Joining a Kiwi partner in New Zealand

kiwiAs it is Valentines day today, I will be discussing “partnership” in the context of New Zealand.

For you to be able to gain a visa based on partnership, first let us define what this means to Immigration as it is largely different from what we are used to as Filipinos.

A “partner” in Kiwi speak does not mean “boyfriend-girlfriend” in pinoy speak. It is also NOT a requirement that the two of you need to be married or even of the opposite sex.

When you lodge a visa to join a Kiwi partner in New Zealand, Immigration will be looking if you live together in a “genuine and stable relationship” even if you are both men or both women. It could be a lot of different factors including:

  • how long you’ve been together
  • how long you’ve been living together as a couple
  • your living arrangements
  • whether you support each other financially
  • how you share financial responsibilities
  • how committed you are to a life together
  • whether you own property together and/or share your property
  • any children you have together, including your arrangements for their care
  • whether you share common household tasks
  • whether other people recognise your relationship.

This means they should be an on-going relationship ideally 12 months or more. There is no “fiance visa” in NZ nor is a marriage certificate enough to prove a relationship.

Instead, the best documents to produce are the following:

  • birth certificates for any children you share
  • cards, letters, emails and social media conversations
  • photos together
  • a joint rental agreement or home loan
  • mail addressed to you together at the same place and time
  • joint bank accounts with significant movement
  • evidence you own assets together
  • joint credit cards or loan agreements
  • joint utilities accounts, like power or phone bills

This is the reason “Marriage of convenience” or “anchor babies” rarely happen in New Zealand because of the substantial evidences you need to present.

If you have been living apart but in a relationship, you need to provide information about the reasons for this. For example, husband was working in the Middle East while the wife was busy looking after the property and children in the Philippines.

A common strategy among Filipinos is they let one person go ahead to New Zealand to look for work while the partner stays in the Philippines. The tips above are important to keep in mind and collate evidences as early as possible to allow for a smooth transition for a reunion down the line.



5 Kiwi Films You Should Watch

Watching a country’s cinema is a great way to understand a nation’s psyche.

Below are five great films you should watch to gain a better insight into New Zealand culture. Some might be sourced on the internet or copies can be bought online through auction sites such as amazon or ebay.

  1. GOODBYE PORK PIE (1980) directed by Geoff Murphy. An indispensible piece of Kiwiana that tells the story of two rebels who goes on the ultimate road trip from the top to bottom of New Zealand to elude police. Although the humour might be dated to modern viewers, it reflects the Kiwi attitude of independence and non-conformity. 73.hero.png
  2. THE PIANO (1993) directed by Jane Campion. This film might be memorable to some Filipinos as some nude scenes were censored by the MTRCB when it was shown in the Philippines. It is a movie about a mute woman sent to 1850s New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation. It shows the life of the early European settlers, and how they coped with loneliness and isolation in a foreign land.image-w1280
  3. BOY (2010) directed by Taika Waititi. The director of this film have went on to make the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Thor: Ragnarok.” But one of his early films was set on the east coast of New Zealand in 1984, about an 11-year-old child and devout Michael Jackson fan, who gets a chance to know his absentee criminal father. Watching this film will give you a glimpse of poverty in rural New Zealand.BOY_1
  4. THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN (2005) directed by Roger Donaldson. This is a biographical sports drama based on Invercargill speed bike racer Burt Munro and his highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1,000 cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Being a country isolated from the rest of the world, Kiwis are known to make do with what is available to them to obtain results like in the case of Mr. Munro. This is where the DIY or “Do It Yourself” culture can be best examined.The_Worlds_Fastest_Indian
  5.  ONCE WERE WARRIORS (1994) directed by Lee Tamahori. This movie opened the eyes of cinema goers from all over the world to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life – a depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst urban Maori families.maxresdefault




How to spot a dodgy immigration adviser

I’ve discussed the business of immigration advisers in the past and have stated my reasons to be wary of their services.

Nowadays I see a lot of them peddling on social media and even the licensed ones are spewing myths, half truths and outright lies just to get people to sign up.

Here are some sure-fire ways to identify which ones you should stay away from:

  1. Recommends study as pathway to residency. This is a no-brainer. Even the NZ Government itself have stated this is not the case and our very own Philippine Ambassador have warned against doing this to avoid huge financial loss. 
  2. Describes New Zealand as “an easy place to find a job” without knowing your skills.
  3. Uses buzzwords like “free healthcare” or “bring your family” when this is not automatically the case for everyone.
  4. Claims you don’t need IELTS. If residency is your end goal there is no way of dodging an English test now unless you grew up and educated in the United States or other countries where English is the first language.
  5. Claims even WITHOUT experience you can get a job in New Zealand. The current job market is flooded with unemployed people with heaps of qualifications and experience. What more a person with no experience and coming from overseas?
  6. They claim you can earn while studying. Sure you can earn but with a 20 hour-a-week legal limit to work while on a student visa, it is nearly impossible to recoup the living and immigration-related costs. Here it is called beer money.




Full speech of Ms. June Ranson talking to international students

Fifteen point summary of her talk:

  1. Don’t study business or management.
  2. If you are keen on studying, review your course if it meets New Zealand’s skill shortages.
  3. Don’t waste your time and just take any odd job, find an employer that will utilise your best skills that will lead to residency.
  4. Consider joining Toastmasters to improve your communication skills.
  5. Move out of the Filipino community. Mingle with other cultures.
  6. Identify actual companies that actually interest you. Do your background research on that employer.
  7. Don’t be passive in interviews, ask questions which gives good signals to employers.
  8. Learn how to write a kiwi-style CV and modify your CV to the job you’re applying for so it covers the issues that the employer is looking for.
  9. Remember that not all jobs are advertised – networking is a good way of finding this hidden job market.
  10. If you use Trade Me or Seek, expect hundreds of applications, make your CV stand out and worth looking at.
  11. Talk to your Kiwi tutors or friends and ask them for recommendations on who to talk to with regard to employment opportunities.
  12. Leverage the idea that a New Zealand employer can “try you out” whereas hiring a Kiwi would be difficult to fire if they don’t become a good fit.
  13. Steer clear of employers who don’t pay the minimum wage or practice dodgy stuff like “pay for a job”.
  14. New Zealand employers are keen on helping you at immigration paperwork if they can see the value you are adding.
  15. When you receive a job offer, look carefully at the job description if it matches the ANZSCO.


Paano magtrabaho ang mga Kiwi


Isa sa mga pinakamahalagang adjustment na kailangang gawin ng isang migrante ay maintindihan ang pagkakaiba ng work culture sa New Zealand kumpara sa Pilipinas. Kahit wala ka pang trabaho dito, makakatulong ito kung paano sumagot at kumilos sa isang job interview.

May isang pagaaral na ginawa ang isang Dutch social psychologist na si Geert Hofstede tungkol sa pagkakaiba ng mga kultura pagdating sa trabaho. Tinawag niya itong “Cultural Dimensions Theory” na maaring gamitin para ipaliwanag ang limang natatanging kaibahan ng isang Filipino worker at isang New Zealander.


Sa Pilipinas, dahil kadalasan malaki ang mga organisasyon, malaki ang distansya ng mga manager sa kanilang mga tauhan. Tanggap sa ating lipunan ang inequality dahil na rin sa malaking agwat ng mayaman or mahirap. Sa New Zealand, dine describe ang kanilang lipunan as “egalitarian” o likas ng pagkapantay pantay ng mga tao. Dito, pwede mo tawagin ang boss mo by their first name. Sa isang organisasyon, ang mga desisyon ng mga nakakataas ay maaring kwestyunin, at kahit ang mga nasa mababang posisyon ay pwedeng magbigay ng suhestyon. Malaki ang pagpapahalaga natin sa status ng mga titulo tulad ng “Senior Manager” or “Executive”, samantalang sa New Zealand siya ay tatawagin lamang na “Team Leader”.


Para sa mga Kiwi, mahalaga ang pagsunod sa mga batas at alintuntunin. Direkta sila kung magsalita at hindi sinasangayunan ang malabong usapan. Sa Pilipinas naman, ang mga batas ay naroroon, ngunit may flexibility tulad na lang halimbawa sa pagkuha ng driver’s license – pwede “mapagusapan” o maglagay. Sa pagpasok sa trabaho, kung ang nakatakdang oras ay 7:00am halimbawa, pinagbibigyan ang dumarating ng 10-20 minutes late. Sa pakikipagusap, kadalasan ang pagiging prangka para sa Pilipino ay senyales ng kayabangan. Sa paghi-hire naman ng mga empleyado ang Kiwi ay maingat sa pagpili samantalang ang Pilipino ay maaring sumugal sa isang “unknown” – dahil na rin pwede tanggalin kung kinakailangan. Mahalaga ang health and safety policies ng mga kumpanya dito dahil malaki ang penalty kapag may naaksidente o namatay sa trabaho.


Ang approach ng Kiwi sa mga problema ay praktikal at outcome-based. Kapag gumawa sila ng desisyon, nagiisip sila ng epekto nito five to ten years down the line. Sa Pilipino naman, mas mahalaga ang agarang solusyon at dumikit sa mga kilos na nakagawian na. Kaya ang isang third world na bansa tulad ng Pilipinas ay mabagal ang economic development, samantalang ang mga mauunlad na bansa tulad ng New Zealand ay focused sa continuous development.


Kung ihahalintulad ang kultura ng isang bansa sa kasarian ng tao, masasabing ang Pilipinas ay “masculine” – binibigyang halaga ang mga katangian tulad ng strength, dominance at assertiveness samantalang ang lipunan ng New Zealand ay maituturing na “feminine” – binibigyang diin ang kooperasyon, modesty at pagpapahalaga sa mga mahihina. Kung kaya’t hindi umuubra ang masyado pabibo sa interview dito sa New Zealand. Ikaw ang makikita bilang “Tall Poppy” at siguradong kaiinisan. Kahit ikaw pa ang “Michael Jordan” ng industriya mo, dapat ang hangarin mo ay mag “fit in”. Parang laro ng rugby na ang bawa’t isa ay may kanya kanyang papel.


Pangkaraniwang tawagin ang Kiwi workplace na “laid back” o “petiks” sa salitang kanto. Importante sa kanila ang oras para sa rest and recreation kaya dito sa New Zealand mahaba ang paid vacation leaves (mandatory 4 weeks sa kasalukyang batas). Dito rin sa New Zealand makikita ang pagjo-jogging sa gitna ng lunch break. Sa Pilipinas, kahit mahilig rin tayo magsaya ang kultura natin ay likas na matiisin at hindi alintana ang paghihigpit ng sinturon. Mahilig ang mga pinoy sa overtime kahit umabot ng 70 hours per week magtrabaho samantalang ang kiwi ay bihira magtrabaho ng higit sa 40 hours kada linggo. Ang normal dito ay anywhere between 32-38 hours.

Sa pagiging aware sa limang pangunahing pagkakaiba ng work place culture, mas madali kang makaka assimilate sa lipunan ng mga Kiwi. Handa ka ba para kalimutan ang nakagawian at tanggapin ang mga ito?

5 ways to survive the New Zealand Winter


On the month of June each year, the winter season in New Zealand begins. It will last until September 1st when spring officially kicks in. For most Filipinos and other nationalities that come from tropical climates, it can be a hard adjustment. But here are some tips I would recommend to make it easier:


The first time I arrived in New Zealand was actually winter season and my mistake during that time was to bring “ukay ukay” jackets to use. Wrong move. Most of them were useless against the Kiwi cold. What you need are “fleece” jackets as what they call them here. I would recommend going for the Merino wool variety which are soft, thin and lightweight but packs in the warmth.

If you are heading for places in the South Island, it is imperative to layer your clothes – perhaps starting with a thermal underwear, your regular clothes as a second layer, a soft shell jacket as the third layer, and perhaps a duck down jacket or a gore-tex jacket (for rain) as your outer layer. If you are walking regularly through snow, it would be ideal to get heavy thermal socks and waterproof boots.

Take note even if you are indoors, you might need long sleeve jerseys and jogging pants to let you sleep properly at night.

These winter clothing do not come cheap. However, I do not suggest you scrimp on them as bad gear might get you sick which would be more costly in the long run. One way to find cheaper options is by going to a local hospice shop (the NZ version of the ukay ukay) or buying online though Trade Me. If you are buying brand new, some of the Kiwi stores I recommend are Kathmandu, Macpac, or Ice Breaker. Just wait for their occasional sales, usually near New Zealand public holidays and NEVER buy full price.


When the cold months kick in, your chances of getting the infamous New Zealand “bug” (the kiwi term for virus) increases ten fold. If you get stricken, you can be shut down from work for up to 2 weeks and spread misery to the rest of your household. So in order to prevent this, it is advised to get a flu shot from your GP (General Practitioner – the term for family doctor here) or local “chemist” (pharmacy). Cost would be minimal or free in certain situations. Getting enough sleep, eating fruits and vegetables or perhaps taking a multivitamin would be other ways of strengthening your immune system.


Although living in a house you choose might be difficult in certain places particularly in Auckland, your overall health and well-being can be decided by your place of shelter. Steer clear of a “leaky home” if possible. The NZ Ministry of Business lists down the tell-tale signs of one. If you are already living in one, using a dehumidifier might be your best friend to somewhat remedy it. Not only is this cheaper to run, but it is healthier option than using conventional heaters. To save electricity, heat or dehumidify yourself in a single room instead of the whole house.


On winter days, most of us tend to lock ourselves indoors and be a couch potato. This will probably set you up for depression or “winter blues” as they call them. It is recommended that you get sunshine as much as you can. You have options of going skiing, running or even brisk walking provided you follow number one as above. You can also sign up for a local gym if doing outdoor activities are unbearable. Exercise will help inject endorphins to your brain, sending positive vibes to the whole body.


Why not take a break? This is what I usually do. During winter months in my experience it is usually cheap to get airfares to go to the other side of the world. USA, Canada and most of Europe are experiencing summer. Other options are nearby pacific islands like Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu or Rarotonga. The warm weather will certainly help you relax even if it’s only a couple of weeks.




What the latest immigration changes mean to the Kiwinoy hopeful

immigration change
Many saw the immigration changes as a political move by the National party to gain votes in the upcoming election

Last week, the government announced major changes to the skilled migration eligibility by putting in place salary thresholds to decide whether you are “skilled” or not.

Under the new policy, those earning below $48,859 a year will no longer be considered “skilled” regardless of job description. However, if you are earning above $73,299, you will automatically be considered “highly skilled” even if your job is cleaning toilets.

Immigration NZ will also remove the ability of temporary work visa holders to bring in partners unless they qualify themselves.

A three-year limit would be placed on temporary Essential Skills visa holders earning below the threshold while seasonal work visas changes would see those issued for a season rather than a full 12 months.

These will impact the Filipino immigrant in the following ways:

1. Entry via the student visa would become extremely difficult, if not impossible

To many Filipinos coming here as students, there is a big upfront cost. Without the prospect of gaining residency, the numbers would sure to drop in the coming years. The changes are tilted towards the mature qualified post graduates, away from the young undergrads which is what is happening today. This would be the death knell of the dodgy private schools or PTEs as we know it.

For you to make it to 160 points, the Filipino student should gun for Masters or Phds in top-ranking universities like Auckland or Otago University. This move not only costs more but entry into graduate programs are more stringent. It goes without saying that you should specialise in areas that are in demand.

2. Most foreign workers in the low wage sectors would just be disposable workers or “OFW forever”

The bulk of Filipinos in New Zealand are those working in the Hospitality Industry as Chefs, caregivers in rest homes, and farm hands. They hold temporary work visas and most would be shut off from ever gaining residency — except those covered by the one-off “South Island contribution visa.

What this means is that people working in this sector should aspire for management roles such as becoming a Head Chef, Healthcare Centre Manager or Farm Manager. The magic number you are looking at is earning $24 per hour and in reality, not a lot of small businesses in New Zealand can pay such amount unless you put on added responsibility.

If you are given the maximum stay of a three year visa, remember this will be followed by a “minimum stand down period” before becoming eligible to reapply for another temporary visa so you have to act fast.

3. The wise will only target high paying jobs or high paying companies

 If you are still strategising your way into New Zealand, there is no other way now as it had become a question of salary above anything else.

According to Careers NZ, the jobs with the highest median salaries (as of 2015) are the following:

  • Doctors/specialists – 207k
  • IT systems architect – 125k
  • IT project manager – 115k
  • IT consultant – 105k
  • IT sales – 105k
  • Engineering manager – 105k
  • Bank, Finance and insurance manager – 100k
  • Finance manager – 97k
  • Energy Engineer – 95k
  • Lawyer – 95k
  • Commerical Real Estate Agent – 95k
  • Corporate banker – 95k
  • Marketing, media and communications manager – 95k
  • Construction project manager – 90k

Even if you are still in the Philippines or in a third country like Singapore, Japan or Korea, you can gain qualifications and experience in these areas and work your way up. Another possibility you can explore are working in multinational companies with offices in New Zealand. Like all good things, it is a process and you should be ready if the goal posts would move again in the future.


Do not study business


In a previous post, I exposed the dangerous minefield called the student visa.

If you are the type of person where money is not an issue and really want to pursue further studies in New Zealand then it would be wise to select the right course that would increase your chances of securing a skilled job.

Recently, I’ve been meeting a lot of pinoys studying diploma of business here that had been sold to them by unscrupulous agents back home.

Many have paid thousands of dollars, worked in odd jobs and ended up packing their bags in debt.

Studying business is a terrible choice if you plan on permanently settling here.

After finishing your studies it is highly unlikely someone will offer you to “manage” their business.

For one, New Zealand is a tiny, isolated country in the Pacific where the average business is 1-5 people, a vast majority of which are solo operators.

Think about this – if you had a business in the Philippines would you hire a foreigner to manage your operations?

No, you would hire someone with local knowledge and that takes years of on-the-ground experience.

Not an expensive piece of paper.

Business courses do not teach a marketable trade or specific skill.

The most successful business people in the world did not study “business”, they just had an idea and learned it as they went along.

Another similar course being peddled is “Healthcare Management” to target the clueless pinoy nurses and other medical professionals.

The reason why these types of courses are being pushed are the low overhead costs of offering these programs. Whereas let’s say you offer a degree like engineering or computer networking, you would need to build the expensive infrastructure to support it.

With “Healthcare Management” or “Business,” all you need is a room, perhaps a whiteboard and a guy off the street pretending to be a “management guru.”

What it ultimately boils down to is that Kiwi employers are not looking to give any “fresh off the boat” immigrant any kind of managerial or leadership position.

Because of its size, taking in a rookie “manager” is a risky position for most New Zealand companies. Aggravating this further are the strict labour laws, making it hard to fire people who they later find unsuitable.

If you are aspiring Kiwi and want to learn a skill that will lead to jobs, the best course of action would be to look at the job sites and talk directly to employers.

Why I switched to prepaid electricity in New Zealand

Back when I used to live in Manila, I remember to receive unexpected, exaggerated electricity bills all the time because there was no way to closely monitor your consumption on a day to day basis. And because Meralco is a monopoly, you had to pay up your bill on time or your powerline gets ruthlessly cut.

When I moved into my first rental property here in NZ, I had the luxury of choosing over 10 power retailers! This number keeps growing. If you didn’t like the service or the price you are paying for one company, it was very easy to switch to another one. In fact, the government encourages healthy competition among power retailers by asking people to visit this site to find out who gives the cheapest price at a particular point in time. In the end, the consumers win.

As I believe in supporting local businesses, I am with Powershop for the past seven years, a Wellington-based prepaid power company. What I liked about their service is they had smart tools that lets me closely monitor my usage behaviour, and thus giving me power to control my bill.


It was very easy to buy “load” through their website or phone app. Like a brick and mortar shop, you can buy “patingi tingi” or buy in bulk or in advance to save you money.


For example, you will get considerable savings if you buy power for the winter during the summer time where prices are cheaper. If you overbuy power by any chance, they will refund you. If let’s say you go on vacation and turn off everything in your house including the fridge, you don’t have to pay anything. My bill dropped to zero when I went back to the Philippines one time.

As an added bonus, I pay Powershop through my American Express card which they accept so I earn airpoints from paying utility bills. At the end of the year, I could earn a free flight from all the airpoints accumulated.

There is no requirement to pay in advance to keep your power going. They will automatically charge your debit or credit card each month if you have not bought enough “powerpacks” in advance to cover your usage. You will not be cut off just because you haven’t logged into their website or app.

If you are already in New Zealand and want to try Powershop, you can use this link to receive $150 worth of power, free.

Powershop’s quirky “Same power, different attitude” campaign