Post Quake – How The Canterbury Disaster Has Affected Migrants And Visitors To NZ

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Today’s tale forms the first of a series of tales relating to life after the devastating Canterbury Quake, during which many lives were lost and many more were changed forever.

Tale 1

This tale was first published on  a NZ forum which has since closed down. It was written by a migrant based in Auckland.

What you say is true. It is a horrible tragedy and Kiwis will come together and get through this… However, and I will be unpopular, they need also look ahead. The government and media is already starting to mention money. Money that they don’t have and money they will borrow and levy. They already cannot cope with an economy that is failing. There is already a shortage of jobs and housing.

As you said thousands of foreign students will be sent home — how many of them will go home to find out their money is lost in companies that will go into receivership. How many will have lost thousands? If NZ continues as it has in the past, then how many immigrants will arrive over the coming months to find no job, to be expected to pay extortionate prices for housing and depleted of their savings to pay outrageous prices for food, petrol and GST?

How many Kiwis will leave NZ to go to Australia for work? As you said, a major city is now gone. No jobs, no housing, no services. Unemployment is the highest it has been in a decade or more. I have a job here, but I have nothing to look forward to as my wages were frozen at less than inflation until the end of the year. My chances to advance are nil given that nepotism rules in NZ and I will now compete for jobs with thousands of displaced Cantabrians who have friends and family here.

I have enough money put aside and enough time in NZ to spend a few months here accumulating some annual leave, saving some more money and then leave. I have been here long enough to know how to get by without being ripped off. I even know that if I should spend another winter here that I will move my bed and my life into my north facing lounge and shut off the rest of the house. I can go east or west for better opportunity. In the short term, nobody cares; however, at 44, I am one of the youngest people in my workplace. I am young and single and paying heaps of taxes, but consuming very little.

What really, really bothers me is that thousands upon thousands of people will still come to NZ expecting a better life based upon lies. They will not know that milk is more expensive than petrol or that they cannot rely upon public transportation (not even in the biggest city in the country) to get to and from work. They will not know that cheese, meat and fish in this agricultural island country are things that one must really and truly budget for and that eggs and chicken here are just as likely to come from battery hens as anywhere else in the world.

I could go on but I won’t. Buyer beware.

Tale 2

This is from an emigration forum, written before the true extent of the damage was assessed.

Well, I now have a first hand account.

And it’s way worse than I even anticipated.

Christchurch is completely destroyed. My husband has been doing rescue work all afternoon. He is home now but is literally crying. He has never gotten this emotional ever. But the destruction was so horrible that he is completely traumatized. He is covered in dirt and smells of smoke so after talking for a bit he has gone to take a shower.

There are many trapped people who are still alive and crushed. There are so many dead bodies. He said that he only saw one person come out alive today. The rest were dead. Hundreds of dead.

All of the roads are destroyed. The sewers are broken and raw sewage is flowing down the streets.

He said the devastation was so complete that he can’t see how Christchurch will go on. It will bankrupt New Zealand.

He is saying thousands and thousands dead. And many crushed and trapped.

We were so incredibly lucky. Beyond lucky. Our house is standing and we are all alive. I am just heartbroken for the families who will not have a family member return tonight.

As bad as we think it is, it is WORSE. So many buildings destroyed. And the ones that weren’t destroyed and collapsed outright are being knocked down with heavy machinery now.

Trying to figure out where to sleep–inside? or out in the van? or in a tent?