Despite the fact that Australia and New Zealand are literally thousands of miles away they are often seen as very “close cousins” by many people around the world. While historically they were perhaps more alike than they would care to agree, there are significant differences with regards to Indians living in New Zealand and Indians living in Australia at this point in time. There are many factors to consider and there are many issues ongoing which will try to cover in this article.
The history of Indians living in New Zealand
Even though there is little information and little data regarding the history of Indians living in New Zealand it is evident from official government statistics that Indian New Zealanders make up one of the largest ethnic groups in the country. Indeed “Indian New Zealanders” are regarded as the fastest-growing Kiwi ethnic group in the country and the second largest ethnic group behind New Zealand Asians.
It is still very evident that Indian migration to New Zealand has been ongoing for many decades now due to the fact that a large number of families now in the country, having been born in New Zealand, have parents, grandparents are great grandparents of Indian heritage. Despite the fact that many Indian New Zealanders, who were actually born in New Zealand, may never have experienced the Indian way of life there is still a very strong cultural pull for this particular community. There have been and continue to be a number of distinguished Indians in New Zealand in the worlds of television, politics, art and also entertainment. This is before we even look towards the employment market and the business arena which is now attracting record numbers of Indian immigrants.
Cultural differences in New Zealand
Very much in line with Australia, New Zealand has a very diverse population which includes European, Maori and those from the Pacifics. Despite the fact that New Zealand is very much in the middle of the ocean, literally thousands of miles from Australia, it does attract more than its fair share of individual ethnic groups and individual cultures. The current population is around 4.5 million and as you would expect from a country with such a large and diverse cultural base there are many religions practised in the region.
As ever, there is and continues to be a very strong line between Indian immigrants targeting New Zealand and the all-encompassing family of the British Commonwealth. While it would be wrong to suggest that mass immigration within the British Commonwealth tends to emerge from India, there is no doubt that many are now looking to move overseas to make use of their experience and their employment skills.
Crime in New Zealand
One of the hot topics at the moment is the resentment in some areas of the Australian population with regards to Indians living in Australia, whether this is for employment reasons, education or retirement. A number of allegedly racial attacks have been reported to the police and many Australian politicians have joined the battle to try and calm down the situation and reduce the impact upon the Indian community in Australia and also to ensure that the attractions of Australia, for various ethnic groups, do not diminish in the short to medium term.
On the whole it would appear that the New Zealand government is looking to make headway with regards to the issues in Australia and if the rumours are correct those “in high office” have instructed those in the education system to use the situation in Australia to the benefit of New Zealand. It would appear that this plan has already begun to work with a significant rise in the number of Indians living in New Zealand and a significant rise in the number of students which has increased by over 1000% over the last five years.
However, it would be wrong to suggest that the New Zealand government and those in the education system are purely and simply using the situation in Australia for their own ends, because the authorities in New Zealand have and continue to inject billions of New Zealand dollars into the education system.
Education in New Zealand
Indians living in New Zealand will be more than aware of the award-winning and high standards of education available across the country. New Zealand is a country which has suffered in the past because of its position effectively in the middle of the ocean but it is one which is now making significant headway and increasing its worldwide profile.
When you take into account the very high standard of education available in New Zealand, both to domestic and international students, we have a potentially very potent mix when you also take stock of the IT and technology skills being released from India. Traditionally New Zealand has very much based around agricultural sectors and farming with significant export of goods in this area. However, when you take into account the fact that the country has been forced to import many good which we in the UK and other countries take for granted there has been something of a balancing act over the years.
The standard of living in New Zealand
Many Indians living in New Zealand, especially over the last few months with the problems in Australia, have been more than willing to highlight the very calm, very welcoming and potentially life changing situation in New Zealand. There have been minimal reports of racial tension between the various ethnic groups in New Zealand and this has led to a better standard of living. Whether this would have been the case if the Indian population within New Zealand had been similar, in percentage terms, to that in Australia remains to be seen but at this moment in time New Zealand is seen by many Indian immigrants as a potential area of interest.
When you also take into account the fact that New Zealand, and the New Zealand economy, is very much based around the major cities of the country it will come as no surprise to learn of the significant variation in the cost of living. Those looking towards student programs in New Zealand will obviously need to be in or around the various student campuses although there are more than enough student accommodation programmes on the go. The situation is slightly different for those looking for work in New Zealand because at this point in time the vast majority of growth employment markets are in and around the major cities where property is more expensive and the general cost of living can sometimes be difficult to live with.
However, as we have mentioned in numerous articles over the last few weeks, there is no doubt that if you do your homework and shop away from the major outlets which often offer “less value for money” than their market counterparts, and away from the main street operations, there is value for money available. It is also worth noting that goods which many of us take for granted in our homelands may not be as readily available in New Zealand and many be more expensive.
Prospects for New Zealand
The general prospects for New Zealand continue to remain fairly positive, even after the recent economic downturn and the disastrous earthquake. We will see a significant period of consolidation across the country as the economy, the public and businesses come to terms with the terrible situation faced by the New Zealand people just weeks ago. However, the New Zealand economy is stronger than it has ever been, is more diverse than ever and the long term prospects are still very upbeat for a country which is relatively young on the worldwide stage.
The ongoing influx of Indian students to the country will also lead to further improvement in growth in the technology and the IT sectors, which many experts believe will be the growth markets of the future, not just in New Zealand. So if New Zealand can continue to attract high calibre and highly skilled workers from overseas then there is every chance that the traditional agriculture/farming dependence will reduce on an ongoing basis. That is not to say that traditional farming and other historic employment markets will disappear altogether, just the fact that the massive dependence on these particular markets will reduce over time.
Religion in New Zealand
As you would expect from a country which has a diverse ethnic background such as that in New Zealand a number of very different religions are formally practised. While Christianity is by far and away the most popular religion in New Zealand we have seen significant growth in Indian-based religions due to the fact that the number of Indians living in New Zealand has grown, and continues to grow, year-on-year.
In many ways the situation in New Zealand, with regards to religion and other aspects of everyday life, mirrors the early stages of the Australian situation when significant numbers of Indians decided to move to the country. However, there are high hopes that the racial tensions now grabbing the headlines in Australia should be avoided in New Zealand if lessons learned in Australia are used. The very fact that New Zealand as a whole is looking to grow various employment markets, various business arenas and attract the best workers from around the world should support the ever-growing cultural divergences in the area.
Indian communities in New Zealand
The ever-growing number of Indians living in New Zealand has led to, and will continue to lead to, a growing number of Indian communities dotted around the country. As ever, this expanding community continues to attract more and more attention and as we have seen in other countries the creation and growth of Indian-based food and Indian-based services continues. However, it would be wrong to say that Indian communities in New Zealand have not attempted to mix with the other ethnic minorities and indeed the New Zealand nationals.
If you are looking to move to New Zealand there is no doubt that you will have more than your fair share of opportunities to take advice from those who’ve been there, done it and may have third-generation families. Many people continue to be surprised by the number of Indian immigrants moving around the world but these articles which we have been presenting over the last few weeks perfectly illustrate how investment in the IT world and the world of technology, very often by the Indian government, has created a very lucrative and a very interesting export market – namely Indians with IT and technology experience and skills. The more that countries such as New Zealand require the skills the more demand for overseas workers and the more interest from Indian immigrants.
It is also interesting to see the massive growth in the number of Indian students in New Zealand, which has grown by more than 1000% over the last decade. Yet again, due to the very high standard of education available in New Zealand, the authorities are also putting together a group of employees for the future who will not only have the skills which they may have brought from India or inherited from their families but will also be well aware of the New Zealand way of life.
There has been some concern regarding the New Zealand government’s attempt to “make hay” while the Australian racial tensions continue against the Indian communities but on the whole New Zealand has been and continues to be a popular destination for Indians. This is a country which has very quietly but very steadfastly put literally billions of New Zealand dollars into the education system, an investment which is now beginning to pay great dividends.
Crime in New Zealand is relatively low compared to the rest of the world, the country has a multicultural base, there is religious tolerance and business arena such as the IT sector and the technology sector continue to grow. Whether New Zealand may well be seen as an alternative to Australia for Indian visitors in the short to medium term remains to be seen but the truth is that both countries have their very own attractions and will continue to see more and more Indian students, Indian employees and Indian families moving there.