Why are immigrants leaving New Zealand?

Updated Nov 24

Someone who was psychologically and practically equipped to move to a new country, may also be psychologically and practically equipped to move again. Also, some people deliberately use NZ as a “back door” to their real destination, Australia, which has greater economic and social opportunities.

However, a big reason could be the incredibly negative social attitudes towards immigrants.

I know I harp on this, but there is a big difference between men and women.

Men say stupid things, like:

“Do you ever think about going back?”

“Huh, huh, huh, I bet you wish you were back there!”

And then they get disappointed if you tell them that you actually have control over your location.

Women are much, much worse.

“You have an accent! Where are you from? Why are you here! You owe me an explanation!”


Most women in this country take one of exactly two attitudes:

  1. You had better confirm that you are being forced to live in your current location, without any choice. And that you are stuck in the same suburb for the rest of your life.
  2. You had better confirm that you will “go back where you came from”, without any choice. Not just the country, but a town where you lived as a child. Because it is very important to be as small-minded as possible, and to have zero adult control.

It really is that micromanaging. A lot of women get personally offended at the idea that someone could even just relocate to a new city, inside the same country. This also relates to many, many women’s locations being based on an emotional umbilical cord to their mothers, and/or a financial umbilical cord to their breadwinning husband. They totally resent women who assert basic adult independence.

Did I mention the, “You have an accent!” harassment with virtually every woman you meet? Some of them expect you to be impressed by their amazing perceptiveness. Some of them act like they have never met a foreign-born person before.

There are women who will start up a rapid-fire interrogation. Where they reveal nothing about themselves (not even their name). While demanding details about a foreign-born person’s legal/governmental status, work and finances (including taxes), and the arrogantly intrusive, “Why did you come here, so I can decide if your reason satisfies me”. Try working with the public, and total strangers will do this.

Let’s not forget the mass racism. If an immigrant is white/European looking, some people will assume that they automatically share the common bias against Asian people.

A lot of the condescension and hostility towards immigrants is really about tall poppy syndrome, and the resentment of anyone who got off the couch and did anything interesting with their life.

Some women get an indignant, “I never get to go anywhere I want!” attitude, as if the immigrant is perpetrating some kind of personal unfairness against them.

No matter how long an immigrant has lived here, there is an automatic assumption that they are really just on vacation. With confusion and resentment about how someone could be on vacation for years and years.

Generally, the only relief is in more educated situations, such as university environments, which contain many foreign-born people.

Speaking of which, there are people who will direct the, “you have to go back where you can from” attitude towards an immigrant with higher education in a STEM field, including a degree that was heavily subsidised by NZ taxpayers. It’s like they actually think that the “brain drain” is somehow going to help the country.

Some will automatically assume that, a foreign-born university student is here on a student visa which will expire upon graduation (or maybe better yet, dropping out). If she corrects this, and states that she is a permanent resident, some still don’t seem to comprehend the difference, and keep pushing.

I once encountered an induhvidual who claimed that, no employer in NZ will ever hire an immigrant, or even someone who merely moved to a new city within the country. The logic being that, all immigrants “go back where they came from”(to a specific town) for emotional reasons. So there isn’t any point in hiring someone who will be doing that real soon now. However, this is combined with the idea of job discrimination being used to force immigrants to leave. So it’s a circular logic.

I have encountered women who will demand to know if an immigrant’s mother lives in New Zealand, and get offended and demand an explanation if the answer is “no”. One directly stated the intent to harass a middle-aged coworker, every single day, to go home to her mommy.

I have encountered a woman who was a small-time landlord’s wife, and who suggested that, a paying, civilised tenant should move out and go back where they came from.

An OK country. But many, many stupid, small-minded people. And that includes in larger cities, like Wellington.

What do people that have never left their hometown think of the world?

Answered Oct 22

They tend to think that everyone is like themselves, and that everyplace is equivalent.

There is common idea that everyone just remains living in one place for their whole life, and that nobody ever changes where they live. If they hear that you have relocated, they may treat you like you are on a temporary, short-term vacation. And that you automatically “have to” to go back to where you “really” live.

People who lack basic relocation-related skills, like navigating an unfamiliar area with a street map, tend to project that skill deficit onto everyone else.

People who lack basic relocation-related aptitudes, like the psychological ability to handle unfamiliar environments, or to go someplace alone, tend to project that aptitude deficit onto everyone else.

People who feel tied to a location based on emotional and/or financial dependence upon someone else, project that dependence onto everyone else.

I have encountered people who couldn’t even handle going across town, insidethe local area, by themselves, and projected that onto everyone else.

They also lack understanding that there may be legitimate practical reasons for a person to relocate. Someone in the suburbs of a large city may fail to comprehend that, some locations have very poor opportunity levels (e.g. small, isolated, impoverished rural towns with severe unemployment and underemployment).

They tend to think that everywhere is basically the same, including foreign countries.

Some people will start up with this immediately upon meeting, and will try to make the entire conversation about projecting these things.

Childhood: What is it like to grow up as a military brat?

Updated Jun 30

A few big issues come to mind, and they also have a sort of sub-issue.

  1. Concepts of adulthood. I knew that, the day you turn 18, you are old enough to be sent to the other side of the planet to kill people. You’re old enough to come back horribly disfigured and disabled. You’re old enough to come back inside a metal box. So it seemed perfectly reasonable that, at 18, I would get my own apartment, and be fully independent of my parents. That’s a whole lot less stressful than someone going to war at that age.
  2. Geographic mobility. The service member goes where the military sends them. Moving long distances, repeatedly, is a normal part of life. I knew that some people stay in one town for their entire lives, and I was really glad that I wasn’t one of them. One place isn’t interchangeable with a different place, and you only understand a place when you have somewhere else to compare. It certainly affects one’s socialisation process, but then again, I don’t like the idea of being mentally handcuffed to anyone or anything. I have relocated long distances, repeatedly, as an adult.

The sub-issue is social. As a child, I naively assumed that these things were common knowledge in the civilian populace. Or that, if someone didn’t know these simple facts, they could easily learn and accept them.

In reality, a significant number of people don’t grasp the concept of an 18-year-old being an adult, on any level. They cannot imagine someone that age even moving out of their parents’ house. I’ve been treated like I did something wrong.

The people who have never left their hometown tend to think that everyone has that same situation. They don’t even grasp that moving to a new city is within human capability.

I get treated like, geographic mobility is an immature, irresponsible, dangerous, “unstable” aberration, or even just a fantasy that I personally invented. I have been condescendingly told that I “have to” go back to where I “really” live, which is assumed to be some town where I lived as a child. They think I have “really”lived in one town for my entire life, and going anywhere else has been some kind of temporary vacation.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, both of these are female-biased things. I have had allegedly adult women insist that everyone “has to” live in the same town as their mother. And that I somehow don’t have the right or even the ability to live any significant distance away. They don’t care if you are middle-aged, as they pester you, or even get angry at you over this issue.

They apparently think that a service member can whine to the military, “Boo, hoo, hoo, you have to station me at a base that is within ten kilometres of my mommy’s house, so I can keep the umbilical cord attached”.

Or perhaps whine to the military, “Boo, hoo, hoo, you can’t reassign me to a new base, because then my child will grow up and offend all those legitimate people who are entitled to have everyone’s world be as small and fixed as theirs”.

There is also the general assumption that, an adult moving alone to a new area is too frightening and disorienting for anyone (including me) to handle. They don’t care if you were in some isolated, low-income, low-opportunity small town. They will tell you that the “right” thing to do was to stay there, and that you should immediately go back and “settle down”.

As a child and teenager, I really failed to anticipate how utterly terrified most people are of any kind of change, and any kind of ambiguity. And the sort of “guilt by association” that would be directed at me. I also failed to anticipate how needy some people are about “friends”, and how they can be so uncomfortable with my low-attachment, introverted style.

A more minor point is that I liked the organisation, standardisation, uniforms, and sense of discipline.

Also, repeated moves helped inspire my inclination towards a minimalist lifestyle, in terms of material possessions.

Another issue was taking an early interest in current events and politics. Including government sabre-rattling and nuclear paranoia, but also just keeping up with the news in general. Many people are very poorly informed, and I failed to anticipate that.

Lastly, being around the military makes it more real and more human. It isn’t about feeling big and tough, or Rambo fantasies, or drooling patriotism. It isn’t some stupid movie or macho video game for pimply boys. The guns are real, and some of the planes have bombs onboard. The base has another country’s nuclear missiles aimed directly at it, possibly with high priority.

It is an economically motivated tool of menacing threats and mass violence, in which real people would suffer.

Why do people hate immigrants?

Updated Jun 8

Sometimes, it is based on feeling offended that somebody is different to themselves, including interpreting that as a personal judgement or attack upon themselves.

However, this can arise even if you have the majority ethnicity, the majority language, and an appearance that looks average (i.e. you don’t speak, dress, worship, or act “foreign”). In a way, that might seem even more jolting to them, such as with the sudden, unexpected foreign accent that comes out of your mouth. Like you were deceiving them with the “normal” appearance. It also defuses their resentment-excuse of, “Those obnoxious, weird-looking foreigners who refuse to assimilate into our society”.

If you resemble the majority, then some people who know that you are an immigrant may casually assume that you share their negativity towards different-looking immigrants, including racism.

Upon meeting, some may first jump to the conclusion that you are a clueless tourist or “semester-abroad” student, and then resent being told that they were wrong about something.

It can also be a sense of competition and tall-poppy syndrome.

They may feel trapped, handcuffed, and powerless in life in general, and geography is a sort of symbol or shorthand for that.

There may be a sense that, the immigrant has asserted more independence and control over her life. And has a more interesting life, with wider experiences and knowledge. Which may also be viewed as boosting social status (i.e. worry that other people may view the immigrant as a more interesting person, and the non-immigrant as a boring loser). While failing to grasp that the immigrant actually has lower social status.

When they interrogate you with the tedious, “Where are you from and why are you here?” routine, they may feel agitated at admitting that you possess information which they don’t possess. They don’t like the risk that you might tell them that it is none of their business.

They may feel indignant that, you got off the couch, made a decision, and proceeded to action, without consulting them first. Which implies that maybe the world doesn’t really revolve around them, and maybe they don’t really have authority over everybody else.

They may get indignant and claim unfairness (I never get to go anywhere that Iwant!”). Or they may claim that, remaining stuck in one place makes them superior, like they are living life the “right”, mature, responsible way.

The independence issue is common among women, with the pervasive idea that, geographic location is based on emotional and/or financial dependence on someone else. This is one reason for the pattern of women getting much more agitated/resentful (and more interrogatory) than men (who often don’t care).

A woman who feels that her location is dictated by her emotional dependence on her mother will resent a woman cuts the cord and relocates.

A woman who moved to a new city (not necessarily a new country – just a new city) due to her breadwinning husband’s job will resent a single woman who moved voluntarily and alone.

Some people may look for rationalisations, like you are sneaking around, or gaming the system. Or that you are running away from obligations, such as child support. Or they think that you pay taxes to your original country, but not the one to which you immigrated. Some actively hope that you are an illegal immigrant who overstayed a tourist visa, and that you are subject to deportation. They may like the idea of your life-control being forcibly taken away from you (possibly by them reporting you to immigration authorities).

Excuses for treating you with contempt may include believing that you are on some kind of very long vacation, full of leisure and adventure, and that you somehow don’t have to work.

Other rationalisations include stereotypes about certain nationalities, even if you don’t really match the stereotype. Or they may act like the government of your birth-country reflects on you personally (e.g. you may be assumed to support military invasions and obnoxious elected officials). Or that, high-profile crimes in your birth-country reflect on you personally (e.g. American gun violence).

Some natives feel very defensive, and may treat you like you are being offensive if you assert your right to voice legitimate criticism of the country to which you immigrated. Including if you talk about how immigrants are treated.

Some people may have a kind of national self-esteem issues, which may come up if you are originally from a country which they view as more glamorous. This can also go down to the level of being from a prominent and supposedly glamorous city. Including if their perception comes solely from television, cinema, etc.

Some may act friendly when they think that they can somehow use or exploit you (including to somehow make themselves seem cool by association). But, if you reject them, they may lash out, with “Go back to your own country” used as a way of claiming that it is really them rejecting you (and thus them being in the power position).

Some will get upset if you even just relocated from one city to another, inside the country. They may get even more upset if you state that, you reserve the right and ability to pack up and relocate again, by your own choice.

I have encountered people who believed that everyone who attempts to relocate (whether to a new country, or even just to a new city) almost immediately panics, gives up, turns around, and goes back where they came from. Or that, nobody ever attempts to relocate, and that it is consciously planned as a short-term visit, with a specific date to “go back home”. They think that, a person’s geographic location (the specific town or city) is externally dictated, set in stone when they are a child, and that they “have to” stay stuck right there for their whole life.

They might not have even visited anywhere outside the local area. They may imagine that, it would be frightening and disorienting to go anywhere new and unfamiliar, especially alone. They may feel that you are obligated to validate that idea, and feel personally offended if you refuse to do so.

Some people lack the skill (i.e. map-reading) and psychological aptitude to even navigate themselves to unfamiliar locations inside the local area. And they may be highly disturbed if you imply that you are capable of it, in terms of both skill and your psychological comfort.

TLDR: Some of the xenophobes or immigrant-phobes couldn’t even get their own act together to move to a different suburb.

What is the hardest thing about living abroad?

Updated May 1

“ You have an accent! Where are you from? Why are you here? When are you going home?”

“You have an accent! Where are you from? Why are you here? When are you going home?”

“You have an accent! Where are you from? Why are you here? When are you going home?”

Etc., etc…

What are some things that many people think/believe are illegal but are actually legal?

Updated Feb 25

When I was 18 years old, I moved out of my mother’s home, without asking her permission. Upon moving out, I immediately traveled a little over a thousand kilometers away (to an area with better job prospects). Men don’t care about this, but I have encountered women who perceived this as an underage child “running away”.

Legally changing your name. People do this all the time, by court petition. Reasons can include pronunciation, immigrants adapting to a new language/culture, children getting a new surname, and even just because the person felt like it. I have encountered adults who refused to believe this.

Another female-biased area is employment. I have encountered grown women who refused to believe that:

An employer can assign you to work more than eight hours in a day.

An employer can pay you on a commission or piecework basis, without any hourly rate.

An employer can monitor your productivity, and fire you if the dollar value of your work is lower than your wage.

An employer can make you redundant (laid off) because company revenue is down, stores or facilities are shut down, or for whatever reason the number of job positions has been reduced.

In an “at-will” jurisdiction, an employer can fire you for any reason, or just because they feel like it.

Some people don’t understand laws concerning freedom of speech.

Some people think it is illegal for an undercover police officer to lie when asked about his/her job, even in a life-threatening situation.

Some people fail to understand that, there are legal means for a person to permanently move from one country to another (i.e. they think immigrants are tourists).

Some people don’t understand the difference between an infraction, a criminal offense, and a civil tort.

A lot of this kind of thing just comes down to, “I’ve never heard of it, and I don’t like it, so it must be illegal”.

How many Americans have never left their home state?

Updated Apr 16

There are a few issues with the question:

The exact meaning of the word, “left”, can lead to completely different answers. That leads to completely different implications about people’s experiences and perspectives.

As other commentators have mentioned, numerous large cities are on or near state borders, and so have suburbs in the other state. Large numbers of people “leave” their home state every morning, just to go to their jobs, and then return that evening.

Also, many people have “left” their home state, to go somewhere on a two-week vacation, and then return home.

There are those who permanently “left” their birth state as an infant, and never relocated again. This could give a perspective similar to never moving at all.

A very different version is an adult who “left” their original state at age eighteen (or perhaps much older) and never returned.

Some people “left” their home state and settled in adjacent state, moving only twenty or thirty kilometres. Other people permanently relocated to the opposite side of the planet.

Relocating can be coerced (e.g. a child, a financially dependent spouse, or based on natural disaster or economic disaster). For other people, it is a free choice.

Relocating ranges from a single event, all the way up to being fully nomadic.

The localised differences may involve people in small states versus those in large states, with the issue being the physical distance.

Other localised differences (both state-based and city-based) relate to area status as a destination.

Los Angeles and New York are full of people who have “left” their original state (or original country), and arrived in those cities.

Far fewer people aspire to move to areas like Idaho or Mississippi, so they are full of people who were born there.

All of these general principles apply to many countries around the world.

Why do most scientists not have children of their own?

Answered Jan 20

Possibly a clearer question would be, “Why are a significant portion of female scientists and academics childfree?”

There are three factors.

First, having children is a major distraction (or total derailing) from pursuing higher education.

Second, women who already have the education required to work in science and academia may be filtered out of those pathways after they have children.

Third, women who prioritise this type of career may be aware of the first two points, and therefore adamantly avoid ever having children.

Marriage is also a major issue. Even highly educated women may have their careers severely impaired if they follow a husband’s relocation for his job. That relocation is a strong possibility, since her husband is likely to be highly educated as well.

For Female Scientists, There’s No Good Time to Have Children

Rule No. 1 For Female Academics: Don’t Have A Baby

The Baby Penalty

Fathers and Childless Women in Academia Are 3x More Likely to Get Tenure Than Women With Kids

Another thing that comes to mind is that, scientists, by definition, question things, and try to view things in a rational, organised manner.

Perhaps female scientists are more likely than average to question the pervasive societal message that, all women “should” (or even “have to”) have children.

What were you doing when you were 18?

Updated Apr 1

My parents had been separated for a couple of years (till divorce do us part). My mother was making a bad decision to move to an economically unviable town (cyclic rural poverty).

Being a legal adult, I told (not asked) her that I would not be joining her in the ill-fated move.

I packed all my stuff into my car, and moved to my father’s place, about a thousand kilometers away, in a suburb of an industrial city.

I slept on my father’s living room floor for six months, and got a job in a factory for minimum wage.

Then, my father was moving for a career change, so I said that it was time to be a full adult, and got my own place.

Soon after, I packed all my stuff into the car, went near a motorway entrance, and got out a map of the country.

I chose a large city, where I had never lived, and didn’t know anyone, thousands of kilometers away. That was in the top five best moments of my life, and was an excellent decision.

That was a long time ago. However, I still keep my life set up so that I can always reserve the right and the ability to have that moment again (and have moved on to another 3 cities from that time, and expect more in the future).