Welcome to our popular series of Migrant Tales, today’s tale is a slight departure from the norm in that this tale was told by a New Zealander who has migrated to another country. You may read his blog here.
These are his reasons for never going back to New Zealand. If you live in China and are thinking about emigrating to New Zealand save yourself the trouble by reading this.
Why Kiwis don’t fly back home
This project started as a bit of personal curiosity. Why do kiwis go away, and why are we not returning to New Zealand? In my case, my dad brought me as a very young child to Hong Kong where he found the business culture so much better than in thenarrow minded backwards and restrictive New Zealand with its supremacistelite establishment. I never found a reason to go back to that very insular, prejudiced and highly regulated place called New Zealand.We spent the summers back there, and I loved New Zealand, I still do, its nature, fresh air, and then friendly people, but as I grew up, I felt it a nightmare. Still I remained a kiwi at heart, but always wished I could make it change.
The reason for kiwis leaving in the first place is not taxes or more money as often is suggested, it is adventure and getting out of the very tight New Zealand social straight jacket of regulations and political correctness, away from that blinkered control and snoop society and supremacist elite establishment.
This is a list of reasons, as I found them, why Kiwis do not migrate back home again by talking to Expat Kiwis, and reading a lot of blogs and web discussions. As much as 40% of the Kiwi skilled workforce is said to have left the country. This is why they don’t fly back home.
Everyone may not have every reason mentioned here, but Expat Kiwis see many problems with moving back. Almost invariable tax level and pay level are not two of those reasons. Similar reasons apply to businessmen and investors or students, why they hesitate to come to New Zealand to do business or to deal with Kiws.
Sorry for the negativity, but I am trying to illustrate what is perceived as wrong, and what need to be addresses and corrected to enable a positive development of New Zealand. As I live in China, I tend to see the world from that perspective.
Immigration.Many Expat kiwis are married to local overseas women. New Zealand immigration is seen as racially biased against Asians. I have heard many a personal bad experience. Immigration is slow, difficult and bureaucratic to deal with. Too many bad stories on the blogs.
One Chinese person get badly treated and made to loose face by New Zealand, in Chinese interpretation, then 100,000 more will not have anything to do with New Zealand
Marriage, and the divorce industry.
In New Zealand a divorce “industry” has developed. 80% and more of the marriages are broken up on the initiative of the women, coached by marriage consultants and divorce lawyers. Friends, lawyers, marriage advisories, work mates urge her to separate and divorce as one-fit-all universal solution to her own perceived or real problems, feelings or mindset, and of course there is that financial gain, half of the assets, whatever she contributed or not.
Male Expat Kiwis do not want to expose themselves to this when they are married overseas. I have been taken aback over how much this threat play in their decisions to stay away from New Zealand.
Finding a job.
Getting a job in New Zealand is a nightmare if you are an Expat. Maybe 98% of job ads are anonymous employers hiding behind recruiters and so called management consultants. They filter our “undesirables” as Asians, Kiwis over 50, and Expat Kiwis with the “wrong” attitude.
Why not implement a law, as in most countries, that anonymous job ads are illegal, the employers name with a personal contact must be included in any job ad, and there are to be no secret information.
Then if you apply you often get run trough a 1950 style personally degrading procedure with aptitude test, three interviews and two references. References are not used in China.
Management is usually seen as very low quality in New Zealand, positions primarily held by primarily accountants.
New Zealand simply needs to change these ancient procedures towards a matchmaking, and a partnership system in employment.
Medical care and dental care
The New Zealand medical services are highly standardized, but internationally it is of relatively mediocre standard. Expat kiwis can access is generally of much better standard than in New Zealand, and even if they have to pay the cost themselves, the cost is significantly lower, probably only one tenth.
Dental care is not free in New Zealand, and cost is significantly cheaper in China as a rule and the work is of significant higher quality. A root filling by a top skilled dentist in China could be NZ$60, while the same treatment in New Zealand would be NZ$1,500.
Eye care is not free either in New Zealand, and a pair of highest quality titanium prescription glasses in China would be about NZ$200 including the examination, but in New Zealand the same pair would be NZ$1,300 to $2,000.
Banking in New Zealand is another disincentive to come back and work here. Just about every authority has easy access to your money and banking information with easy and simple administrative procedures. Any lawyer can just call the bank and order your account and funds frozen citing a “dispute”. Nothing more than a telephone call is needed. Banks are unsafe in New Zealand
The New Zealand well hidden but well established racial and age discrimination and this is another disincentive to come back if you have an Asian wife, and the issue is nearly taboo for a debate in New Zealand.
The treatment of immigrants and travellers by the New Zealand immigration is looked upon as state racism. One bone fide visitor or immigrant loose face in front of his colleagues, 100,000 will never apply.
Snoopers and dobbers
What deter many is a general “snoop culture” in New Zealand and lack of privacy that is felt as uncomfortable. Authorities and even private companies and certainly the justice system see it as their right to be “peeping toms” and collect intrusive information, financial and other, they see as needed and their rights to have and use. “If you want to be considered for the job, give us what we ask for or we get someone else in who does.” If you want your super, you get us the information we ask for or you go without you super.
New Zealand must be the only country in the world, leave the dictatorships aside, that have toll free line where anyone anonymously can dob in their neighbour or anyone.
The New Zealand highly regulated society where the individuals are tightly controlled also feels uncomfortable to those who once have gotten used the personal freedom overseas and in China. If feels like New Zealand officials decide to what standard and ways residents are to be kept and they have an efficient and tight control system to ensure they do keep people on a very short leash. Symptoms of this are CCTV, red light cameras, random road blocks, boos busses, swimming pool inspectors, toll free dob-in lines, internet logging of people browsing habits, registration of internet connections, monitoring of mobile calls and positions, etc.
The New Zealand bankruptcy system is another scary thing. Anyone in the world can come here and get a Kiwi or even non-Kiwi declared bankrupt if he can not prove his innocence. New Zealand lawyers and shady business people use this as an intimidating threat in negotiations and disputes.
Tax and IRDIRD and tax is another incentive to stay away. The tax level and pay level is not in itself a disincentive to return and IRD is usually very good to deal with, but in New Zealand there is a very hard core system of punishment that the politicians have implemented to get more money off the public, and that the IRD have no choice but to follow. In China you can discuss or even haggle over your taxes and the IRD is usually quite negotiable.
Kiwi passports and Travelling.
Passport in New Zealand is another issue. A New Zealand citizen is entitled to a passport by law, but bureaucrats have added the condition that you must have a friend who has a New Zealand passport and known you for 12 months to get it, or is a New Zealand lawyer, JP, etc. and known you for 12 months. They will not accept any application without that. Those people are a bit difficult to find when you live overseas. So – you take out another citizenship, and that removes another incentive to go back home. Many countries welcome you as citizens after only a short time.
In New Zealand the validity period of a passport has been shortened to five years. China has one year visas and a requirement that the passport is valid for another six months, so in reality we now have a 3.5 year passport. Britain and China still have ten year passports. More incentives to dump New Zealand.
Re-implement the ten year passports, and a three year possible extension. If countries as the US are objecting, issue a special passport for the US, and make other passports valid for ten years and not valid for the US. Reduce the procedures for getting a new passport, a one page application should be enough, and no more if accompanies by a used, not expired or recently expired old passport. Reduce the fee to $20 or thereabout.
You can drive in many places in China on your Kiwi license as long as it is valid, but when it expires you must travel all the way back to New Zealand to renew it. That takes a couple of weeks and cost maybe $5,000.
All other countries I have asked, including Australia, you can fill in a form and mail a photograph, and your license is sent to you.
So – you get another license and remove another incentive, and cost and inconvenience, to go back to New Zealand.
The Kiwi retirement system is another disincentive to come home. You must be “ordinarily a resident of New Zealand” to get super there and of course when you are an Expat you are not. If you work for New Zealand overseas or not is irrelevant. WINZ have complete free and unfettered rights to make a judgement here, you have no rights at all because it is a social welfare handout in law, and if you save for a retirement overseas, your overseas payments gets deducted from your New Zealand Super, so you get screwed to the max whatever you do.
If you move overseas they may allow you to get half your super, if you first get it here, and the country where you move have no reciprocal agreement on super. You have no rights anyway, so why not ignore it. Save for your own overseas, and no incentive to ever go back again.
Most overseas countries super system is a collective KiwiSaver type savings scheme, so it is your own savings, and the New Zealand super is below the poverty level anyway, given it is one of the most unaffordable country in the world to live in.
Change the system so super is paid irrespectively where you live and irrespectively of any overseas payments, develop the Kiwi saver further and raise the super to minimum pay level.
Personal Security.The frequent street violence against Asians, and even in their homes, is another disincentive for Kiwis to come home if they are married overseas. In China you feel safe.
The New Zealand youth binge drinking problem is yet another reason not to come back. Expats do not want their children to be exposed to this culture, which is not a problem in China.
The apparently widening problem with youth criminality and violence is another problem that scares Kiwis from coming back. Especially since it is so closely connected with drugs.
The many high profile allegations and court cases of alleged rape and child molestation have not helped the New Zealand image either, not to mention the David Bane and Arthur Allan Thomas trial and a few more. Especially not since many accusations are decades old, most old accusations are usually not upheld anyway, and many are proven false when the accuser later admit to having other reasons for the complaint. Most cases seem to have been targeting high profile or wealthy people, and have had a money or revenge aspect as the primary driver.
People overseas think, what about if I am the next target???? Will my life, reputation and future be destroyed by Kiwis if I get involved with them??? Not worth taking the risk.
Most countries have statutory limitations on such things. Especially since a number of them has proven very old and false. If a formal complaint of a rape is not made within 12 months, it can not be taken to court.
That the police are both the investigating and prosecuting party is another problem. Most foreigners and many Expat Kiwis would see that as a systemic corruption after seeing the overseas usually rigorous procedures to avoid any miscarriage of justice. There must be a clear separation between the investigation, evaluating the credibility of an investigation, the prosecution, the courts, the experts, and the defence.
Courts in New Zealand are perceived as unreliable, unpredictable, very expensive, untrustworthy or even corrupt. It is so bad that even some judges now are starting to publicly raise concerns. I don’t believe that judges and lawyers are meeting in dark back street restaurants exchanging cash, but judges are also lawyers, and the judicial fraternity is often seen as a closed club of think-alike, do alike and work alike with an invisible common relationship helping itself to safe cash and maximising their take by being able to make their own rules. A reformation must one day come.
People are also wondering why New Zealand is so obsessed with what they see as nuisance laws, as bicycle helmet laws, swimming pool fencing laws, etc. and why it is that council worker can even control how children play and remove their creations as tree houses on private property. (Published in Hutt News 3-09). Parents are told to take responsibility for their children, but even council workers can take that way at any time and they apparently do, not to mention the huge array of other authorities with unchecked powers.
Another major issue is that New Zealand is regularly thumbing its nose at what we often, somewhat incorrectly, call “international law” and other countries laws and rights. Judges in court say that they can choose to ignore anything in the world in that respect.
A scary case was when customs started to require all visiting vessels to comply with local laws several years ago. It was illegal as all visiting vessels under long standing international and well accepted rules must comply with the laws of the country of registration and failing to do so may bring criminal charges when they return home.
NZ enforcement system
New Zealand is a country that must be one of the most highly regulated in the world, and have the most efficient enforcement system to make sure everyone stays and behave within the narrow and complex boundaries the authorities and officials have decided.
China has to the contrary a very strong culture of self correction and self rehabilitation, and a large degree of personal freedom and expression. In China if you get caught without your drivers license or diving the wrong way on a one way street, you are likely to be asked why, told off, and asked to do it better next time, and if you are regretful and accept the mistake, and commit to do it better next time, that is the end of the matter. In New Zealand you are immediately fined as the police have a fine quota to fill.
The censorship of media and information in New Zealand is another major issue as seen from overseas. The draconian defamation laws are an effective way to intimidate anyone to silence and control critics and whistle blowers and free speech. Those laws are the best tools any shady white collar criminal, scam operator or fraudster could have. All they have to do is using lawyers to intimidate and threaten a potential whistle blower to silence. Those who stand up to the threats have paid the price as we have recently seen (2008).
The Attorney General has closed down web papers with a phone call and nothing else that was uncomfortable to the establishment as kiwisfirst and stiassny (I think it was). Courts have extensive easy rights to censor, and whistleblowers and informers have in reality no protection and seldom dare to do or say anything. This need to change.
A rigorous protection of freedom of expression needs to be implemented, with a solid protection of anonymity for media informers and for the journalists and the media, especially internet based media. The defamation laws of today need to be removed.
Police and councils
The New Zealand Police cannot freely enter your home and grab what they like, but council workers have immediate and unfettered access, and can even remove you from your home, but of course, the Police only need a signature from a junior court official to get access, and take and do what they want. China has a rigorous system to protect the individual in their homes.
That the New Zealand Police operate on commissions to collect fines is also scary and deterring, as is the unfettered powers of councils and council workers. Councils now make, and have an incentive to make, rules to maximise the fine takes.
The solution here is to implement transparent and rigorous checks and balances on any interference by any authority in people’s lives. All fines should go to a common national fund for a sensible use. Councils and local authorities should no longer be able to collect money this way. The right to anonymity in the society and in communications must be paramount.
Compared to the standard of education Expats can access overseas, New Zealand is of very mediocre quality.
In a recent publicised survey, the China government has determined the top ten countries and 97% as preferred by Chinese for overseas study. New Zealand is not in that category, but Australia is number two.
Doing business in Kiwiland
This becomes very difficult for returning Expat Kiwis, as the country largely work on a “closed shop basis”. Many local established companies work on a selective and exclusive basis to eliminate or restrict any competition. If they deliver goods and services to newcomers who can operate more efficient, they state that existing customers may delay paying the bills or stop ordering from them.
Another issue here are the slow paying of bills in New Zealand. New Zealand companies and operators are well known to use the upstream guy as a bank and delaying paying their bills for even something like six months.
The IRD has draconian rights to jump the queue, so the rest of us have to wait even longer.
The wide spread New Zealand typical system of “personal guarantees” is another problem. One business simply is guaranteeing their profits on the expense of another, if they are in a position of power over the other party. .
Other events that have tainted New Zealand’s reputation are the well known cheating and rip-off of Asian students, immigration consultant scams, the mail forwarding scams as Privatebox, the back room racism that brought down the
Another disincentive to deal with New Zealand is the wildly fluctuating currency value. Most buyers overseas want a steady price with regular supplies over long term, not just something cheap. The New Zealand currency is fluctuating with some 70% based on present value (50 cents to the US dollar 3-09). If buyers overseas establish a supply today, will the price increase 70% to 82 cents next year by currency fluctuations? It is too big risk to take. New Zealand has been made a $2 shop, and if they raise the price, the currency go up, people stop buying.
Information about China
Chinese get very upset when false, misleading and incorrect information is spread about China and Chinese overseas. The melamine disaster in China, where adulterated baby formula from a nearly half New Zealand owned company, killed six babies and made half a million sick, is well known. Authorities have put it behind them, the public has not.
It is known in China that Fonterra and the Kiwi directors was not actively party to the contamination, but it is also know that they passively and knowingly allowed it for at least a year as they did not understand what was happening. There is a common law requirement in China that directors must have a certain competence and qualifications, and that was not the case. In reality, almost all Directors in China are engineers to comply with that requirement.
What has gone up the nose of many Chinese is that the full story has been censored in New Zealand and that web articles have been pulled off the web with the full story describing how Fonterra have paid compensation by way of a donation to make up for the mistakes, and it also saved the Kiwi directors from a court case. It is a parallel situation to that China is upset that Japan has not told the full story about the atrocities in China during the war, but omitted them in any Japanese publication.
FinallyNew Zealand makes it very difficult for Expat Kiwis to return as well as for overseas businesses to do business there. Please understand that these are not about a few isolated cases. This was not so nice reading maybe, but if you want to fix a problem, you first have to find it, identify it, isolate it, and that is by nature something negative.
New Zealand is said to have as much as 40% of its skilled workforce working outside the country as expats and they seems very reluctant to move back home where their skills are badly needed to help get the country right and stave off a looming national bankruptcy. It is a world unenviable record.
All the attacks in the past of immigrants and investors have been noted overseas, the Britomart scandal, Pakatoe island, Maori Television, Young Nicks Head, Vince Siemer, and now a Chinese businessman. Nobody wants to go to a place where they get attacked.