New Zealand, with its unique blend of Maori and European cultures combined with spectacular scenery, is one of the most popular destinations for both tourists and emigrants. In a country the size of the UK or Japan, with a population of only 4.75 million, there is less pressure on space and natural resources than in most developed countries and consequently lower congestion and pollution. The temperate climate allows you to enjoy all that New Zealand has to offer.
Over 30% of the land is dedicated to national parks and other protected areas. It is a land of soaring mountains, spectacular glaciers, picturesque lakes, volcanic plateaux and thermal wonderlands, as well as miles of glorious coastline. Anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit will have an idea of how dramatic the landscape can be.
The popularity of New Zealand as a tourist destination is reflected in the fact that the New Zealand government has announced that it will be introducing a ‘tourism tax’ of NZ$35 (£18) to “contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural environment they enjoy.” With a 17% increase in tourism in 2017 this provides a potentially attractive income stream for the New Zealand government and, although the cost is not presently high, there could be a temptation to increase it in the future.
Expats see the attractions as well and Auckland was ranked 3rd in Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Life Rankings. In HSBC’s Expat Explorer 2017 Survey, New Zealand was ranked third overall and top for quality of life.
New Zealand provides a safe and secure environment and Kiwis are generally open-minded and relaxed, but the traditions built upon taming the wild lands of New Zealand mean that they are also practical, strong and self-reliant.
It is a multi-cultural society based on the melding of ideas and cultures from the indigenous Maori people and the European and Asian arrivals. The Maoris retain their identity even though over 70% of the population now are of European heritage. Although intermarriage has blurred the distinction, at least 9% are estimated to be native Maori. Their language, Te Reo, is an official language along with English and New Zealand Sign Language.
Just short of a quarter of New Zealanders were born outside New Zealand. The Maori word Manaakitanga refers to the spirit of welcome: surveys confirm that expats are able to settle in easily and find Kiwi people friendly and welcoming. With food and hospitality at the heart of the Maori tradition, picnics on the beach and barbecues with neighbours provide the opportunity to integrate with the local community and build friendships. The slower pace of life is part of its charm, but it can take some getting used to if you are more used to the frenetic lifestyle of big city living.
This all leads to a society open to new arrivals and used to helping them to settle in. Work is taken seriously, but generally a balance between work and home and family life is given more emphasis than in many western countries today. With commuting less of a challenge even in the major cities, there is more time to spend with family and friends with the emphasis very much on an active outdoor lifestyle.
It is common to socialise with work colleagues. For birthdays and other special events, a ‘bring a plate’ occasion where everyone brings some food to share are common. If someone is hosting the event and ‘shouting’, it indicates that they are providing the food and drink. An after-work drink is popular and New Zealand has a drinking culture, but non-alcoholic drinks are fine.
Sport is a very important to Kiwis both as a spectator and as a participant. The mighty All Blacks in Rugby Union are a national obsession and achieve a level of success disproportionate to the size of the country. Rugby League is well-followed. Football is increasingly popular and there are more people playing football in New Zealand than any other sport. In the summer cricket dominates, but athletics is also popular, in particular long-distance events.
Netball is the most popular women’s sport and basketball for men and field hockey for men and women are other well-liked participation sports. New Zealand also has more golf courses per capita than any other country in the world. All sports are popular, however, and the outdoor focus leads to the widespread interest in boating, fishing, diving, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing and kite boarding amongst many others.
This is a great place to bring up a family with easy access to sports and an outdoor lifestyle. The beaches, lakes, forests and mountains provide a dramatic backdrop and plenty of opportunity to swim, walk and enjoy nature. The work-life balance allows parents to spend more time with their family and the highly rated education system provides opportunities for children to develop their talents. If the need arises the government subsidies allow New Zealand residents to benefit from free or low-cost healthcare.
Working in New Zealand
New Zealand currently has the lowest unemployment rate in eight years, standing at 4.4% in the first quarter of 2018. With inflation at 1.1% there is little pressure on wages. Employment conditions are expected to remain strong, with Government forecasts of an average growth rate of 2.9% a year over the next five years.
New Zealand Now paint a positive picture for the prospects for those seeking to work in New Zealand:
‘Prices for our commodities (particularly dairy products) have slipped recently and business confidence is falling back. However, the influences that have underpinned recent strong growth still apply – migration generating more demand, post-earthquake construction activity in Canterbury and growth in domestic incomes creating jobs. So, on balance, the government expects employment to remain strong over the next three years but to grow but at a slowing rate.’
They point out that, although the re-construction of Christchurch following the earthquake is playing a less prominent role, employment growth has been seen in manufacturing, mainly in food production, machinery and equipment manufacturing and textile manufacturing. Business services and construction are expected to continue to drive employment in the short term.
New Zealand is open to qualified new arrivals and an attractive option for those looking to work or find a new life abroad.