NZ a great place to live? Yeah right

Last updated 12:00 23/01/2013
100% Pure New Zealand

PURE LIES? The image New Zealand projects to the rest of the world might not stack up.

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I'm an English migrant with New Zealand citizenship and have lived here for over ten years.

During my time here many of the myths which New Zealand perpetuates for its citizenry, and the world by its media, around the water-cooler at work, and at the pub, have slowly been eroded - much like its rivers, waterways and workers' rights.

Not too far from my house in Northcote is a stream. In that stream is a discarded TV, a shopping trolley, smashed beer bottles, and general household rubbish. An anomaly? Afraid not. Another stream in Northcote's Kauri Glen Park reserve is so polluted that it is totally devoid of any marine life whatsoever. I'm afraid to dip my toes in it in case the water melts straight through to the bone like the Alien's acid blood.

Apart from the polluted rivers, there is the rubbish: Empty McDonalds boxes, KFC wrappers, and used nappies left in kids' parks, are just some of the things our clean green eco warriors are discarding.

Then there is New Zealand's so-called laid back lifestyle. If you examine New Zealand's working conditions you quickly realise that they are some 25-30 years behind mainland Europe in terms of favourable working conditions, including maternity leave. Most Kiwis are working their knuckles to the bones on 50 and 60 hour shifts, without overtime pay, to make ends meet. In Europe the standard working week is about 37 hours a week.

One of my favourite myths is the notion that New Zealand enjoys a sub-tropical climate. Have you ever lived in Wellington during winter? Sub-tropical, my arse. I would be warmer if I slept in the fridge. Sometimes it gets so cold that the only thing to do is go for a drive to warm up because the house is impossible to keep warm, unless you stay huddled in a wool-blanket, wear long-johns, several jumpers, and make an igloo from your quilt, whilst huddling around the radiator. Unfortunately, New Zealand hasn't grasped the concept of central heating.

Then there is the notion that New Zealand is a good place to raise children. Try telling that to the kids who are routinely bashed, starved, and develop third-world diseases like rheumatic fever. New Zealand has one of the highest child abuse statistics in the world. What I think Kiwis mean when they say New Zealand is good for their kids is, the white-middle class kids, not the brown kids.

If New Zealand is such a wonderful clean green 'Godzone', how come 30,000 Kiwis are leaving every single year? The government is fond of telling us it's not their problem, and all these people are just doing an overseas experience. Do politicians think we're idiots? They're leaving because there are no opportunities for them, and better conditions in Australia are a short two-hour flight away.

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And our politicians? In a nutshell, they're clueless about how to inject growth in to the economy, so they've now started pimping themselves to Hollywood bigshots, using our tax dollar. Why aren't these politicians injecting half a billion dollars into New Zealand's manufacturing base?

Another myth I find quite amusing is that Kiwis are friendly. Kiwis are some of the most unfriendly people I've ever met. Developing friendships with Kiwis is one of the biggest challenges any migrant will face. Most Kiwis are very cliche. I could be standing out on my deck, with the next door neighbour not 5 feet away, and they are incapable of saying hello, unless I initiate a conversation. I've lived in South Africa, England, and Australia, and I've visited Singapore, Hong-Kong, Thailand, Argentina, France, Fiji, America, Malaysia, and a few others I've forgotten about, and in comparison to these other countries, Kiwis need to learn a thing or two.

I could go on, there are other gripes, but I don't want people marching to my door like the mob from the Simpsons, armed with pitchforks, and thirsty for blood, after daring to criticise the notion that New Zealand is some kind of Utopian paradise. Trust me, I'm not alone. Many migrants are thinking the same things, but they're not saying them. Kiwis? Don't be so precious.

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