Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.
Today’s tale is taken from Expatexposed, a self help forum for migrants in New Zealand. In this post a British skilled IT professional tells of common issues experienced in New Zealand : bullying, incompetence and nepotism in the workplace, penny pinching being a way of life, overt racism and xenophobia.
Bullying in the office place is rampant. I’ve heard dozens of stories about people being bullied in the work-place. It seems expected, if not encouraged. My manager called another woman a b*** the other day, in the office, in front of everybody. The only time I’ve been shouted at since leaving school, has been working in NZ. I was working in retail and my manager shouted at me in front of customers, because I didn’t hear what he had said. My kiwi flatmate eventually was sacked from her job , when a female boss took a dislike to her, and made her life miserable. This is the accepted way to get rid of people : Just make their daily working life miserable so that they leave, because the employment laws are strong, people find other ways to get rid of people.
As for the office itself, its a very different beast to the UK. There is hardly any banter in any of the offices i’ve worked in – very subdued, which is crap. Office work aint exciting but we could have a laugh in the UK. There is hardly any camerarderie here. It’s all very grim and serious.Office politics is rampant. After a while, I decided that it must just be the office environment in NZ which sucked, so I tried other jobs. No luck, it’s just a cultural thing. My sense of humor is way out of kilter with the locals. note : I don’t claim better, just way different. Not only that, I don’t know what makes Kiwis tick…I can’t work out a common ground to discuss everyday stuff without the conversation floundering.
The average Kiwi worker is easily upset as well – sometimes it takes all my effort to try NOT to upset somebody here on a daily basis. Take for example last week. An email was sent around that morning that we’re having a lunch (few burgers) laid on by the company. I tell those responsible I’ve made other plans, already, so please don’t make me a burger. I get a pissy look from the management, that i’m the one who’s to blame, as if missing this vital burger lunchtime will mean fiscal disaster or something. **** that, i’ve already got a dinner date….
I was recently looking for a flat share, and got talking to an Arab guy who owns a local supermarket store. He told me that he couldn’t find any kiwi flatshares who would let him live with them, so he asked me to start a new houseshare with him! He told me that the advertisers were fine, when he initially contacted them by email, but as soon as they found out he was from Iran, they didn’t want to know. He’s a top bloke as well. Their loss.. He told me that they were all racists.
Another Iraqi I know, who is a dentist, has been studying for NZ registration, which is pretty expensive. He doesn’t expect to pass the exams, because apparently they are really tough, to limit the number of dentists. He’s thinking of returning to Bahgdad (despite the troubles) because he can’t connect with the culture in NZ. I hear this sort of thing all the time, foreigners who just can’t get NZ. It’s an illusive thing to pin down. There’s just something missing here. I feel it too.
It’s difficult to make friends here with the locals. At first, it bothered me. Then I thought about it. Why bother trying? Most of my friends are now migrants.A real mixed bunch, french, iraqis, brits, italians, argentinians etc. Which seems strange, but there you go. How I have more in common with an Iraqi over a Kiwi, I don’t know, but they have a great sense of humor, so that helps.
Kiwis are the tightest people I’ve ever met. No joke! Talk about stretching a dollar. If they can chisel you, they will. Take my current Kiwi flatmate, who saves ice-cream containers because she’s too cheap to buy new tupperware. She tried to scam me recently when I broke a pot in the garden which she used for plastic-pegs. She told me it was a very special pot which was from a special boutique potters! lmfao. I looked at the broken brown pot. Looked like a piece of **** to me. No craftsmanship at all. I asked her how much she wanted for it? 40-50 dollars, she said, plucking a figure from thin-air. I asked for the reciept, she didn’t have one. I told her to take it off my bond, which caused a drama. Anyhow, a few days later, she’s whinging to me about having no money! Yeah, good, try and scam your flatmates instead! She bolsters her earnings through selling stuff on trademe, making a dollar here, a dollar there. When she posts stuff to customers, she wraps the items in plastic bags to save on packaging…a few cents here, a few cents there…. She’s a shocker about her TM descriptions. Water damaged goods are passed off as brand new… (and then returned). She also spends an hour a day entering free competitions online.
A one off? You’d be surprised. The wages here are **** rubbish, so many people have to find ways to make a few extra dollars to make ends meet. Things which I would do in a war situation, like saving food coupons, seems prevalent here. This is the Kiwi psyche – it’s a make do and mend type mentality. Cashed up Brits are prime pickings for kiwis – they love our money, and have realised that a few extra dollars here and there won’t hurt us, but will help them. I’ve lost count of the number of times casheirs have tried to overcharge me for stuff (like an extra dollar on a can of coke) because im a foreigner. An extra dollar here, an extra dollar there….
It never fails to amaze me how this works. The only time you’re safe from sniping is when you’re brokeass. (e.g. like 90% of the other kiwis). When you start doing well for yourself, turning a few dollars, that’s when the daggers come out. In any other country, you’d have a pat on your back. Here? Forget it. You might not be doing anything different, anything ostentatious or brash, its all a perception to them. They need to level you once again to a sort of common accepted brokeass level where they feel they are.
I’m blown away by the high level of racism here. I’m white, and it never fails to amaze me when another white Kiwi makes an off the cuff remark about the blacks, the maoris, the islanders, the niggers etc. Generally assuming that I think the way they do, that we belong to some kind of master race….
Good manners cost nothing, do they? Forget it. You’ll be lucky to hear any pleasantries exchanged during the day. Retail is a shocker in this regard. My worst retail experiences have been in NZ. (not Africa). Change is sometimes almost thrown at you. Drivers here have no idea about giving way etc.
NZ has not lived up to my expectations at all! It’s really OK, but with hindsight, I wish I had gone to Canada.
In another post the writer elucidated about professional ineptitude and the damaging effects of nepotism within New Zealand:
“I’ve come to expect the unexpected working in IT in NZ. (Like the finance manager dumping 2 end-of-month financial reports on my desk at 4:30pm and asking which one is the most accurate), but the last one takes the biscuit. I worked for a financial company in complete and utter disarray.
My outsource company is Microsoft certified, which I have reason to believe is totally meaningless. Why?
One day, I was surfing the company’s intranet and was able to access the password database.
I had full access to the company’s online bank accounts, credit cards, trademe accounts, seek accounts, Air New Zealand membership, etc etc.
In a nutshell, the whole shooting match. if it needed a password, I had the access.
If I wanted to, I could have emptied the company’s bank account there and then. Goodbye! You are the weakest link!
Instead I informed the owner of the company. The so-called project management guru. I told him that there was probably a problem with the intranet and he should look into it.
I got a reply back stating that he would look into it; that he wasn’t sure if it was supposed to do that.
Hello? Laugh Not sure If I should have full access to EVERYTHING? That at this very moment I can empty the company’s bank account?
Anyhow, as of yesterday, I’m not **** you, I promise, I can still view ALL of their company’s passwords….
Now for the fun part.
The company has recently landed a contract with a NZ government crown entity to redevelop their IT systems!
Afterall, they’re Microsoft certified.
This, is just ONE example, a good example, of how the IT world functions in NZ.
Ps – how did my boss win the current contract? By playing golf with the owner of the other company.”
It’s interesting to read this post alongside another page on this blog titled “5 Top Things Wrong With New Zealand.” New Zealanders give their views about what’s wrong with the country and some of them concur with migrant perceptions whilst others manifest some of the issues of concern. Here are a few quotes from it:
“Letting in migrants like Afghans, Thais and Africans whose culture is totally foreign to the existing one”
“People who cannot handle other people doing well”
“Racism and other assorted bigotry”
“One race country = kiwi no matter what colour”
“Laziness, lack of work ethic, ‘half-assed is good enough’ attitude.”
“Envy of anyone who is successful/rich/attractive.”
“A political system that fawns over an overindulged minority who are never content with anything.”
“Dumbing down of education and discouraging competition.”