Letters from the Southern Man
Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people.
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This is my last Southern Man Letter from New Zealand for 2011.
My bags are packed, I’m going to do the family thing and then it is off to the peace and quiet of Lang’s Beach in northland for three weeks of not very much.
What a year it has been.
It began as 2010 finished – uncomfortable trading conditions thanks to our Government’s ongoing (but unofficial) cut in migrant numbers, flat property markets in the countries so many of our migrants are sourced from, fewer people being able to realise the equity in their homes that funds the move to New Zealand, a tight labour market here making the prospect of finding work (often to secure residence) daunting and the uncertainty in the global economy causing many a would be migrant to ask themselves if they were jumping out of a local fire into a New Zealand frying pan.
I can tell you though that it has ended on a very positive note – for us anyway. The last few months have been pretty good. Although we all have to work far harder for our clients given their heightened fears about what they are doing and the risks they are taking I am not aware of any client who did not find work and we haven’t had a residence case declined yet that has meant our ‘money back guarantee’ required a refund.
I suspect 2012 will continue to be challenging given the uncertainty in international markets.
It is funny though how we view the world. This week there was a business headline in the local rag that trumpeted a fall in business confidence in the last quarter of 2011. Reading through the survey what it actually said was ‘I am worried about everyone else’s business but actually we are doing pretty well in our own and think the next year will be better than this year for us’.
This was a typical survey finding over the past two years here. We worry about the economy but feel relaxed about our own prospects. Weird how it works but everyone I know from manufacturing through construction to real estate is feeling positive about the year ahead.
New Zealand remains well placed to ride it out with low Government debt (albeit climbing) and everyone I know doing their utmost to pay down their own private debt.
The next few years will see further reform of the welfare system which is simply too generous to too many people and the public servants will be twitching as Government signals they will have to keep delivering quality ‘service’ with fewer people. Should be interesting!
Our Australian operation, Immagine Australia has made great strides and it has been a lot of fun learning Australian policy (just to prove our own Government policy makers aren’t the only people on Earth who understand little about migration and the realities of labour markets). Really good fun to use Australia as the welcome doormat to New Zealand.
We are looking forward to growing that business through 2012.
And so it ends for another year.
Christmas here is not so much religious any more, it is a day pass from the day job. With summer heating up it marks the first day of a well deserved summer break. Beaches, books, good food and family time. If you are lucky a few days at the beach – its free, its clean and the water warming with every passing day.
For me it is as I say off to the beach house up north. The fishing rods are ready, the new fire pit has the wood stacked in it, the wine is stacked, the freezer full of food.
All that remains is for me to thank my dedicated team of consummate professionals for their efforts this year. Jo, Kay, Chris, Paul and Karina all take this break knowing that not only is it well deserved but they can pat themselves on the back for another year in which they made a real difference to people’s lives. We all know how hard migration is – leaving friends and family, homes. Security, jobs and settling in a new country is never easy and is always stressful. This small but dedicated team takes away so much of the fear and I can but thank them all and salute them on behalf of all our clients.
And to finish on a lighter note a Christmas ditty put together by Paul. I promise it won’t fry your computer but will bring a smile to your face.
Take care, look after yourselves, have as Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012.
Until, well, next year
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man