Returning Kiwis Views About New Zealand

There’s a great discussion going on today in the blogs section of the online New Zealand Herald, the topic centres around the number of expat New Zealanders returning to their homeland and their thoughts about it. It’s worth a read, if you have the time, because their comments are so similar to those of many migrants in the country. Read them here: “As an expat, what are your thoughts on returning home?“

Here’s a selection from the many, many pages of responses:

kk (Canada)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“We are currently living in Canada and have also lived in the US. Coming back to NZ is a bittersweet decision for us, the main drawcard is family, the beautiful countryside, and our children growing up literate.
But for a small country, NZ has developed a shocking culture of violence, I have felt safer in these countries at night than in NZ, granted we have lived in great towns but there wouldn’t be many places in NZ I would walk at night.
We’ve been reading the news regularly to ease back being home and Im ashamed to read headlines like the ‘h’ in Wanganui rubbish next to one about yet another abused/killed child.
When people ask me about the utopia they believe is NZ , I say sure its a stunningly beautiful country with clean air, but never hitchhike, be careful where you camp for the night, walk down to the dairy at night, stare at anybody, walk home from the pub, sleep on a beach or leave anything not bolted down outside and you’ll be fine.”

Andrew kiwi in the (United States of America)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“There are a few things that make me worry about coming back, one is the actions of the dictatorial enviromentalist movements. Another is the government seeming desire to control people. Banning certain styles of parenting? That is concerning. What else will you be unable to do because some bleeding heart socialist do-gooder decides it is in your best interests to deny you the right to decide that? There are schools of thought that population control is required to save the planet. Will we have to apply to have children at all? These new enviro-nazis seem determined to destroy the economy to solve a problem that hasn’t even been proven to exist!”

YouKNOWItsTheTruth (Mairangi Bay)
Wednesday September 23, 2009 “
I keep reading about this mythical NZ lifestyle. A few people here have listed mountains as a reason to come back. A big hill is a reason to live in a country?
Seriously, how many people in NZ actually go mountain climbing? Just as only 134,000 watched the Boks beat the All Blacks in SA last month, there seems to be this fantasy that all Kiwis love rugby, ski, surg, mountainbike, fish, have a bach and watch rugby.
If you do, good on you, you’ll love NZ. Most of us don’t though. And the weather is rubbish. Makes me laugh when Kiwis slag the UK weather. AKL has more annual rainfall and worse air quality than London. And although the UK can be colder (than AKL, not necessarily the South Island) houses are built to cope with it, unlike here, hence all the asthma. And don’t get me started on leaky homes.”

ryan (Bahamas)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“Reasons not to return:
1. tall poppy syndrome
2. small minds village attitude
3. low wages which = bad lifestyle
4. too many pacific migrants going on dole and crime
5. murders and crime increasing, sentences for crims are a joke and justice system is a joke
6. nz is backwards go back to 50s
7. racism,
8. lazy people on benefit and dole
9 lack of career opportunities
10 lack of excitement/ culture
11. too much rugby
12 boy racers / hoons/rednecks on every street corner

i can go on and on,
this lifestyle thing is crap its a term people use into brainwashing themselves, many countries have glorious beaches , sun and the good outdoor life”

Jason (United Kingdom)
Wednesday September 23, 2009
“My wife and I looked at returning to NZ last year but the jobs just aren’t there for us.

My wife graduated with a doctorate from Oxford University in record time and has an outstanding publication history. She applied for a job at Auckland University, jumped through all the necessary hoops and time-zone differences for conference calling and then they gave the position to a much less qualified person currently working in the lab in Auckland with no publication history.
Many other colleagues from sciences and medicine have said the same to us – the field is so under-invested in that there is no potential for NZ to contribute in anything but agricultural sciences and departments in NZ are too busy protecting the interests of current staff that they can’t take on expats returning. When i first came to the UK, NZ had the edge in internet and IT, banking services, etc – now, when i come back for a holiday, i notice it hasn’t progressed in the past ten years, it’s just another quaint little island in the south pacific that you go on holiday to, slowly slipping down the international development scales.”

35 thoughts on “Returning Kiwis Views About New Zealand

  1. Really sad to see so many NZers hating on their own country…but I ashamedly agree with all of you. I cannot boast of having been outside of NZ, the reason being is that I love my country immensely, I just absolutely despise the wankers that run it.
    My connection to the land here is through ancestry, however even as a land owner, you are not allowed to do much with it because of all the regulations imposed by govt, if indeed your plans don’t align themselves with govt ideals.
    Is it any wonder why so many of our people move offshore for a better chance of making something of themselves?
    I’ve lived here all my life and have seen the attitude of “dog eat dog” take precedence over “brother love brother” in an astonishingly short time.
    Here in NZ, we are forced to endure life rather than enjoy life, where everyday we are not “living” we are merely “surviving”.
    Granted, there are lazy and violent types here, but you can find those types of people anywhere on the planet, however, when living conditions are good, as it is in other countries, it is reflected in the social condition as well.
    Being Maori in NZ is extremely difficult as we take a lot of flack around being lazy, drunkards, wifebeaters, child killers, thieves, drug dealers, good for nothings with their hands out all the time, the list goes on and on, adopting the European/Pakeha way hasn’t worked out for us either, no matter how hard you try.
    As the saying goes, “you can paint crap whatever colour you like, it’s still just a pile of crap”?
    What’s new in this country now is that even the European is slowly becoming a minority themselves, the powers that be hell bent on attracting immigrants to NZ to do the same jobs we ourselves could do, and getting away with paying them far less to do it. Then govt tells its citizens that it benefits our economy to do so. Meanwhile, we are indoctrinated to believe that getting a degree equates to getting a good paying job, when our country doesn’t even have any jobs on offer, at least not any that pays enough to pay your loans off. The only thing that is guaranteed to students studying for a degree in anything is massive debt the moment you sign up and get accepted!
    Even so, after attaining the desired degree, its not long before it becomes outdated and you’re required to up skill to remain relevant in your chosen profession, thus driving up your debt further to the point where it becomes nigh on impossible to ever pay it off.
    It doesn’t take an academic to see this, yet this is the dream that academics sell us as the only way out of the situation our govt puts us all in. Seeing so many of our own countrymen/women leaving these so called “fair shores” for a better chance at life is very sad, and speaks volumes about our broken systems. My hat off to all those who had their eyes wide open and got out when they had the chance, because many of us still have our eyes wide (wired) shut. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country immensely, I just despise the wankers that run it. For those who have left and are wanting to come home, perhaps you might consider joining me and those who are constantly fighting to get this country back to how it should be, for everyone, black and white.
    We could all make this country live up to the hype generated by our bullshitting leaders, right? Respect!!!

  2. Agree with you Stuart. In my opinion the rugby, racing, and beer provide a very convenient smoke screen for what many of us know to be the reality of living in NZ. Rugby and alcohol fuel that ‘feel good factor’ which so many kiwis constantly crave (in what would otherwise be a totally boring and lacklustre existence). If only life was indeed one great big never-ending rugby game! Wouldn’t everything just be so much easier? (I am sure Messrs Key and English secretly wish this was the case).

    Along with all the fall-out from this past weekend’s rugby test (‘clowngate’) all I have heard about in the NZ media this morning is that the All Blacks have been cleared of bugging their own hotel room in Sydney in August. Sounds like something out of Monty Python or The Colbert Report! Perhaps then – if a new Eden Park is eventually built in the Auckland CBD it will somehow solve the housing crisis? Watch the space…

  3. The NZ lifestyle is a myth for so many many of us. Rugby, racing and beer mentality. We are brainwashed into believing we have it all but it most of it is beyond the means of a huge percentage of our population. Have I lived overseas, no I have not but my daughters do (Perth).They do not have flash jobs earning huge money but they can do better with what the have/get. Here it would be existence barely at survival level. New Zealand as utopia is a myth unless you are one of the rich.

  4. NZ would be a great place to relocate to but unfortunately there’s still too many new zealanders living there. I thought they’d all have migrated to Australia but there’s still a few residing there and this puts me off.

  5. Greetings all, I am deeply troubled.
    I have lived in a small hilltop town in Italy for the past 10 years, but now as I am a NZ pensioner, or superannuant, I cannot spend more than 6 moths out of NZ or my pension will be cancelled. (Never mind that I have paid into the fund for over 40 years)
    So I am back in New Zealand for around 6 months, and yes, it’s good to be with my family again.

    However, I am interested to read some of your thoughts here – my own feelings & thoughts on returning to live back in my home-country NZ ( my ‘aria nata’ or birth-air, as the Italians say) are sadly mainly negative.

    I find my country seems now overrun by many low class people who have base standards and no qualms about breaking the law. Of course this impacts on us all. Alcoholism & random violence abound – I feel much safer on the streets in Italy than I do here. Does that surprise you?

    People seem to be proud of dressing like slobs in public, and I often see small children running around without footwear – I cannot understand this, given the amount of filth, rubbish & broken glass on the streets – but there are so many other issues of bad parenting that nobody seems to be worried about, this ranks fairly low, especially when Mum & Dad are unshod as well. There is a rudeness and a lack of dignity that seems prevalent in NZ now. And can we please go back to calling ourselves ‘New Zealanders’, not ‘Kiwis’ – to me a Kiwi is an idiotic rough ‘Barry Crump’ personality who wears a silly hat & doesn’t give a damn about anything or anyone except himself.

    New Zealand has recently been cited as the most ignorant developed country, and I would have to say that’s quite likely true; the abysmal education system has failed our society, creating a generation of dummies who feel good about themselves – most people couldn’t be less interested in my experiences overseas. Unless it’s to remark about how the toilets are different – then they perk up and giggle!

    The costs of living here are outrageous, where we can eat out 2-3 times a week in Italy, (yes, truly!) we cannot do even once a week here. And I have checked, it’s not just the city, it’s just as costly in the provinces here.
    Don’t even talk to me about local body councils and the rates debacle. A country of thieves!

    People seem not to be doing well here, they are struggling, working too long hours to makes ends meet, with little time spent together as a family – naturally the children will grow up thinking this is just how life is meant to be. Maybe that’s why the shopkeepers are sullen & unhelpful.

    New Zealanders seem to be conceited & hubristic about the quality of life here. “The best place in the world” – I am sorry, I cannot agree. Most people who say this have of course never lived in any other developed country.
    Perhaps they have been brainwashed by current & previous governments who seem to be fleecing the population & telling them to feel glad to live here – I guess it’s marginally better than a war-zone or a disaster-affected region. But don’t even get me started on the health system.

    I am finding it all very depressing, and lament the loss of a once much more decent respectful & caring society. At least, it seemed so to me. Maybe I have had my eyes opened. I look forward to returning to Italy and my wonderful neighbours & friends who are really now like family now.

    Maybe when the summer sun begins to shine I will cheer up.


    • I am ashamed of the country I was born in.i was born in Auckland city, 1957 havelived iñ the US. For 38 years, I thought of returning but not from what I have seen written.i think I will stay in the US.

  6. not a welfare country at all, doesn’t contribute to a global “identity” kiwis like to separate themselves from the rest of the world, the Gov offeres student allowances for students studying but cannot work, when it comes to applying they turn you down cos 1 parent is working, the other is unemployed doesn’t matter. loose your job and you cannot get an unemployment benefit cos your partner is earning so its not about you. don’t work for Gov, cos if they don’t like you and they cant fire you they will restructure or bully you out of your job. qualifications don’t matter – you just need to “fit” in – which has a dirty racial connotation to it. not a friendly country at all, friendly to the tourist only cos they bring money in. welfare systems encourage girls to have babies without fathers before marriage so they can earn the dole, but honest tax payers when in need are not entitled. a friend got cancer in the spine, she cannot get sickness benefit because her husband works, again its not about her – yet she is the one suffering.

  7. My boyfriend decided to end things with me after 10 months because of his desire to return to NZ, having been here for 7 years. He has a well-paid job in Australia with a lovely home, but the idea of returning to NZ constantly undermined our relationship (to almost an obsessional level) and he couldn’t decide whether it was a move he did or didn’t want me to accompany him on. He seemed to be in a fantasy land, regarding NZ as some kind of promised land. After reading these comments I feel satisfied that the reality of NZ may not meet the expectations of his beautiful daydream!

    • Many of our readers will sympathize with the predicament you found yourself in.

      From birth New Zealanders are supplied with a constant drip feed of propaganda about how great a country it is. It’s been likened to living in a cult.

  8. I left NZ 9 years ago with my husband and 2 school age children. My husband was not qualified and I had minimal qualifications. We were both working in NZ- hubby earning $50,000 and I about $20,000 PA. We struggled week to week- to the point where I would run out of petrol driving home from the kindergarten pick up and had no option but to leave the car where it was until our next pay day.
    Sick of struggle Street we all migrated to Australia. We both got good jobs soon after we got to Auz
    . Hubby is now fully qualified and earns over $’100,000 PA. I’m earning 3 times as much as I was in NZ – doing basically the same type of work.
    We have been lucky I must admit but it hasn’t come easy. Leaving friends and all the family, with only a suitcase each with a pair of sheets and a towel inside.
    The last trip to NZ was a real eye opener for us all- the poverty, corruption, death rate and drug issues are a real problem now. What is the NZ government and authorities doing?? Turning a blind eye whilst the country is slowly killing themselves or each other!
    It is very sad to see what could be a peaceful, beautiful and healthy place to live turning into devastation…

  9. Wait til you run into the “cave dwellers”. A seemlingly accepted behaviour is to sit in you garage, listen to loud music, and drink large ammounts of alcohol. Awareness of anything outside the cave is not required.

  10. The only kiwis who will tell you this country is good are the ones who’ve never been anywhere else and have no Idea what the real world is like, they don’t realise how shit it is here cos they’ve got no other experience to compare it to, and they’ve been brainwashed by the television ! (never seen a place so desperate to convince its own people how lucky they are… and I’ve been to 27 countries now) If I hadn’t been deported back here i would gladly have never returned and never looked back! but I was and as has been pointed out many times once your’e here earning rubbish kiwi money its very difficult to get out again don’t fall for it it will be the biggest mistake of your’e life!!!! I for one was far better off as an illegal immigrant in the uk than I will ever be here!!!!!!!
    NZ sux

    • [Troll post deleted.

      Read the comments guidelines re: kool-aid; and “before you begin to recite the gospel of New Zealand ask yourself “who am I really trying to convince?”


    • After 13 years overseas and family issues at home I was desperate to return to support my family.

      Three and half years later two contracts with employers – the first took me 4 months to get, 5 changes in residential housing, 140,000km of road travel, very limited time with family, no work life balance, looking for my exit card. Think seriously if you are looking to return – you might be months without a job and in spite of the beauty there is no work life balance. BE VERY CLEAR you will be treated like a new immigrant if you have resided overseas for a few years and BE VERY CLEAR that only those jobs that New Zealander’s don’t want or are unable to do are the only ones on offer.

      Thank god I do not have children or a partner, any delusions about being settled here are well and truly shattered. If I was a man with those commitments the situation would have completely broken me.

    • Pat – you are 100% correct on that one. The only ones that think this place is so great are the ones who haven’t BEEN anywhere else, which is alot of them. I read in a new blog (one that is NZ propaganda essentially) about how it is safer here than America, and the person (a moderator) said “as an American, I was afraid of being shot and it is much safer here in NZ” and I thought to myself that no expat American complains of being “shot” because that is a KIWI perspective — NOT an American one;, taken from the news. (and television here is govt run/pure propaganda) Anyone that has lived in America knows it is more likely to be struck by lightning than shot. ANd here in NZ, the likelihood of being burgaled is very high – with the criminals getting away with murder — literally.

      I hear on the radio all the time “Oh we are so LUCKY to be in this country” and yet the wages are crap, the taxes are high, most all of the children have been molested (and this I do know because I am a social worker and have never seen so much of it) and the brainwashing continues….on and on.

      Problem is – there really AREN’T jobs for immigrants here. I found it disheartening that with a SW degree, it took me over 2 years to find a job that I am overqualified for. But I had to take it to pay the bills.

  11. Stuck. It is a bit unclear as to whether you felt you had to come home because a) You were one of the many trying to avoid the repayment of your student loan; or b) The extra cost of loan repayment, on top of what you were already paying, was not sustainable where you were living.

  12. Interesting reading, these blogs. I returned from Silicon Valley six weeks ago rather unwillingly, being quite familiar with the realities of life in NZ. I had a reasonably-paid IT job that allowed us to live with an admittedly meh standard of living, but also offered excellent education options for my kids.

    Unfortunately the increased student loan repayment requirements have forced us back.
    I have returned (unemployed, but not a beneficiary) to a country with a govt enjoying a stronger mandate for the kinds of policies that have dragged me back. Now I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford to leave again.

    • Your reply about living in Silicon Valley yet being unable to completely pay back your student loans, speaks volumes about the difference in pay that skilled workers get over skilled office politicians.

      On the flip side, your children will have dual-citizenship, meaning that they will automatically get a leg up in New Zealand.

      I must admit I have yet to see the “dual-citizenship New Zealander” that is completely broken down as a person.
      On the other hand, you (and your children) should watch out for people “bigging up” themselves. At university, one person I knew said his father was a New Zealand diplomat(and he, the son at university, said he had Australian citizenship), when the father was actually a piano tuner in Napier.
      In short, I would say around New Zealanders at university(at the very least), Google them properly.

  13. It’s really interesting to read this. I am Australian and there is definitely an aura around NZ being an oasis. I travelled there last year and did a two week tour of both North and South and absolutely loved it. It is the most gorgeous country with remarkable geological history. I guess when you’re on a tour it’s very different to living there, but I had a ball and will definitely return some day. We certainly copped our fair share of ‘stupid Aussie’ jokes (and some not so jokey :-), we did actually have one museum guide tell us that, more or less, NZ exports their crap (ex-pats) to Australia and can pick and choose who they let into the country, insinuating that they have a better quality of populace than Australia (which may or may not be true :-), I wasn’t personally offended (as it is to be expected when Aussies venture across the Tasman to our ‘friendly’ neighbours; I blame myself LOL), but I thought it was somewhat harsh to speak of your fellow countrymen/women in such a way. I relayed this statement to the NZ’ers at my work in Aus (of which there are many), and they were most impressed :-(.

    We did however meet some people who were adamant that NZ needs to become part of Australia because NZ is too small and a lot of businesses were struggling to survive. This really surprised me as I thought that hell would have to freeze over before NZ wanted anything to do with Australia LOL!

    For what it’s worth, I would love to spend some more time in Wellington; I loved sipping my NZ Sav Blanc on the harbor whilst watching the clouds come in over the mountains. I’d also love to spend some more time in the South Island (I found it to be one of the most relaxing places I have ever visited…not to mention just stunning!). It’s a beautiful country is all I’m saying…and it’s to be expected that such a small country will have some unique social/political problems, but look at this way…Tony Abbott is not going to be your next PM okay? Shudder!

    • If only Tony Abbott [or someone like him] would be PM here, I’d think less of leaving. He is one of the reasons that I’ve thought of making the jump to Oz.
      Don’t assume that everyone loves Gillard, she’s a clown. That’s why [hopefully] she’ll lose in the next election. Then Australia will be that more attractive. I might just have to go there, and stay.

      • Gosh, you must feel pretty stupid about these comments now. Tony Abbott is the worst PM Australia has ever had. Australians are very sexist – the women too – and Julia never stood a chance…

        • Are you kidding? I’d move there in a heartbeat. Everything that I’ve heard about Abbot, I still like. I’m fairly conservative. He’s way better than that back-stabbing Gillard, I’d feel pretty stupid moving to a place that had elected her.

        • I agree that Gillard copped her fare share of misogyny whilst in power and that there was a sustained campaign on the part of conservatives to mock her abilities as a leader because of her gender (which was widely panned in the media and at the water cooler); and who can forget Gillard’s epic take down of Abbott in parliament over his misogynistic tactics, but the party, in the end, were voted out because of Labor’s policies and in-fighting, not because of misogyny. Labor really didn’t deserve to win the last election and they didn’t. The problem was not so much that the Libs got voted in, but rather that Tony Abbott was their leader. We are now seeing the problems that is causing. However, hopefully there will be a leadership coo soon and Turnbull will be the new PM (at least he’s a progressive thinker). Oh please! Anything is better than the abomination that is Abbott.

          • Leisha Young,

            Agreed, Abbott is essentially a bully, few people, apart from some of his party collegues, realised what a debacle his term in office would be. Abbott’s problem is as much about personality as politics. His recent attempt to monster the Indonesians by reminding everyone that Australia provided a billion dollars in aid after the 2004 tsunami was a national embarrassment.
            Naturally the Indonesian government gave him the ‘diplomatic middle finger’.

    • We’re part of the “crap” who moved to Australia. Methinks those who stayed are a little envious. Don’t be – we’d prefer to live in NZ, but we found there’s not much quality of life for average people. But then, we’re obviously crap, so what would we know?

  14. The cost of living is the main negative for living in NZ. You need to be on a salary of at least 100k minimum in Auckland in order to have enough money to live in decent accommodation, be able to pay for decent nutritious food for yourself and afford to eat meat ( now a luxury in nz) and to be able to buy clothes, a decent car (which you need as public transport is a joke) and be alble to go out with friends for a wine after work and not worry at the high bar prices( $10-15 for one standard wine or glass of beer. And the medium salary is only $40k so that is why poor children are going to school with no breakfast or lunch in nz. Also if you want to buy a house in Auckland – you won’t get much for under a million dollars now if you want to live in something that is not rotting, on a decent section and in an average suburb. I’m not exaggerating with what I’m saying honestly. Just be aware before you get here.

  15. I am not sure that NZ has deteriorated or whether I have just some perspective now. I have lived in the US and Canada for the past decade and don’t think I could go back now. People are direct to the point of being aggressive (at least by PC Canadian standards), the culture of violence and prevalence of gangs seems to be commonplace. The sheer volume of child abuse/ deaths staggers me. According to OECD reports, apparently 15% of children are born to high risk families in NZ. Frankly, it does not appear NZ is capable of admitting failure for fear of losing face, or perhaps the prevalence of cases has just hardened people from caring.

    On other notes- the cost of living is ridiculous (check out clothing and consumables prices before you consider moving to NZ), everyone ends up buying cheap polyester clothing, and it costs the same as silk/ cashmere would in the US. Many people will also visit Aussie to buy their clothes on a holiday. Houses can be cheaper than in other countries, but high impact career opportunities are limited outside of Auckland (which is very expensive by international standards). I know from working in NZ that high achievers/ educated professional are not culturally respected (tall poppy syndrome is a well known phenomenon), and NZ employers will not pay for candidates with higher education. It is sad to see no investment in differentiators such as technology/biotech in NZ, but rather there is continued reliance on agricultural exports and sport. No wonder 1000 people a week leave NZ to emigrate elsewhere!

    While marketed as a paradise, the sad and pathetic reality is an abrupt wakeup call. Think hard before you go, because one you get there and start paying NZ prices, you will not be able to save easily to escape again!

  16. I doubt that it will take a refreshing view, same old same old propaganda and whitewash from a country that can’t see its own faults. Visit to read about the real New Zealand.

  17. A new blog will soon be indexed at It will provide rational, critical and substantiated commentary on the reasons why New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to live. From the country’s record on women’s rights to its status as a small nation state in the world of foreign diplomacy; from its number one status as corruption free to having one of the most democratic and representative political systems in the world; from its independent foreign policy to its battle for international law in the United Nations. It will take a refreshing view and provide unbiased links. Watch out for nz100pure at word press. Hopefully it will look as professional as this page…but more unbiased.

    • Good luck with the blog, but we’re not sure that we’ll have time to read it.
      Anything to encourage more debate about New Zealand’s image has to be welcomed.

    • I had been wondering for a long time, “why would the more conservative political party [National] vote in the ETS” [emmissions trading scheme, I like to call it Extra Tax, Stupid].
      It has dawned on me that it is all part of NZs’ marketing plan.

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