Auckland economic refugees don’t always find paradise in the regions

This is a typical example of whining idiots that believe they don’t have to change, but the world needs to change for them.

Sarah (not her real name) is a teacher and moved to Tauranga a year ago after her husband was made redundant in Auckland.

They could not pay their mortgage on a single income so, loving sports and having visited the Bay, they decided to move to Tauranga.

“We thought Tauranga is a place that’s smaller than Auckland, has less traffic and we’d be able to enjoy the outdoors,” Sarah says.

“People had warned us it was a hard one to crack, not just for work but for friendships as well, but we’re pretty outgoing and we’re fairly optimistic so we moved here in December last year, sold up [in Auckland] and bought a house [in Tauranga].”

As skilled professionals, Sarah and her husband fit the profile of many new migrants to the Bay.

But for the couple, who are in their forties and immigrated to New Zealand from Britain eight years ago, there has been one huge glitch.

“My husband’s never moved down here,” Sarah says. “He was never able to get a job.”

Sarah’s husband works in a specialised area of logistics and after no luck finding a job in Tauranga or even Rotorua, he was forced to take a temporary contract in Auckland.

For the last year, he has commuted to Tauranga on weekends, while getting a permanent teaching job in the Bay has also proved impossible for Sarah.

“It’s the hardest place in the North Island to get a teaching job,” she says. “They reckon there’s about 500 people for every job.”

Despite 16 years teaching experience, including at management level in Auckland, the only work Sarah has been able to secure was temporary cover at a school for a term.

Not only did it not lead to anything else, it was also emotionally gruelling.

“They weren’t welcoming to somebody who was out of town. Maybe being British didn’t help. I found it a really, really lonely place to be.”

Asked if she thinks people in Tauranga are too clicky, Sarah replies:

“Do you know what the funny thing is? They even know it, they even tell you that that’s how it is here. There’s no hiding it. There’s a lot of people who are not from Taurnaga and those people have said to us, ‘You know, I’ve been here 15 years and the first five years were really, really hard for us. We didn’t make any friends.’

“We’ve definitely found it really clicky here, and there’s definite tall poppy here. Maybe the fact I’m British and I’m from Auckland on top of it – because they don’t like Aucklanders – it’s doubly hard, particularly in education because it’s almost like they’re doing stuff but they don’t want anybody from outside to make a suggestion of how things could be done.”

She believed not having children had made it harder for her and her husband, but says they had no difficulty making friends in Auckland.

“We moved there eight years ago with nothing. My husband and I had no family, no friends, we just came as skilled migrants [but now] we’ve got support groups in Auckland, people from all races, not just Brits or Kiwis, so we’re really happy to be going back. There’s so much more of a buzz in Auckland as well. Auckland’s quite vibrant.”

She had found a lack of culture in Tauranga disheartening, saying in the one school she taught she was surprised at the lack of te reo taught despite 40 per cent of the students being Maori.

“You would never have known it was Matariki when I was there but in Auckland, I was doing kapa haka in the first year at the school I was at. My last school in Auckland, we did waiata and karakia every day. It was just part and parcel of school.”

Sarah says “to just not even get a look in” at other jobs she applied for was demoralising and a month ago, she and her husband decided they’d had enough.

Their house in Tauranga is now on the market and they are moving back to Auckland before Christmas.

“You can have the most beautiful environment, which we have here and I love the beaches and I love the fact we’ve got a view of the Kaimais and I love the fact there’s waterfalls around and hot pools, but we don’t have any friends and we don’t have work, so we’ll never be happy here,” Sarah says.

She says moving to Tauranga seemed a no-brainer at the time because they havled their mortgage, but a year on, their savings are drying up, and it has made their priorities clear.

“Tauranga has made us realise what’s really important, and there are probably two things – work and friends.”

Sarah says she and her husband are not alone in their inability to find jobs in Tauranga, and she has heard of at least 10 other people in their position, including two teachers in Papamoa who are returning to Auckland.

“When people talk about moving here, what they’re not talking about is if you’re a tradie or a stay-at-home mum, it’s great, but if you want a career, it’s really, really hard.”

Sarah says there are a lot of good things about Tauranga but it lacks big companies and without them “you’re just going to keep these low-paid workers and not allow more people from the outside to come and have a go.”

She believes other Auckland migrants could end up facing the same situation as her and her husband in the coming years.

“There’s a lot of mums that don’t work with their little kiddies but once the mum wants to go back to work, I think they’re going to find the work really hard to find.”

Sarah has already secured a teaching job in Auckland for next year, finding eight jobs to apply for in the space of a week and getting her first interview four days later, when she was hired on the spot.

“They wouldn’t let me leave me until I’d signed the contract. They said, ‘We just don’t want to lose you. You’re such a high calibre of teacher. We’re struggling to get quality teachers here in Auckland because they’re leaving’.”

The minute her husband said he was staying in Auckland, he was also snapped up and has a job starting next month.

She says they will not be able to afford to buy a house back in Auckland in the short-term, expecting they will need to rent for at least six months.

“We will have lost out financially but at the end of the day, we’ve both got full-time jobs, we’re able to pay the rent and we’re back in a place that wants us.”

Sarah ended with a warning to other Aucklanders considering a move to Tauranga.

“You need to do your homework. I would say do not come here unless you’ve got a job.”

So they couldn’t live in Auckland on one income. ?So they moved. ?But then they complain they can’t find more than one job where they moved to.

The advice not to move unless you have a job to go to is a good one though.

“Back in a place that wants us”.

Give me a break.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless had little sympathy for people who said it was difficult to meet others in his city, saying they needed to make an effort.

He had arrived in Tauranga 30 years ago knowing nobody and headed to the Repertory Theatre and says he immediately felt welcome.

“There are plenty of things on in this community. You actually just have to leave your house and computer to do them.”

He was also unsympathetic to complaints from those who said it was difficult to find a job in Tauranga.

“That’s all about doing your research before you come to a place.”




– NZ Herald