What were your reasons for emigrating?
Crime and uncertainty about the future. At least 50 people are killed violently in South Africa every day, and I did not feel safe even in my own home. Also, the quality of services that are deteriorating makes one concerned for the future. And finally, a sense of adventure, looking for new horizons and opportunities, both for ourselves and for our children.
Number Emigrating: 5
Emigrated from: Pretoria, South Africa
Moved to: Torbay, North Shore
Daily Commute Time: 10 Minutes
When did you arrive in NZ: May 2004
My Story Written: June 2006
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?
New Zealand is probably the most liveable country in the world – population and climate wise. We only considered southern hemisphere countries, and with a similar lifestyle and culture to what we were used to. Australia was not feasible, they are only looking for young highly skilled immigrants. Because of our age, New Zealand was the more practical choice, and we now believe it was the best choice of all.
What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?
New Zealand, with all due respect, is like South Africa 30 years ago. Less fast paced, more friendly, good services, good schools, not so commercialised and not so materialistic. The one major difference is the wooden structures, as opposed to brick houses in South Africa, which takes some getting used to. Houses in Auckland are also smaller and often almost on top of each other, with a lack of privacy, compared to what we were used to. But that depends on where you buy, because we managed to find a very private place that borders a bush area.
What do you like best about New Zealand?
The long evenings on the beaches, the lovely environment, the music concerts in the park, the little sailboats in the harbour. I also love the excellent libraries, the good school facilities. I love the clear blue skies and the rolling green hills, and pastures, and the bush areas.
What don’t you like about New Zealand?
The lack of proper insulation in many houses. New Zealanders do not build energy efficient houses, although that trend is starting to change. I think the infrastructure of Auckland needs urgent attention.
What do you miss from your home country?
Family, and nothing else. I can even speak my home language, Afrikaans, here, as I have so many South African friends. Biltong and South African foods are generally available.
How easily did you find work in New Zealand?
Very easy, but then I was a “scarce commodity”. It is not so easy for everyone, and you have to market yourself well to employers. Many immigrants also have to take what they can get in the beginning, just to establish themselves in the market, and then move on after a while. Many South Africa men used to senior and management positions have difficulty getting their careers back on track, though, and may need to change pace, or try something different, or new.
How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?
It is much the same, but not always. I work in an IT environment, and I find my colleagues very subdued, but friendly. It takes some getting used to, the work culture. And although I thought I spoke the Queen’s English, although with a distinct South African accent, I have found that the Kiwi’s speak an altogether different language, with a good variety of dialects!
How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?
Our quality of life is great. Kiwi’s don’t know how lucky they are – to feel safe and protected, to be able to enjoy the vast open spaces at no cost, to live in a country where there are so many options to choose from – education, lifestyle, work, great coffee!
Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?
Visit New Zealand before you come over. If you have been a tourist before (i.e. in Europe, especially if you have self-toured) you will have an understanding of how to operate in a new environment. Once you are here, try to settle first and then let the family come over and visit, and see that you are OK. Be flexible in your approach, and accept that immigration takes time, allow at least two years to really settle and feel at home. Accept that you live in a different country, and make it your own, gradually. Join sports clubs, or other organisations to meet and socialise with others, and to get to know your new environment. And get into your car and explore…