Moved From Singapore For Better Life


Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Today’s story is taken from Expatexposed, a self-help and support forum for migrants in New Zealand.

In this post the child of an ex-pat New Zealander tells of how the family left the relative safety of Singapore and relocated to the father’s homeland in a fruitless attempt to give the three kids a “better education.”

Within a month of the family’s arrival in Auckland they were exposed to what was the start of a shocking degree of crime, including an armed robbery, burglary, bullying and mugging. The family was torn apart by their experiences in New Zealand and suffered in other ways too:

“So, I found this site a couple of days ago, because after SIX YEARS of constant suckiness… It was getting to me. What’s a girl to do?I googled “Why does New Zealand suck?”

And here I am!! I am not alone! There are others! (No seriously, this is how I felt.)

I was about to post a link of this website to my Facebook profile in ecstasy, but then remembered all the Kiwis that I’ve got on there, that might find it highly offensive. Instead I secretly spread the word to a few people who I thought might enjoy this place too…. We all had a bit of a laugh. The kind that you have when things are so dire that you have to laugh at it. I especially enjoyed the “Don’t Migrate to New Zealand if…” section. Sums it all up in a nutshell.

So anyway, here is my story… in as much of a nutshell as I can give.

I was raised mainly in Singapore originally. My dad is a Kiwi born in 1942 in Wellington, he moved to Singapore about 30 years ago where he met my mom, she’s Malay.

So when I was 17, they decided to send me here to get ‘a better education’… Well isn’t that a joke now. Oh, they also bundled my sister along for the ride, she was 15 at the time.

So off we were on a plane to Auckland, to go to school in safe, super awesome New Zealand. We managed to find a measly small studio apartment on Anzac Ave at a place called The Cambridge.

Coming from Singapore, which as most of you probably know, is very clean, safe, relatively drug and crime free and wealthy… Well.

Within 1 month of being here, we saw a flasher, at a main road bus stop on Beach Road, in broad daylight. Sure, other people saw him but they just carried on like it was no big deal. We were in the Video Ezy on Quay St when there was an armed robbery. The cops took half an hour to even show up. Our laundry was stolen and tampered with by a community of transvestites that lived on the floor below. We were stalked by a creep, reported it to the police… And got a call 3 months later to say that the found the guy. And so it goes, and so it goes.

My parents are by no means rich. They thought sending me and my sister here would be a cheaper option than doing university in Singapore. I don’t blame them for not knowing what it would be like. My poor dad was under the impression that it would be the same good old country he left 24 years ago.

After 1 year, my mom and my brother joined us here in Auckland. My dad was transferred to Sydney for work, so at least he was a bit closer.

As you can guess, it just got worse. Eventually my parents ended up buying a house, for some ’stability’, in Avondale. The house was right at the end of a really bad street. Needless to say, that only made things even worse. The house got broken into more than once. My dad got mugged on his way home from work. My brother, age 9 at the time, was bullied by juvenile gangsters. My sister was pestered by them for cigarettes. Some people in the park tried to sell me a bottle of Johnny Walker at 9 in the morning!

My parents needed help financially, as cost of living was so high. Even something as basic as a doctor’s visit is so expensive here! So my sister and I dropped out of University to get work.

So we all worked, and worked, and worked.

My parents absolutely couldn’t take it, living here. My dad said that NZ has become a very mean-spirited place, and it makes him sad. His company offered to pay for the cost of migrating my family to Sydney. Well, of course they jumped at the chance. They asked if we wanted to go with them.

By that stage, we weren’t sure if Sydney was going to be a huge improvement. We weren’t sure what opportunities were available for us there. More relevantly, my sister and I both had plans to get back into school here and we were both in long term relationships with partners that were not able to relocate with us. So my parents and brother left, we ended up staying.

I have been in and out of the health system for major clinical depression in the last 3 years… And I was starting to think – what is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be happy here? I really started to believe that there WAS something wrong with me for hating it so much.

Hey, if I won Lotto, I would leave tomorrow and never, ever come back. Ever. If only it were that simple.

But at least now I know I’m not alone! I am beginning to feel like my response is somewhat normal! *sigh*

Anyway this has been really hard, so please be kind, dear community of like-minded people. =)”


“Well it turns out that my parents are now back in Singapore! LOLAs for other students finding the same problem, that was mainly my experience when I was at AUT.

I met my partner there, he also came on the premise of a world class education, recognised universally, etc. and of course we were both equally disappointed and disillusioned by the time we had been here for a while.

I was actually glad to withdraw from my degree at AUT in Communications as I thought it was a huge waste of my time and money having them spend 6 months repeating the same thing over and over, after I had already learnt it within the first 2 weeks of it being taught.

We do have a bit of the same debate going on as others, about whether it is worthwhile to wait and get something to show for it!”

Please read other similar stories in our Migrant Tales section, this poster is not alone in their experience.

Also see other posts
International students “only seen as cash cows”
Crime collection
Armed Robberies collection

Today’s posts – click here

9 thoughts on “Moved From Singapore For Better Life

  1. IT is funny, when migrants with vast overseas experience apply for jobs, they are rejected with the excuse thay they don’t have the great ‘Kiwi Experience’ , but Kiwis go overseas to get OE…(overseas experience)

    • It is ironic to go overseas to get OE; NZ has attracted many skilled experience migrants with more than just OE but upon arriving in NZ, these migrants find it hard to secure employment. I am not talking about those Asian migrants that speak basic english, but American, British, & Canadians who have worked in many iconic international projects like the Dubai World City etc. Common reply is, they don’t have NZ experience..even for fresh graduate positions….sometimes I wonder WTF???
      I myself personally encountered Asians (singaporeans & malaysians) who speak Queen’s English very well, highly qualified, and much better than any average Kiwi, yet they were denied employment opportunities just because they don’t have Kiwi accent. Some of them ended up being taxi drivers, waiters, cleaners etc…It is a lost to NZ when they can contribute in much meaningful manner. I was once worked with an American engineer, with vast knowledge in seismic design, but he was only offered an opportunity to work as AutoCAD operator in NZ. He finally left NZ and moved to Aus. ..

  2. There actually are many nice Kiwis here – hiding! They tend not to be the ones that prey on others, so migrants will not meet them in the first few years, and Kiwi networks being difficult to break into in the first place, the effect is to both exploit and drive off those who arrive in the first few years. The ones who greet you at the beach are the ones who’ll put you in that pot.

    I have had too many bad experiences here to ever have considered my stay here a pleasant one. Says the Captain. But the environment is to blame in a large part. Put people on an island far away from civilization, and what do you get? Lord of the Flies. So they have formed their tribe and the blessed cargo arrives and new arrivals are put in the pot. No different from any othe South Pacific “paradise”.

    • I am one such NZer, not hiding, but definitely separate from the rest. I just cant identify with these people anymore. What I find is those of us who don’t think like the rest are in the exact same position as the crap foreigners are getting. Maybe not AS bad, but that would only be due to being NZers so we know how to deal with them. For me personally, I’ve been told to leave the country multiple times if I don’t like it.

  3. Or insisting on a high standard of proof and an acceptably low risk threshold. They do not have the resources to spare for extra caution and tend to just go with what is cheap, easy and moneymaking. Hence the reluctance to test people for a broad range of possibilities when they become ill and the backroom negotiations in making decisions outside of the public eye. It saves them trouble and they do not think about anything beyond that.

    I remember reading a discussion on another expat board about New Zealand being a hellish destination for engineers. The resident Kiwi member reminded everyone that it was not a society for sticklers. Which engineers and scientists would tend to be.

    • I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labor on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

      Spoken by a German in mittel Europe. New Zealand is not a continent. They live on a small boat that sails in the wake of larger economies. They tack with the wind, eye on the aircraft carriers in front of them. Their strategies are purely reactive and adaptive. Currently, they are afraid because the vessel in front of them now is the U.S., and they are not sure what is going to happen. They are trying to move over to surf China’s wake now. But they do not want the Chinese to have too much control over them. Their skill is to be alert to changes, flexible and mobile. They have a preference for investing money in their own land, because they have nothing more than that. Not to mention there is resentment of the larger economies which affect their own for better or worse.

      It is an entirely alien place to live compared to a larger continent or an older or more complex culture or economy, which has the luxury of having been able to create a large solid foundation in the first place. New Zealand has always been associated with larger places such as England, and then attempted to mitigate the effects of the larger force “controlling it” too much, taking what it can while not giving too much of itself. Immigrants may find this plays out interpersonally as well, that he constantly finds himself off balance and lacking footing in his relations with the Kiwis. They are good at the ju jitsu on their home mat.

      • I’m actually starting to get the idea that one of the reasons why Kiwis are so flexible and socially adept at not sticking to principles, (e.g. saying they’re studying for one thing while actually doing something else) is because they live on a small island with a low population density. In such places, lies are harder to conceal unless they’re only directed at people of the “out group”. There’s a good reason why bullying (and relational aggression) is rampant: without an outsider to rally against, the infighting would damage many of their own careers which mostly have little substance behind them since it’s common that they all know each other, and didn’t get their jobs based on qualifications (indirect evidence is the sustained unemployability of overseas-trained YET Kiwi-qualified jobseekers, and people who have to change their names to get a job)

        The bullying also happens in more subtle ways, e.g. entitlements that are a given for students of university faculties in the sciences are kept low-key so that the supplies don’t run out for the domestic students (and so that internationals are none the wiser as to ask for them) – this despite the fact that internationals pay 4 – 5 times the fees. These entitlements run the gamut of notes, supplementary software and equipment available for use, the lack of which puts any student at a disadvantage.

        As for employment, it’s on a “who you know” basis. Mostly applicable outside of university, this is one of the reasons why resumes and qualifications matter less for many jobs in NZ: the managers have no clue about technical details, and HR hires their friends…

  4. Migrants from Singapore seem to have an especially hard time. Percent of Asians who come to NZ and leave, by national origin:
    Taiwan 49%
    Singapore 34%
    Malaysia 31%
    Hong Kong 29%

    Having had years of experience with the first three ethnicities, I can verify that the hard work and high responsibility values of their cultures are at odds with the dodgier culture of New Zealand.
    Consider how the Singaporeans would have handled that situation.

    • The interesting question to ask is how many overseas students with NZ university-level qualifications are working at jobs much lower than their abilities would suggest. A lack of information/misleading information about which courses offer employment assistance and “NZ experience” would go some way to explain that, but a large amount of graduates are having to understand that they’re not going to be able to exercise their skills at work, while years later being chided for unfamiliarity with regards to improvements or updates in the same (or maybe this is just a tactic to keep wages low?)

      It seems the more science-based education you get, the chance of actually having a normal workaday life decreases. Maybe that’s another reason behind the decline in science-based graduates — it seems you get punished for doing a difficult degree, either through underemployment or overwork/busywork…

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