Immigration: I feel like I don't belong

Last updated 05:00 24/06/2013
FOUR THOUSAND APPLICATIONS: After struggling to find work, Ian Forsyth feels he wasn't able to become a worthwhile member of society.

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We've asked immigrants to NZ to share their experiences.

We arrived as a professional couple 20 years ago with twin babies. I had actually emigrated successfully to Africa nearly 30 years before from Britain and we met/married there.

We used a local job finding agent to set up interviews. It became quickly evident that I, at least, was not going to get a job easily as the agent only came up with a "mass selection" gathering at a hotel in Takapuna for Department of Labour Health and Safety as a trainee inspector (a job I had extensive qualifications and experience in overseas).

Seemingly, my qualifications, according to OSH and NZQA, were not acceptable as they were not issued by an academic institution, despite being gained from the Government training organisation set up to provide such, and with 50 years more experience in doing it than New Zealand. Funny too, the New Zealand branch of Occupational Safety Management registered me as a qualified associate but told me as an aside that it was going to be difficult.

I needed to find employment so bought into an international personal and institutional development franchise based in Christchurch, so that I could use my B.Com. I ran this for nearly three years until the bottom of the market fell out and I closed shop and lost the house.

After that, I did casual work such as car ferry transfers to dealerships, and other small odd jobs. I constantly tried to get back into Occupational Health and Safety, which was just starting up in New Zealand but was told things like "you are too qualified for this position, our regional manager hasn't got the qualifications and experience you have". 

I joined local Civil Defence as a volunteer and after a few years was given paid temporary work with them as a trainer but found that they had not been upfront with me and left. I had disaster management training and experience from my previous overseas employer as part of my job. After that I did a lot of small jobs like bus driving and security work until I retired.

My wife is a qualified teacher but her diploma was not accepted as being as good as the New Zealand qualification.

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My children have been educated to university entrance standard (still progressing) and hopefully they will become more integrated than me.

I find it a huge pity that I was not given the opportunity to become a more worthwhile member of New Zealand's society, and feel it's not what you know but who you know that counts over here.

I had just short of 4000 applications, most went unanswered, and only about 17 interviews were generated.

We still love the place, but I really don't feel that I belong here. Many of our friends originating from Africa and Britain have felt the same and shoved off overseas.

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