it doesn’t work out badly for everyone.
            Escaping the very hierarchical society here is one of the reasons people move out.
            Nowadays I’m rather more ‘diplomatic’ on how I refer to some aspects of NZ life, as I have a much wider lens view.
            Like I said at the beginning of my post – I still have my misgivings about other aspects (transport, housing, costs of basic services, violent crime, etc).

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, NZ has plenty of racist cretins stirred up by Winston Peters and his ilk, but it is still generally pretty good. If there was a single good thing I had to say about NZ then it would be the egalitarian side. My mind has been warped by 15 years in Asia so please forgive this perspective. On race equality: NZ looks better than here, on other things: perhaps not so much.
            @lostkiwi:
            This might interest you:
            http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/value/egali-what-getting-a-fair-go-in-new-zealand
            Egali-what? Getting a fair go in New Zealand
            Tuesday 22nd April 2014
            Egali-what?” Even as New Zealand’s income gaps have yawned open in recent decades, public concern about that inequality has fallen. Egalitarianism used to be one of New Zealand’s touchstones, a term that conveyed a kind of pride in being a country with relatively small income gaps.
            Even among the politically active, the word has little purchase now. I was in Westport recently to promote my book Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis and talk about New Zealand’s growing income gaps. I also met Georgina Lomax-Sawyers, a 16-year-old former youth MP. What did the word ‘egalitarian’ mean to her, I asked. “I know about it, I recognise the word,” she said. “But I don’t associate anything with it.” Others said the same thing. And so I began to ask myself: have the values New Zealand used to pride itself on, which make up that word, vanished – or do they carry on in a new form?

            …The virtual disappearance of the word could be taken as evidence of a big shift in attitudes over the last 30 years. A recent book on young New Zealanders, Children of Rogernomics by Karen Nairn, senior lecturer at the University of Otago College of Education, claims that the way we now talk about society and the economy tends to make “structural constraints disappear and individuals appear to act independently”. Most of the young people interviewed in the book “took up the language of free choice and self-responsibility … if they failed, they blamed themselves for not trying hard enough”.

            I’d agree that it would only be their fault, if they were properly assessed. For example, I’ve read that certain qualifications like ACCA and CLP are run like a cartel … people are made to fail, when the number of people who pass (under a fixed pass mark) is too high. That’s not quite the same thing as “failing because it’s your fault”. The world is a funny place; truth is stranger than fiction – because fiction has to make sense!
            And of course, people don’t like to talk about egalitarianism because it may make them the target of everybody else that want inequality to continue … sometimes people are targeted not because they’re saying something bad … but because other people don’t want their rights revoked. True “social horror”.

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        • They may all look the same to tourists, but after a while it’s even easy for a westerner to tell the difference between all these races, and even tell apart some provincial accents within countries.
          Hi, please tell me what your score is after visiting
          http://alllooksame.com/
          (I visited that site years ago, and didn’t do too well on the test)

          With your statement “easy for a westerner to tell the difference between all these races”, give it a go!

          Going from the blog,
          http://alllooksame.com/about/
          … I’ve always thought that it was one of those urban myths that you can tell different Asians apart. Especially if I can’t see what they are wearing, I don’t think that I can tell them apart. And, I’m an Asian myself. I’ve been living in the US for over 15 years and I’ve heard some people tell me I definitely look Japanese, while others thought that I don’t at all. Some people boastfully claim that they can tell the difference no problem, while others quietly admit that they can’t. Even with those who claim they can, is it really true that they can? Maybe there is something to be said about someone saying “You guys all look the same!” Or, maybe they just don’t know any better. This site, therefore, is a way for me to demystify this issue once and for all.

          I hope you enjoy and benefit at the same time from this site.

          Sincerely,
          Dyske Suematsu

          lostkiwi, I’m looking forward to you showing us a sterling eye for discerning racial differences.
          Let us know how you get along (post a screenshot, please).

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  3. I admire your assertiveness in handling the unpleasant situations you had to endure. Sadly such experiences are however typical of New Zealand – despite this being the 21st century.

    I live on the South Island and do not know Auckland well. Those times when I have returned to New Zealand from overseas (and have flown into Auckland and have had to spend a night there) I have always experienced that “Oh my God, I’m back!” feeling. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by angry looking unkempt people who often as not seem to be vying for a verbal confrontation – if not a full-on fight. Yes, and then there is the dilapidated housing and poverty you have to endure as you follow the plumes of smoke from all the old cars on the road to the city…

    Despite the fact I was born and bred here I still find this all quite daunting so I can only but imagine what it must be like for someone who is a first-time visitor (or immigrant) to this country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I moved from the UK to the South Island a few years ago. There are pros and cons in each place. However, visits back to where I am from in the UK are much less of a culture shock than trips to the North Island. The North Island seems like a vastly different country.

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  4. Not paying the part of the rent you haven’t stayed at home is the most silly thing i ever heard about flat sharing. What about counting the times you flush the toilet so she can exclude that. Typical of New Zealander in my opinion. Penny-pinching attitude is so disgusting. My home country has much lower income levels but people are generous. Someone who call your friend won’t be cheap and count to the last penny when you enjoyed a meal together and it was time to pay the bill.

    And come on, this is a really little populated country and young people finish universities with a lot of university dept. Where does all the tax go?

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    • Whenever it was cold in July/August, my roommate from the U.S. and I used our heaters (we all have mini personal ones in our rooms) to stay warm, so the bill was high but not outrageous compared to rent. Well supposedly the two New Zealanders didn’t use theirs at all and one of them was gone for a week, so this was how they wanted to split that bill… not exaggerating… Me and U.S. roommate = $89. Person 3 = $36. Person 4 = $47. Like what? All logic was and still is out the fucking windows that they insist on leaving open when it’s 6 degrees outside. That’s 43 degrees in Freedom units by the way.

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  5. Good for you my man. Thank you for sharing this story. As many regular readers of this site know, your story is a typical example of the ‘Slack’ mentality and arrogance of the majority of Nz population.
    In my opinion Nz’ers are such unsensitive, arrogant and disapointed people I almost can’t believe it! I’m sorry to write this, (please don’t count the good ones), but I never have seen such Mentally Retarded people as in Nz. From the NORTH untill the far SOUTH! An example: They are so ‘F’up that many people truly believe that it’s ok to make a commitment to sell something, and then sell it to another idiot who comes woth somen money, exuse themselves to the first buyer and think it’s ok! It’s beyond insanity. What a Fucking Disgrace for a ‘First World Country’. Hahahaha the UK probably sent it’s biggest Fall Out Lozers back in the 19’Th. Whowever convinced that they would get a better life is one smart person!!!

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  6. Good for you.

    The Kiwi “sense of superiority” is actually New Zealand’s deep-seated cultural insularity. It is a fact that Kiwis are not strong enough to own up to their weaknesses. Ask any migrant about their home countries and they are able to list both positive and negative aspects of the places they came from. Not Kiwis. You’d be hard-pressed to find a New Zealander own up to the issues NZ faces – most are too insecure to admit to the truth, or are just blind in the face of reality. And New Zealand’s inward-looking trait has never been stronger, even if the conservative nationalistic rhetoric is a growing global trend.

    The money issue is another thing that is shocking about New Zealand. Kiwis are not penny pinchers, most are just completely ignorant of the basics of how to manage money. I’ve lived here for years and don’t know a single Kiwi who is into the habit of saving. It just *isn’t* a thing here. Short-term gratification is prized. I once had a middle-aged colleague who told me she was “flat broke”, but caved into temptation and purchased a pair of $300 shoes she didn’t need on lay-by. It is common for Kiwi students to say they can’t afford textbooks either, but you see them splurging on booze at weekends. The rare few Kiwis who choose not to go drinking and partying for a couple years to save up for things like a housing deposit are looked down upon as “not living life to the fullest”. Those who put their hands up to work on Statutory Holidays for the double pay are also viewed negatively.

    The trouble is not all Kiwis are like that – the ones who are aware of the issues NZ faces move overseas because they themselves cannot stand life here. I’ve met Kiwis who are working overseas and most of them say they wouldn’t move back to NZ anytime soon, if ever. The Kiwi brain drain is real.

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    • Yeah, I definitely felt like actions that’d do nothing but benefit me (like staying in to save money and studying) were looked down upon at times. I meant to mention that I also took an experimental/behavioral economics course, and one of the lectures was about a cross-cultural experiment with antisocial behavior. I won’t go into detail, but they basically attributed the behavior to collapsing societies and/or weak infrastructure… need I say more.

      I was thinking about this today: Do Kiwis ever look at a world map and wonder what it’d be like to be in another place? Serious question. It’s crazy to me that the state I live in is about half the size of the North Island, yet our population is a little more than all of New Zealand combined. And for me, I love visiting places with lots of people and culture. It just seems like there’s no incentive to even try here. Even the nice ones I’ve spoken to seem fine with staying where they are.

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  7. Amen~~~!!! To Everything you said! As an American I feel the same way. I got off the plane the first time and drove through Manakau and about fainted. I couldn’t believe the poverty.

    Like

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