Moving to Auckland, New Zealand

What were your reasons for emigrating?

I was seeking adventure at the time. This was also a transition time in South African politics in a very shaky unsure post apartheid society. As a state employee I feared that my pension fund to date would be lost in a new system. I applied for a voluntary retirement packlage and preferred to invest in a new life in another country.

Name: Zena
Age: 45
Occupation: Teacher
Number Emigrating: 1
Emigrated from: Cape Town, South Africa
Moved to: One Tree Hill, Auckland
Daily Commute Time: 5 minutes driving/15 minutes walking
When did you arrive in NZ: March 1998
My Story Written: March 2008
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

The NZ Education Department was recruiting widely in South Africa. A friend and I responded to a newspaper ad and attended a seminar. We were particularly impressed with the quoted NZ “crime statistics” at the time I think. Also a relocation grant was offered which made the decision to come to NZ very easy and attractive.

One Tree Hill, Auckland
What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?

Ten years ago there were many differences of course :). I remember the absolute disbelief I felt when I first saw the sheepfarms around the airport area. I loved the idea, but it was rather a shock to my system to see live animals in the city. I was from Africa where I had to go to a zoo or reserve to see real animals :). I remember that I was particularly amazed, yet charmed, that the electricity poles were hooden on the motorway. Souh African roads and motorways were very well developed compared to Auckland at the time. I am happy to say that the differences since then have decreased in the areas that I considered important – like finding a coffee shop open after ten at night. Ten years ago this was an impossible mission in Auckland.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

I like the sense of serenity. Driving ten minutes out of Auckland feels like being in my all time favourite movie “The Sound Of Music” where the hills come alive with the sound of music :). I am fascinated with the greenery all around. I am extremely lucky to live across one of the largest and extremely well maintained, parks in the Southern Hemisphere where I enjoy my daily exercise amongst sheep, cows, horses and chickens! I love it! New Zealanders are usually very friendly and has a relaxed approach to most things, except maybe environmental issues of course.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

I am in Education and I worry at times that we have taken a very child centred approach to teaching and learning. NZ youth crime figures saddens me. I fear that we are maybe failing our youth by not teaching enough strategies to be stronger and able to cope with regular everyday life stresses. It appears to me that minor stresses or challengers tend to justify going of the deep end many times.

What do you miss from your home country?

The sense of humour :). Growing up during the apartheid era was hard, yet it seems that through the many tears we laughed a lot. In Cape Town especially, we had a very lighthearted approach to most things (maybe inappropriately at times). I do miss the laughter. Even after ten years in NZ and loving it here, there are still days when I just want to yell out … “Lighten up! It is not that serious!” Everything is terribly PC here, that it takes a lot of fun out of life in a way 🙂

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

I was lucky as I started to work three days after arriving. A bit of a shock to the system, but hey, it was adventure I was after! 🙂

How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?

New Zealand teachers work very hard compared to what I was used to in South Africa. It was strange to see that it was very normal for kiwi teachers to spend an entire weekend and school holiday at school planning and preparing their lessons! Even after ten years, I can’t get my head around that one. But I have been lucky enough to have a three year teaching experience in the USA as well and I think that comparatively, US American teachers in NC work even harder than kiwi teachers. Only my perception, maybe I’m wrong on this one.

How does your standard of living in New Zealand compare with your previous country?

In South Africa I had a higher standard of living, but in NZ I think I have a better quality of life in many ways. In SA we have a very comfortable house maid system which is absent from the NZ system. But I got used to the idea if doing things myself in NZ – very empowering in some ways 🙂

How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?

In some ways I think six of one and half a dozen of the other. I miss out on real family, but in some ways I have a range of friends who has become “family”.

Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?

I think that on the whole NZ might not be everyone’s “cup of tea” so to say. I know of many South Africans who preferred to either move back to South Africa or move on to Australia or England. I myself moved to the USA for a few years. However, NZ does offer a lot for a couple raising a young family. Teenagers appear not to adapt that well for various reasons. It is not a system that promotes excellence in individuals, rather wellbeing for the masses. If the family unit is not functioning well, it might be a hard shift.

Should I Move to New Zealand?

8 must-knows before you even THINK about moving to New Zealand

Would you like to share your own experiences of living in New Zealand? You can do this at My Story. Or you can read more more personal experiences.

What say you?
Please do not ask us for immigration/visa advice - we cannot respond to such requests.