Honest talk about some of New Zealand’s problems


I love New Zealand, but it does have its problems. The houses aren’t insulated very well and the road system is decades behind other first world countries, but those are more of “inconveniences” than “problems.” And those inconveniences probably aren’t going to keep anyone from deciding to move here, especially when they weigh those cons against all the pros. If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand you want to know about the real problems. So let’s talk about those.

Meth- New Zealand has a bit of a meth problem. They call it “P” here. The reason New Zealand has a meth problem is because it has a poverty problem. Along with meth and poverty comes crime. Granted, these problems radiate out of poor neighborhoods. So if you’re wealthy and live in a wealthy neighborhood you’ll likely never see these problems. Also, most of the meth use is in the larger cities. So if you live in a quaint little sea side town you’re not going to have much trouble. But there are ghettos where crime is a problem. If you don’t make a lot of money you’ll probably end up living in or near one of those areas, and you’ll have to deal with the meth problem.

Theft- Petty theft is a major problem in New Zealand. Thieves will just walk into your house, grab the first thing of value they see and run out. So it’s important to lock your doors…even when you’re home. Thieves also target unlocked cars at beaches and parks too. You see “Lock it or Lose it” signs at every tourist destination.

Fighting- Kiwis like to fight, and they’re pretty big people. So fights can get serious quick. Plus, since this is such a social country and everyone goes out with their mates to get on the piss, there’s a good chance that if you spend enough time out on the town you’re going to cross paths with a group of drunken trouble makers eventually who don’t mind ganging up on an opponent. There’s a biker gang in New Zealand called “The Mongrel Mob” that takes shit from no one. There are some high school gangs too, but they’re more likely to cuss at you from across the street. But if you cuss back you might end up with a dozen 16 year olds kicking you in the back. Large groups of teenagers have even ganged up on police officers (who don’t usually carry fire arms).

Racism- Racism in New Zealand is a peculiar thing. It seems like everyone is a little bit racist. It’s certainly only a matter of time before you hear racist talk and people complaining about immigrants. However, almost nobody acts on their racism. However, a lot of employers require job applicants to have 1-3 years New Zealand work experience. This is a thinly veiled excuse to weed-out immigrants from the job pool.

Inconvenience and High Prices- New Zealand is a relatively small nation at the bottom of the world. The size of the economy reflects this. You don’t have a lot of choices in the products you buy, and the prices for those products are high. That’s life. Living in New Zealand is a lot like living in Italy. You have to adapt to a slower pace of life with less options. If you can’t live without a Starbucks in your 24 hour Wal-Mart Super Center you won’t be able to make it in New Zealand.

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10 Responses

  1. I have just finished reading this page and was horrified to see you had written the ‘Mongrel Mob’ are a bike gang. They are not a bike gang, but just a gang. Yes they are a hard bunch, but they are certainly NOT a bike gang. If you want to refer to ‘bike gangs’ in NZ, then look at the Hells Angels, Rebels, or Highway 61 to name a few, but please do not catergorise the Mongrel Mob in with the bikies.

  2. Hi Travis, thanks for posting all the cool stuff you have on your blog. I have been experiencing some of what you have talked about in the job market since I came here just over a year ago. My husband came over six months before me to start his job and I stayed back in the states to sell the house. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in the states and they have no idea what that means here. I was told I had to register with the New Zealand assoc. of counselors which is almost as difficult a process as getting the damn immigration papers filled out. I finally got that and it has not helped me much at all. They made me a provisional member and I have to get work and supervision hours before I can be a full member but I can’t get work because I am a foreigner and don’t know the systems here. The C&C DHB and family court system won’t let me work with them until I am a full member of NZAC, its ridiculous. I had two decent interviews, but didn’t get the jobs, and one horrible one where the main woman on the panel was so rude and disrespectful to me I felt like getting up and leaving several times during the interview. She said things like “how do you think you will be a social worker here with your foreign accent?” and “how does your husband deal with working here with that accent?” “what are you doing in New Zealand?” It has been very disheartening and depressing. If it weren’t for my husband’s job we would be probably be homeless. Anyway, I just appreciate your posting these things as it makes one feel less alone and isolated to know that others are experiencing similar issues with having emigrated to New Zealand. The jury is still out for me.

  3. Hi Travis, a well written blog. I have been in New Zealand for going on 7 years and now have my citizenship. It is a beautiful country and I believe not many places in the world where you can be diving one day and skiing the next.
    Its been an interesting journey and to be diplomatic, there is definitely a veiled non acceptance of immigrants in the workplace. I arrived with experience in my field of over 16 years in a very Senior position. I applied for 250 plus jobs and had very few answers back. When I did get an answer I was told that I did not have “NewZealand” experience. hahaha. I did and have still been trying to figure out what this means. To get back into the market, I eventually signed up with a temp agency and did whatever work I could to get NZ experience on my CV. I got a job after about 3 months of temping – I had an amazing kiwi female manager that hired me – she was very forward thinking – a brilliant mind. The job I took was about 10 years behind where I had been but that did not phase me as I had left my country to give my kids a better living.
    Where I live, the teenagers walk home at night – I have been amazed at how many times we have come home from a party and people are walking home… sometimes females alone. Haven’t hear of anything bad happening. I travel NZ frequently and alone and have gone for a run alone around 7pm in every place I have been. I have never been bothered by anyone. To say the least I have always felt safe.
    The cost of living is very high for some items and very low for others.
    Transport is a matter of perspective depending on the country that you are immigrating from. lol. I live on the Northshore of Auckland and the bus service is brilliant. But then I come from a country where you wouldn’t dare catch a bus for fear of being mugged.
    Sure Australia’s transport system is better 🙂
    I think anyone immigrating here has to ask themselves why they would choose this Country? Our choice was for a better way of life – We can walk on the beaches at any time and there are plenty of them. People love their animals and you can walk your dogs on the beach. There are lots of free events that the Council puts on – you just have to keep up to date with the happenings. Schools – I think there are problems like any other country but what I have personally liked about the schools is the choices that can be made. For example, my daughter was able to try out jewelry making, she learnt life saving, how to sail, and was sent to chef’s school for a few days. What I am saying is that people may complain because the schools aren’t as rigid as other countries but they certainly cater for the creatives. NZ has a high number of innovations.
    In closing – if you are immigrating here choose your area that you are going to live in very carefully. I am happy to help anyone with questions – you can facebook me at Katie Pink http://www.facebook.com/katie.pinkie

  4. Pretty spot on about most of the issues. But you’ve left out one issue that only effects immigrants. So, to detail, I’ve been living here 9 years now and pretty much had to start over completely from scratch when I moved here.

    To detail, I’m a aircraft mechanic. Qualified, experienced, having been trained through the NAVY and USMC in a standard tour of duty, Then once I was out, going through more government schooling to achieve the licencing to work on pretty much anything that flies. After that, I worked for not only the largest airline on the planet, but several other very large carriers. So, one would think I would be greeted with open arms into this country, with the wealth of experience and knowledge I could bring to NZ aviation, right…?

    Quite wrong.

    Upon getting here, I applied for every sort of aviation position I could, only to be told at every instance that ‘sorry, you’re not qualified’

    There are many good reasons for living here in this country. As you and other posters have listed, however from an industrial/technological standpoint, not only is this country at least 10 years behind the rest of the world, they suffer from two very interconnected problems.

    Re-inventing the wheel, and Tall Poppy Syndrome.

    Tall Poppy Syndrome: is a pejorative term used in Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.

    Genuine Intelligence seems to be frowned upon, its as if things here must be done in the most basic, cheap, simplistic ways possible, and no one wants to pay anyone any significant wage. It’s why so many college students immediately leave NZ for other countries (Google, ‘NZ brain drain’)

    And worse yet, if you’re moving into this country from a technologically superior area, with experience in these things. This resentment is directly put upon you.

    So, following this resentment, we have Re-inventing the wheel. Because the general attitude is ‘those big countries and all their things.. we can do this better!’ so they do. Completely disregarding proven and established systems, NZ will come up with a different system to do the same job. This can and typically includes qualification processes.

    The short and sweet here is this:

    Don’t expect to come into this country with overflowing experience and qualifications, and immediately be accepted into a job. 9 times out of 10, you’ll have to start all over again, or in a case like me, have to completely abandon your previous profession for something in a similar field. Now I’m just a basic all round engineer/welder.

    • Spot on. Spot on.

  5. I have been visiting NZ on a regular basis for 6 years because one of my children emigrated. I also have a child in Australia and another still in the UK, where I live. Initially they tried to persuade me to emigrate to NZ too, but even though I am now retired, I wouldn’t contemplate it as I find it just so boring. I think the scenery is overated, there are beautiful places all over the world – I’ve travelled a lot. The lack of culture in the city of Auckland – compared to most international cities – astonishes me. Todate, literally everyone I have spoken to who has made the trip from the UK – which is very expensive – has been disappointed. NZ sadly doesn’t live up to the advertising propaganda. It’s far too expensive, and has a dismal choice goods. I only hope when my grandchildren grow up they have the opportunity to get out.

    • The question ‘bored’ or ‘boring’ does came to mind I’m afraid. You expected the culture to come to you but not to have a hand in the making? I’ve a first class BSc and have lived in London and Paris where, to be honest, many a time the culture-snobs let the culture they were representing, down. It’s a bit like being in bombed-out suburbian Czech sometimes in NZ – you have a responsibility to assist in the making. And that, is the most enriching skill of all. If you have emersed yourself in the Maori culture; learnt the history and language and joined Pakeha topical groups, I would read more into your post. As it doesn’t sound like it – I hope you can take something from this to turn yourself around for your children’s sake, as there is no insult meant, just honest thoughts.

    • Here in NZ as a born and bred Kiwi we are more interested in life outdoors and create our own enjoyment rather than relying on choice of goods, relying on others for entertainment. Also you cannot judge NZ based on the city of Auckland as it has such a diverse range of cultures through immigration. try venturing to the South Island in remote places, or theBayof Plenty where most tourists never go. Having travelled all over the world, I summarise NZ as having a bit of everything – charming English pubs in Dunedin, warm sunny beaches, deep fiords and lakes of Europe, awesome skiing, fantastic water sports, queens town which feels like an American resort township – the list goes on.

  6. Well written blog, and I could’nt agree more. My wife and I all both well educated with 10 to 15 years experience in our field. My wife as a primary school teacher has struggled to find good work since the day we arrived 5 years ago, not to mention to get her around teaching practices that are behind other western countries. Don’t get me wrong, NZ is a lovely country but if your thinking about moving here, think long and hard about it, for some it really is a ‘one way trip’ whether you like it or not.

    One of things to watch out for that one else has mentioned is the ‘kiwi price’ and the ‘immigrant price’. We renovated our house and the number or trades that came round and inflated the price because we where from the U.K and in one persons words ‘must be loaded’ was astonishing !!!

    We have quite a few friends who are settled and happy, but we also have a larger amount of friends who have now moved to OZ or back to Europe. As I said, think long and hard before making the move..

  7. i live in a small town small towns have tones of druggies!!!! and p in fact we have had 4 p labs busted down our small gravel road !!!! sorry just so not true small towns a flocked with druggies as they think there save hiding out here which often they are for a time or for there life if there just users.
    Anyways apart from that good blog had to research 4 NZ problems we have today and this blog has really helped me i will be using a few of these at least 3 so thank you 🙂

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