Why Is New Zealand an Underrated OFW Destination?

Ever since the “Lord of the Rings” movie franchise took off, the island nation of New Zealand has been idealized as a magical place, figuratively speaking. With its vast expanses of green mountains, rollicking hills, and lush farmlands, it isn’t difficult to imagine it as the habitat of mythical beings like hobbits, elves, and fairies.

But despite that, Filipinos aren’t exactly lining up to move here, even with the immigration crisis in the US and the growing xenophobia in the UK (Thanks a lot, Brexit). New Zealand isn’t nearly as far and its economy and overall culture boosted the country all the way to the no. 1 spot on the list of most desirable countries to live in last year, so why isn’t it more popular among OFW’s?

Let’s take a closer look:

1. Immigration Difficulties.

Immigration Difficulties
Image Credit: Council on Foreign Relations

Enrico Dela Vega’s story is considered a cautionary tale for many aspiring migrants to New Zealand. Basically, he was a dairy farm worker who got caught up in working visa woes for three months and was unable to provide for his family within the said period as a result.

While it’s true that New Zealand has stringent regulations in place when it comes to immigration and visa application, the process will be easier now that the country has a high demand for migrants.

Back in 2015, the Philippines and New Zealand also finalized a pact called “Arrangement on the Principles and Controls on the Recruitment and Protection of Filipino Workers in New Zealand,”  which sought to make the hiring process for Filipinos in NZ fairer and more transparent.

The annual 100 working holiday slots for Filipinos pondering a move to New Zealand certainly counts as an incentive too.

2. High Cost of Living.

High Cost of Living

The low cost of living in the Philippines makes it a retirement haven for Aussies and other expats from industrialized countries seeking more bang for their 401(k) bucks.

Since they usually have higher taxes, basic necessities like food and transportation are more expensive in Western countries. A McDonald’s cheeseburger meal with regular fries and drink would cost only a little more than Php100 in the Philippines, but its price tag would double in New Zealand.

Getting on the MRT or LRT in Manila, for instance, would only set you back by a maximum of Php15 for a one-way ticket, but doing the same in NZ is equivalent to Php108.

Still, bear in mind that the high cost of living in NZ is offset by your increased purchasing power. And those high taxes coming out of your wages? They happen to be the ones paying for the high quality of the country’s public services (e.g., trains and healthcare), so you at least see where your taxes go (*cough*unlike here*cough*).

3. Tiny Existing Population of OFW’s.

Compared to the burgeoning Filipino population in nearby Australia, OFW’s in New Zealand amount to only 1% of the total populace.

That might sound lonely, but remember that you only need two Filipinos to form a club and NZ has more than a thousand times that. The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand also happens to be very proactive in fostering a strong sense of community for the OFW’s here as they regularly hold events like concerts and forums where homesick Filipinos can meet and establish their own networks.

4. Cultural Misconceptions (i.e., “New Zealand is boring.”).

Cultural Misconceptions

I remember hearing rumors about the shopping malls in New Zealand closing before 6 pm and about there being more cows than people. Now, I don’t know about the cows, but I do know that while New Zealand might not be the world’s party central, you certainly won’t run out of amazing things to do here.

As with Australia, New Zealand offers a lot of outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, running, sailing, and even rolling down a hill in a gigantic plastic ball (yes, really). And the food! Ah, the food!

Thanks to all the green fields in the country, you’ll never want for high-quality meats like beef or lamb. The country’s position in the midst of the ocean also means you’ll always have access to fresh seafood like king prawns and scallops.

5. Employment Opportunities Mostly in Construction Industry.

Employment Opportunities Mostly in Construction Industry

The city of Christchurch was struck by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake sometime in 2011, thus creating a huge and urgent need for migrant construction workers to help the community rebuild.

Now, construction work isn’t the most appealing for many Filipinos out there since it’s dirty and can be dangerous. However, the pay is certainly quite attractive at about Php540 per hour (and that’s just the minimum wage).

Furthermore, because the need for construction workers is so urgent, applicants will probably have an easier time migrating to New Zealand in response to the demand. So, if you have plans of moving your entire family over later on, this ought to make the process a lot smoother.

At first glance, New Zealand might not seem as exciting as countries like the US or Australia. On the other hand, as this article has shown, if you’re looking for peace of mind, a great place for your kids to grow up in, and relative stability in an increasingly and maddeningly precarious world, NZ’s pretty hard to beat.

3 Opportunities for Filipinos Worth Looking Into in New Zealand

Much like Australia, New Zealand is known for its abundance of natural beauty and opportunities for Filipino migrants. At an estimated 40,000, the population of Filipino New Zealanders (or “KiwiPinos,” as they are sometimes dubbed), might pale in comparison to Australia’s 172,000 Pinoys, but this hasn’t stopped the former from flourishing in their adoptive land.

And with New Zealand’s growing clamor for migrants, it’s clear that this trend is here to stay. So, if you’re mulling over the idea of migrating here, let’s take a look at the options available to you:

1. Scholarships.

Image Credit: Lincoln University

All of NZ’s universities happen to be listed among the world’s top 500. They collectively rank the 7th best when it comes to science programs and 3,500 Filipinos were recorded as attendees in 2015 alone.

Best of all, the country’s ambassador to the Philippines announced the availability of 24 postgraduate scholarships to Filipino applicants every year.

These scholarships are offered to Filipino scholars, especially those hailing from the Moro and Lumad tribes, and are rooted in three sectors that are highly relevant to the Philippines: agricultural industries, disaster risk management, and renewable energy.

Interested? Check out this link to find out more.

2. Working Holidays.

Working Holidays
Image Credit: 123RF

Recently, New Zealand had its Working Holiday Visa Applications for Filipinos.

If you want to see New Zealand in all its splendour while exploring your career options in this island nation, their working holiday visa is right up your alley because it will allow you to do both.

With over 100 slots open exclusively to Pinoy applicants every year, this visa is certainly worth checking out online if you want to see what NZ has for you while holding off on any long-term commitments (i.e., longer than 1 year).

3. Jobs on Demand.

Jobs on Demand
Image Credit: New Zealand Now

Now, if you’ve already decided to make New Zealand your home for the foreseeable future, looking for sustainable employment is the next logical step.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of job openings for all sorts of skilled workers from the Philippines. Sectors like agriculture and forestry, construction, engineering, education, transport, and hospitality and tourism, for instance, constantly have vacancies that urgently need to be filled.

There are two things to bear in mind, however, if you wish to apply for any of the spots on the skilled occupations list. One is that you should only apply through accredited recruitment agencies to ensure your safety and security.

Another is that NZ companies appreciate initiative in applicants. Taking a moment to read up on the things that Kiwi employers are looking for could only be good for you thus.

New Zealand has often been described as a paradise of sorts, but it doesn’t mean that getting here would be a walk in the park either.

You would still need to exhibit a fair amount of patience, perseverance, and resourcefulness to make it, but that’s certainly a small price to pay for you and your family to experience the delights of this remarkable country.