Since I have been living here for three years now, I think it’s time to share with you about New Zealand. The country is comprised of the North Island and South Island. It is actually considered the youngest country in the world because it is the last one to be settled in by people due to its remoteness from the rest. According to Wikipedia, New Zealand’s name origin is based on the Dutch province Zeeland (thus naming it Nova Zeelandia) and that British explorer James Cook anglicized the name to what is now known today. The Maori name for the country is Aotearoa, which means “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” The country is one of the members of the Commonwealth, of which the Queen of England is the Head of State. And to clarify about the country’s location, it is near Australia and is within the Asia-Pacific region. So literally, New Zealand is way, way down under. Aside from Australia, other neighboring islands are New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and a few others.
Enough about history, let me tell you what I like here so far.
Efficient library system
I love their library system here, where books can be borrowed for a month and can be renewed if you like. DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and CDs can be rented out for a week for a small fee. Membership is free as well. Also, in Auckland, you can pretty much request for an item online and get it from your desired library location. For me, this is my piece of heaven on earth as I missed my own library back home when it was converted into another bedroom.
Kids here are encouraged from an early age to start learning how to be independent. Make decisions, even encouraged to commit mistakes and learn from them. Something I have never been encouraged to do mainly because the environment where I grew up doesn’t encourage that. Also, the parents always ask the kids their opinion first about where they want to go, what they want to eat, before they make a final decision. Well, maybe not all the time otherwise that would enable them to be entitled to everything they want, but being taught at an early age to make decisions is quite good so that these kids grow up confident. Some parents here are not overprotective at all. They provide enough guidance, but give them leeway to make final decisions. Even senior citizens here treasure their freedom. Some of them still drive cars and go to places by themselves, although there are others who need assistance from caregivers or their own families. That’s why retirement homes and villages are so popular.
Husbands want to help out
The men here would want to share responsibilities with the women, especially when they are out and about in the city or in the parks for a walk. This was what I saw during the first days of my visit here that the men would also accompany their babies on strollers.
High schools here present varied options for school kids to take in preparation for university, just like in the United States. Public transport is getting better with new electric trains coming either this year or next year. Kiwis care so much for their environment, they have in place recycling and rubbish collection programs. If a company would like to establish a tunnel or mine in areas where most of the landscape is protected and maintained by the government, citizens would oppose to such projects. There are some whose main jobs are to maintain the cleanliness of the city and the place they live, and the government pays for their salaries. They receive budget allocations for infrastructure and other projects to the point that they need to spend every cent of the allocation, otherwise they will be given smaller allocations in the next financial year.
Some healthcare and hospital care operations are free for citizens and permanent residents. Although some people have health insurance for other operations not covered by the government’s medical program (such as dentist and dermatology related operations and fees), and appointments with general practitioners need to be paid, generally healthcare services here are good. Pretty much you can try different cuisines here at reasonable prices. Being the type who likes to bring a doggy bag (that’s the term when you like to bring the leftover food on the plate home with you), I like it that it’s great value for money when I can have two more meals out of that dish. I have tried Japanese, Korean, Thai, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, French, Kiwi cuisines so far and will yet to try Malaysian, Indonesian, Mediterranean, Singaporean, Cambodian, and many other world cuisines out there, whether or not it’s available in Auckland.People here are paid almost twice as much as the minimum wage worker in the USA. I was shocked to hear that the minimum wage in the USA ranges from US$7 to US$10.74 per hour depending on which state an employee works, while here in New Zealand is NZ$13.75 per hour for employees and NZ$11 an hour for starting-out workers and employees on the training, and this is before taxes. Even when the NZ dollar is converted to US dollars, the minimum wage for regular employees in New Zealand is still a little bit higher than that in the USA. Well, this may change in the future, but at the moment that’s where it stands.The Maoris here are given more respect than the Native American Indians of the USA, the Aborigines of Australia, the Aetas of the Philippines. Although the Maoris would maybe say the contrary, but what they say is always taken into consideration by the national government. And although many locals would say otherwise about their government, when compared to the Philippines, well it’s heaps better I should say. That’s what working in government is all about, serving the people’s needs first.International students have the opportunity to work part-time while studying their courses. And when they get work, they can convert their student visa to work visa, even permanent residency visa when the jobs they apply for are in the official skill shortage list, such as nurses, engineers, IT specialists, accountants, farmers, and many others.Almost everyone here is encouraged to go on an overseas experience trip, more commonly known as OE. In other countries, it’s known as gap year. Because literally New Zealand is way down the rest of the world, people here work hard, save lots of money, then go on an overseas trip generally for a year but can extend if they like. They do take jobs while staying in another country even though they may have money saved and brought with them.
My favorite places so far are: Whangarei, Rotorua, Queenstown, Wanaka, Arrowtown, Dunedin. Have yet to visit many places, and will do as soon as possible.
Now, if you are thinking of coming over to New Zealand, make sure you do your research first and also have more than enough money for your stay. Doing research is very important as the environment here is very different from where you come from. The job that you have in your home country may not necessarily mean you will do the same job here as they actually value local experience than your expertise, at least for the first few years. And even if you’d like to pursue your specialist job here (nurse, engineer, IT, etc.) you need to check if you still need to get qualifications to be able to pursue that same career path as their education system here is different. Proactiveness in finding connections is highly prized here as the country and population is small, you need to get out of your comfort zone and let people know you’re looking for a job. In my experience, I have to do volunteer work at The Salvation Army Family Store for a few months before I got my first full-time job in customer service. I have to also attend a few workshops where writing a Kiwi-style CV and cover letter, and also how to find and establish connections is discussed.
If you are the type of person who can appreciate plants, animals, nature, peaceful nights, then this is a good place for you. Otherwise, you need to find ways to enjoy yourself especially on days off, or you can get bored easily.
For families, make sure only one person comes to New Zealand first as it can be challenging for the first few months of finding a job. And then when you get settled, that’s when you can apply for your family to come and live in New Zealand with you.
As the immigration and visa rules change all the time, you need to keep up to date with those changes. To be honest, I would prefer applying for a visa directly rather than going to an immigration agency. Not only is it cost-effective, but also the rules are pretty much easy to understand. If you need an interpreter to help you understand the rules, you can do that. But if you ever need to go to an immigration agency, make sure to research if that agency is in the official list of registered immigration advisers. This is also important if you don’t want to be taken advantaged of. It doesn’t matter if you know someone who is an immigration adviser, much more important if they are actually registered on the official list. Otherwise, be ready to say goodbye to your money, which I think you don’t really want to do.
Also, the way Kiwis speak is different, including the terms they use in everyday conversation and how they say what they mean. So it’s good to observe how they speak and do things when looking for a job.
Well, until the next post, have a good day! 🙂