Thinking About Teaching In New Zealand?

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand immigrants stories taken from locations around the net.

Today’s tale comes from the forum at, if you are considering a teaching position in New Zealand you may find it useful to read this post and use some of the links made in it.

You may find it helpful to read this page in conjunction withsome other teaching related Migrant Tales, links to them appear at the bottom.

(emphasis ours):

“I taught and tutored briefly in the U.S., but have not taught here. I live here, but have only been doing contract education writing work. The currency fluctuations have been hard to deal with, though, and having a local source of income would be nice. So I joined this board to read a bit and check those possibilities out.

I do know a few individuals who teach or have taught here in New Zealand and who have discussed their experiences with me.

Some complained about the wages:

Others were disappointed that their qualifications were not recognised, or not remunerated at the level to which they were accustomed, or found that Kiwis were preferred for positions, or tenured positions. So for example, a couple of them had Masters degrees and could only obtain temporary work for years. They had not come to New Zealand expecting to have to study all over again.

Many of them were unhappy about the cost of housing. Demographia looked at 272 markets in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain and the United States, and New Zealand was ranked as very expensive. New Zealand came second to Australia as the least affordable place to buy a house. Many, too, did not like the quality of the housing for the price. But then if you are simply here for a teaching “stint” and don’t intend to settle, no worries! And it depends on where you come from, too. If you come from the rural Midwest, in the U.S., New Zealand will seem very expensive. If you are from New York or London, you may find it more affordable.

I found that the cold indoors (no insulation, poorly-built homes), cost of energy, Internet speeds/data caps and cost were a problem for me, working at home. I love having no snow though! And the beaches don’t have scores of condominiums lining them. How nice is that?

Others complained about backstabbing and buck-passing at schools. I can’t remark on that, and I imagine that sort of thing happens anywhere. I don’t know whether or not it would be worse in New Zealand.

I do think that if you come from a high-crime place such as South Africa, you will appreciate the “relative” safety of New Zealand most of all. I found the level of street brawling, hooning and tagging was much worse than where I came from, but then where I lived was below the norm for the U.S., for that sort of public antisocial activity. My small town wasn’t L.A., for sure! There are some bucolic areas here in New Zealand. Some have complained of boredom. I never understood how people could be bored, but then I have always “made my own fun” and that is a good trait to have here.

One Canadian woman I know said that the New Zealand children were ill-disciplined and there were “premature” drug and alcohol problems that spilled over from their home lives. But most people on this board would be teaching adults, and migrants at that, so I doubt whether they would run into some of the problems of that sort that teachers shared with me. In fact, a migrant adult in New Zealand teaching fellow migrants and associating with fellow migrants – or internationally-oriented Kiwis – would probably have a pretty nice time, as long as the person did not need to buy a home, loved the outdoors, and had modest expectations of what is truly a lovely small nation.

If you enjoy photography, you’d better take your camera everywhere! The amazing cloud patterns, the vistas…

The denizens do not take criticism of Godzone that well, it is true, so bite your tongue about what you do not like. Be prepared to accept criticism of your own country at the same time. It is quite possible to be a normal, nice, non-warped person and simply “not like New Zealand”. Or any other country. Unlike Mr. M above, I do not believe it is a reflection on oneself. Simply a matter of taste. My high school boyfriend loved Spain – I didn’t like it at all. Perhaps if we had had different experiences, our opinions would have been reversed. We were both bookish, and were both language people, yet despite all our similarities, he liked Spain and I didn’t. New Zealand is assuredly not for everyone. It is bicultural more than multicultural. It is definitely not the “pure green” paradise it is hyped to be (google 1080 or campylobacter). If, like the other poster above, you become entangled with the court system for any reason (and they *will* force you to stay in one place, in custody disputes, by disallowing your relocation), do not connect well with the culture (you prefer emotional warmth, conscientiousness and “certain graces” in the population), and are forced to associate with the more parochial elements of this society, your stay in NZ could be a genuine misery, as the other poster described. Again, that is no reflection on her – she is being emotionally honest about a bad experience, like many of the people on the site she mentioned. Her providing links to back up her assertions should not be used to further invalidate her memories.

Kiwis are financially strapped, I should warn the OP ahead of time, for social purposes. And as low as the wages are, it is not actually that cheap to live here, so make sure your pleasures and gifts are frugal ones, to avoid embarrassing anyone.

Statistics New Zealand’s last Census shows that around 2/3 of New Zealand’s salary and income earners earn less than $35,000 NZD a year – low wage economy. Some of the most well-publicised polls about quality of life are in actuality driven by special interests, so as with anything, “consider the source”. Disgruntled people are every bit as entitled to their views/experiences of New Zealand as content people are. You won’t know until you have lived there whether your experience will be a good one. You can have the best attitude in the world, but favourable things may not happen to you there. At a certain tipping point of bad experiences, it would not be irrational behaviour to judge.

But seriously, if you love bungee jumping, consider your rented flat to be “just a place to camp” and don’t want a solid affordable home, don’t care how little money you make, love breathtaking scenery, enjoy hiking or kayaking or the like, and move in international circles as a preference from the very beginning, you may be able to avoid the bad bits and have a memorable experience. I recommend it for certain sorts of people. I’d advise that you look into visas and work offers BEFORE going, though. And make sure that any offer is in writing with everything specified in order to avoid the bait and switch some employers will pull on you. Do read all the expat forums so you’ll be prepared and be able to avoid from the very start the bad experiences some posters have had there. Make sure you have money to live off of before you go, and money saved so that you can still leave if it turns to custard for you.

Most of all, the best of luck to you in your adventures!

Other teaching related Tales

Teacher Duped by the Hype, Couldn’t Find Work

…I have been here for only 3 months, I felt something was not right almost from the start.. I am a teacher believing the hype about the “teacher shortage“, got certified and qualified in NZ before I came, took the plunge..I don’t even know where to start. I applied to so many schools but none except for one did not even bother shortlisting me, immigration has played games with me, and my savings from the states have been depleted…Read more

University Lecturer Misled Over Job Offer

“This is my intro. I came here only in February for a post as a lecturer at uni. Found out early, much I was told at interview was not true (no time for research, cuts in funding, I would have to fund most, if not all, of overseas conferences)…I am stuck for a while as the uni paid for my move and I owe them if I leave for three years. I could kick myself as I came here from a very well-known uni program in the U.S. and didn’t even bother to fully interview before I accepted the position. …I am so tired of hearing from friends and family abroad, “Oh, you are so lucky to be in NZ; it’s so beautiful!” They haven’t seen Palmy…” Read more

Studying in New Zealand

“I am a US student doing a graduate program here in NZ so listen to me when I say think long and hard about coming here. I have decided not to finish my program and go for a lesser degree because what I get for what I pay for just does not add up.

I have experienced constant internet outages on campus that interrupt my research, hostility from others because I am American, lack of concern by university staff when trying to find help for what may have been culture shock (they wanted me to wait 1 month to speak with a counselor), extremely cold, damp and dilapidated student flats that cost twice as much to rent as they do in most of the states, insane food prices etc etc… Read more

18 thoughts on “Thinking About Teaching In New Zealand?

  1. I am a secondary school maths teacher from South Africa. I have started the process of migrating to NZ. What are my chances of getting a job?

    • Not sure about your chances but you need to read this article if you are a newly graduated (or new to New Zealand) teacher, excerpt follows:–union
      ‘Unjustifiable growth’ in illegal temporary teaching contracts – union
      Last updated 20:05, April 20 2017
      Albany High School teacher Paul Stevens addresses teachers at a PPTA conference in Kaiapoi. The union is pushing for …
      Albany High School teacher Paul Stevens addresses teachers at a PPTA conference in Kaiapoi. The union is pushing for schools to offer permanent positions to graduates.

      New teachers are caught in a trap of illegal temporary jobs as schools opt for flexibility over fairness, their union warns.

      Schools routinely used fixed-term contracts to manage their funding and, in some cases, to illegally trial new teachers, the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) said.

      Only 15 per cent of graduates were offered permanent positions out of university, it said.

      Darfield High School principal James Morris, right, hold a copy of a pledge to stop employing teachers on temporary …
      Darfield High School principal James Morris, right, hold a copy of a pledge to stop employing teachers on temporary contracts.

      Union representatives were in Kaiapoi this week to launch a campaign against the “unjustifiable growth” of the practice.

      The Employment Relations Act says there must be “genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds” for offering fixed-term contracts, which Employment Court cases have distilled to maternity, sabbatical and sick leave cover, or for a specific project.

      READ MORE:
      * Beginner teachers face debt and despair from a lack of jobs
      * Postgraduate qualifications could worsen teacher shortage
      * Auckland’s teacher shortage spreading nationwide

      Teachers are not subject to 90-day trial periods. The act prohibits temporary employment “to establish the suitability of the employee for permanent employment”.

      New teachers said many New Zealand schools did not take that approach.

      NOTE: Just because there is a “shortage” doesn’t mean you’ll find that getting a job is easier – as management may have their own “preferred candidates” …

  2. Dear sir ,
    My spouce did MBA n currently she is in teaching field in india so I want to know that is her Indian school teaching experience will be valid in newzealand after come in to newzealand ? .. please guide me if any special licence required or any other certificate needed for teaching in newzealand for Indian Nationals …
    I will wait for your reply ..Thank u .

  3. I’m a french student at the ESPE, a school where you learn to become a teacher. And i have to do a report about differences that exists between french and new-zealand school. I choose the theme of “school timetables”.
    After my searches, i have to discuss about this theme with a local person, to see if the institutional laws are respected.
    Is anobody here who can help me to do this??

    • Thanks for your comment. It is good to hear that other people also understand this problem. My ex didn’t, we split up earlier this year due to my inability to find ongoing work. All the constant rejections I kept getting from schools eroded my self esteem over the years, not to mention the badgering that I received from others wondering why it was taking me so long to find a job. I would never teach again or recommend it to anybody planning on building a future. I lost my block of land and I lost my girlfriend and my sanity.

  4. Just don’t become a teacher PERIOD! It is not worth the financial instability that inevitably arises from this profession. I would sooner recommend somebody to apply for cleaning toilets than a teaching position. They would stand a much greater chance of getting a job.

  5. Tragedy that immigrants come so far,attracted by the idea of the golden age society where citizens still trust and help one another, and then find the opposite, that there is an old boy network where locals only grease one anothers palms. This is related concept. But. Not the same !

  6. I hate that Kiwis are always pointing out health care system failures in the U.S. and holding up their own as this great solution to disparity.

    I have worked in both places, and I can tell you which system I prefer. It’s the one that admits its own failures and has functional ombudsmen.

    The truth is that many problems are not defined as problems in New Zealand. They are swept under the rug.

    There is a case in the news now about an old lady who died of scabies in a rest home here. Scabies is like bed sores or diarrhea. Not life threatening. They have no right to call themselves First World. It is only in underdeveloped countries that common conditions or illnesses like that can kill.

  7. I am a teacher’s aide in S.I. They do not screen for mid-level learning disabilities in New Zealand, amng others because there is no funding for that.

    The attitude that follows on from not having money to do it is that therefore they don’t “need it”. And someone who points out a need is whinging or a spoiled fussy Pom, and so on.

    It is sad to watch the children fall back and told to harden up. I come from a country where the child would be screened and assisted in the early primary years. Even in the lower income region I was born in, deficits and delays such as dyslexia are handled in the system at an early age. Not here. They are unaddressed.

    • Absolutely true! The levels of neglect are staggering. Also, since the National Govt came in, there is completely inadequate funding for teacher aides in general so that now lower spectrum kids are unsupervised in class rooms. The sad reality is that the top kids will remain at the top because they get their teacher’s attention, as will the lowest because they play up – it is the kids in the middle that suffer and this is a lost generation because teachers can’t cope. Kiwi kids can’t perform at an international level and let’s face it, if the education isn’t up to snuff, then NEW ZEALAND IS A CRAP PLACE TO BRING UP CHILDREN.

      Let’s blow that trite piece of B/S out of the water for once and for all!

  8. Some do okay. It’s just that some aren’t cut out for the culture. We should design a test that would weed these out. What do you reckon? Would that be a service to migrants everywhere?

    • it should be a test designed to see who are lazy, apathetic, petty, lack ambition, but at the same time are cunning and like to take advantage of others, and who like drinking, those types would do just fine here…

  9. It’s sad for those newcomers who left a good position in say, Europe, to come here….I personally know of a newcomer who was teaching at a great institution and now is in a NZ university, he doesn’t know what’s in for him 😦

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