Teaching In NZ – A Migrant’s Exit Interview

Continuing in our popular series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Our latest tale is taken from the forum at Expatexposed.com, the only uncensored NZ immigration forum on the net, where people are free to talk about NZ as they really see it.

If you are a teacher, or skilled worker,  contemplating a move to New Zealand you may like to read an insider’s view of what it’s really like. You won’t hear stories like this at emigration fairs or recruitment websites (emphasis ours):

Sitting here enjoying the sunshine at Christmas, reflecting on two years spent teaching in New Zealand, I thought it was time to put down a few words to illuminate the path for those in the UK contemplating a move.

In true D&T fashion, I shall proceed on an evaluation basis, with bullet points!
Let’s start with the good:

The weather is much better than the UK, with warmer summers and milder winters – though the humidity is crippling at times.

The workload is smaller, with less meetings.
Wages are paid every 2 weeks, which is so much easier than monthly.

And the Bad?
Red Tape – Getting here was an absolute nightmare. Despite starting the ball rolling 4 months before leaving the UK, I still arrived without my qualifications being ratified and no work Visa. The whole process is costly (it runs into thousands – and that is without air fares etc), time consuming and incredibly frustrating. It is also on-going, as I am currently contemplating whether to have more police checks, more medicals, and spend more money on my Third Visa – yes, you need to renew it every year. As I am now married to a New Zealand lady, so I could go the residence route, but that would cost even more. Many colleagues have left when faced with the same dilemma – spend the money on yet another Visa or buy a ticket home.

QualificationsNZ does not recognise the PGCE for salary purposes, and if you have a GTTP they will not recognise that at all. For a country that bases much of its Education system on the practices in the UK, this is simply ridiculous and is a big clue to how we are treated over here. We have to pay a lot of money (Hundreds) to have our Degrees and Post Grad study ratified by a country which uses Cambridge to ratify their own international GCSE program!

Cost of Living – getting much, much worse. Food prices have shot through the roof over the past couple of years and many teachers are struggling to make ends meet. For an easy comparison, 2L of milk is 2.50, compared to about 1.70 in the UK. This is 50% more expensive – and that can be extrapolated across all your food and household bills. Electrical goods, clothing and cars are roughly double the price. A decent 3 bed house in a decent area of Auckland costs 1000 – 1500 pounds a month, Salaries have parity in the middle of the scale, but newly qualified and responsibility holders are on less.

Professional Development – Simply appalling. Getting a job here is fairly easy, but as others have said, moving to other schools or trying for promotion is very, very difficult. They tend to promote Kiwi’s, which on the face of it is understandable, but you will constantly ask yourself ‘How on earth did that person get the job’ – and that applies to many of the senior roles including Principals. Contentious? Of course, but like many things in New Zealand, scratch away the surface and there is often something rather ugly underneath. For example, New Zealand is a green country, a champion for the environment, that is the perception of many and one of the big selling points of the country. When you get here, you will be surprised to see that the car of choice and aspiration is huge with a gas guzzling V8 under the bonnet!

Politics – There is an uneasy, forced symbiotic relationship in NZ. There is deep seated anger and unrest here, and some of the views expressed will have you aghast. It is a 4 way split – Maori, European Kiwi, European immigrant and Asian (Asian is a term used in New Zealand to describe Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, Pakistani etc). The situation here is tense, let no-one tell you otherwise, and it is going to get much worse.

Driving – Appalling. The road death toll is horrendous for a developed nation. Many factors contribute to this situation. Many people are driving on the road without ever having a driving lesson, the roads themselves are very poorly set out and signposted, lane discipline on the motorways is non-existent and to cap it all, you will be amazed at the lack of courtesy, the level of arrogance and pure aggressive bloody mindedness of the driving. I used to enjoy driving in the UK, but make excuses not to go out here.

Psyche – New Zealand suffers from small country syndrome, as do many of the people. If you look at the population figures, the rate of growth is declining, and if you take away the huge amount of people coming in from China, the population is actually in decline. This would appear strange for a new country full of possibilities, so to those who will no doubt disagree with many of my musings – ask yourself the question why this may be? We are referred to as Poms, which is derogatory, and that name has recently (2010) officially been given the all clear by the government to be used by all, including broadcasting. This is a big indication of where the country and the leadership is going. New Zealand has become a violent society, and it is getting worse.

Wages – Watch them. I lost out on $2000 through over-payment of tax, and despite writing numerous letters the money is now gone as the window of complaint is now closed.

Work:  NZQA simply doesn’t cut it. The goalposts are constantly shifting and externally assessed coursework is a lottery. This makes it incredibly difficult to accurately predict where the students will be placed and makes a mockery of predicted grades. Many schools are now opting for the IGCSE qualification, so again, to those who question my point – ask yourself why. The leadership here is not transparent, and decisions are made which beggar belief. I have lost count the number of times I have been lied to by the leadership team, in my own school and others. The reason for this is not that people from New Zealand are pathological liars, though the evidence is there to support this both professionally and personally, it is more to do with small country syndrome and wanting to save face.

If you have read this far you will probably think that my perspective is wholly negative and I wish I had never come here. Wrong – I came for experiences and that is exactly what I have had, good or bad. But there is a caveat – I came here a single person, and we can leave whenever we choose, which will be soon, but if you have a family, please think carefully before making that decision. *** has had her eyes opened by my experiences and she does not like what she sees in her own country. She has written to Government ministers to complain about my treatment and is looking forward to getting out of the place.

I leave you with a true story, which illustrates a point I am not willing to say:
I bought a pair of pliers from a well known, large chain of electronics stores here. On fist using them, they broke so I took them back for a refund: ‘Sorry mate, you can’t have a refund’ was the reply, ‘why not’ I asked, ‘because they are broken’ came the reply. Nuff said.”

(This post also appears in our Migrant Tales pages)

4 thoughts on “Teaching In NZ – A Migrant’s Exit Interview

  1. I have found securing a teaching job impossible.
    I am qualified; HONOURS in Education
    I am experienced; taught over 20yrs
    I am already a NZ CITIZEN but FRUSTRATED with NO regular work.

    Leaving teaching seems to be my only option.
    This is SAD, as I enjoy teaching and am passionate about education.

    I feel discriminated against.

  2. I totally agree with everything you have said here and glad my husband and i are not the only ones seeing and experiencing such things… we are South African of indian descent and have faced racism for the first time here in New Zealand instead of South Africa… very weird and points to a really major problem here which no politician is addressing, yet they encourage immigrants to come here to build their economy!!

    I believe that if we make the effort of spending huge amounts of money coming into this country as well as jumping through all the hoops they set for us too…then the least this country could do is make sure we are safe and happy so we remain here…

    Sadly though it seems they dont care and i dont think many immigrants will put up with all this much longer..

    All the best to you!!

  3. Much of this is sadly true. However, I am going back after living there for 4 years and returning for 6 months.
    I agree with the racism and ‘pom’ comments.

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