Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale was sent in by an American reader who left it as a comment to our “Impossible job market” tale.
Update: When you’ve finished reading it scroll down a read a response that was made to it from a New Zealander.
Are we to believe that all Kiwi employers operate within the law, that legal redress is easy to access and disadvantaged migrants with temporary work visas never get taken advantage of?
If there was ever a case for migrant advisory and support services in New Zealand ‘Erin’s’ mindset is an excellent example of how much they are needed.
Read also Hundreds paid less than the minimum wage
My partner is a licensed Civil Engineer from the Philippines. He has dreamed of living in New Zealand ever since he was a little child. Two years ago, he got sucked into the idea that he could be happy and prosperous if he emigrated to NZ. It was the right time in his life to make the move, and so he did. He applied, got accepted and finally made the move last year. He has been living in Auckland since then and is still cleaning ovens in a bread factory to this day.
Thats right, he is CLEANING OVENS IN A BREAD FACTORY. An educated and licensed civil engineer, who was LURED into emigrating to NZ to fulfill his dream career in the land he always dreamed of living, is instead, forced to clean ovens in order to survive.
After years of post graduate school and a degree in civil engineering and architectural design, New Zealand welcomed him to their tiny island nation not with a hard hat and Auto CAD, but with a push broom and a cleaning rag.
He was actually INVITED by NZ to come and work in Auckland as a civil engineer. They said they needed his skills! There was no promise of employment at that time, but they told him he was welcome to come to NZ and give it his best shot!
Luckily, I had absolutely NO DESIRE to go to NZ so I did not accompany him and I stayed behind in the US. I thought it would be best for him to find out the real deal about NZ before I made any moves. Well, I am glad I did that. He works 12+ hours a day, minimum of 6 days a week, doing manually intensive labor for very poor wages. He shares a drafty house with a young married Filipino/Indian couple.
I have had to help him financially to meet his monthly end to end living expenses, otherwise he wouldn’t make it on his paycheck alone. I feel like I am funneling my hard earned money to the Kiwi economy with NO BENEFIT to either my partner or myself. He has paid large sums of money to the NZ immigration to apply for this that and the other thing to try and get his permanent residency. They had had no problems taking his money, but they offered little to no service in return. Instead, they lost his passport, lost most of his paperwork and in the end they denied him permanent residency because they felt his current occupation as an oven cleaner in a bread factory was not sufficient enough to deem him worthy of permanent residence status. His work visa is good for another couple of months, so he remains determined to succeed in his goals of working as a Civil Engineer or Architect. He is stubborn.
I’m afraid there are many unsuspecting people who think that they can emigrate to NZ and start to live their dream lives like in any normal first world country. My partner’s journey to NZ has turned out to be nothing but a complete disappointment. As well as being disillusioned with the whole process, he is also becoming increasingly depressed and I have never seen such a hopeless side to his personality before. I believe that a big contributing factor is that he is treated like scum of the earth at the bread factory and he has to deal with a lot of racism from the locals there as well. One day while walking down the street, he was harassed by local kiwi teenagers who threw make shift water balloons and bags of trash at him as they drove past him. Where do the Kiwi youth learn such behavior?
At work, he is subjected to unsafe working conditions as well. His supervisors frequently demand that he bypass safety interlocks on the equipment so that the ovens are not turned off when he cleans them (These are industrial sized walk-in ovens). So, they put their profit margins way above his personal safety. They don’t care about him, and to them he is just an expendable body. Any back talk or complaining on his part would surely result in immediate suspension or termination from his one and only job.
We are both in our mid-30′s and we both agree that NZ was the biggest mistake of our lives. He is giving himself until July 2011 to find a decent job. If not, then he will come home. He is determined to succeed, as a civil engineer in NZ even just to prove it to himself that he is strong and that all of the hardship he has endured has not been for nothing. I have a feeling that NZ is going to completely crush his spirit until they can squeeze the very last penny out of his pocket. A licensed Civil Engineer forced to clean ovens in a bread factory? They even denied him permanent residency because he was not working as a civil engineer, yet, they wont hire him as a Civil Engineer because he is not a Kiwi, and lets face it, because he is BROWN, not white. He is such a talented civil engineer, yet no one in NZ will even consider him as a candidate for hire.
In summary, NZ’s goal is to lure potential immigrants to their country so they can extract their money, their soul and their sanity, after which they will yell, “NEXT!”.