This is the email that Craig sent to the last person who wrote to him before he died asking about moving to New Zealand.
Yes, we’ve dealt with plenty of Americans in your situation. I myself am a native of Fresno, California. I came out here as a 21 year old in 1973. Americans who’ve come out here around 10 years or more ago thinking of this as a place to relocate, basically got grossed out and went back to the USA. All the perversions one worries about in the USA are here and a lot closer to the surface than in the USA. The Christian heritage here is very shallow and faulty…this place was settled by Anglicans mostly then Methodists and Presbyterians and RCs and Salvationists. The Christian veneer here is very thin. If you come, you must first have a bit of a missionary mindset, for you will find it is not just a bit different…it is quite a bit different in ways hard to pin down but which niggle away at you.
Our church denomination (Reformed Church of NZ) has found that American and Canadian couples coming out to be ministers of our churches find it hard to acclimatise to the culture…the wives in particular have a very hard time. Most, in fact, pack up and go back. North Americans simply have to leave many of our ways back home and learn to be like the NZers, well to a point.
Politically this country is a “Parliamentary democracy”, same as Canada and the UK. Except that we only have one house of Parliament, not two. And almost no checks and balances. 10 years ago Helen Clark became Prime Minister and she marched this country very close to totalitarianism at a very fast rate. Her party was ousted at the last elections about a year ago…but the so-called conservative party that took over is going down the same path, just a bit more slowly. The one glimmer of good news is that part of the current coalition government is the ACT Party, who are libertarians. Say what we like, they do have small-government, low-interventionist policies.
All the social welfare and service-to-families type of organisations, both government and private (and there are a lot of them) are run by radical feminists and homosexuals. They have a firm grip on this country, but for some reason seem to be biding their time and moving slowly and with discretion. The opposition is small and quiet and they know it, so I’m not sure why they don’t movemore quickly.
Having said all that, this is a land of opportunity. Only 4.5 million people in a country the land size of Colorado and stretching from San Diego to Seattle in relation to latitude. The bureaucracy here is rather laid back and believe it or not, reasonable by and large to deal with. Red tape is at a minimum and international rankings as a place to start up and run a business put NZ in the top 5. Taxes are not, in my opinion, as heavy as in the USA and a lot easier and more streamline. We are self-employed and have hardly paid any income tax in years. We do have GST (like the VAT in the UK), which is a built-in sales tax on every single item or service you purchase, with no exceptions. But you don’t notice it, since it is built in. Americans have a more robust work ethic than here and think along wider horizons than most Kiwis, so you will most generally excel. You can become a large fish in a small pond rather easily.
NZers have a love-hate relationship with the USA. They are all secretly jealous of Americans, want all they have, but hate it when Americans say, “Well, shucks, back home we do it this way.” They’ll immediately tell you to go back home. Well, not to your face. Kiwis would rather die than have a face-off and cause offense. So they’ll smile to you and talk about you behind your back.
Home education has to be one of the best environments in the world. More about that later.
It is still a bit like a frontier country…rough around the edges. Politeness and manners and all the social graces that one especially associates with the Old South are totally absent here. Egalitarianism is the number one given. It is extended to virtually anyone: homosexuals, drug addicts, prisoners of almost every stripe. Except pedophiles.
I have formed the opinion after 36 years of observation, that Americans who come over here as a family can easily isolate themselves: they create a little slice of the USA in their home and hunker down against the forces of New Zealandization pounding away just outside their door. I married a true blue New Zealander. We were both hedonists prior to conversion to Christ. And the Lord took hold really hard on us. And we are home educators. We are keen on personal piety and righteousness and holiness as well as keen on Calvinism and Post-Millennialism. These things put us so far outside most known pigeon holes, we are a real curiosity. We have plenty of enemies, even inside our own church. But we practise service to others and hospitality. And the Lord has allowed us through these things to develop a network of beloved brethren in the Lord, from all kinds of denominations, with whom we can withstand pretty much anything.
As we get more solid people, such as Christian home educating Americans and South Africans (these people are tough as nails!), there is a nucleus of people who could recapture this country and turn it around in a couple of generations. If you come here, you need to fight. The world and the devil are pretty ferocious here, it seems to me. Panama and Costa Rica and perhaps Agentina are good places to go where one can do his own thing unmolested for another generation or so. Maybe Singapore and South Korea as well. But all these other places have other sets of issues.
There is a group doing a bit to coordinate folks who want to consider NZ as a possible place to shift to. The man to contact is Geoff Botkin. http://westernconservatory.com/geoffrey-botkin
We also have contact with a sort of Anabaptist crowd, ex-Amish many of them, who have been out here and decided that this is the place for them. They are all moving out here, in three waves, about 12 families or so.
Anyway, I’ll paste below some stuff I wrote recently for others. Don’t hesitate to email with more questions. But do try to contact Geoff Botkin.
Yours in Christ’s service,
Craig & Barbara Smith
Home Education Foundation
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North 4441
Ph. +64 6 357-4399
Sent: Monday, 31 August 2009 2:18 a.m.
Mr & Mrs Smith,
We are a family of six who are concerned about the changes being made in our country (usa) and the “setting of the stage” for more serious events to come. We have been looking at different places to move to and resettle. We homeschool and are HSLDA members and found your contact information while looking at the New Zealand section of the HSLDA website. We have looked at the immigration information regarding New Zealand and know that it is difficult. I believe we could muster a 150 on the test, escpecially if my wife was to take classes and get her teaching license renewed. I currently am self-employed in Remodeling/Construction trades. Do you consider New Zealand to be a good place to homeschool, even in the future? This is one of the things we fear being taken away here. I’m sure this is not the first email you have received with this kind of questioning, as I continue to talk to more and more people who are getting very scared about what seems to be coming here. Many people feel as if it is becoming like Germany in the pre Nazi days, and they are seriously considering leaving before something happens like the Reichstag fire, or a terrorist attack and they grab emergency powers.
I understand that having a job offer is almost critical to being considered for residency or a work visa. Do you have any advice for finding a job that would be kind of open ended to allow for us to sell our home and get ready to leave here?
Thank you for your time and thank you for any information you can give!
Thanks for you email. It seems Obama has started a bit of a search by many folks in the USA for somewhere else to go.
I’m originally from Fresno, CA…came over here as a 21 year old in 1973 and been here ever since. My wife is a 5th generation NZer and our children are dual citizens.
NZ has plenty of religious freedom…just don’t expect too many to take you seriously. If you are too up-front about your Christian convictions, don’t expect to make much headway in looking for jobs, especially ones connected to the public sector (civil servants).
The state of the Church in NZ is pretty bad…a lot of fluff and bubble in the independent, seeker-friendly groups, not much substance. Traditionalism also holds sway in the established churches. We’ve got a small network of more serious-minded, Christian home education, entrepreneurial types, who are attracted to the Doug Phillips, Vision Forum kind of thing.
NZ strikes most Americans, once they’ve stayed here a while, as a bit rough around the edges, not quite as sophisticated as one would like, too egalitarian, too given over to placating radical feminism and the homosexual lobby, too thin a Christian veneer on the culture. Two or three families I know came over here to check it out and went back because NZ grossed them out with the stuff they’d see on TV and in the daily papers (not the tabloids, which of course, are worse).
I was convinced, in mid 2007, that the Parliamentary democracy we have here is a sham when the opposition National MPs (so-called on the right) crossed the floor of Parliament to vote with the left-wing Labour party and the even more radical Greens in favour of making it a crime for parents to correct their children (the anti-spanking law), even in the face of continued and vociferous opposition from 83% of the population. Polls still come out today saying 80% of voters are still opposed to this legislation, which came into effect in July 2007.
Parliament here has only one house, not two like your Senate and HoR. Half of the 120 Members of Parliament (MPs) are not voted in by the local electorate but are simple party hacks who get in according to the percentage that party got at the elections (we get two votes at election time: one for a local MP and one for the party of our choice). The Legislative branch is made up of MPs who belong to the Party gaining the majority of seats (plus the rest, who are then known as the Opposition and who, being outnumbered, are pretty useless). The Executive Branch is made up again of those same MPs from the Party of the Majority. That is, there are few checks and balances. And there is only the central government, no state or country governments to slow down the application of central legislation across the country.
Home schooling here has to be the best in the world…negotiate only once in a lifetime per child with the Min of Ed to get the Exemption from compulsory attendance, sign a simple statutory declaration in front of a JP every six months to say you’re still at it, receive NZ$760 a year “allowance” that is totally tax-free and without any strings attached, and maybe get reviewed once every 4 years or so by the Education Review Office, a bureaucracy separate from the Min of Ed and who loves home schoolers.
Most Americans who come here, I reckon, would need to have a bit of a pioneer or missionary mind-set to cope with the differences. They seem small at first, but do become significant…socially, culturally and technologically.
Never hesitate to email. That’s what we’re here for.
In Christ’s service,
Craig & Barbara Smith
Home Education Foundation
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North 4441
Ph. +64 6 357-4399
The home education environment here has to be the best in the world…very easy to get what we call an “exemption” from the compulsory attendance law; once it is acquired from the Min of Education, you never have to deal with them ever again, except to sign a 6-monthly statutory declaration saying you are still home schooling, at which point the Min of Ed gives you a financial grant…money with absolutely no strings attached! There is a large and very active support network, both on the ground and in cyberspace.
Whoever said NZ$65,000 was breadline pay obviously lived in Auckland. We are on about half of that, and have been for 10 years. Then there are the tax breaks one gets from the “Family Support” tax scheme…it is basically a government top-up to your salary depending on how many children you have.
There are only 4.5 million people here. NZ is about the size of Colorado and stretches North-South about the same distance and latitudes as from LA to Seattle. It is underpopulated and there are many areas in which one with initiative could do some real development. Most of the population is around Auckland, ¾ of it is in the North Island and only ¼ of the population is in the South Island where all the space and scenery is. Many little country schools, sole-charge affairs, have houses attached which would come with the job as teaching-principal. You’d need to like the relative isolation. US preachers and wives who’ve come here with our denomination have found it a bit tough, the wives especially…there is, to an American’s sense of propriety, a lack of sophistication and outreach, often a lack of “community” or even a desire for “community”. To each his own. Kiwis keep their noses out of your business…to your face, anyway. They would rather die than cause offense to your face or have a head-to-head confrontation…unless you are good mates. At the same time, Kiwis love Americans and American ways and will cut Americans a lot of slack when they cross those unseen social barriers of propriety that one just has to learn about by trial and error…where they would not cut the same slack for someone from England or South Africa.
I was at the forefront of fighting the bill that has made it a criminal offense to “correct” your child. That includes spanking or as they call it here, “smacking”. The Child Protection Agency here, known as CYPFS (Children, Young Persons and their Families Service). Over 80% of Kiwis think the law is a joke, but once someone who is fanatic about banning parental discipline tells the Police or CYPFS about you, life as you know it comes to an end. So far, they only seem to pick on easy targets, families with lots of baggage already, or those who were especially indiscreet about giving the child a smack. Home education is good because you don’t have nosey teachers asking children what goes on in their homes and you can keep an ear on what your child and the neighbour child are saying to one another.
Craig & Barbara Smith
Ask yourself the hard questions: why are you interested in leaving the USA? What do you think you’ll find here in NZ? Of course you may not have clear answers and the Lord may be leading without revealing too many specifics.
We have hosted a number of families who’ve come out from the USA thinking NZ is old-fashioned, agrarian and prim and proper. No it is not. It is (to most Americans) a bit unsophisticated and rough around the edges. The Christian veneer is a lot thinner here than in the USA and the Christian heritage is nowhere near as deep or as rich. Egalitarianism and socialism are thoroughly entrenched here…as are feminism and lesbianism and homosexuality…these last three seem to run all the social welfare organisations, both state and privately run, that have anything to do with families and children. Prostitution was fully legalised here two years ago, civil unions give legal recognition to homosexual pairings, going into bearing children without knowing exactly who the sire might be is a financially comfortable career choice for young girls, and when any kind of “couple” breaks up (or one dies) after 3 years, the goods are split 50-50 with whoever has the best claim at being the “partner”, even if one is a legal spouse by marriage and the other is a heretofore unknown mistress or homosexual. Anyway, some of the families who’ve come here to get away from the USA got grossed out and went back.
Having said all that, NZ is such a small place, total population is 4.5 million in an area the size of Colorado and stretching over the same latitudes and the equivalent distance as from Los Angeles to Seattle. I came over here as a nobody and can now say I’ve had a nation-wide impact. Whenever two New Zealanders meet in London or New York as total strangers, as they get to talking they will inevitably find they have friends in common! This place is underpopulated and a land of opportunity for people with ideas for development in all kinds of areas. Obviously there are all kinds of wide open spaces, poke any kind of seed in the ground and it will grow, and anyone with initiative and a solid work ethic will do well. The serious Christian population is small and the social cost of identifying oneself as a Christian is more than it was a few years ago…it is near suicide if you get on the wrong side of child protection agencies, probably a closed door if you apply for jobs within government agencies such as social welfare or teaching, and only just tolerated politely by everyone else…except on on-line discussions where it is always open season on insulting and vilifying Christians.
The home education environment has to be the best in the world…for the present. Compulsory schooling stops at age 16. Bureaucracies are by and large still staffed by reasonable people who will wink at minor regulations when they see the pragmatic need to do so. I only know of one tiny fellowship who are clearly home education friendly (insistent) and family oriented. There might be one or two like that around, but they’ll be small.
I reckon Americans who want to come here to live need a missionary mindset. Think multigenerational about re-building society and reforming the church as a pioneer who can no longer move west to find elbowroom, for all of those wide-open places out west are now filled up…so we have to hunker down where the Lord plants us and do the work of reformation and reconstruction. There are no Christian universities here, only state run institutions whose humanities departments are run and staffed by Marxists. The political spectrum of NZ is very narrow and it is ALL on the left. The ones most on the right, with whom a Biblical Christian might find some empathy in terms of public policy, are the libertarians. The political system here has only one house of Parliament, virtually no checks and balances and no state or county lines to slow legislation down from reaching every square inch of the country overnight. On the other hand, it is so incredibly open: ring your Member of Parliament on the phone and you can arrange to get a half hour of his or her undivided attention…do it every week if you like. Write to the head of any Government organisation and ask for copies of all correspondence on issue Y between dates X and Z and they are obliged to send it to you. When a Bill comes before Parliament, write a submission on it and ask to appear before the Committee in person, and you will be given an appointment to sit with the 5 to 9 Members of Parliament to put your case. Whenever you write or email, you DO get a personal response.
The immigration system here works on a points system..points for age, number of dependents, educational level, technical qualifications, job offers, investment capital, etc. Do a web search for immigration to NZ or immigration agents and you’ll find plenty of information. Skilled and qualified workers in virtually every industry are in short supply, though the present depression has slowed things down. NZ has had a policy of bringing in refugees from all over the world for some years, which is nice, but the Muslims and Hindus and Anamists don’t integrate or get evangelised effectively…and some of these groups are getting more militant about wanting special privileges and allowances to maintain their cultural ways. On the other hand, many are moving here from South Africa, top quality people who are tough as nails, many of them Christians. We need more of such people, and American Christian home educators fit the bill! As we have large numbers of children and home educate them, we WILL take over in a couple of generations simply by our superior demographics of life and future-oriented discipleship instead of death and self-centred pleasure.
NZ is also a place about which to be concerned. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been here for years and was used in 2006-7 to make it illegal now to correct one’s own children using any degree of force whatsoever…that is, spanking is a criminal offense here.
Radical feminism is very strong here because this country has had a strong egalitarian streak since the early 1900s. Homosexuals seem to run many institutions, and one was appointed as Minister of Education by the Labour Government last year, just before they were voted out. He is gone, praise God, but left a lesbian as head of the entire educational bureaucracy. She could be there for years.
The top censor for the country is a homosexual…the #2 in charge is a lesbian. Do they ban films and books? Yes…those which are critical of sodomy.
We have no written constitution, but only British common law precedent, which more and more is being written out of legislation here. All together, we have very few political checks and balances. In 2003 the NZ Prime Minister said, “The role of the Government is whatever the Government determines that role to be,” and no body noticed!
There is a very shallow and weak Christian heritage here and the Church is mostly froth and bubbles, pursuing personal peace, prosperity and pleasure while waiting an immanent rapture which, they are all convinced, will happen before any proper persecution breaks out.
NZ is still a bit of a frontier country, most Americans finding us a bit unsophisticated and a bit rough around the edges. You’ll see and hear stuff on TV and in national newspapers you would never expect to see on US TV or newspapers.
Having said that, NZers have a good healthy skepticism of bureaucracies and law enforcement and ignore them when it suits them. Bureaucrats here are still mostly reasonable people, not trying to protect their little kingdoms. It is changing, however, and the bureaucracy is growing and being staffed more and more by people not raised here.
I grew up in California in the 1950s and 1960s, but I’ve been here 36 years now. The USA is not the country I grew up in. NZ is not the country I first got to know back in the 1970s and early 1980s. NZ has only 4.5 million people, so is underpopulated and under-developed. If enough sensibly-minded Christians with a long-term vision for evangelism and seeing Christ’s rule extend to every human institution as well as every human heart, NZ is probably the easiest country to re-take for His glory…speaking in human terms, mind you…all things are possible with God.
Americans with initiative and their generally broader horizoned-outlook on life can do well here in business and other areas of innovation. NZers rather like Americans, though they won’t ever say so. Americans can get away with a lot that Pommies (those from the UK) and Ozzies (Australians) can’t, because everyone here already knows Americans are loud, rude and ignorant (this is the caricature I trust you are familiar with, for it is world-wide). As soon as you open your mouth and they hear your accent, people here generally just assume you are used to handling lots more money than they ever see, that you are used to owning and managing lots more property than they’ll ever own, that you are used to living in huge cities, negotiating innumerable traffic hazards, laws, shopping options, TV stations, business transactions and bureaucracies of every sort while always managing to dress and groom like a movie star, with perfect children. But they also assume you know nothing about NZ and its ways, so you can ask all the dumb questions and go somewhat against local conventions and not be shunned or cold-shouldered straight away. But you better learn some local ways quick, and never let yourself say, “Shucks, back home we did it this way.” They’ll just tell you to go back home…and they’ll mean it.
The home education environment here has to be one of the best in the world…very little in the way of hoops to jump through, plus for the past 20 years, home educators have received financial grants from the government, totally string-free! If you want to hide and be left alone, NZ is probably one of the better places, for it seems to me the bureaucracy to keep track of you is not nearly as aggressive or eager…yet…as the bureaucracy in the US. If you want to make a big name for yourself and have a national impact, that too is easy, and it probably protects you somewhat from ever being a target of the bureaucracy. Red tape here, I’ve seen international ranking organisations say, is one of the lowest in the world. You’d probably want to come over with a missionary mind-set, understanding that things are different here, Christians are thought of as kooks, but tolerated, and stay-at-home wives and mothers who’ve come from the USA often find it particularly difficult to fit in here at first.