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

Key questions to ask yourself when taking a chance with a Visitor Visa

Noong mga nakaraang buwan, dumadami ang nagtatanong sa akin tungkol sa pag-asang makahanap ng trabaho gamit ang visitor visa lamang. Sa aking nakaraan na blog post, nasabi ko na hindi imposible ang paraang ito ngunit madalang mangyari. Gayunpaman, marami pa rin ang nagbabakasali sa kadahilanang hindi masyadong malaki ang itatapon mong pera kung sakaling hindi ka datnan ng suwerte.

Lingid sa kaalaman ng marami, hindi bawal humanap ng trabaho gamit ang visitor visa. Ang tumanggap ng job offer ang bawal. Ang official statement ng immigration ay narito:

“When your visa was granted, it was on the basis of you visiting New Zealand. You can’t work on a visitor visa, but you can look for work.”

Walang “one size, fits all” approach, kung ano ang gumana kay Juan ay hindi automatic na gagana kay Pedro pero ang tagumpay ng paggamit ng visitor visa bilang residency pathway ay nakasalalay sa mga sumusunod:

1. Ano ba ang skills ko na dadalhin sa New Zealand? May kwalipikasyon ba ako at malawak na experience na magpapatunay sa skills na ito? Ang propesyon ko ba ay kailangan ng rehistro sa New Zealand? Kung oo, makukuha ko ba ito?

2. Hinahanap ba ang skills na ito sa New Zealand at ako ba ay babayaran ng malaking halaga para dito? Sa kasalukuyan, $55k per year pataas ang dapat na sueldo at pagbabasehan ng immigration kung iisyuhan ka ba ng work visa. (check for NZ salary ranges) Patutunayan din ng employer na wala siyang makita na katulad mo sa mga lokal kaya ikaw ang ihi-hire.

3. Ako ba ay may sapat na ipon para bumili ng plane ticket at pondong panggastos para sa unang anim na buwan ng paghahanap ng trabaho pati na rin ang pambayad sa immigration fees? Kung magisa ka lang, lagay mo na sa kalahating milyon ang kailangan mo. Kung dalawa kayo at higit pa, mas malaki pang halaga. Dapat handa ka na mawala ang perang ito pagkat walang makakasiguro kung makakahanap ka nga ng trabaho o hindi.

Sa huling limang taon, ito ang mga trabaho ng mga pinoy sa New Zealand na naging residente ayon sa Statistics New Zealand:

1. Registered Nurse (Aged Care) 1,268
2. Dairy Cattle Farmer 239
3. Registered Nurse (Medical) 238
4. Registered Nurse (Perioperative) 152
5. Chef 131
6. Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) 116
7. ICT Customer Support Officer 115
8. Registered Nurse (Surgical) 113
9. Electrical Linesworker (Aus) / Electrical Line Mechanic (NZ) 98
10. Carpenter 94

What is it really like to live in New Zealand?

My friends and family back in the Philippines ask me this question all the time and I would say that no amount of money can actually quantify the lifestyle changes that I experienced.

Let’s begin with how my daily work day starts. Back in Manila, I used to wake up really early to get a headstart with the traffic. My daily commute would around 1.5-2 hours going to, and getting back from work. At the end of the day, I am dead tired not really from the work itself but sitting in public transport, heat and pollution.

In Wellington, New Zealand where I work now, my daily commute is around 10 minutes, 15 minutes if there is “traffic”. I can take my own car to work or ride the bus and it will not make any difference. Sometimes, when the sun is out I take my bike to work and in the office, there are bathroom facilities where I can take a shower before beginning my day.

You save petrol and parking money biking to work

Here in New Zealand, the water coming from any tap is clean enough to drink. It is the same whether it flows from the shower or the garden hose you use to wash your car. Imagine how much it will cost you in Manila to shower using mineral water everyday?

In Manila, I work on an average of 10-12 hours a day. Here, it is almost unthinkable for anyone to go beyond 40 hours per week and if you do, the employer has to pay overtime or give you a day off in exchange for the extra hours worked. Labour laws are strictly implemented here and you can raise a grievance with an employer if this is breached.

Since I spent less time at work and commuting compared to the Philippines, I actually have more time to spend with family, friends or pursuing a hobby or a passion. Add to that, there is a mandatory four weeks paid annual leave for everyone that you can use to travel outside the country or simply do what you want.


Biking on the weekend at Rimutaka Hills! Fresh air is priceless

Another thing that saves up time is that most government services are efficient and can be done online -whether getting a driver’s license or passport renewed.You just pay up using your credit or debit card and you will get it after a few days. No need to spend an entire day lining up and dealing with red tape. Same goes with utilities or every other service imaginable.

Even National / Local elections are done by postal mail

If I go to the USA, Middle East or Singapore, I could probably make more money. But the freedom that New Zealand gives me is so much more. At this point in my life, I value the currency of time more than anything, having good health and being stress free. For that, I am eternally grateful.










Should I apply for jobs while still in the Philippines?

With a New Zealand job offer almost mandatory due to the recent immigration changes, oftentimes the first tendency for an aspiring migrant is to mass send applications online and this is not harmless as you may think. Most jobs on seek/trade me clearly indicates you need a valid visa to apply. Now, if you do send an application without it, what impression would I get as an employer with your attention to detail and ability to follow instruction? What would you feel if this same person sends a CV over and over again for every job available?

Note that applying for jobs without a valid visa might backfire to you as most NZ companies now use application management software searching for keywords and sorting people with or without visas. IP tracking alone will identify that you are not in the country. You can also be blocked from the system.

NZ employers are busy people. Why would they waste their time on an applicant not physically in the country and without a valid visa to work?

I was once on the other side of the hiring fence and can share you some of my observations. As job applications moved to the internet, I once witnessed 500+ applications for a single vacancy from all over the world – I see a lot coming from India, China and Europe all hoping for a job offer like you. With Brexit and the Trump win, I would expect that to push up even further. That number includes the jobless of NZ who spam CVs around kahit hindi talaga sila interesado sa trabaho. They do this because they need to submit rejection letters to get the unemployment benefit from the government.

This is where  software comes in as applications can no longer be manually sorted one by one. Do you notice the questions on the online form? Obviously, those people already in the country will be on top of the pecking order.

If you are still in the Philippines and would want to take your chances, looking at accredited NZ employers might be the key. These are companies who applied and expressed their intention to Immigration NZ that they are seeking to employ people from overseas. Once accredited, they don’t need to go through the long tedious process of proving “there is no kiwi to do the job.” You can go to their corporate websites and usually vacancies are posted in their careers section.

One big caveat though is these types of employers are usually looking for special skills that cannot be found with the local population  – the $55k/year above salary requirement alone tells you that (current median salary or half of nz is around $46k) which bring me to the most basic questions you need to ask yourself:

1) What skills do I bring to NZ? What problems can I solve?

2) Would someone be willing to pay me big money for those skills?

3) Why should they pick me instead of hundreds of people with similar skills?

Regardless of your visa status, answers to those questions will let you arrive at a realisation.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a job offer outside of New Zealand as I see some people are able to do it. But during this time, it would be best to give your full time and effort researching about the country/company/industry, upskilling to be internationally competitive, sorting out a valid visa than writing and sending CVs/cover letters all day which as mentioned, carry some risks.

Be patient. Your time will come.

Why the Silver Fern Visa is the best pathway today


Due to the recent changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), the Silver Fern Visa is perhaps the quickest pathway to enter New Zealand and gain a visa to allow you to legally look for a job, provided you have the skills that the country wants.

This visa targets the 28-35 age group, which I believe is the perfect time to hit the “reset” button to one’s career. If you come too early, you might not have the necessary skillset and experience. If you come too late, then the opportunity for you to pivot and adapt to a different career or industry historically lessens as you approach middle age.

The average processing time of this visa is around 25 days, wherein you will provide evidence of your health, character, qualifications and work experience. This is relatively fast compared to the conventional path of the SMC which has around a one year wait before you could even set foot to the country.

Once you are issued with a Silver Fern Visa, you are now given 9 months to look for the skilled job that matches your experience and qualifications. If all the stars align and you get a job offer, you can eventually lodge your residence onshore, which again will be easier and faster than doing it offshore. The new threshold of 160 points is already unreachable for most people, at least with a Silver Fern you are inside the country, be able to earn NZ dollars and can begin to explore your options. Some Filipinos go through the long and complicated process of SMC only to find out once they are here, they cannot find a job in their profession.

For me, the advantage of going through this process is you get to enter the country relatively quickly, throw your hat in the ring and be able to gauge yourself against the New Zealand job market without spending a lot of money. (Read related: The truth about student visas) This is also different from the working holiday visa as you are not limited to only 3 months work.

I would say once you hit the 6th month of your visa, you will already be able to tell if New Zealand is really for you and your family. You will be exposed to the climate, housing, and culture to the level that ordinary tourists wouldn’t. What some smart Filipinos do is to file a long leave with their existing company in the Philippines (if you can) to mitigate the risks of failing to land a skilled job. Sabi nila, at least may Plan B at babalikan ka pa.

In the end, there is no point staying in a country if you cannot gain long-term employment that will pay for your needs and wants, so the Silver Fern is just the perfect avenue to put yourself in that position. If you return to the Philippines after your trip, you can treat it as a reconnaissance mission and possibly try again later using a different pathway. But it is not a losing cause – you gain more knowledge about the country because there are some stuff you will only find out once you are physically here instead of only reading about it on the internet.

Interested? Make sure you apply using fast broadband internet as visa applications open online on November 3 at 5am Manila Time (10am NZ Time). Have your Visa/Mastercard credit/debit card ready for around a P10,140 peso swipe (subject to change). The 300 slots are filled within seconds.

Addendum: For restricted occupations like nurses, you need to secure New Zealand registration first BEFORE applying for this visa.

Implications of latest policy changes

Last October 11, Immigration New Zealand implemented radical changes to the Skilled Migrant Category, Parent Category and the way it evaluates its English Language requirements. If you have been invited to apply prior to this date, the old rules will still apply to you. If not and interested to apply for residency, read on to learn how this affects you.

The biggest change is the selection of EOIs of only 160 points or more, which was raised from the previous 140 points. What this means is essentially pulling the plug on the residence hope of most international students, which had been flooding the New Zealand job market in recent years. Everybody saw this coming when Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said this on live TV. From a policy standpoint, what I see the NZ government is doing is essentially raising the bar for its skilled intake and only allowing immigrants who will not only pay more in tax money than the average Kiwi, but not compete with the locals for low to medium skilled labour. There is also mounting political pressure to decongest Auckland due to the housing crisis.

This is a profile of an individual or family with above 160 points:

  • 10 years or more of work experience in an area of government identified shortage
  • A recognised graduate or post graduate qualification related to the above
  • A skilled New Zealand job offer outside of Auckland (annual salary of 70k or above would indicate the level of skill)
  • Perhaps a partner who also works and passes the English requirement

If you fall to the above criteria then I don’t see any problem gaining residence if the paperwork is right. If you don’t, the only way around it would be to gain more experience in a comparative labour market, or gain higher qualifications. I will discuss this later on a separate article.

As for the English language requirement, Immigration NZ from October 12 would only accept IELTS score of 6.5 above on all bands (nurses and other professions might need higher) – reading, speaking, writing and listening. They’ve also added other alternatives like TOEFL and similar English tests. When I applied for residency eight years ago, I only presented my certificate of medium of instruction from UP Diliman. This has changed.

Frankly if you fall in the profile I mentioned above, I don’t see anyone not getting this score. I would recommend taking this test before lodging your EOI. You can review and retake it in case you fail to reach the minimum points. Please note there is an expiry of these certifications so time it accordingly.

For stopping the parent category, it is quite understandable from the position of the NZ government as most of these older folks coming into NZ contribute nothing economically and puts a serious strain to the public health system. Family reunification has been one of the values of Kiwi society but the current economic climate warrants this temporary halt.






How to enter New Zealand as a Filipino


Since I started this blog, I have been asked several times about the different pathways to legally enter New Zealand. I would like to begin that all information is on the official immigration website and what I will enumerate is a mere summary of the most common pathways that Filipinos take to START living and working in New Zealand. Please note that this is not immigration advice but a bird’s eyeview of the NZ immigration system as of this date, and is subject to change anytime.

1. Skilled Migrant Category Residence Visa

This is the “ultimate end goal” among Filipinos 55 years old and under, wanting to live and work in New Zealand. It works on a points-based system based on your age, qualifications, work experience and skilled job offer. It goes without saying that you must be healthy, have no criminal convictions and fluent in English. This is a process that normally takes anywhere between 1-2 years from Expression of Interest to the stamping of your resident visa on your passport.

2. Essential Skills Work Visa

If you have the skills that New Zealand needs and your employer proves to immigration that no kiwi is available to do the job then you might be entitled to get this visa. You will undergo a process called “labour market testing” except for accredited employers authorised by immigration. Karamihan sa mga kababayan natin na nagtatrabaho sa Christchurch rebuild ay ito ang way of entry.

3. Student Visa

Contrary to what immigration advisers might say, this is the most expensive and riskiest visa to take as I explained before.  This is the option most Filipinos presently take if they don’t qualify for the points threshold of a Resident Visa. It allows you to work part time for 20 hours every week and full-time during school breaks. With this visa, you take a course to study and depending on the level you MIGHT be eligible for a Post Study Work Visa to allow you to stay in the country and look for work. But make sure you have loads of money upwards of 1 million pesos (that you might not recoup) if you decide to take this route.

4. Silver Fern Job Search Visa

For highly skilled young people (20-35 years old) wanting to come in and look for work. There is a quota of 300 slots each year so you have to get in quick. This is a better option than entering via Student Visa in my opinion.

5. Working Holiday Visa

A recent new visa for Filipinos, aged 18-30 to allow you to work 3 months for a single employer. For this reason, this is a good option only if your primary reason is tour and see the country. Nonetheless, it allows you to enter the country and legally seek work.

6. Work Visa based on partnership

Take note there is no fiance visa like in the US. A certificate of marriage wouldn’t suffice either. Ideally, you have to be living with your partner (can be a same boy or a girl) for 12 months or more before applying for this visa, and there are enough documents to prove financial interdependence (e.g. joint bank accounts, tenancy agreement, etc.) to be eligible for this visa. So searching dating sites for a kiwi boyfriend or girlfriend is a no go.

7. Visitor Visa

There are some incredible stories from Filipinos who were on a visitor visa but were able to get a job and permanent residence but these are VERY RARE, usually coming from the older crowd who arrived pre-2000. Still, getting a visitor visa is a relatively low risk move to allow you to see the country and possibly meet employers without spending heaps of cash. But at the end of the day, you would still need a work visa as above to sign and take a job offer.

8. Enterpreneur Work Visa

I haven’t met a Filipino who went via this route. In case you’re interested, you need at least $100,000 NZD or 3.5M pesos to invest and start a business here.

There you go. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting your New Zealand dream. What works for Pedro will not necessarily work for Juan. But in the end, take responsibility for your own actions and not play the “victim card” when things don’t go your way. Do your own research that applies to your own situation and take that calculated risk.

Tips on how to ace your Kiwi interviews


When you are called for an interview, your chances of nailing the job is now down to usually 3 people, instead of the common 200 to 1 odds of being shortlisted.

Preparation is utmost importance, as it is a make-or-break situation, where you can showcase your communication skills and other qualities that make you the “right fit” for the role. Being on both sides of the hiring fence (interviewer and interviewee) in the past, here are my tips to ace an interview in a New Zealand context:

  1. Come to the interview fresh by scouting the location a day or two beforehand as you don’t want to be rushing to the company’s office the last minute. Instead, arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow you to relax and settle.
  2. It is usually advised to come in “smart casual” attire but this entirely depends on the type of role you are applying. I would say it is better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview. Personally, I’ve always wore business attire in all my interviews.
  3. Most Kiwi interviews begin with usual pleasantries to break the ice. Common starter questions would be to ask you how your weekend was, the weather, etc. This would be a good opportunity to discuss your knowledge of Kiwi culture – try to steer the conversation to the last All Blacks game or current New Zealand events. Remember it is important to give an image that you are one of them, rather than be seen as a foreigner or outsider.
  4. Kiwi employers are known to structure their interviews by asking behavioural questions, as most HR people believe that past action is the best predictor of future action. In answering a question let’s say “Name one moment in your professional career that you faced adversity and tell us how you responded to it” – the way you frame your answer would be using the so-called STAR response technique. First, give a specific Situation, then narrate the Task you set out to do, the Action you did, and finally the give the Result of that action. An example response could be: “Our retail store used to have a difficult customer that wanted to return an expensive purchase. Of course, nobody wants to have an angry customer walk out, more so lose a big sale. I started to ask a series of questions to find out the reasons why he was angry. As it turned out, he actually purchased the wrong product for his specific needs. After recommending a different product, he was happy to shell out a hundred more dollars to get a better product. It was a win-win situation for both parties – a customer walking out happy and a higher sale for the company.”
  5. After the interview, you will then be given an opportunity to ask questions to your potential employer. Use this time to get to know the company beyond what the advertisement says, and also by asking questions you express your genuine interest for the role you are applying for. Example questions could be – how would my performance be measured in this role? If hired, what can I learn from the company? How would you describe the culture of this organisation?

If in the end, you don’t get the job, always extend a thank you note perhaps by email or postal letter for giving you a chance to be interviewed. This kind gesture keeps the door open for future opportunities. There was one occasion wherein I didn’t get the role but because I kept in touch and showed my eagerness, I was considered for a different role in the organisation later on.

The Truth about Student Visas

Due to immigration rules tightening, many Filipinos are now opting to study in New Zealand. In fact, latest official figures showed that the Philippines is leading with a 72% increase of student visa arrivals from the previous year.

It seems that the recent upsurge had been caused by some dodgy agents in the country advertising the student visa as a relatively “easy” pathway or simply by people who jumped on the bandwagon without doing their homework.

Example of a deceptive Filipino consultant advertising their “Study in NZ” services on Facebook

Of course, student visa as an “easy” pathway is very far from the truth. Remember that when you apply for a student visa you sign on a piece of paper that your “statement of purpose” is to study and leave the country when your visa expires.

Immigration NZ nor the NZ government does not promise or guarantee any jobs, more so permanent residency when you decide to go down the student visa path. You are allowed to study, in some cases work part-time, but at the end of the day, the agreement is that you pack your bags once your study is over. This is all written in black and white.

Pero sa hirap ng buhay sa atin, some pinoys do take their chances and hop on a plane to study with a hope of securing work, any work, which in the case of NZ does not apply. This is quite different from the Middle East or Singapore in that if your objective is permanent residency, it has to be skilled work that is in line with your experience and field of study and that New Zealand has a demand for those skills.

In other words, you have to bring something special to the table before they let you in. No Mcdo managers, factory hands, call center agents or kitchen staff because they have plenty of those people already.

They say “no guts, no glory.” And I agree. Despite all the gloom and doom in the global economy nowadays I still think the rewards outweigh the risks in taking such endeavor. But you also need to assess your odds and prepare accordingly to increase your chances of success.

studying in nz

First, the student visa would be the costliest pathway one can take and you need to be financially prepared. Conservatively, you will be spending over 1 million pesos per year in tuition fees and living costs. Remember that no amount of part-time work (limited to 20 hours per week) will be able to sustain yourself in NZ. If you have to borrow this amount of money, it will take years to recoup even if you end up finding a NZ job.

Secondly, you need to choose a field of study that has to be in an area of your specialization already. Case in point – no sense taking a business course when your undergraduate degree is nursing and you are looking for nursing job.

Third and finally, the skills has to be there for you to compete in the present job market. The course that you will study is just an “icing on the cake” that will let you inside the country so you can job hunt. But in the final analysis, the offer will only come if you can truly add value to the company you are applying for. Frankly, how many comes out of college and be able to hit the ground running? Real skills takes several years to develop, and that’s why Kiwi employers value experience over degrees. It is also important to note that less than 15% of Kiwis hold university degrees and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of them learned on the job and have worked their way up. Practicality and improvisation is inherent in Kiwi culture and oftentimes classroom “theories” are dismissed. To learn more, read about the term “number 8 wire” and its origins.

Academic achievement is not highly valued here (unlike the UK or US) and that is why I have reservations on recommending the student visa path. But if you have money to burn and game for adventure then taking the plunge is definitely worth it.