What were your reasons for leaving your home country:
Mainly due to the increasing crime situation and to secure a future for our 3 daughters and of course ourselves. We come from the notorious apartheid South Africa. Although many people like ourselves didn’t participate in this situation or agree with its principles we are South African citizens of European descent with a fair skin colour so people perceived us as the instigators of Apartheid.
Emigrated from: Pretoria, South Africa
Moved to: Browns Bay, North Shore City
When did you arrive in NZ: May 1999
My Story Written: September 2004
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand:
We looked at the UK, Canada and Australia but my husband visited New Zealand in December 1998 for three weeks and his testimony about the living conditions, quality of life and of course a host of issues we were considering at the time brought us here.
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Browns Bay, North Shore City
What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?
The weather conditions but we accepted it. Less people. Clean roads and no beggars on the side walks. The all round safety. We are free. We do not have burglar proofing on our windows or electric fences around our house and I can get out of the car without being terrified of being attacked for no sane reason. After 5 years in New Zealand Browns Bay is truly my home town and I love it.
What do you like best about New Zealand?
The general safety that the country provides to its people. No great focus on class or situation in life. The beauty of the entire country and the fact that it is not too big, with not many places out of our reach. No beggars on the streets and no shockingly visible poverty. Probably a significant aspect that appeals to me is the people do not constantly demonstrate aggressiveness of some kind – in South Africa it is a survival tool to be aggressive towards all and everybody from time to time.
What don’t you like about New Zealand?
We are immigrants and we realise that we have to accept the ways and laws of New Zealand; however, we qualified under vigorous qualification criteria to live and work in the country. Our skills and experience are not considered when we apply or commence work in the work place. This single factor often delays the settling in process of new migrants. My husband has more than 20 years combined experience as a criminal prosecutor at High Court Level as well as defence lawyer experience. However, he still struggles to finalise his NZ Bar admission to enable him to practice law in NZ. He works as a police officer but his knowledge and experience is not at all recognised – we regularly read about a shortage of qualified Prosecutors but the Police insist on my husband working in front line policing even after he had a major heart attack whilst at work two years ago. Instead of offering him a position that suits his skills he is in jeopardy of being declared unfit to be a police officer. These things lead to numerous stress issues for new migrants. English as 2nd language is also a negative factor in our lives, although both my husband and I completed University level English we have a strong accent and people often perceive us or tell us that we sound rude. We know that it is not true and it is no longer an issue for us as NZ has so many migrants.
What do you miss from your home country?
Probably the excellent weather conditions but I love New Zealand in many more ways than to single out one aspect that I miss.
How easily did you find work in New Zealand?
Easily but we were prepared to work for $11 an hour and my husband became a Postie. I managed to find suitable employment soon after completion of an $11 hour job but it was a hard slog to earn respect in the work place for my skills and experience.
How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?
Okay. After 5 years but we remain the immigrants and there is definitely a level of discrimination in certain work places against migrants.
How does your standard of living in New Zealand compare with your previous country?
Due to the fact that my husband is not in his professional job we have less free money, however, our standard of living apart from the monetary is excellent. Materialism no longer exists in our vocabulary.
How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?
In Rome we have to do as the Romans! Take time to observe the people and their ways before you allow yourself to become negative about any situation. A positive attitude is better than lots of money to secure acceptance!