new zealand

The Cultural Shock of Being a New Kiwi

New Zealand is a culturally diverse country that has a good reputation for welcoming people from different countries to become new Kiwis. As a result, the majority of migrants to NZ feel like they belong and are a part of Kiwi society. That said, you will experience cultural shock when you move to the country and become a new Kiwi.

In fact, moving to any new country involves an element of cultural shock, even if you are familiar with the country and know what to expect. The experience depends on what stage you are at with the move.

The early stages are the most predictable. Planning to come to New Zealand is usually a busy period as well as one that is full of anticipation. It can be stressful too, particularly in relation to applying for a visa.

You then first arrive in the country. This is a period of fun and excitement for most people. You enjoy the newness of the experience and, because you haven’t been away for long, you don’t yet miss your friends and family at home.

Cultural Shock Kicks In

As with everything in life, however, things change. During your first months of living in NZ, the newness and excitement will wear off. You will face normal experiences which will take some of the shine off moving to the country. In addition, it is natural to start feeling homesick, particularly if events like new childbirths, weddings, or major birthdays are happening in your home country that you have to miss because you are in New Zealand.

This is often the most difficult stage of moving to a new country, so it is important you have support and someone to talk to. Usually, the difficulties don’t last for long and you start to settle and feel more comfortable. What was new before will become familiar and easy, and you’ll start to feel like you fit in.

What to Expect

Here are some tips to help make the cultural shock of moving to New Zealand a little less jolting:

  • Partners and children – the experience for your partner or children can be very different to yours, particularly if they are moving to New Zealand to be with you. They will be separated from their friends and family which can be difficult to adjust to. Be aware of this and seek help if you need it as it is important your family settles in well.
  • Work – New Zealanders are known for their can-do attitude to work. In addition, companies are generally smaller than in other countries. In fact, the average company in NZ employees less than 14 people. This normally means you can expect greater involvement in the company you work for which can be fulfilling and can lead to new opportunities. You will also find that getting the right work/life balance is important in New Zealand.
  • Socialising – relaxed barbecues and parties are common in New Zealand. There is a drinking culture, although smoking is increasingly rare. In the work environment, sharing morning or afternoon breaks with colleagues is common, as is going out for drinks after work at the end of the week.
  • Language – people speak English in New Zealand, but the slang and fast pace of talking can be difficult to understand at first. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure of the meaning of what has been said.

It is natural to face challenges or to have feelings of doubt when you move to a new country. It is important you have support, do as much planning as possible, and ask when you don’t understand.