What were your reasons for emigrating?
We were really looking for a bit of an adventure before (potentially) having children. Living in a one bedroom flat, we would have had to move at some point anyway, we were both in jobs we liked but not hugely saddened to leave, and it seemed that NZ offered everything we were looking for – adventure, excitement and really good wines! It would have been very hard to make a similar move within the UK, given the shockingly high house prices, and the lack of job opportunities in our fields.
Emigrated from: Edinburgh, UK
Moved to: Rotorua
When did you arrive in NZ: July 2004
My Story Written:August 2004
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?
It’s as far from Scotland as we could physically get! I had spent time in Oz in the past and liked it. Good reports from family and friends who had visited. Plenty of job opportunities in our fields (teaching and planning). Outdoor activities and plenty of good wine. Opportunity to visit Asia and the South Pacific.
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Rotorua, Bay Of Plenty
What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?
Edinburgh doesn’t have many mud pools and thermal vents in the parks and its volcanoes are very old and dead! The first main difference we noticed was the architecture – everything looks ‘new’, from the grid pattern CBD, to the american-style strips of motels and fast food places. None of the buildings are more than a couple of storeys high, most of the streets have covered walkways. There is a real feeling of space, and you can see out the lake and the caldera rim from most points. The people are very different too – there’s almost a 50% Maori population in Rotorua, high compared to other parts of NZ, and Asian tourists by the busload even in the middle of winter. Oh and the restaurants and cafes keep their doors and windows open even when it is flippin freezin – kiwis like their fresh air!
What do you like best about New Zealand?
The people that we have met, and the welcome we’ve had. The informality. The fact that our qualifications actually count for something here. The space – to go from a one bedroom flat to a three bedroom detached house just like that has been great. It’s very green, and within 5 minutes we can be swimming in a lake or tramping through the woods. The food and wine!
What don’t you like about New Zealand?
The informality can equate to a real lack of hurry in getting things done. The poverty and racism that exist, especially towards Maori and Asian immigrants. It is totally taken for granted here to speak in offensive terms that are not widely used in the UK any more, and I find these racist attitudes very hard to smile politely through. Lack of quality goods – everything is imported from Asia and most of it is pretty shoddy. The Scottish Presbyterian influence – they almost declared a national prohibition at one point! Only 15 days annual leave a year!
What do you miss from your home country?
Family and friends. Pubs that aren’t just dodgy drinking shops or Irish theme bars. 30 days annual leave. Central heating, double glazing and insulation!
How easily did you find work in New Zealand?
Very easily – we both had jobs secured before leaving the UK, and for both of us it was the first job we applied for. Higher level qualifications are very highly thought of here – MSc, PhD etc as well as degrees.
How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?
Only 15 days leave [Note: NZ legal minimum is now 20 days leave plus public holidays] compared to 30! That’s my biggest gripe, as it limits our opportunities to see the country – otherwise my planning job has been good. My husband has found the NZ education system to be completely different – a warning to all teachers out there! It is essentially a privatised education system, with schools competing for pupils, the children knowing that they are customers, a major lack in the supporting services such as social work / child psychologists / learning support etc. There is virtually nothing in place to catch the kids that fall through the system – because the local authorities have no involvement in education. There is very little in the way of a common curriculum. Equipment and ITC is but a dream – schools can’t always afford to purchase them. So his experience has been very negative, and he is not impressed with the system at all.
How does your standard of living in New Zealand compare with your previous country?
It’s about the same, but that’s partly because the way of life is different here. There’s less to spend money on, so we don’t buy as much. We have a much bigger house, and a car we didn’t have before. Basically it is possible to live more cheaply here – but that’s just as well as the salaries aren’t up to much.
How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?
Will get back to you on that when we’ve been here another 6 months! People talk about quality of life being so good here – yes I can see that it can be. But if you have a poor job, or personal problems, all the green space and fresh air in the world won’t make that better. Quality of life, as I see it, comes from within.
Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?
The rose tinted specs are necessary to get you through the tedious process of getting here, but be prepared to leave all your preconceptions at the airport when you arrive. Moving to another country does not make you a different person – though it might enable you to more easily live a different style of life, especially if you have sold up in the UK and have the money to furnish that new lifestyle.
But people and societies are essentially the same the world over. Most UK immigrants here are the ‘haves’ but there is a whole section of society here comprising the ‘have-nots’ with all the social problems that this entails. So take it as it comes, and be prepared to drop lots of your pre-conceived ideas to accommodate the reality of life in NZ. And bring warm clothes for the winter – it’s freezing in Rotorua!!
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