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Reaching out to expat Kiwis

Written By: - Date published: 7:05 am, April 19th, 2011 - 61 comments
Categories: economy, education, International - Tags: , ,

The Kiwi expat association Kea has initiated an interesting project:

“Census” of overseas New Zealanders under way

Kea New Zealand has launched a global ‘census’ of expatriate New Zealanders, Every Kiwi Counts, aimed at connecting the estimated one million Kiwis living overseas.

“New Zealanders living outside the country are some of our most talented people, and already make a big contribution to the country’s future development,” says Sue Watson, Global Chief Executive of Kea New Zealand, which has 29,000 members around the world.

Every Kiwi Counts is focused on finding out more about these important citizens, and enabling them to make even stronger connections with home,” Dr Watson says.

Unfortunately at the same time the government has its own plans:

Crackdown on student loan repayments

The Government continues to look at ways to crack down on students who have gone overseas and aren’t making their loan repayments. New Zealanders currently owe $11 billion in student loans. Of that total, $2.3 billion is owed by people living overseas.
Paying off their students loan isn’t usually high on the list of things to do, Education Minister Steven Joyce says. …

The crackdown could bring in $400 million in the next four years.

The Kea “census” seems like a great idea. Linking our expats back in to NZ should be a win for all concerned. But there’s a problem. Is there anything in these CERA days to prevent the government from requiring Kea to pass over any information they demand? (The Kea privacy policy is pretty generic.) If I was an expat with a big student loan I’d be wary of signing up for the census. And that’s a great pity.

This Nat government always opts for the narrow minded, punitive approach. Instead of chasing our expats for an entirely hypothetical return, we should be reaching out to them, embracing them, making them welcome back home, as Kea is attempting to do. Instead of a crack down, how about an amnesty? I bet the economic benefits would well exceed $400 million.

61 comments on “Reaching out to expat Kiwis ”

  1. erentz 1

    But what is there for expats in NZ these days? I’m thinking of leaving precisely because the country is doing so poorly under this crazy Government and it sickens me to live in a country that worships people like John Key. There aren’t jobs for the expats here. There aren’t comparitive wages for them here. There’s less and less a good environment for them here. So on.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +1

    • rosy 1.2

      I’ve just filled the form in. There is a question about what in New Zealand you are most proud about… I couldn’t answer it! I’m living in a social democratic country and I’m sure people I know here would be as appalled as I am about growing inequalities and poor democratic processes. Lucky their interest doesn’t go beyond the pretty bits of NZ.

  2. PeteG 2

    Instead of a crack down, how about an amnesty?

    That would not be fair on all those still in New Zealand who are paying off or who have paid off their loans, nor would it be fair on all those overseas who have paid off or are paying off their loans.
     
    Graduates going overseas to earning more money should be more able to honour the debts they took on, and having used our education for their own benefit rather than staying and contributing to the country they should pay something for the privilege. Shouldn’t they?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Hey is PeteG talking about “FAIRNESS” when John Key gave himself a $1000 pw tax cut?
       
      When Bill English’s household got a $300 pw tax cut?
       
      These student loan repayments are going to be used to fund even more tax cuts for the rich.
       
      Funny, PeteG’s idea of fairness seems to be fairness FOR THE RICH, screw down EVERYONE ELSE
       

      • PeteG 2.1.1

        Hey, is CV’s idea of fairness allowing graduates who go overseas and get rich to ignore debts incurred in New Zealand that gave them the qualifications that enabled them to bugger off and get rich?

        • Bored 2.1.1.1

          OK CV and PeteG, if we are going to talk about fairness here is my version of a fair policy for students….
          ·         All student debts cancelled because they represent intergenerational theft.
          ·         Free tuition for students as an investment in our society’s future.
          ·         Higher employer levies / taxes to fund students (which can be off set against the current expectation of higher wages because they have paid for a piece of paper).
          ·         High cost courses (medical etc) bonded to avoid graduates going offshore until the country has received a return.

          • PeteG 2.1.1.1.1

            ·         All student debts cancelled because they represent intergenerational theft.

            Just for those students who have not paid their loans back? To be fair it would need to be retrospective.
             
            Any idea how much your fairness would cost?

            • Bored 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes retrospective, a lot of cash to be funded by a reversal of tax cuts and a tax on financial transactions that do not involve the movement of goods and services.

              • McFlock

                More to the point, why is PeteG suddenly concerned with “fairness”?
                He seems to have no major difficulties with our child poverty rates or the tax cut Key gave himself at the expense of almost everyoneelse.
                But someone floats an idea that tends towards egalitarianism, and it’s too unfair…

                • Draco T Bastard

                  More to the point, why is PeteG suddenly concerned with “fairness”?

                  He isn’t – he’s doing the usual NACT dogwhistle.

              • PeteG

                OK, so starting with the $11b currently outstanding plus all loans already paid since Student Loans began…..
                 
                Pointless argument anyway, National certainly wouldn’t be so stupid, Labour wouldn’t be so stupid, so it’s not going to happen.

                McFlock has no argument so tries to diss the messenger. Lame.

                • mcflock

                  So I’m lame because I chose not to contribute directly to an argument you carry on and then describe as pointless?

          • KJT 2.1.1.1.2

            “All student debts canceled because they represent intergenerational theft”.
            Not true. Working people in my generation paid up to half their income in taxes so the children of the rich could have free university education.
            Student loans are actually a fair way of obtaining tertiary education. Students only pay a portion of the cost anyway. The rest is still paid by the tax payer.
            I think that a lot of money could be saved by cutting useless bums on seats tertiary education.
            For example in my trade the 3 year apprenticeship has been replaced largely by academic courses (Led by  a tertiary institution looking for income). Leading to a notable decrease in the ability of trainees. Not to mention more dive instructor courses than divers in NZ and the many outfits purporting to help the unemployed get jobs..

            • sean 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Bitter much there KJT?  Last time I checked there was no reason both poor and rich kids could go to varsity.
               
              I was one of 4 kids in a single parent family, getting no assistance whatsoever from the government and with my mother working two jobs to feed us – yet I still put myself through varsity in the late 90s by working my arse off.  No-one told me that I couldn’t go to varsity because I wasn’t rich.
               
               

              • KJT

                Student loan?

                Student loans allowed a lot more people to go to Uni than the ones who used to accept the free education, paid for by the rest of us, while they infested the ski fields.
                Then they went on to become overcharging, barely competent, accountants and Managers.

        • Daniel 2.1.1.2

          Obviously just saying to all expat loan-holders that the debt is cancelled, probably not the best idea.

          Encouraging expats to return in exchange for an amnesty (of interest accrued while overseas, or of some proportion of the principal if matched with loan forgiveness for those who remained in NZ) probably a better idea – they’ll then be paying all their tax in NZ, and would bring back ideas, experience and contacts gained while overseas.

          • KJT 2.1.1.2.1

            I don’t see anything wrong with bonding or even interest holidays while overseas to encourage payments.
            Someone with a high paying job overseas should be paying back the contract they entered into.
            Trouble is many graduates now cannot get jobs in NZ.
            Or NZ employers will not pay in relation to the effort required to obtain qualifications. They would rather underpay migrants who have to put up with poor conditions until they get residency and move to Australia.

            • sean 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Employers shouldn’t have to pay in relation to the effort it takes to get to the qualification – they should be paying based on the value of the employee to the company.  A graduate knows enough to get their foot in the door, and will always require considerable on the job training to get them being of value to the company.
               
              I just hired a graduate and have them on 65k per annum, which is about the top I would pay a graduate – but then, I’m a greedy rich prick according to most.
               
              There are a lot of employers that don’t pay what is fair, and take advantage of employees (I’ve been subject to this) – but it is not in anyway up to or because of the government that employees would get paid more.

  3. Carol 3

    I think that the Kea project is a good idea, but I am not that keen on their seeming neoliberal focus on growth and exports.  I’d like to see more of a focus on diverse ways ex-pats Kiwis can contribute to NZ, economically, socially, culturally and politically.  And yes, a parallel focus on how we can all work to make NZ a more attractive place for resident & ex-pat Kiwis.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    $400M in student loan repayments from foreign lands? Fantastic! That’s another $400M in tax cuts we can give to our core Right Wing constituency!!!
     
    (Attracting expats back, helping them build up successful enterprise and income in NZ would take too long, take too much effort, and would cost money initially not make money, so there’s no way we want to do that)

    • Bored 4.1

      Good point, I would not be giving a cent to the grasping scumbags who want more tax cuts.

  5. Name (Required) 5

    When I migrated to NZ from the UK in 1990 I decided that NZ was in most areas of social and political zeitgeist about 15 years behind the UK, US and Europe.
    The gap may have narrowed slightly – down to perhaps 10 years – but NZ is still lagging in the race to the bottom as the US, the UK and Europe continue their slow-motion economic car-crash, social disintegration and political slash-and-burn, and hopefully enough NZers will return over the next few years as refugees with stories to tell which will enable us to stop before we reach the brink and decide not to be a blind lemming.
     

  6. Lanthanide 6

    I strongly encourage the person who posted a couple of weeks ago working in the oil and gas industry to take their student loan story to Campbell Live.

  7. Daniel 7

    Completed the census

    I agree that there is not a lot of opportunity for returning expats, but unfortunately the right seem to have captured the argument about why people leave and why they will or won’t return i.e. lower taxes, less regulation blah blah blah. That’s not why I left, and it’s not why I’d return.

    Of course, the best way to look at this be to do a survey of expats asking them what they like about where they’re living now, and why they might come back (obviously a lot of this is gonna be higher wages, but National really shouldn’t be able to claim any authority on this). But an easier thing to do, for someone with the time, would be a comparison of the countries where expat kiwis live with NZ. Something along the lines of:
    X% of expats live in countries with a higher top tax rate
    Y% live in countries with a 0% bottom tax rate
    Z% live in countries with a higher tax take as a % of GDP, with a larger public service as a % of the work force, with a commercial-free state broadcaster, etc. etc.

    Obviously, the people who are fawning over JK aren’t the type to listen to evidence, but the fact that National are dragging NZ in the opposite direction to most countries we’d like to be like really should be an obvious point to make.

  8. randal 8

    the fact of the matter is that most expats leave because they cant stand the bloody place any longer.
    and like good post modern/rugged individualists they think they have done it all themselves and see no good reason for paying back anything our society has bestowed upon them because only their own truths count.

  9. Rich 9

    Why is a camper van firm doing a census of expat NZers – do they hope they’ll come back for a holiday and rent vans?
    I think most people who are from here and live overseas do it because it suits their circumstances: they want a specialised job that doesn’t exist here, they want to avoid their family, they want to do lots of cheap drugs, etc, etc.
    Equally, lots of people from overseas want to come and live here: it’s friendlier, more sustainable, nicer lifestyle.
    Really, we should liberalise immigration and build a population of people that want to live in NZ, not keep trying to drag people back who are perfectly happy overseas.
     

    • Clipbox 9.1

      The Kiwi expat association Kea has initiated an interesting project:
       
      Not Kea campervans

    • Daniel 9.2

      I agree there’s no point dragging people back to NZ if they don’t want to come – but I’ve met enough NZers overseas who would be happy to go back to NZ, but something’s putting them off. Certainly, there is a lack of specialised jobs – but a lot of those could be created in NZ, with a bit of targeted investment, more focus on cutting-edge, high tech industries, etc., but of course our current govt sees our future in digging up rocks and shovelling cowshit.

      And a lot of expats would like to live in NZ, if they could somewhat maintain their lifestyle – some of this, like higher wages, and proximity to larger centres, we can’t easily fix, for obvious reasons. But there’s a lot that could be done in terms of infrastructure, and city planning, that really would dramatically improve the liveability of our cities. A lot of this isn’t directly the responsibility of the central govt, but they sure as hell aren’t helping.

      Plus, of course, I think most people would agree it would be better to improve NZ so people weren’t so keen to leave in the first place, than to just shrug and say “well, they’ve gone, lets just find someone else who’s happy to live with the 3rd rate crap we’ve got”

      • Rich 9.2.1

        I’m not sure if some of those specialized jobs would be a good idea for NZ. When in the UK I worked, amongst other things, in defence and finance (I had less of a conscience then).

        Do we really want Goldman Sachs and BaE Systems in NZ?

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          Well, not those specific private companies or even the delusional finance sector as represented by Goldman Sachs but a government owned defense research centre is certainly desirable. When globalisation fails we won’t be looking to import the weapons we use for defense – we’ll be looking to make them here.

  10. Rich 10

    According to Stats, there are maybe 600,000 NZers overseas
    477,000 live in Australia (headline top tax rate 38% (45% over AUD180k), effective rate with medicare, state payroll taxes, etc. 45% +)
    58,000 live in the UK (headline top tax rate 40% (50% over GBP150k), effective rate with national insurance 50% +)
    23,000 live in the US (top rate 33% over USD171k, 35% over USD372k, plus some state taxes, plus *huge* private health insurance, etc).
    9,500 live in Canada (combined state+federal top tax rate between 39% and 50%)
    The NZ top rate is 33%, so basically, almost all expats are subject to a top tax rate greater than or equal to here.

    • Daniel 10.1
      Well, that was kind of the point – all these people are leaving, going to countries where they pay more tax, where the government plays a bigger role in life, where (in my case) the govt owns the main power supplier (outright, not in some silly SOE-style arrangement), and the public transport, and the rules and regulations, by and large, are more constraining than in NZ – and yet business here is booming, the cities are more liveable, and it’s just generally nicer than in NZ, and a hell of a lot better than where we’re heading.
  11. JonL 11

    As an expat, I’d love to come home to live out the last of my years, but, it’s not going to happen! Watching NZ spiralling into the mindless, bitter, abortion of a country it is now becoming, with vicious, self interested baying packs of the population squabbling over the crumbs left by their masters, and thinking they are, somehow, better than everyone else and the equal of those masters, has me shaking my head in wonder! Oh, I also have a small bit student loan left owing, but, every time I try to find out how to pay it off, I get conflicting advice, none of it helpful or any easy way to facilitate any of it, so I can’t be bothered. The words pissup and brewery come to mind! Sort of like the current government really……..

    • r0b 11.1

      I wish I could tell you that you’re wrong.

      • Rusty Shackleford 11.1.1

        Paying off my loan was easy. I did it through internet banking with the extra cash I make from being an ex-pat. Got a 10% discount as well. Cheers tax payers!

  12. randal 12

    tell it like it is dude!

  13. Sookie 13

    That Kea group has been around for a few years as I used to be registered with it in London. I came back to NZ 4 years ago because a) Don Brash didn’t get in and b) Auntie Helen bribed ex-pats with a student loan interest freeze. My massive and evil loan was up to 44K (when I borrowed 24K) because of compound interest and ignoring it while abroad. Thanks to the freeze, I’ve knocked 1/4 off it, but it’s still horrible. Its very easy to ignore your student loan abroad, especially in England. If the UK govt can’t manage a million illegal immigrants, they’re hardly going to be bothered helping Joyce n’ Key chase a bunch of Kiwis around. What would be in it for them? The Nat twats might have more luck with Australia though.

  14. infused 14

    I actually like an idea that was talked about on Radio NZ yesterday. Lets face it, interest free loans are a problem, but what’s a solution?

    Two I can think of.

    1) Make it harder to get in to UNI. A lot of people seem to go there, rack up huge loans and gain nothing.

    2) Create desired roles. IE: if someone trains to be a doctor, if they stay in NZ 4 years after gaining employment, their loan is wiped OR reduced by %70 or something. 

    Lets face it, option 2 would probably be a lot cheaper (someone wanna do the math?) than someone not paying it back AND it keeps them in the country.

    This would only be done for jobs that are in shortage though.

    Thoughts? (Constructive ones, since this is my first attempt in a long time at a constructive reply)

    • r0b 14.1

      For the purposes of encouraging constructive replies then.

      1) I think it should be harder to get in to Uni academically, but NOT financially.  I’m still of the opinion that education should be free.

      2) You’re talking about bonding.  Some such schemes already exist in NZ.  I agree, I think we could get more out of such schemes.

      Neither of these deal with the problem of the huge existing loans, and the way it drives our most educated citizens overseas.  There I’m in favour of wiping all interest and penalties.

      • Rich 14.1.1

        I think we should write off all existing loans and make education (at all levels) free going forward.

        That includes retraining for skilled workers as well as degree level study.

        • PeteG 14.1.1.1

          Labour might be acting dumb, they might be desperate, but they won’t be stupid enough to try anything like this.

          I think we should write off all existing loans

          Won’t happen. It penalises those who have responsibly paid off or are paying off their loans, and rewards those who have avoided the responsibility.

          and make education (at all levels) free going forward.

          Can’t happen without having strong restrictions to entering courses, with loans the numbers in education have increased substantially, open and free access would swamp the education system.
           
          Besides, the country’s pockets are munted, not deep.

          • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1.1

            It penalises those who have responsibly paid off…

            No it doesn’t.

            open and free access would swamp the education system.

            Then we’d need to increase the education system to manage.

            Besides, the country’s pockets are munted, not deep.

            The countries pockets are fine – just need to put the taxes back to where they can support a fully functional society rather than where they are now which seem to be designed to destroy our society so as to benefit the rich (in the short term).

    • mcflock 14.2

      “1) Make it harder to get in to UNI. A lot of people seem to go there, rack up huge loans and gain nothing.”

      Well, “a lot” of that problem is overstated, and what did exist was a result of the market-driven “bums on seats” funding problem for tertiary education under the nats, rather than loans themselves. For every $1 in a “wasted” (lots of room there for debate, though) loan, there’s $1 – $3 in additional government funding that went to the institution. Labour brought in criteria for funding like % of students who complete a qualification, and surprise surprise several universities have brought in their own requirements for students to pass their courses.

      As for the bonded labour idea, it’s been floated for a while but is only useful for known specialty shortages, e.g. GPs.

      The only eventual solution will be the recognition that making people pay for the “private good” portion of their education is inefficient, encourages the best graduates and tradestaff to emigrate for higher incomes, and is a $10 lifelong tax on people whose education wasn’t the path to prosperity their course advisor told them it would be when they left school.

      If the government really needs an “asset” in the books to offset the education “spend”, they might be able to treat it like a road or other capital investment. Transfer the education spend to a “higher-education tax income” capex line that depreciates over the average productive lifespan. Shoot, writing off the loans will only be a one-off “deficit” with no actual “cost” anyway. According to NACT economic thinking, wouldn’t the economic stimulation from the effective 10% tax cut for middle income earners have to be counted, too?

      • infused 14.2.1

        That’s all good. But it doesn’t address people leaving the country. I didn’t know it was called ‘Bonding’ but at least that keeps people here for a few years. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. I don’t think there’s a solution for the current loans apart from wiping them OR offering a 1 for 1 type of deal? Pay $100 back, govt pays $100…

        • mcflock 14.2.1.1

          ISTR that the debt of graduate emigres is on average greater than that for graduates who stay in NZ. That indicates it might be a factor in the decision to leave.
           
          Matching funds payback schemes by the govt just reward those who didn’t need an education to improve their social circumstances – isn’t there already a 10% discount in fees for people who get a loan and then pay it back that year?

          Sooner or later the shortages in trades folk (polytechs are tertiary, too) and specialists will mean the government has to bite the bullet and make tertiary training 100% taxpayer funded, or we’ll continue the slide to third world status. Whether that then means that out of “fairness” (or simple cost effectiveness after 10 years of free education, by which time the existing loans will be practically irredeemable anyway) they cancel extant loans, that’s another debate.

          • rosy 14.2.1.1.1

            I don’t see a way around the tertiary education issue until there is a consensus that it provides benefits for three groups in particular – 1. the student, in higher wages, 2. society as represented by the government because more educated people tend to be more employable and cost less in social spending, and 3. employers who benefit from an educated workforce.

            It sounds really easy, but that consensus also means that costs should be shared along with the benefits. IMO government and students are paying, but not employers. I don’t see that no fees is a solution and I think interest on loans is unfair. Students training for lower paying jobs will never pay their loans off if interest is charged. OTOH Scotland is grappling with the no-fees in their election with a lot of concern that tertiary institutions will not have the funds to develop.

          • Herodotus 14.2.1.1.2

            So Mcf what then gives. Do we reduce spending on other forms of education, say ECE, Primary or Seciondary where everyone gets some benefit from the spend, or allow increased expenditure to a select few?
            Does the age of pension eligability increase, reduced heath care etc. Because thanks to crap policies from Lab (moving up OECD rankings) or Nat (Closer to Aussie) our ability to earn is not there, under Lab we did not increase our GPD in substainable terms. Refer Letters to Ed NZherald 19 Apr 2011. “Economic mire yes, recession No”.
            And how do we improve when we borrow just to afford to live day to day. Current account continual deficit.

            • mcflock 14.2.1.1.2.1

              Govt borrowing is the result of a shite tax take. The shite tax take is the result of one of the lowest tax burdens in the OECD.

              There is absolutely no reason for NZ to be going broke- we have a benign climate, fertile agriculture, wonderful natural assets even before we consider mineral wealth, and a solid EEZ. Our current economic position, even in a GFC, is a fucking crime.

              Income solutions if I were Gerry the Hutt:
              1) cut/eliminate gst to stimulate consumer spending
              2) FTT
              3) capital gains tax
              4) progressive company tax rate – bigger bands for bigger companies
              5) create a higher tax band and also raise the current top tax rate, while eliminating income taxes under around $20kp.a. (not sure on exact figure at moment). 

              and if you really want shits & giggles:

              6) include <3% unemployment as a target in Reserve Bank Act
              7) compulsory 1/3 worker representation on boards of directors for companies with turnover $100mil and above (or some other “large corporation” delineator) and another 1/3 govt representation on BoD for companies bigger than $1bill annual turnover (or some other figure for “super big corporation”)

              [edit – btw, got a link for that letter? I don’t have the Herald handy]

              • Herodotus

                Cannot get links for Ed letters. Will take out the best bits:
                NZ is not in recession. NZ in position of long tern economic decline.Production sector compared with pop is minusicle and totally inadequate for a country with high income aspirations. Next shift for export led development, with state playing a central role.
                For me the Res bank should base decisions on impact to current acct, we need it to be positive, this would also halt any asset sales !!! Also may have a neg impact on your consumer stimulation point.
                A wider band of tax rates- ours is to narrow, and an acceptance $100k is not in world terms rich as an income for a family, it is fast becomming just an adequate family gross income.
                Not to sure of FTT as from what I have read it is not the magic bullet that some think. This is one great negative consequence of open trade and money flows, the cost to implement may not be worth enduring as capital would fly out to other places with better returns. Fiddling with coy tax then there is all the means of transferring wealth/profit with the likes of transfer pricing/corporate charges e.g. Google in Ireland
                 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/22/google_double_irish_tax_loophole/ 
                Currently for one sector to be brought for an election just costs the rest of us. The Student Loan case is a prime example

                • McFlock

                  I’m not so sure about administrative costs of an FTT – remember that transactions are already recorded and are frequently already charged for electronically. But it would act as a disincentive for some of the higher volume narrow margin trades that help screw us over.

                  But you’re right that it’s not a magic bullet, just as student loans didn’t have the benefits that they marketed to us when they were introduced 20 odd years ago. The longer we keep the scheme going, though, as well as having financial barriers to primary healthcare or early childhood support or housing or food, the worse we get. If we incrementally improve, that’s okay, but it would be better to just sort everything out, the same way the nats want to do to us if they win in november. Shit, the last 2 1/2 yrs have been bad enough.

              • Colonial Viper

                Also add:
                1) Government shareholding in all major companies
                2) Government funds, possibly allocated through KiwiBank, purposed for helping workers set up collective ventures, co-ops, mutual funds and the like.

                PS that <3% employment target is a bit soft IMO, but whatever unemployment remains it will be Government policy to reduce unemployment <2% via direct employment.

                • McFlock

                  Yeah cv some of the figures like 3% are back of the envelope estimates, but I think we’re on the same page. It being the start of the chapter titled “How to have an economy that helps everyone, not just the top 1%”.

  15. HC 15

    Even the previous led Labour led government tried to re-engage and lure back some of the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis living all over the globe. That was when there was a shortage of skilled and semi-skilled Labour only a few years ago (yes such a time existed!).
     
    The result was dismal. I have myself been back overseas, from where I came as an immigrant myself many years ago. I met some Kiwis and former migrants to New Zealand, but almost none of them were seriously contemplating on coming back to NZ to live and work here permanently.
     
    Sadly this country has been so sold out, neglected and run down over the last couple of decades, it is simply not offering enough to expats with  good qualifications and jobs overseas.
     
    You cannot live off scenery, nice beaches and green bush alone.
     
    So this is a nonsensical and useless effort they are trying to make. It is also punitive what National wants to introduce re the student loans scheme. So that will hardly encourage ex pats to come back and bail this country out.
     
    It is the same as with the comments by Bill English, recommending NZ with its comparatively low wages as a good place to invest in. These are last resort steps by a hopeless government that has no plan, no answers anymore, and that is completely losing its plot now.
     
    Good night NZ, please do not forget to turn off the light – the last one!

    • Carol 15.1

      Well, I guess it depends on what you want from a society.  For myself, i want to live in a fair and equitable society, where the weakest members are cared for, and not one based on destructive, self-centred indiviudalism & competition. I lived overseas for over 20 years, and came back to NZ a year or so after Clark first became PM.  I was happy to be back during this period of the Labour-led government.
       
      I had got extremely angry and depressed by the vast social & economic inequalties that became more extreme in my time living in the UK (mostly under the reign of Thatcher). I did quite well there, got a few useful uni qualifications (largely while working full time).  And I had more than enough work in jobs I enjoyed doing.
       
      On balance, I don’t see that NZ is any better or worse than any other neoliberal-based society, though things have become much worse here under the NAct government – and we suffer from being a small player in a big brutal sea. There seem to be quite a few graduates & well qualified people who choose to stay here, even if the proportion going overseas is pretty high.  If I was younger, I’d probably leave too, the way I did when Muldoon was PM.  But in my travels I learned that each country I’ve travelled through and/or lived in (including Aussie) have their pros & cons.  I’d rather be here now.  It could be a much better country if we get rid of the undemocratic, uncaring lot that is in power here now.

      PS: Not all ex-pat graduates, or even all graduates from NZ unis, are the same. How many have the attitude, <i.ask not what you can do for your country, only ask what your country will do for you?

      • HC 15.1.1

        Yes for a UNI educated person with good job prospects this country can offer comfortable and enjoyable living, I do not doubt that.
        But for many that have average qualifications and skills, who are on the so-called “average” or even lower income” this country is not that enjoyable at all anymore, unless you are happy living a very simple, basic, frugal life and do not mind working longer and longer to just maintain that lifestyle.
        And bear a thought for those on the minimum wage. What a life is that?
        Even many labourers would enjoy an instant 30 or more per cent wage increase by just crossing the Tasman Sea.
        Such people are traditional Labour voters. Now many of them seem to wonder what better alternative that party may offer, while not coming across with much of a master plan and rather attack this useless government with little stings about BMWs and so.
        Certainly this country could do better AND maintain a healthy and enjoyable environment.

        • Carol 15.1.1.1

          My experience of the UK was that people on low incomes also found life a big struggle.  It may be better in Aussie, but also it’s not an easy ride for those on low incomes.  And the US?
           
          And the focus by KEA on expats is on highly qualified ones.

    • r0b 15.2

      You cannot live off scenery, nice beaches and green bush alone.

      No. You can get close though!

  16. Kia ora tatou – and thank you, R0B for the thought-provoking post. I hope all of the strong opinions expressed above by Kiwis overseas get expressed in completed surveys at http://www.everykiwicounts.com – just like 4000 other overseas Kiwis did in just the first two days the ‘census’ was ‘live’.
    As project manager of Kea NZ’s Every Kiwi Counts project, let me clarify:
    – We are interested in all NZers overseas, regardless of education/income/ employment/whatever status. We’re trying to understand and connect with the whole diaspora.
    – To answer R0B’s provocative association of our ‘census’ with the student loans controversy, Kea NZ is fiercely independent and non-government. Our privacy policy incorporates the Privacy Act, which makes it illegal for Kea to hand people’s private data over to anyone, including the government. We can’t do that, don’t want to do that, won’t do that.
    If you’re a Kiwi overseas, make sure you count: http://www.everykiwicounts.com
    – Nikitin Sallee
    Manager, Special Projects
    Kea New Zealand

  17. jbc 17

    I filled out the Kea survey this time and the last. It has always interested me because I’d like to be back in NZ someday. Sooner the better.

    I left NZ in 2001. At the time an employed IT worker, single, recently had a tax hike. It wasn’t the tax that pushed me, but the general sentiment was not overly positive towards professionals and that seemed to stem from income.

    Coincidentally I passed through a country while taking a vacation that was trying to encourage foreign workers to immigrate. I applied for a work visa and had it approved in 3 days [NZ immigration take note]

    10 years later and I’m married to another expat, 2 kids, director of 2 companies, and an employer. All of this is new business. It’s IT work so I just need a comfy chair and a laptop. We have significantly less hassle with immigration in our adopted country that we do when visiting NZ. Bizarre considering that none of us is a citizen here, yet me and the kids are NZers.

    I’ve become annoyed that I had to leave NZ for this to happen, and that if any NZ govt tried to attract the same work the same way then it would be faced with strong opposition. It’s also annoying that if I moved all of this business back to NZ then I’d be back in the bad books as a relatively high-earning individual and employer – and if I complained here about tax then I’d be told to f**k off back to whence I came.

    I meet a disproportionate number of Kiwis in similar positions around the world. It’s always bugged me that all this good work isn’t being hauled back to NZ over the ‘net.

    [apologies for being a little cantankerous. The things that I like about NZ (fairness above all else) are also the same things that I find counter-productive.]

  18. I agree with KJT Someone with a high paying job overseas should be paying back the contract they entered into.

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