Brit Feeling “Foreign” In New Zealand. How About You?

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

Today’s tale is a short one. It was orginally posted on an emigration forum frequented mostly by British people.

Given the close association that New Zealand has with Britain (it’s a Commonwealth country and even has a Union Flag on its own flag) British people sometimes view New Zealand as a safer, more traditional version of their own country. New Zealanders are considered distant family.

It’s not uncommon to hear them say New Zealand  “is like Britain was thirty years ago” but this blog seeks to demonstrate that New Zealand is anything but an outdated British clone.

The opening poster is a Brit, married to a New Zealand man living in SW England and contemplating their a return to New Zealand

“What makes you feel foreign?”

“My kiwi husband says that in his 14 years in the UK he has never felt or been treated differently despite his kiwiness and accent.

Yet during my previous 3 years in NZ I did, on occasion, feel ‘foreign’.

Never more so than when being interviewed for a job.

Mr C says that people he meets along the way, all across the country are always polite, friendly and show a genuine interest in his life before the UK. The only irriation is when he occasionally gets asked why he left ‘Australia’. An easy mistake I suppose. But on the whole, totally accepting in every aspect.

This worries me a little about our return to NZ because I didn’t really feel that same acceptance. Outside his family and friends I felt that it was hard to make my own friends other than a couple of expats for which I was very grateful. Beyond having to endure ‘pommie’ jokes from his friends there wasn’t much interest in my previous life.

I’m hoping that by moving to a city that people with be more ‘wordly wise’ if that makes sense. We lived near Hamilton before.


I was going to say ‘laughing out loud’ and not taking myself seriously. Seems to cause me no end of bother here.

The lack of good queuing technique and etiquette; having my toes trampled on by marauding crowds at checkouts and stuff, there’s always someone who wants to get there before you, even if they obviously arrived after you did. The complete lack of sensitivity to one’s personal space, standing toe-to-toe, leaning over you and breathing down your neck at the Eftpos or cash machines.

Bartering in established retail outlets.

Lunch and breakfast (particularly in work situations) but I might save that for another conversation.

Public toilets (again a work thing) – yeugh!! I’m not even sure I can bring myself to write about that topic publicly. So I’ll hold that thought too!!

People selling stuff at the side of the road, from the back of a truck.

Saying my name and having to spell it out a dozen times, before eventually writing it down for them.

If this is what makes Brits in New Zealand feel uncomfortable, how do other nationalities feel?

What is it about New Zealand that makes you feel foreign?

We’re throwing this question open to our readership for them to answer, it may help if you could state your country of origin but there is absolutely no obligation to do so.

4 thoughts on “Brit Feeling “Foreign” In New Zealand. How About You?

  1. Mercifully, I no longer live there. However, the things that clearly made me foreign aside from my American accent were the following:

    (1) I read books
    (2) my ability to speak English correctly
    (3) that I shaved everyday and made a point to wear decent clothes
    (4) that I was in shape
    (5) and that I did not blame everyone for my troubles whilst I pretended I was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    E2NZ is doing a great service to prospective migrants. I hope that many people choose not to immigrate to New Zealand after reading the numerous unfortunate truths chronicled on this blog.

    • “E2NZ is doing a great service to prospective migrants. I hope that many people choose not to immigrate to New Zealand after reading the numerous unfortunate truths chronicled on this blog”


    • SafeFrom Newzealand, Hi you are so right about NZ. The people outside of large urban areas are complete morons.Their ability to speak plain english is poor, they look and dress like home
      less drug addicts, many, many adults are vastly obese, New Zealanders are narrow minded, bigoted, xenophobic & like to back stab other people especially people from other countries. Do not be fooled by the superficial & false friendliness of New Zealanders. They are not to be trusted. A holiday in NZ is a nice experience. However, if you are from UK, USA, or western europe you will be shocked by the backwardness of the attitude of most New Zealanders if you decide to emigrate to NZ. Do Not emigrate to NZ if you value your sanity!

  2. They all walked in lockstep with similar attitudes. I do not “dress up”, but if I did, I would have stuck out more visually. I avoided this. As it was, my accent made me feel foreign, so I learned to tone it down and speak very quietly in local idiom. The men would often not treat you like a “person instead of a woman” yet they didn’t open doors for anyone, or do anything nice and old-fashioned like that, either. In many ways, their attitudes are a combination of backward + modern-degenerate – the worst of both worlds. Most of them cursed a lot, and most of them could not spell worth a damn. Texting language was what they mostly used. They hate you as a “rich foreigner” (we’re all rich to them) but they also want to impress you because New Zealand has a chip on its shoulder plus an inferiority complex. Many of them are out to “get what they can” out of you, and they have no moral problem with that. The problem is yours for not holding on to what you have, and being stupid enough to trust them. I eventually became mostly a hermit, because I found them too difficult to deal with as a people. I found many doors were closed to me. I was definitely not on their wavelength. They all operated from a small number of simple, short scripts that they followed for any situation. No complex forms here. I would say it was my accent that most alerted them to my being foreign. We were taken for a ride almost everywhere we went. Our accent just cried “lie to us and take advantage of us”. By the time we left, we trusted almost no one.

Comments are closed.