Is New Zealand Boring?
Posted by Iain on July 5, 2013, 2:57 p.m. in Living
I was ploughing my way through another 12 hour working day yesterday in Durban feeling pretty tired after a week of relentless consultations. At the same time I was thoroughly enjoying myself meeting some really nice people, exploring the possibilities and options of them to joining us in New Zealand and sharing the possibilities of the life we can offer, when one client blurted out, ‘Iain, I just have to ask you – I have been told by someone that New Zealand is boring. Now I don’t know if it is true but someone recently told me that’.
The smile evaporated from my face. My mood darkened instantly. The dark clouds gathered. I twitched. I held my breath. I counted to five. If there is one question that really bugs me, anywhere in the world, it is that one. It is up there with New Zealand is ‘backward’ – whatever that means…..
There are a few things that irk me in terms of perceptions of my country. That boring one when it occasionally comes up however tops the list.
I thought of a number of sarcastic replies starting with ‘This is Durban for God sake, it’s hardly the epi-centre of global excitement. What is there to do here when you are not being chased by people looking to relieve you of your cellphone, vehicle, possessions or even life?’
However being the consummate diplomat I am (cough cough) I did politely ask if the provider of this most wonderful of insights into my country had ever actually been to New Zealand. As usual the answer was “No”. I thought the easiest response then was to describe my normal day. And leave it to the potential client to decide how different it was to hers. It went something like this.
I wake up. I shower. I shave. I eat my wife’s homemade and very tasty toasted muesli with yoghurt. I make a coffee. At around 7.45am I start clearing the scores of emails that have arrived overnight from far flung parts of (and apparently far more exciting) parts of our planet. By 8.30am I have got through most of them. I climb in to the car. I turn on the radio or plug in the i-phone and listen to music. Ten minutes or so later I am parking the car near the office. I arrive at my desk having made a latte on the way past the coffee machine. There I sit over the next 7 hours or so and sweat blood as I battle the forces of immigration evil on behalf of my clients. I sometimes go out around the middle of the day for a bite at one of the many Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Turkish or French eateries, salad bars or bakeries or I grab a smoothie and head back to my desk.
Around 4.30 or 5.00pm I have usually had enough. I head to the gym. Or I head to the local market to get some food to prepare a dinner. I head home. Greet my family if they are there. I either cook or they cook. I put my feet up. Catch up on the BBC or Sport on the box that I recorded and stored for later. We clean up the kitchen, we load the dishwasher, we catch a bit more TV if no one has dropped in to have a coffee and a catch up. I usually check a few more emails. I take to my bed. I sleep.
Consider how different that is from your day?
When my now 17 and 19 year old sons were younger I’d be out coaching or helping out administering the local cricket club a couple of nights week (then they grew up and discovered liquor, girls, bands and night clubs….).. A couple of nights a week we go and grab a meal at one of the many local and incredibly cheap ethnic eateries of which here are about 50 within 5 minutes’ walk of our Mount Eden home. We usually do this with friends.
On weekends when the boys were younger summer Saturdays were taken up with cricket. Some winters (thankfully few) would be spent on the sides of football fields.
These days on the weekend we usually eat brunch somewhere either down at the waterfront or along Ponsonby Road if we are in town. Inevitably over the weekend we catch up with family or friends. We meet at bars, cafes or restaurants or their place. Dinner parties and Barbeques are common.
That is if we are not at the beach house fishing, playing golf, wandering around local farmer markets, tending to the garden, mowing the lawns, planting native trees and sleeping ‘rough’ in the ‘safari lodge’ tent I brought from Africa last year. This all done in the company of close friends we have invited to join us (not the sleeping ‘rough’ in the tent bit – we are not that friendly).
My sons are barely home both during the week nights or weekends. They are out with friends most nights (and yes from time to time the youngest does school work and the elder his Uni study and assignments). For them though weekends are just an extension of their busy weekly social lives - Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are spent out with friends, in bars, clubs and at the various venues where every weekend some local or international major music act will be playing at either the 12,000 seat Vector Indoor Arena or at one of the clubs. They do what most teenagers do – have fun with their friends. Facebook is all pervasive in their lives. In one hand a smart phone, in the other the Facebook on the laptop. They sleep a lot. They are nocturnal creatures. They are expected to cook one night a week. They are expected to help clean up the kitchen. Load the dishwasher. Do the remaining dishes (but somehow that task seems to fall on my wife and me).
The eldest one drives and flies around the country to meet his mates studying at other Universities. They get up to mischief. They seem to have beer at the centre of their lives. They go to internet cafes.
So you tell me – sound boring or sound like your life?
I know the Singaporeans will have a 60 plus hour working week including at least a half day Saturday. On Sunday they reintroduce themselves to their spouses and children. They go to the shops. If they can afford the luxury of a car they sit in traffic. They then stand in restaurants and crowded food court queues. They have lunch together. The kids go home and study some more. Everyone sleeps. Riveting stuff for sure……study, study, study, work, work, work, then …..die.
In Durban? They do everything I do but many carry a gun just in case on the way to the mall or the supermarket or to the kid’s Saturday sport a fellow citizen decides they wish to redistribute some wealth. Riveting stuff no doubt but in a way most would prefer to live without.
So is New Zealand boring? Doesn’t feel like it to me but if the above is dull then I plead guilty. Lock me up but lock me up here and not South Africa or Singapore…….
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
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Brilliant article. I'd rather be bored in NZ than scared - or dead, in RSA.
Brillant description of Singaporeans. I am one of them, quite true on the part that we work and work and our kids study and study.
In Singapore, Maybe you are right. Maybe or highly likely 75%-85% people here are working really hard. working hard is part of there hobby and they are happy, for some people. thus life for them is not boring. Life here has become more challenging because of influx of PMET foreign worker. Life is no longer exciting, its full of worries. Most PMET were came from 3rd world countries, many like argument in workplace, feel and think they are the smartest people in workplace. That is why we are set to go, live and settle in NZ next year. We worry someday Singapore becomes like there own 3rd world country. Manage by 3rd world attitude. Sorry about this. Just a worry. Perhaps I maybe giving too much speculation.
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I was born in Durban and lived there for many years including spending my school years on the Berea in Durban. I have also travelled North Island and the top of South Island so I think I can safely comment on this topic. In my opinion, neither Durban or NZ are 'boring' There is no shortage of things to do but life wherever you live is what you make it. My impression of NZ is that it is laid back and slower, relaxed, safe and quaint and the people grumble and complain a lot about silly things which in Durban don't warrant a mention because there are such serious issues to solve. Durban wins weather wise because it has summer rainfall except for the 3 hot sticky mid summer months when it is like Singapore and it's too unpleasant to do anything.
I am often asked this same question Iain. I typically respond along the lines of "If you want to move to the financial and business capital of the world then don't come to New Zealand - but if you want to live in a beautiful place where people treat each other (pretty much) with kindness and respect, and where you work to live rather than live to work, then do come - but come expecting to be part of that, not part of some other construct in your mind.
I can't imagine why you want to recruit anyone from the aformentioned areas of the world.You need to find better gene pools from which to choose quality,intelligent and informed immigrants.
I am a Malaysian NZ graduate. I lived in Waterview, Auckland as a student. Great to have experienced that suburb well before John Key decided to demolish the place to make way for the Waterview Connection. My rented house in Cowley Street is now a thing of the past... Anyway, longing for my family has seen me back in Malaysia. Thankfully I am gainfully employed now back home. However I've found myself yearning for life in NZ again.
Whether NZ is boring or not is a question I've contemplated for a long time in the stormy cold winter nights in Auckland, being confined to my home with the puppy I've rescued (from an alcoholic and abusive neighbour) by my side. Now that I've been in the workforce in Malaysia for two years, I can't say it's a hell lot more exciting than it was compared to one of those nights I'm stuck at my Waterview home, listening to the howling wind outside while yearning to go to the reserve with my dog for a breath of fresh air.
Your comment on Singaporeans really cracked me up. Struck me right at the chord, as we Malaysians are not much better. Time for us Asians to rethink life eh? I do have the luxury of owning a car - and I'm one of the suckers silly enough to get myself stuck in the legendary traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur. I am however, smart enough to reintroduce myself to my family when I crawl home from the traffic at 8 or 9pm at night.
Ditto at the comments made by fellow Malaysians and Singaporeans about the deteriorating state of affairs in our motherland.
I don't see NZ as an escape for all that's happening in Malaysia, because I have lived in the country long enough to realize that I have fallen irrevocably in love with Aotearoa, when I was blessed with the opportunity to stay there as a student. It took me 2 years in the Asian workforce to realize that though a career is highly rewarding, nothing comes greater than satisfaction of an enjoyable lifestyle where you can be in tune with nature, and ultimately, yourself.
You may be glad to know that NZ to me spells adventure, a change of scene, cooler climate, green hills, snow capped mountains, crystal clear rivers and oceans, and clean beaches. An ideal place to build an art career,conducive for quiet reflection and enjoyment of nature.Hope I get there soon, even if only for a holiday. Well, I would like to start my adventure of living in NZ, as a student soon. No, NZ is not boring at all, just different from other places in the world, in its own quiet way. Just like people who are different individuals. Life is what you make it, not what people say it is. Take heart, Iain.
I was there in Durban for a while,We go Out on week ends but with Scary ,The place is good but you can't expect when what will happen
I think it's got a lot to do with adrenaline, particularly in South Africa's case.
Of course, New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world - the best bungy jumps, briefly the world's longest waterslide, the home of the zorb, epic gorge swinging, best dives, etc.
However, in Africa, you literally live & breathe that adrenaline. You are consistently fearing for your life or for the lives of your family. You stop at a traffic light and it's akin to jumping off a high-rise in terms of gut-wrenching fear - particularly if you've been hijacked or held up once (or many times) before.
Going out at night is like an obstacle course - drive around the block an extra time to be sure you're not being followed, light your garden up by driving into it at an angle so you can see no one's there, hear a noise at night and stumble up from only a half-sleep (consumed by "what if's"...) guns blazing...
Personally, I like my adrenaline hits with a dash of professionalism and a distinct lack of death.
If living without all of that means that New Zealand's "boring", then I love me some boredom.
I live in New Zealand all my life and to be quite honest, I'm not surprised that New Zealand is boring. But its because we are safe. we are a multi-cultural country so we have a lot of festivals such as polyfest which has many stages where a lot of cultures perform! Not to mention the different foods! We don't have a lot of crime like shootings or stealing from banks and terrorist attacks etc. We are nuclear free and the people are welcoming to all cultures and religions. I am Christian but I do have a lot of close friends that are Muslim and Hindus etc. We barely have any racist remarks at all and everyone is accepted. We are a clean country and don't have much graffiti. Interracial dating is normal and not really judgemental on people's size and appearance because if you are a big women, it's alright because being a multi cultural country, it is normal for a women not to be naturally skinny based on genetics. We do ALOT of sports! No kidding, mostly all children are sport teams. To top it all off we have good meat and diary products, nice friendly people and the scenery is indeed beautiful.
I think your article sumps up very well how you spend your time and the people you meet, however it lacks objetivity as long as the question you were asked in the first place was about New Zealand being boring. Yes you can say is one of the most beautiful and safe places to raise family, but fail miserably when you trying to make your point attacking other countries lifestyles and misleading the conversation to a matter of Safe or not Safe. I have been living in New Zealand now for 3 years, I have travelled around, tried extreme sports and the kiwi way of life with an open mind and yet I consider this country the most boring place ever. This is simply for the fact in normal routine you are not sigthseeing and bum-jee jumping everyday, then you are confronted by the reality of a dull and blend nightlife scene, mediocre shopping malls, horrible local-english-mother queen-sense of fashion, laid back looking people and nothing in the news but rugby, cricket and Kim Kardashian (not able yet to produce good entertaintment on tv?) Oh yes and dont forget that hillarious irritating kiwi accent!!!
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Hahahaha, you dont care and yet you are even disclosing more information of your personal life to argument your lack of culture. What credibility your immigration agency has when you clearly make a profit from immigrants and then tell anyone who does not agree with your views better move now. Yes nobody keep us prisoners here , but if you consider and know a little bit about moving countries the thing is not as easy as it looks. I will gladly move from this hole and very dissapointed that I fell for the marketing ad of New Zealand.
Again your blog and your comments just reflect the average uneducated kiwi who want to believe this place is perfect and yet 200.000 of you live in Australia. You are one of that kind, unambitious, lazy-laid back, who show of a tent bought in africa, calling yourself diplomat when the case is lack of nuts to express your real opinions face to face as the rest of you do, hiding behind the politically correct excuse. The most pathetic part is when you talk about your sons as if they were living an exceptionally exciting life, openly talking about them being only 17 and 19 and as you said: "they seem to have beer at the center of their lives". Keep deceiving yourselves, I mean, what else can you do?
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I swallowed the immigration BS and wound up living in Palmerston North, what a frigging BIG mistake.
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