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Why migrate to New Zealand?

Dorothy Hunt - 18/06/04

Recent migrants comment on living in Christchurch, New Zealand - the advantages and the disadvantages

Much media publicity recently has centred on Australian and New Zealand lifestyles and what some New Zealanders see as the advantages of living in Australia rather then New Zealand. Siobhan Coleman interviewed a number of young Kiwis living in Sydney for her NZine article Is the grass in Australia greener for young New Zealanders? The main advantages they stressed were earning more money, career prospects, and climate - and the resulting lifestyle. However, expat Kiwis in Queensland quote in a recent article in the Sunday Star Times - 6 June, 2004 - added what for them was a major advantage - that in Queensland they lived in a largely white community. "Faces of any other colour other than white are in a minority on the coast."

Until the 1980s living in Christchurch was rather like living in a white society. With the recent immigration the population mix has changed and people from a wide range of cultures now live in the city, making it, in my view, a much more interesting place to live. Most people in the world have little or no choice about where they live. Those who are privileged to choose make their decision based on their individual values. A number of people who moved from other countries to live in Christchurch have given their views for this article.

Madan came to New Zealand from Hyderabad in India.
He already had qualifications as a software engineer. He chose to come to New Zealand because it is a beautiful and peaceful country and was inviting educated professional people who could really help support New Zealand's policy. He is now employed by an Internet company, but the job search was not easy as New Zealand already has so many professionals literate in Internet Technology.

"If immigrants are confident and able to communicate with others there are opportunities open to them in New Zealand." he said. "I am pleased to have come to a country which has less violence than most places. The learning and education system helps people enhance their skills. Interaction with others is more difficult for people in jobs than for students who meet different kinds of people in the cosmopolitan atmosphere at a university.

"My own experience has been positive. People with similar professions are more friendly as they have interests in common. I believe that we must treat people as we want to be treated ourselves - with respect."

Yuji and Kumiko came to New Zealand from Japan nine years ago.
They wanted their three children to have the chance to become fluent in English. The younger children have found it easier to learn English as they were very small when they came to Christchurch. All three children have attended Japanese school on Saturday afternoons during the school term so that they keep in touch with their own language and culture.

"I wanted to bring my wife and family to a developed country and I preferred one which has four seasons. In Japan I was a city councillor in Sakai city - a city sister of Wellington in New Zealand. Because of this I came to Wellington. I found that the people I met had a similar approach to the city's affairs, conversation was easy, and their attitude was friendly and kindly. I have since found that Kiwis are especially friendly when there is a business deal being discussed.

"The education system in New Zealand has been good for our children. They have been well taught at the local schools and have been free after school hours. In Japan many students have after-school tutoring and at Junior High school every day after school they join in sports clubs or cultural activities. The school fees are very expensive in Japan whereas here the only fee is a donation. Indeed the overall cost of living is cheaper in New Zealand than in Japan."

Yuji likes to be busy and he has purchased some land not far from Christchurch. He is growing trees on the land and has had a house built there. At present he works there three days every week.

Yuji's wife, Kumiko, shares her husband's views. She too thinks it is important to keep busy in a new country.

"Art and craft are my hobbies at present and I meet people at the classes, but for me the problem has been learning English. Though I have attended many English classes I still don't feel confident making conversation in English."

Libuska came to New Zealand from Australia some thirteen years ago.
"I have no regrets about the move, she said. "I came originally because of a man. That did not work out as I had hoped, but I found New Zealand a wonderful country so I stayed here. I started my own business which was much easier than it would have been in Melbourne where there would have been more intense competition. One of the things that I really liked from the beginning was that living in Christchurch was like being in a big country town. I'd be treating people in my physiotherapy business and when I'd go to the supermarket I'd see people I knew, and when I went to the post office again I'd see people I knew. People would be very friendly whereas in Melbourne I could be on the same train at the same time every day for three years and never speak to anyone. People there keep very much to themselves.

"Here there is also much more neighbourhood awareness. In my area everyone knows their neighbours and people help each other. If I'm going away I can say to my neighbour, 'Will you keep an eye on my house and pick up my letters?' or 'Will you look after my cat?' I don't think that in Melbourne people even know their neighbours' names. They might wave and say 'Gidday', but that's about all the contact there is. Some people like to keep to themselves, but I like the closer neighbourhood contact.

"Another aspect I like about living here is the beautiful scenery and how close it is to your home. Ten minutes from where I live is Lyttelton and the harbour, a little further is Diamond Harbour, and Sumner Beach is ten minutes away. I can get to the skifields in not much more than an hour. In Melbourne it is different. You have to drive five hours to get to the skifields, and an hour or more to get to good swimming beaches with surf and attractive scenery.

"The restaurant scene has changed a lot since I first arrived. Then there was very little choice, but now there is a wonderful choice with all sorts of cuisine from many countries and the prices are reasonable.

"If I think about prices and the cost of living - food, eating out, power and phone - is cheaper in Melbourne, but property values and rents are hugely different - much higher there, so the costs even out. I miss the shopping for fashionable clothes that Melbourne offers. The fashion industry is very different here. In Melbourne I could buy for reasonable prices high fashion garments which are really expensive here.

"My children ride their bicycles to school and I feel safe about that when I compare Christchurch traffic with Melbourne traffic. I think that drivers here are much more aware of children on the roads and the speed restrictions near schools. I would think twice about letting them go to school on their own in Melbourne.

"One of my sons is at primary school and the older boy goes to an intermediate school. I belive that they are getting a good education there.

"Of course I miss my family very much. I miss too the hustle and bustle of a big city, catching trains and going to town as a special outing.

"I have weighed up the pros and cons of life here and life in Melbourne and I've decided to stay here."

Jinli came from Beijing to Christchurch.
"I wanted to try life in another country and came to New Zealand and settled in Christchurch. It has the reputation of being a good city for education and I enrolled first for a business studies course.

"I had qualified in China as an electronic communications engineer. I took a further course to update my skills in this field and now teach my subject in a tertiary institution. I have made a lot of effort to become fluent in English and I have no problems with the technical vocabulary used in my work, so I am confident teaching. My students have never said that they have problems understanding my English.

"I teach in both part-time and full-time courses. Until recently the students in the full time course were all kiwis, but now there are some Chinese students aged between eighteen and twenty two. There have always been more foreign students in the part-time courses. There have been a number of Polynesians, and students from Colombia, Japan, China, Russia, Ethiopia, and the Congo. This makes the classes particularly interesting to teach. My professional colleagues - twenty electronics tutors - are very friendly and supportive.

"Getting around in Christchurch is not like travelling in big cities. In China I had a non-driving background, but in Christchurch I bought a car and passed my driving licence test. I have bought my own home near a bus route and happily travel by bus to work and avoid parking problems. In my free time I can drive in a short time to the beach or up to the Cashmere Hills where there are hill walks to help me to keep fit.

"I enjoy being in a smaller city where the local people are very friendly and there is a good mix of international immigrants."

Rob Green came from the UK and became a New Zealand resident in 1996.
"Of course I understand the Oz honeypot syndrome for young Kiwis - but they don't know how lucky they are. For someone born a Pom who lived there for the first 55 years of his life, and has seen quite a lot of the world (including Oz) before marrying a Kiwi and enjoying a new lease of life in Christchurch, here's why NZ is the best place on Earth to live:

1) It's a snakeless Garden of Eden: almost desert-free; stunning and extraordinarily varied scenery, with nowhere more than two hours' drive from the ocean; uncrowded, clean beaches; majestic, clean lakes and rivers; and relatively gentle, sunny climate with few bush fires or extreme weather.

2) The cost of living is less than either the UK or Oz (London has just moved up to second most expensive city in the world, only beaten by Tokyo).

3) Excellent, uncongested roads (except in Auckland and Wellington!).

4) Wonderful, plentiful drinking water.

5) Rapidly improving food and wine (unbeatable seafood); and better beer than Australia or the UK!

6) Nuclear-free, and probably the least polluted and safest country in the world.

7) An extraordinarily responsive, accessible political system (including free postage to politicians!) for almost an optimum-sized democracy.

8) Far better race relations than Australia.

9) More humane immigration policy.

10) Excellent opportunities for developing innovative ideas.

11) Relaxed social atmosphere, with relatively little flaunting of extreme wealth.

12) Easy availability of health services (plus the amazing Accident Compensation system) and skilled tradespeople, with very short waiting time to get problems fixed.

"So, young Kiwis, do your OE; by all means make bigger bucks in Oz, and enjoy the more glamorous lifestyle; but when you want to settle down and raise children or retire, remember why NZ offers unbeatable value."

Dulcebelle who came to Christchurch from the Philippines sees good aspects to life in New Zealand but shares her feelings about isolation from her family.
"New Zealand is a beautiful country. It is very clean and green. That is the first thing I liked here - the greenery and the flowers on spring. I love the big gardens and parks too.

"Life here is a little bit easier, probably because of the machines; unlike in the Philippines, where we still do things manually. Even the farming here is all done using machines which is not such hard work for the farmers.

"The traffic flow is lighter here than in the Philippines but I miss the means of transportation. Any time you go out in the Philippines you can choose what public transport you want, (pedicab, tricycle, jeepney, minibus or the bus)depending on your destination. And if you are really in the hurry, you can have a taxi at any time. Here you need to wait for the bus so often.Taxis are a lot more expensive and you need to wait if you ring for them.

"I don't like the winter....too cold. I need to wear a lot of clothes to keep warm. Jobs here (especially for migrants) are too hard to find. Not many employers want to give migrants a chance to prove themselves.

"For me, one great challenge is being away from my family especially during the time I was sick and stressed out. At such times I feel being alone. And sometimes I need to be strong when something happens in my family in the Philippines. I can't just pack my things and go, as it costs a lot to go there."

For Pimmy the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of living in Christchurch.
Positive aspects
The Environment

"Compared with Bangkok, Thailand, where I used to live, Christchurch, New Zealand, is far better for me as a place to live and perhaps spend the rest of my life. The more obvious reasons are that New Zealand's streets are safer and cleaner. However air and water quality is far better. There is no other place in this world where I have felt a purity in the atmosphere such as I have when walking on beaches here. There's an energy in the air and a clarity in the atmosphere that makes me think of being inside a beautiful orb of crystal.

Neighbours and friendliness
"I began my life in Christchurch with living in homestays, to learn how to blend into so-called "kiwi culture". What I found amazing was that everyone smiled and said "hello" to each other when walking past each other on the road, including those that don't know each other. Sometimes on the road people are so friendly. It's like an angel kiwi person was sent to help our car with a flat tyre, whether in daylight or under a street light. Christchurch people are very easy-going, and seem to me to be always in a good mood.

Not so positive
Crimes against Asians

"It is correct that there are crimes against us, "Asians" or people who migrate here or come here for short or long term, but I want to say "Which European country doesn't have this issue?"

Work and Income opportunity
"There are some jobs if we look for one, and make a real effort to get work.

"RUGBY dominates everywhere!!


"What I most dislike about being in New Zealand, is that people assume things without asking and sometimes make a prejudiced assumption negatively about me, especially people like bank clerks and receptionists. Even after many study visits to New Zealand and then living here for two years, my English is still not the best, but it is good enough for clear communication and to cope with formal situations if necessary. However I still have many New Zealanders assuming that I cannot speak English, and that I must have come from China, just because of my appearance!

"I accept the bad with the good and feel that with Christchurch the good outweighs the bad by a large measure. I want to continue to live here."

Lifestyle choice the privilege of the fortunate
People who have the freedom to decide to migrate to a new country are fortunate. I believe that the life of people in Christchurch has been enriched when people from other countries have chosen to come and contribute to our community here in this city.

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