New Zealanders work too hard
Emigration to New Zealand: "You have to work hard here too"
Christine Brunner (33) emigrated to Auckland around two years ago. In our new section, she tells how she fared with the Kiwis and what others can expect who are also thinking about moving to New Zealand.
WRM: Why did you choose New Zealand of all places as the new center of your life?
Christine Brunner: In 2006, more or less by chance, I completed a six-month internship abroad in New Zealand and even then toyed with the idea of staying here. In Germany, as a young professional in the media industry, I had a hard time with badly paid jobs and temporary contracts. Getting started in New Zealand wasn't easy either, but it was totally worth it. Our life here is very different: We are much more outdoors in nature or on the beach, have completely new hobbies and enjoy the mild climate in Auckland. Even if it sounds totally clichéd: the people here are simply better off. Not as many complainers, bean counters and know-it-alls as in Germany.
How could you settle in in the new country?
I've been around the world a lot and my English was pretty good when I arrived, so I had no problem settling in at all. I think the language plays a big role. We were fed up with Germany, all the political problems and the euro crisis, and we were sure from the start that we wanted to put down roots in New Zealand. Of course, you have to work hard in New Zealand and nothing is given to you. Since many kiwis don't even see the need to hang in there, you can go a long way here with a healthy Central European work ethic. Anyone who is too pedantic and meticulous, ie too “German”, can easily get offended because the Kiwis see everything a little more relaxed.
What does it take to emigrate to New Zealand?
Only with a qualification that is recognized and sought after in New Zealand is there a chance of obtaining a permanent residence permit. New Zealand has a strict points system, requires a health test and a language test from all immigrants. The times when every hippie was given a visa are long gone.
What kind of work is the easiest to find as a German or Swiss? What is asked, what is less?
There is no general answer to that. Two lists of sought-after occupations, the “Essential Skills Shortage Lists”, which are regularly updated by the New Zealand government, can be a guide. Forums and social networks are also an important source of information. Try to get in touch with someone who lives in New Zealand and who has the same qualifications. This is the only way to get solid information.
What is the best way to go about looking for a job? Are you traveling there or looking from home?
It's difficult either way. Applying from Germany is pretty hopeless. I think it's the biggest mistake that many immigrants make, shipping the kids to New Zealand before you have a job and a visa. This puts you under enormous pressure. When children are involved, the parent with the best job prospects should travel to New Zealand alone and find something. Anyone who says that this is not financially feasible, I can only say: You shouldn't get started without a sufficient financial cushion anyway. Emigrating is expensive.
You write in your blog that the application is not the same as in Germany. You already have to write your CV differently.
On the Internet you can find out what to look for in a New Zealand résumé. There are also free courses for immigrants. For example, you can get support in libraries. The KO. The criterion is often the "kiwi experience", ie work experience in New Zealand. Those who cannot show that are often left behind.
How does the whole thing look economically? Does it even pay off to take a job in New Zealand?
I am part of the internship generation. I never had a well-paid job in Germany. So my expectations weren't that high and I and my husband feel better financially in New Zealand than in Germany. We are now thinking about buying a house. That would never have occurred to us in Germany. If you look around, everyone drives the same Japanese used cars here, most couples can afford a house, and people don't think too much about money when they start a family. Many women go to work even though they have two or three children. That's normal here.
How do you experience the integration into the country? Is it easy to find contacts?
We actually only had positive experiences. Once we spoke to a very old New Zealander in a market. When we mentioned that we are Germans, he said that the Second World War was really stupid of us, but we Germans are hardworking, so he doesn't mind if we stay here. New Zealanders usually know that immigrants bring their qualifications and money with them. Anyone who works is welcome. Chinese or Indian immigrants must have a harder time than Europeans because they look alien. We have a lot of German friends here. The kiwis usually take a little longer to really thaw.
Another personal question: after two years, is New Zealand still the country where you want to grow old?
Yes absolutely. The longer I am here, the less I worry about my future. We want to buy a house and settle here forever. Of course, I sometimes miss my family and my old friends from Germany - but that's all. No, New Zealand is really good for us. It was hard work to get here, but it was totally worth it. I don't want to get political here, but Germany has a few big problems to deal with in the next few years with its demographic problem, uncontrolled immigration and the European Union. New Zealand has already struggled with the economic crisis, but things are looking up and here I am confident about the future.
Christine Brunner reports on her blog at www.kiwifinch.com about her experiences in New Zealand and gives readers who are also thinking of emigrating numerous practical tips.
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