Welcome to our popular Migrant Tales series, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
A reader sent us a link to this migrant tale, first published on reddit/newzealand two months ago (around May 2017).
The author migrated to New Zealand to escape the European ‘rat race’ only to find that Christchurch has tested them to their limits. After the earthquakes a lot of their time has been spent finishing off and putting right the shoddy work. Despite the devastation caused to earthquake prone buildings it appears that few people follow the Building Code and are working to antiquated standards.
If you’re emigrating to one of the earthquake damaged areas of New Zealand (whether to live, or help with the rebuilding), or if you’re a tradesperson thinking your skills are in short supply you need to read this article:
Working in Christchurch
I headed over to Christchurch a few years back when I found a job there. A lot of Brits and Irish were heading over in the hope of escaping the rat-race of life in Europe in search of a new life on the other side of the world. The years have now passed and I can safely say that Christchurch and the CCC’s that live there tested my patience to the limit.
The city had been destroyed along with a lot of lives. The Cathedral was still crumbling and many of the streets were bare while others were well under reconstruction. I was eager to get to work and looking forward to what lay ahead. I had no idea that I would spend the entirety of my time there putting right other peoples mistakes and finishing off other peoples work. That becomes a bit of a drag after a while, especially when you’re told to follow on behind apprentices.
I worked with a few companies during my time, partly because I would get fed up with my employer and partly because I wanted to expand my experiences. I found that a lot of companies think they’re ‘building success’ in the midst of destruction, all I saw was the kiwi attitude of ‘She’ll be right’ alive and well. Not only that, I discovered that building apprentices learn their trade from a book. Every now and then an ‘Assessor’ stops by to go over what they have been doing, then they leave. The apprentice rarely has any guidance from a senior ‘tradesman’ (I use the term ‘tradesman’ very loosely. There’s no men in the trade and no tradesmen in the building industry) and really, what good would that do anyway if they have gone through the same process?
Poor Quantity Surveying was prominent on most jobs as was poor workmanship. I hadn’t ever straightened a wall with a ‘buzzer’ in nearly 20 years of being a Carpenter. Not only that, I haven’t ever packed a wall with Malthoid to remove a hollow. That’s kind of stupid as well as Kiwi’s glue the Gib to the studwork and I couldn’t get through to anyone I worked with that putting glue on the Malthoid means the Gib isn’t fixed to the timber. That same scenario happened with structural ply on a very big flat roof. The trigger happy builder stapled Malthoid to the joists to take out a 1 or 2mm bow then proceeded to glue the ply down followed by screws at 100mm centres. The complete brain dead attitude of that action time and time again is enough to send anyone with an ounce of sense mad. I’m not sure the structural Engineer would be impressed either. The inspector didn’t notice because it was obvious he didn’t really know what he was looking at.
I asked a couple of my foremen for some information regarding NZ Building Code. What I was told was that they have a new book with all the relevant information in it but that no one uses it, they instead prefer to reference the book from 10 or so years ago.
I had one decent boss while I was there. He looked after everyone and kept an eye on things as best he could. A lot of his employees took advantage of his good will and had ways of hiding things from him though.
I could go on all day about what I witnessed, plumbers cutting huge notches out of studwork and ceiling joists to run their pipes through. Electricians doing the same. I guess it’s too much hard work to drill a hole through the centre of a stud or joist. Kiwi’s are renowned for being lazy though so it all made sense.
If I were to offer any advice to people thinking of heading to Christchurch in the hope of starting a new life, I would say to think very carefully about what you hope to achieve and how far you are willing to drop your standard to do it. If you’re a Carpenter with half a brain who enjoys what they do, perhaps Christchurch isn’t the place for you. As far as my experience has gone, finding a decent company who does what they advertise is a struggle. On top of that, homes aren’t worth half what they cost either and if you end up buying a ‘villa’, be prepared for it to fall down around your ears, they’re rotten and aren’t worth the paper they’re drawn on. As far as new homes go, 90mm insulation all round still makes for a very cold and damp internal atmosphere, it’s not enough in such a cold country.
In conclusion, poor ‘tradesmen’ and poor design is rife so I’d steer well clear.
Here’s some of the replied it generated at r/newzealand
TessierAshpoolSA Dude, fuck you. If all Kiwis are lazy and stupid, then all Poms are a bunch of winging cunts who can fuck off back to Pommyland to get blown up by a homegrown jihadist fuckwit. Dont like that comment? Then dont be a cunt. I actually know a bit about the stuff you are talking about and basically you are full of it.
Kiwi_Cog You can criticise without being a cunt. You can even criticise and be a cunt, but you really can’t be surprised people are offended by you calling NZers lazy. It’s pretty fucking rude, and as many others in this thread have said, you can gladly fuck off back to wherever you came from. Besides, NZ’s refugee quota is tiny, and the person you’re replying to mentioned home-grown terrorists anyway, sooo not refugees? Although that is a little off topic imo.
Original poster: Who said I was surprised?! Can’t handle a but of criticism without whinging about it. As for ‘home-grown’ terrorists…just as a heads up cause you’re obviously not aware: how do you think these terrorists become home-grown….? It certainly didn’t happen last week bub.
Wakachangi That’s the problem with moving to a new country that I’ve noticed from people posting similar things here. You think you’re doing it to get away from your old problems. And sometimes you do. But there are always new problems here too. We’re not a utopia. I guess you have to weigh up whether moving here is better overall.Purely anecdotally, but I’ve heard the repair standards are fucking terrible and a lot of kiwis are unhappy with what’s gone on too. A family member in the business told me it’s the Wild West down there.He’s thinking of starting a new company in Auckland that does renovations. A lot of people have just bought shitboxes needing doing up because of the housing shortage. Something to think about.