Some things I love
Auckland Airport: AKL isn’t a massive airport. And the domestic terminal is more than a big daggy. But the international terminal is great—particularly for travelers with Air NZ Gold status. The Premium check-in is chilled, efficient and friendly. There’s a wee elevator lift to passport control. And once you’ve been scanned and inspected, the Air New Zealand Koru Club lounge is just epic. Departing from AKL transforms the start of a long international journey. With more airlines adding AKL to their schedules (Philippines Air announced this week), hopefully it won’t lose it’s particular vibe.
Comedy culture: The sense of humour here is fabulous: from bone dry to coarse AF. Thanks to TV shows like 7 Days, comedians have opportunities to transition from comedy clubs to telly.
Deaf MP Mojo Mathers shreds the panel whilst lip reading (Source: YouTube/7 Days NZ)
And then there’s Rose Matafeo. Seriously this women should will be a superstar. Her show Funny Girls takes on topics like sexuality, reproductive rights, and sexism:
Several of her bits have gone viral. Like this one (Source: YouTube/Funny Girls)
Anthem: God Defend New Zealand has a great melody, starts in te reo and being in Eden Park when it’s belted by 40,000+ people is amazing. This is perhaps my favourite rendition:
Listen carefully, always be kind, thank you (Source: YouTube/Hayley Westenra)
Cawfee: This is a country that does espresso very well…usually. We’re spoiled, in fact.
Things I don’t love
Auckland Airport: Arriving at AKL’s international terminal isn’t a horrible experience, but it can be surprisingly lame. To be fair, the automatic gates are brilliant and the luggage sometimes arrives very quickly. The problem is biosecurity. No, not the principle of biosecurity: how it’s operationalized at AKL.
Some aircraft movement at AKL (Source: YouTube/AirFlowNZ)
Generally NZ citizens and residents (anyone with a resident or permanent resident visa) are treated equally in terms of public accommodation. Since Australians are granted automatic permanent residence upon moving to NZ, they are too. But for biosecurity (a/k/a quarantine) the queues are for NZ/Australian citizens and All Other Passports. So Australians arriving as tourists are prioritized over people who live here. More importantly, there are not enough x-rays or space for inspections: it gets backed up very quickly. After a 13 hour flight it’s no fun and also not an efficient way of protecting the local ecosystem.
Voting as a resident: In many ways being a permanent resident of NZ is like being a citizen of some other countries. You can move overseas for 5 or 20 or more years and still come back (it really is permanent). And you can vote after a year. Which has troubled me, even as I’ve exercised my franchise. My parents’ drilling into us that voting is a responsibility trumps whatever my thoughts are about non-citizens voting. On balance I think permanent residents should be able to vote in local government (“municipal”) elections only…to enhance citizenship more.
Betty II: I have been here before. When I became a Canadian citizen I had to swear allegiance to “her majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and all her heirs and successors.” Still pisses me off. Now I get to do it all over again: either I stay a permanent resident or swear allegiance AGAIN to that old lady in London to become a citizen of New Zealand. If nothing else, I’m doing so to facilitate the move towards a parliamentary republic.
I would swear allegiance to Graham Chapman (Source: YouTube/obviouslyFAKE2)
I love the Commonwealth, however—and think Ireland should rejoin it. Being a member of the Commonwealth does not compel a country to make (or keep) the sovereign as the head of state.
Investor-bloated, under-invested housing market: Overseas investors and “migrants” are often scapegoats for Auckland’s housing crisis. And it is a crisis: for owner-occupied first homes estimates are that tens of thousands of new “homes” (houses, condos, what have you) need to be built to catch up with demand. Factor in that the City of Sails is the preferred destination of newly arrived migrants—Auckland is the engine of the NZ economy after all, and job prospects are best here—and the neoliberal divestment of social housing by both Labour and National governments, and you get a squeeze also on rental accommodation. There is no rent control and no real minimum standards for rental properties either: even with our high income I struggled to find anything livable when I arrived in Auckland in 2012.
Are there overseas investors parking some assets in NZ? Yup: it’s a boom market and unlike other places, there’s few impediments to doing so. Are migrants buying up houses and pushing prices up? Yup: if you had the resources to do so, so would you. But what is really skewing the housing market are the finance system and the taxation régime, particularly a wee thing called negative gearing. Until recently, banks would allow people who live in their own home to take out 100% mortgage on additional properties. That made it super easy for people to buy properties as investments. Negative gearing allows you to achieve significant tax relief so long as the rents collected do not cover your expenses as the landlord. In other words, buy on credit, lose a bit of money in terms of operating costs, get a tax windfall as a result.
As a result there’s investors gobbling up properties that first home buyers normally might. There’s also lost taxation that could go to actual services like healthcare and (ahem) social housing). Which visionary party will get rid of negative gearing? None that want to win an election. So many people are property investors here—many, to be fair, who have perhaps one single investment—that they are a voting constituency that is both massive and non-partisan.
That’s it—the end of my series–this time next week I will be a kiwi! I’m very happy with our life here in Āotearoa. And five years have flown by!