BYE BYE CULTURAL CRINGE: EXPAT KIWIS CONFIDENT AND CONNECTED WITH HOME   9 Jul 2008

EXPAT SURVEY: New Zealanders remain confident about their country and strongly committed to its destiny even while living and working overseas, a survey of Kiwi expats in Europe has found.

"I want to experience and travel the world before coming home to settle down"; "I am planning to return [to New Zealand] and build a business there," were typical comments received in the survey by global network Kea New Zealand and national airline Air New Zealand. "New Zealand is the best, but as a Kiwi you need to see the rest of the world to appreciate it," echoed another respondent.

While 35% of the expats in the survey left home to take advantage of global economic opportunities, this does not mean they lack confidence in New Zealand. More than two-thirds (69%) say New Zealand has made great progress over the last ten years, and 59% are confident about New Zealand’s economic future.

Another factor influencing some to leave home is the ability to pay off their student loans faster when earning in sterling.

Of more than 3000 expats who responded to the survey, more than four in ten (42%) travel to New Zealand at least once a year, and more than two-thirds (69%) get home at least every two years. About 98% maintain family or social connections with New Zealand, and around 95% see New Zealand as a great place to raise kids and to retire.

"The picture that emerges is of talented Kiwis curious about what lies outside their doorstep venturing out and gaining experience and connections they can use for New Zealand’s benefit in the future," says Anna Groot, Kea’s Regional Manager in the UK.

"Most Kiwi expats are broadening their horizons, but without in anyway taking New Zealand out of the picture," she says.

"I have a desire to understand where my roots are from," was one respondent’s reply when asked why they left New Zealand. Travel and the opportunity to earn better money overseas were consistently cited as reasons for moving abroad. For example, one respondent had "[a] desire to see the world and travel, and there is better remuneration overseas in [my] specific employment area."

"Let’s sip sauvignon blanc during the rugby, eh?"

The lure of enhanced lifestyle and culture overseas is the biggest single factor (44%) in expats’ decision to leave New Zealand, the survey found.

Yet there is little sign of old-fashioned cultural cringe among Kiwi expats: more than 70% say Kiwi arts & culture is among the world’s best.

Half of respondents agreed with the statement "When I think of New Zealand, I think more of good food and wine than having a beer with my mates", and less than a quarter disagreed.

Well over half of the expats in the survey say that Kiwis overseas tend to rely too much on New Zealand’s sporting success for their sense of national identity. And by a two-to-one margin, respondents say they personally still identify more with New Zealand rugby than with its arts and culture.

Still the world’s greatest travellers

Most Europe-based New Zealanders travel outside their current country of residence at least once every three months, the survey found. Nearly half (48%) have lived in at least three countries, and a quarter have lived in four countries or more.

"Er, we’re the other down-under"

Kiwi expats see their nationality as having a good image around the world (94%) and say their country promotes itself well globally (84%).

Yet 26% of the Kiwis in the sample report that foreigners confuse New Zealanders with Australians, and 82% say most people overseas tend to lump Kiwis and Aussies together.

Claire Byrom from Air New Zealand in London said that the positive results from the survey also strongly support the airline’s involvement with ‘Track Me Back’, a New Zealand initiative lead by a number of New Zealand employers to support Kiwis thinking of returning home to work at some stage.

"Since its launch in November more than 2700 Kiwis with an interest of returning home have registered at trackmeback.co.nz . Track Me Back puts employers in direct contact with Kiwis, building communication as to what they can offer in terms of career and opportunity and providing compelling reasons for New Zealanders to return home

"The results of the survey show that Kiwis do and will always call New Zealand home even when 12,000 miles away."

 

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