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Immigration Blog


Posts with tag: Migration

Immigration Blog

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork; its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. Understanding Australia & New Zealand at a grass-roots level is paramount to your immigration survival, and to give you a realistic view of both countries, its people and how we see the world, as well as updates about any current or imminent policy changes, subscribe to our regular blog posts by entering your details below.

Tap on tap off

Posted by Iain on April 1, 2022, 11:34 a.m. in New Zealand Politics

It’s easy to turn the migrant tap off.

However, when you want/need/are begging for the skilled migrants to return when you want them, you may well find it takes longer than you’d wish for the ‘flow’ to resume to the levels that existed when you turned the tap off.

After four years of the markets NZ is keen on drawing from, seeing and hearing a lot of what can only be described as anti-immigrant rhetoric out of the past two Labour (led) governments, it is naive, when coupled with the border restrictions, to expect migrants to suddenly pack up sticks and come across to New Zealand.

Trust in New Zealand as an immigration destination is wanting.

The reputational damage done by this Government and its Immigration Department, not just through the time of the (understandable) border closures but the two years before that sending unwelcome signals such as the ban on foreigners buying residential property is very real. You cannot ‘blame’ migrants for housing unaffordability, significantly cut numbers of residence visas, keep migrant families split for years and have a bureaucracy that is poorly managed resulting in blowouts in processing residence visas to between two and three years and remain an attractive destination.

Immigrants were easy targets when it came to politicizing sky rocketing house prices. Who will ever forget Shadow Housing Spokesman Phil Twyford (Labour) suggesting a lot of house sales in Auckland were to people with ‘Chinese looking names’? Hardly laying out the welcome mat is it? Which was strange given the Labour Party has historically been very ‘pro’ migration.

Unemployment in the December 2021 quarter was at 3.2%. Today it is expected to be even lower. That means every person capable of, or interested in, working in NZ is doing so.

Perhaps our greatest economic challenge as we come out of the pandemic is too many jobs and not enough people. Over 70% of employers now quote attracting skills as difficult. Around one in three say it is their biggest headache when running their business. That’s a record high.

Yet last year the Government announced an immigration ‘reset’, signaling big change and making it clear numbers were going to be cut. This language was softened recently and reset became ‘re-balance’ (suggesting tweaks around the margins).

The ‘reset’, it seemed to me at the time, was little more than a time buying exercise as pressure was building from industry, media and migrant groups to give a timeline for rejoining the world or at least easing border restrictions.

Economic reality has now hit the Government in the face like a brick. An economy that the IMF has described as doing very well through the pandemic now needs immigrants, and lots of them. The Government knows we need to quickly ramp up skilled migration but now they have a reputation and messaging issue.

If you can’t believe much they say you can read a lot into their quiet actions.

Last week, having had INZ advertise on their website for months that work visas to cross the border right now (pending the release of their new work visa policy in July) would be required to come with a salary of 1.5 times the median salary (around $84,500), that was quietly changed to be “above the median salary”. Further advice from INZ suggested that it would be at the median salary. That’s around $56,000. This was missed by many in industry and the media. 

The signal last year that they are going to only let in the highly skilled and highly paid seems to have been ditched.

There will be changes to skilled migrant residence policy announced soon but I suspect that it will be around the margins. 

I have written before about leaks, cabinet papers and intel coming to me from generally reliable sources which may well see changes to how points are awarded to skilled migrants, with additional ‘bonus’ points going to those in occupations in acute demand, registrable occupations (for some strange reason) and possibly those on higher salaries. 

I can see the ‘points’ required to receive an invitation to apply or residence increase to perhaps 180 points. That would be less necessary if we returned to a multi-layered points based selection of 1991 to 2016 but over the past ten years immigration policy has been dumbed down to the level of those who need to implement it. The capacity of INZ to comprehend its own policy is a seriously limiting factor these days. 

As the Government ponders the number of residence visas it is going to want to give out most politicians and commentaries continue to miss the point that it matters little how many people we want, the real issue now is how many people will actually want to come here. 

We delude ourselves that pretty landscapes and some mythical lifestyle unobtainable elsewhere will sell this place all thanks to our Covid response. People are not rushing to come and join us no matter how much we want to believe it. 

Pretty landscapes only get us so far. For the past six months or more our Covid response has been the laughing stock of many people overseas who have a very different opinion of NZ today than they had a year or two ago. They’d have joined us a year ago, now we just look like a risk averse nation full of terrified people too scared to go shopping. 

Highly skilled migrants are globally mobile and have many countries to choose from. We are but one. A little one. A long way away. Only a little further to the west is a country that is also beautiful, with lots of pretty landscapes which did not shut its doors to migrants like we did for the past two years, which pays well, which arguably has economies of scale we can only dream about, which in every other respect is very similar culturally and in terms of lifestyle, at least comparable to what we have here. And they are not talking about cutting numbers of migrants. They have not blamed migrants for their ills and they are sending very clear signals the welcome mat is not only out, it was never withdrawn. 

It’s called Australia. 

It’s a shame because very shortly we will be fully open for business. Visa free travel starts for a small number of countries from May. A significant proportion of our skilled migrants have in recent times come from three countries - China, India and South Africa. They are not able to come here till October.

While we smugly pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for our great Covid response, migrants, who were told they weren’t welcome, are looking elsewhere. Some 55,000 skilled and investor category migrants moved permanently to Canada last year from Hong Kong while we cowered behind the raised drawbridge, processing no offshore residence visas. 

It’s a shame because we are potentially going to miss out on thousands of highly skilled, positive and energy filled migrants who are highly employable, desperately needed and who would be welcomed by communities, their friends and families all because we turned the tap off back in March 2020 and now, when it suits us, we want to turn it on again.

I am not buying it if it’s not on the list

Posted by Myer on March 25, 2022, 9:43 a.m. in Skilled Migration

These words are frequently muttered by my wife as she leaves the house on her way to the shops after my entreaty to buy me snacks. They could just as easily be uttered by the Department of Home Affairs with regard to a skilled visa application.

My wife loves order and rules the household by way of lists. I suspect that she was previously employed as an immigration officer before she met me but failed to make this disclosure to me because she knew that my ardour would have cooled.

We have lists for everything in our household and because there is an app for everything a lot of the lists are electronic. At a very early age one of my three sons observed “dad’s the boss at work but mom is the boss at home”. I’m not sure what form of government we have at home, whether it’s a dictatorship, meritocracy or autocracy but I do know that my home life largely revolves around lists.

When I come to work my life also revolves around lists but these lists are created by the Department of Home Affairs relating to occupations that appear on lists that are suitable for different visa types for skilled migrants.

There are more lists created by state governments of occupations that are in demand in their particular state and this is pertinent if you are seeking to be nominated by a state government for one of the state nominated general skilled migration visas (which is almost all skilled migrants these days) and they are relevant to many of our clients based overseas.

Where do all of these lists come from?

In Australia (and New Zealand) we have a very large online directory called ANZSCO (the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) which is compiled by the Department of Statistics in both countries and seeks to provide position descriptions, skill levels and criteria for being regarded as suitably qualified for a particular occupation. It was, many years ago co-opted by the two immigration departments in part to reduce the need for immigration officers to have to apply their minds in assessing whether someone really was an Electrician or primary School Teacher or Dog Groomer or something else entirely.

It’s available online and you can use the search function to find different occupations.

The immigration department and state governments use ANZSCO to compile their lists.

The philosophy behind the lists is that Australia (both federal and state governments) is looking for particular skill sets. You are often required to make sure that you are deemed suitably qualified in an occupation by obtaining a skills assessment conducted by a relevant authority. For example a professional engineer would require a skills assessment by Engineers Australia for a general skilled migration visa application.

Australia is suffering severe skill shortages in a wide range of occupations however we have a general federal election in May of this year and the government has said that they are not going to be increasing the annual migration quota of 160,000 permanent resident places notwithstanding the severe skill shortages. No government ever wins votes through an expanded immigration program notwithstanding the needs of an economy so this is not particularly surprising, however we are speculating that more occupations will be added to the list of occupations suitable for skilled migration and also the proportion of skilled migration to other forms of permanent resident visas will revert to pre-pandemic ratios of two thirds of the migration program allocated to skilled migrants and one third to the rest.

That’s good news if you are a skilled migrant overseas because there will be a larger annual quota of general skilled visas.

The pass mark for independent Sub Class 189 visas has been incredibly high over the last few years because the quota of available visas has shrunk from a high level of 33,500 places to the current measly quota of 6,500 places thereby pushing up the pass mark beyond what 99% of people can achieve.

As far as state nominated visas are concerned, however, whilst their pass mark is fixed, a larger annual quota will result in more expansive lists of occupations on the part of state governments which is a good thing if you need to apply for a state nominated visa.

The annual budget is expected on Tuesday evening next week which is when the annual migration quota is announced and with a sleight of hand the government could be increasing the proportion of skilled migration to Australia without increasing the annual quota.

Again, good news if you are intending to migrate under one of Australia’s skilled programs, not such good news if you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident planning on a spouse or partner visa as processing times of these visas will get longer if what we speculate comes to pass.

So how do you know if your occupation is going to appear on a list?

The short answer is you don’t and you might be excused for thinking that you don’t want to incur the costs associated with English-language test and skills assessments (being pre-requisites to secure state sponsorship) if your occupation is not going to be on the list but we tend to find that history repeats itself as far as state nomination lists are concerned. In other words if your occupation has appeared on a state nomination list previously it is a good indication that it’s likely to appear again as skills shortages have increased, not abated.

Just like my home life getting into Australia is all about lists. Not being expert in interpreting them may mean you don’t end up with the outcome you wanted. Just like me and chocolate. 

Want Residence? Maybe You Don't Need Qualifications

Posted by Iain on May 13, 2017, 11:57 a.m. in Government

A week after receiving the new points that attach to the various skilled migrant criteria in August 2017 (and both modelling and testing in the field on over 150 consultations so far in South Africa and SE Asia this past week), it is very interesting who wins and who loses from these changes.

Clearly, owing to the new salary thresholds attaching to skilled job offers, those with entry level jobs (international graduates studying in NZ by and large) are clear losers unless the role they secure is highly skilled (think many Engineering, IT, Technical and Trades roles).

Those with more entry level and ‘white collar’ or hospitality/restaurant/tourism jobs will lose owing salaries for those sorts of occupations coming in under the new threshold of $48,800. I’m thinking Chefs, Bar staff, banking, insurance, marketing, sales, Secretaries/PAs and many of the roles in what is known as Part C of Appendix 6 (list of occupations deemed to be skilled) in the rule book.

What has been very interesting to me is how many people I am meeting who will qualify after August 14 who do not qualify today.

With the pass mark at 160 most people today require qualifications – trade, technical or academic representing 2-4 years of study.

However, come August 14, even at 160 points, many people with no (or low level) qualifications, will qualify but will usually require a job offer outside of Auckland.

Anyone aged between, say 30 and 45 years old that has ten years of skilled work experience and a skilled job outside of Auckland now scores at least 160 points. I have seen many people in this situation this week.

That leads me to ponder something I read last week in the paper Immigration Department officials sent to the Government in which they said they believe that these points ‘spreads’ would deliver the government their target of 27,000. I was sceptical of that and to some extent I still am given the sheer numbers of international graduates that have been swamping the SMC pool in recent years, who are now going to struggle to qualify but there might be something to it.

That has led me to conclude the pressure on Government to drop the pass mark to achieve its targets might not be as great as it was nor the need to do so in the short term so great.

That reinforces my belief that there will be no pass mark fall before the election in September – the Government won’t wish to be accused of not going tough on immigration (even though they really haven’t). 

As mentioned in previous blogs the media swallowed the ‘toughening and cutting’ line hook, line and sinker even though Government hasn’t (and has no intention of) cutting a single visa from the NZ Residence programme.

And what does all of this tell you?

International graduates from NZ institutions were a problem that needed to be dealt with. They were the ‘problem’ for the Government and the new points and salary thresholds has eliminated the problem.

What we will see over the next few months is a return to the historic profile of skilled migrant NZ traditionally sought – those aged 30-45 won’t need qualifications to get in.

If you have any questions about your eligibility -use theis link to order an assessment of your options:


Until next week...

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

Labour Market and Economy Strong

Posted by Iain on Oct. 7, 2016, 2 p.m. in Auckland

I am not really into writing dry pieces on the state of the labour market but given the reality that many of you need jobs to secure your resident visas, most of you are not all that familiar with skill demand in the NZ labour market, and your world view is shaped by local conditions in your own countries (affirmative action policies in South Africa and Malaysia, for example), it is worth the effort then to ‘paint a picture’ of the state of things in NZ though to June this year.

It is all looking very encouraging.

Looking at the full report recently issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who track these things, I have never seen so many ‘hockey sticks’ in their graphs of everything from net migration through labour market participation rates to new fulltime jobs being created. 

It is a good time to be an English speaking migrant looking for a job in New Zealand.

Key highlights are:


  • Economic growth in the year ending September 2016 was 3.6% - highest in the developed world
  • In the calendar year to the end of September approximately 78,000 new fulltime jobs have been created. Growth in new jobs is outstripping population growth
  • Average hours worked increased by 5.7% (indications of labour and skill shortages) in the June quarter
  • Record levels of net migration has seen the labour market participation rate expand to its highest level ever i.e. there are more people working than at any point in the past and this number is up by 105,000 people in the year ending June 2016 to around 2.4 million
  • Auckland and Canterbury continue to be the centres of job creation
  • Wages are growing faster than inflation (0.4%) at around 2% net wage growth – so we are becoming incrementally better off
  • Construction drove growth over the first quarter of the year, jobs filled expanding by 4.9 percent. 
  • Health care and social assistance (both private and public health care) was up 2.7 percent.
  • Accommodation and food services (14,000 new fulltime jobs) and construction (12,000 new jobs) contributed the most to the increase in the number of filled jobs over the year to June 2016
  • Business confidence remains high with all sectors of the economy expanding from services to manufacturing to horticulture. The one gloomy industry in recent times has been dairy with low farm-gate prices over the past two years also turning around in recent weeks with auction prices up around 30% across the board


Tourism numbers continue to surge particularly from China and more airlines than ever are flying into the country – American and United are once again flying into the city and on an almost weekly basis a new Asian airline touches down.

Auckland continues to groan under the pressure of these tourists with not enough hotels being built to accommodate them all. Nice problem to have.

We are about to kick off the busiest cruise ship season ever with around 100 cruise liners expected to tie up in downtown Auckland.

Major roading and infrastructure projects are now coming online across Auckland with the last piece of our extensive new freeway network set to open by year's end transforming the travel times across this city (not before time) and driving urban and commercial growth away from the central isthmus.

It is all go!

Told you it was dry, but at least it’s a happening little corner of the world.

Until next week.

Iain MacLeod 

Southern Man – Letter from New Zealand

Tags: Migration

Is there a flood of migrants?

Posted by Iain on Sept. 9, 2016, 3:09 p.m. in IMMagine

Edmund Burke famously said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

I told myself following the screening this week of Nigel Latta’s The Hard Stuff: Immigration that I wouldn’t lower myself and comment on the ill-informed, ignorant garbage that people have been posting online, on our Facebook page, in emails and I'd be big enough to ignore the usual political suspects and their xenophobic rantings in response to the episode, but I can’t. 

I have long said I know nothing about a lot, but when it comes to this subject, I know a lot about immigration.

Winston Peters, leader of NZ First has (as one might expect for someone that feeds local xenophobia presumably and at least in part to keep his tax payer funded Parliamentary salary) this week released a press statement, and among other things said:

"Mr Latta claims the level of immigrants coming to New Zealand has been stable for the last 10 years and people are not flooding in."

"That's odd considering last month Statistics New Zealand said New Zealand's population grew by 97,000 in the year ended June 2016 – the largest increase ever – and that it was driven by record levels of international migration."

Yes, the population has grown (we do have babies) and there are around 65,000 more people here than the year before through net migration, but only 45,000 or so were 'foreigners' and the recipients of a resident visa, meaning they can stay long term.

What Mr Peters wilfully exploits is how Statistics New Zealand defines a migrant.

Latta explained this very succinctly and accurately. Peters, ever the grandstanding and ultimate celebrity Politician, continues to twist these numbers to tell a story that is frankly false.

Here is how a migrant is defined: anyone that enters or leaves this country is required to complete an arrival and departure card. If, when you land, you state that you ‘intend’ staying for 12 months or longer, you are classified as an immigrant.

If, when you are leaving, you state that you intend spending the next 12 months outside of New Zealand you have emigrated and left the country ‘permanently’ for statistical purposes, irrespective of what you actually end up doing.

And this, as Nigel Latta correctly pointed out, paints a distorted picture of migration because the bulk of those arriving and declaring they ‘intend spending more than 12 months’ in New Zealand are in fact a mix of Holiday Working Visa holders, other temporary work visa holders, international students and New Zealanders and Australians coming home or to settle. 

The Holiday Working Visa, other work visa and International Students do not hold and the majority will not ever get (and it might be noted, do not want) a resident visa. If they do stay and qualify for a resident visa they form part of the Government’s annual target of 45,000 resident visas which has not changed for years and has not been exceeded, meaning, simply – the number of places available to permanent migrants is more or less completely static and is strictly controlled. Has been for years and years.

There is no flood.

Thing is, Peters is not as stupid as those that believe his press releases – he knows full well the majority of those he labels ‘migrants’ are here on finite short term visas.

Holiday Working Visas are not renewable and most are valid for 12 months. Some are a bit longer but never more than two years. These people statistically have all migrated to New Zealand. Yet the overwhelming majority leave when their visa is up.

Equally, International Students, of which at any given time there are tens of thousands, all tick the 'staying for more than 12 months' box because their courses are usually 12-36 months in duration. These people statistically have all migrated to New Zealand "permanently".

It is also true that with strong economic growth and being a great place to live and raise a family, New Zealand is currently the victim of its own success. Far fewer New Zealanders are looking to leave the country for pastures greener and we are seeing unprecedented numbers of Australians joining us and New Zealanders returning home from Australia. When the Australian economy picks up again this trend might reverse and more Kiwis may head back that way for economic opportunity. 

This cyclic movement is contributing to house price pressure but the ‘flood’ that Peters and the "chatterati" keep going on about is not ‘foreigners’ but New Zealanders choosing not to leave the country or returning home and the least foreign of all, Australians, coming with them (often their partners).

Interesting also this week, the Leader of the Opposition weighed in and showed his own depths of ignorance – he commented that we have 6000 people in New Zealand on work visas to work as labourers which he will stop because we have "15,000 unemployed New Zealand labourers".

To be clear, to get a work visa all employers have to satisfy very stringent rules around genuinely trying to fill these vacancies locally and the Immigration Department must be satisfied these foreign workers are not taking the job from a local. And believe me, they do check. Rigorously. The only reason work visas are being issued to anyone is because local employers cannot find anyone locally – I’ll say it till I am blue in the face – no employer I have ever met is ever willing to go through the work visa process to employ foreigners when there are qualified and experienced locals with the right attitude to choose from. I never see it happen.

It takes too much time and effort to employ foreigners, so the need has to be very real. 

I should also add that one of the work visa rules states that the foreign worker cannot be paid any less than the local would for the same job and this is also checked – so the garbage spouted about migrants driving down local wages and this fairytale that migrants will work for peanuts is simply that – garbage. An employer caught doing it faces very strict penalties.

At the more skilled end of the scale there is another uncomfortable reality and that is the small number of locally unemployed no longer have the skills necessary to fill the tens of thousands of skilled jobs being created. There is a clear mismatch between what employers need and what is floating about the local labour market. That suggests we have an issue with our education system but not the immigration system.

Unfortunately in a world where immigration issues are increasingly dominating national politics we are going to continue to see Politicians without another platform exploit the innate sense of distrust we humans have about outsiders.

Our own IMMagine Facebook page received (predictably) a trickle of abuse following the Monday night programme. I have no issue with intelligent, informed, respectful and grown up debate, but one thing I will not tolerate is the ignorant, ill-informed and xenophobic attacking the clients we have helped make this place their home – filling jobs that locals could not or would not fill and who have risked an awful lot in bringing their skills to this country.

Yes it is a two way street – we get the skills and they get one of the world’s best keep secrets. But they have taken nothing, robbed us of less – in fact they have strengthened the country to a man (and woman) in so many ways that extend beyond their skills sets.

I just hope that as the election cycle heats up here over the next year, that people try and stay informed about immigration and see the grandstanding of the Political ‘elite’ for what it is – a desperate attempt to buy votes off a small number of backward looking people who are easily exploited. Adolf Hitler did it pretty successfully. Trump is looking not dissimilar. Brexit happened largely because of it. Europe is going to be in turmoil over this for years.

Permanent immigration to New Zealand is strictly controlled and let no Politician convince you otherwise.

Like it or not, understand the issues or not, we cannot and should not turn our back on the world. 

We should, however, turn our back on political peddlers of lies.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod - Managing Director, IMMagine Australia & New Zealand

Southern Man

Migration Seed Comes in Many Forms

Posted by Iain on Nov. 13, 2015, 1:31 p.m. in Immigration

I was fascinated to see on Google Trends this week a tenfold spike in the UK of two key search words migration and New Zealand during the middle and end of October.

There is little doubt in my mind that these many thousands of listless Brits were turned on to the idea of a move to New Zealand owing to little more than the theatre, performance and success of our national rugby team at the Rugby World Cup (for those of you not into rugby the All Blacks went on to win in style defeating the cocky Aussies in the final).

It got me thinking about all the little influences that go into migration to a country.

Like many people I have always assumed that the decision to migrate is an economic one - and it often is. Or a social one, to join friends or family. It often happens because of marriage or entering a relationship with a local. It is sometimes simply a result of what might unkindly be labelled a mid-life crisis and a need for change - a rather extreme big, scary and challenging change.

I can now perhaps add sporting success and what it signals to the list of influences. I dont exclude the possibility it is perhaps nothing more than curiosity - New Zealand was settled more or less by the British, the England team were knocked out in the pool stage so perhaps our success led many to ask what is it that makes this little country on the other side of the world produce such world beaters?

Or was it just that Dan Carters chiselled chin and high cheekbones or Sonny Bill Williams, the baby faced assassin with thundering thighs that led tens of thousands of British women to wonder if all Kiwi males look like them. Well, I can only speak for myself of course, and, cough cough, perhaps there is something in that...

But I digress. I was talking about what might make people interested in migration.

I did a check of South Africa having seen these results from Google Trends on the UK and saw the same huge spike using the two search terms migration + New Zealand.

That then made me realise that there are all sorts of little triggers that might lead someone down the path of migration to a country. I never really expected sporting success would be one of them, but perhaps it isnt the success - maybe it is simply exposing an audience to we New Zealanders as a people (or how they might perceive us to be as people - sorry ladies - not everyone here looks like Dan Carter or SBW).

The All Blacks are a very strong brandThe fact is they also do tell a story abut who we are as a people - many ethnicities, one jersey, one team, born of a true meritocracy. Nothing contrived. A little country can be great and punch well above its weight in so many ways.

I am sure that the success of the All Blacks has also resonated with many South Africans. I noted the same huge spike in Google trends through late November there.

This unified and successful team speaking of what it is to be a New Zealander on that field seems to have hit a chord with South Africans. I suspect though for different reasons to the British. I was in South Africa earlier this year when their team for the World Cup was announced. The public spats in mainstream and social media began within minutes of the team being announced - not enough black players, not enough coloured players, too many players of colour were picked who would never get a game simply to make the team more representative of the black majority, blah, blah, blah.

It reached the usual ludicrous and borderline pathetic crescendo when the racial background of Damian De Allende was trotted out - apparently this guy is mixed race. Google him. Tell me if youd notice. Tell me if you care. He is quite simply one of the finest back line players in South Africa today who anywhere else in the civilised world would have gained his slot on merit - as I would like to think he did with the Springboks - irrespective of whether he is of mixed race or not.

Youll never hear any of that said about the All Blacks and in that they represent what New Zealand is as a country. When these guys pull on that black jersey and do that haka (maori challenge) no one here ever sees anything but New ZealanderNo one gives a toss whether they are black, white, half this, three quarters that. I am sure that this sends a very powerful message to South Africans who are sick and tired of living in a country where it seems everyone is either too this or too that for some sector of the population.

And so it is New Zealand can leverage off the All Blacks in a very positive even if perhaps unexpected way.

It isnt limited to sport either.

In New Zealand, the Government was widely criticised some years ago for offering major movie studios tax breaks for making (really expensive and fit for global release) movies in New Zealand (a country where expecting let alone getting any sort of assistance or subsidy from Government is almost thought heretical). 

Yet I saw very quickly with the release of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy an almost immediate upswing in email enquiries from, but not limited to, the US about migrating to middle Earth (God, I hope the Americans realised that LOTR wasnt real and New Zealand wasnt really all Mordor, Wizards and short people with large hairy feet or they may have been disappointed). Yet come they did and some decided to stay and others decided to invest.

More and more movies have been made here which has created not just an entire industry and infrastructure employing thousands of New Zealanders (think Weta Workshop for everything special effects and high tech movie wizardry) but indirectly creating a pipeline of migrants and a surprising number from the US - historically not a source country for migrants. Some of these migrants were very wealthy and they in turn have established new businesses and opportunities and when you ask them why they came to New Zealand initially theyll tell you they went to the movies one night and saw LOTR...

The migration seed seems to germinate in some of the strangest ways, but it often begins not at a migration expo in England, on a government website or even at a migration seminar in Johannesburg but in a movie theatre or watching sport on TV.

Go figure.


Until next week.

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man


Tags: Migration

Crime -South African style

Posted by Iain on Oct. 9, 2015, 3:25 p.m. in Crime

Sitting on our deck up the beach house on Sunday enjoying some early summer sun my wife and I were jolted from our dozing by a car pulling into the driveway. Not expecting visitors we hauled ourselves off our loungers to see who it was. A good friend had clambered out of his car and was cussing and cursing. Turns out he and his wife had been at an ‘open (show) home’  that was for sale an hour or so further up the coast. Having poked their noses into all corners of the property they had set off for a walk along the sheltered and picturesque beach.

When they got back to their car my friend realised that he had lost his wallet. Mildly concerned but not too worried because there weren’t many people about he retraced his steps feeling confident he’d find it. Given however there had been some leaping over rocks on an incoming tide when he couldn’t find it he assumed it had been washed away. Credit cards, cash, driver’s license – the whole caboodle.

I asked him if he had been in touch with the credit card companies and cancelled his cards.

‘Nah’ he said ‘I’m pretty sure someone will find it and hand it in’.

‘Yeah’ I replied, ‘You are probably right’ (not really believing it).

A cup of coffee later and a wander around our property with us we all returned to the sun drenched deck to catch up.

Within ten minutes of sitting down his cellphone rang.

Is that Grant? asked the caller.

Yes it is, he replied.

Lost your wallet?


I’ve got it. You still in the area?

No, I’m halfway back to Auckland.

No problem, I’m the local Constable. I’ll courier it down to your local police station in the morning and it’ll be there by lunch time…..

Thanks mate…

Wallet and all it contained now back in Auckland.

Now this could happen anywhere. I know that. It just seems these things have a much higher chance of happening here in New Zealand.

It would have been very tempting for someone to have held on to that wallet or taken the cash and credit card and dumped it. But they didn’t. They did the right thing.

I reflected on this while scanning the latest crime statistics out of South Africa earlier this week kindly sent to me by a client just before I pack a bag and fly back there.  I leave tomorrow morning to give another series of seminars in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban – the aim of which is to try and help people understand what sort of country New Zealand is if they are allowed to come and live here and spend time with those that want it to assess their eligibility to do so.

Crime is sometimes  high on South Africans reasons for wanting to emigrate but it isn’t usually number one which beggars belief for me as a Kiwi.

I always talk about crime in New Zealand when I present seminars in South Africa as part of a desire to paint a realistic picture of life here – it ain’t all peaches and cream if it isn't obvious.

When I talk about crime I am quick to remind audiences we are not crime free. I have been burgled. Recently one of my sons had a car window smashed (he wasn’t in it) to gain entry to steal whatever he had in the car (which was nothing). So we have crime but overwhelmingly it is crime against property and not people.

Crime in New Zealand across every category has been falling for over a decade – fewer murders, fewer robberies, fewer burglaries and less violent crime. Safer streets. The one exception is sexual assaults which are statistically increasing – explained however by those that analyse these things to be less of an increase in actual criminal offending and more a willingness to report it by victims. Nothing to be proud of to be sure, one is too many – but if the rate of actual offending isn’t going up, simply more people are willing to report it, it is not a situation getting worse.

South Africa on the other hand is off the charts. The population of South Africa is estimated to be around 55 million (no one really knows). The population of New Zealand has just gone through 4.6 million (we do know). So in rough numbers their population is maybe 11 times our own.

In the past 12 months South Africa reported:

·         Murders – 17,500 (up 4.6%). That is no typo.  New Zealand had 38.

·         Attempted murder – 17,500.

·         Sexual offences -   53,000 (down 5.4% - less reporting?)

·         Total assaults  - 340,000

·         Robbery – 55,000

·         Carjacking – 12,700 (up 14%). I don’t think NZ had one.

·         Robbery of premises 20,000 (up 5%)

To put that murder figure into some perspective, if New Zealanders murdered one another on a similar per capita rate to South Africans we would kill about 1,500 Kiwis a year. A bad year here is 50. A typical year is 35-40.

Got to paint a picture about your odds of being a victim of serious crime here.

Or to put it, another way in the decade the US had troops in Iraq fighting a war they lost about 4400 servicemen and women killed in battle. That people, was a war. And over almost a decade. South Africa (not a war apparently) kills around four times as many of its own citizens on their streets and in their homes as the US lost in a decade long war, every single year.

Quite horrifying numbers, yet there are still plenty of South Africans who live in their houses on the golf estates (protected by armed security) looking out of their windows (burglar guarded and barred) to their lovely gardens (surrounded by 2 metre concrete plastered walls topped with electrified razor wire) wondering why anyone leaves.

My advice is to get out more . Out of the country.

I am amazed how many people tell me that they lead great lives and they aren’t really affected by crime. Where I live we describe such living conditions as a ‘prison’. A guilded cage perhaps, but a cage nonetheless.

And so I return tomorrow to the South African 'war zone' for the last trip for me of 2015.

Packing my Kevlar when I finish writing this. Not really but I do sometimes wonder….

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

Lies, damned lies and migrants.

Posted by Iain on Feb. 21, 2015, 1:24 p.m. in Immigration

As I have written about previously New Zealand appears to love statistics - if it breathes - measure it, if it moves - time it and if it has migrated here, follow it’s fortunes.


It makes for some interesting insights.


I usually allow people to leave comments to any blog post I have written for up to 12 months - I have tried to create a forum for people to share and learn. Even when the evidence seems to contradict the comment.


One blog in particular has struck a chord - Is New Zealand a racist country’?  I posted it months ago but it still draws comment -  the most vocal (and inarticulate but heartfelt) being from what I assume are a small group of young adult Asians who moved here when they were young. Two in particular dispute my claim that by and large this country is not racist and that New Zealanders are on the whole not prone to judging others on a one to one basis. 


I have left these comments up because I am sure their experiences are real and valid and should be made public - after all our central message here at Immagine is no place is paradise and no place is perfect. I am saddened because the two (young?) people that posted the most vigorous of comments never took me up on my invitation to share exactly what their experiences were. I genuinely felt it would be valuable for them to share what had happened to them.


In no way suggesting their experiences were not real it is interesting that in the Longitudinal Survey of Migrants carried out by the NZ Government for the past 15 years or so the picture painted is more complex than the feedback from one or two clearly unimpressed young migrants might suggest.


This ongoing survey has sought to measure migrant expectations and experiences and the significant majority have reported no overt or covert racism.


Here are the findings so far:


  •  Most new migrants felt both welcomed and safe in New Zealand, while a small proportion of migrants reported facing challenges. 
  •  About a quarter of migrants felt they had experienced at least one incident of discrimination, usually in a public place or at work.


While a quarter of migrants felt they had experienced at least one incident of discrimination, usually in a public place or at work, experiences of discrimination varied across region of origin. Migrants from North Asia and South East Asia were more likely to report experiencing discrimination than migrants from all other regions. Migrants from the UK/Irish Republic, South Africa, Europe, North America, and the Pacific were less likely to report discrimination.


Which probably stands to reason. The less like the dominant cultural, linguistic, ethnic and/or religious group you have just joined, the more likely it is that you may suffer some slight.


Interestingly Auckland shows the least reporting of racism or perceived discrimination and this I strongly suspect reflects the fact this is an international city with international outlooks and values. While I never feel it appropriate to talk about ‘celebrating cultural diversity’ (because where does that really happen?) it is quite true to say that this tolerance gene that virtually all New Zealanders carry has been on display nowhere more than Auckland.


It is however perhaps a different story outside of Auckland. I do hear stories of non-anglo saxon migrants sometimes not being made to feel very welcome in Christchurch for example.  I am sure that the more conservative and insular smaller towns and cities with dominant mono-cultures would adapt more slowly to any change in their cultural make up .Christchurch is a city where only 20% of a 400,000 local population are ’foreign born’ whereas Auckland sits at over 40% of 1.5 million).

I had dinner a few nights ago at Waipu Cove with friends and we got to taking about this. In the small town of Waipu a Vietnamese family own the local bakery. Mum and Dad speak English but are heavily accented. They have three children, all of whom I understand were either born here or arrived very young. The 13 year old son was typical of these South Asian migrant children - generation 1.5 as they are called.


Mum finishes work at 2am and heads off to bed. Dad gets up at 3am to get the next days’ food baked. The kids, seeing themselves as Kiwi kids, simply wanted to spend their time at the beach over summer and having fun with their mates. Mum and Dad however have very clear expectations that all the childen will help out in the bakery.


And so there is clear tension - these kids who are not quite Vietnamese and not completely Kiwi either. They are pulled in two different directions.


What is interesting is this young lad said he has never felt unwelcome and I’d be thinking if anyone was likely to he would in this small, largely mono-cultural town.


My conclusion has long been that although Governments go to great lengths to weed out ‘suitable’ migrants from unsuitable I believe that as a nation we get faster ‘value’ from those most like us linguistically and culturally as they can (and are allowed) to assimilate most quickly. The less like the dominant culture they are the longer the time frame to get the benefit and that ‘benefit’ is defined as economic it is not the parents, not even their children (the ‘1.5ers’), but the grandchildren who will be ‘local’ in virtually very way.


Of course a successful migrant does not come ‘pre-cast’. The Vietnamese owners of that local bakery are contributing to the local economy and community and raising three children who are all being urged (pushed more likely) to not become bakers but to become something ‘better’ (in their parents eyes).


There is a lot of really good stuff in this Longitudinal Survey and I encourage anyone thinking of moving here to read the findings. There is no agenda with these statistics and they do tend to reflect hat I hear from my clients who have settled here - it is not racist, people do have good overall experiences in the settling in process but equally the less like me you look, the less like me you sound when you open your mouth and the more unpronounceable your name is to me, the harder that process can be.


You can read more here.


Until next week


Iain MacLeod


Southern Man

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