Expats have wary eye on home...and don't like all they see

By Simon Collins

Mishaps with new high school qualifications and tertiary education scandals are putting expatriate New Zealanders off coming home, just as the Government prepares to launch a campaign to attract them back.

Almost 200 expatriates in 23 countries responded within 24 hours to questions placed at the end of stories on the Herald website this week about the new campaign and related issues.

Far-flung New Zealanders with email addresses such as "kiwis" (in the Philippines) and signatures like "Kiwi J" (US) showed that they were keeping a close eye on New Zealand news - despite Immigration Minister Paul Swain's statement this week that most expatriates did not know about local skill shortages.

* Sharon Viti
Website manager, London

"Politicians [should] realise that most expats are very much in touch with what is happening both in NZ and the rest of the world."

* Patrick Leung
Software "serial entrepreneur", NY

"I'm no longer confident that NZ has world-class education standards, and the best schools here in New York City are very good. I want my daughter to have the best education."

* Jamie Clark
Computing consultant, Singapore

"I would not want my (yet to materialise) kids in the NZ system. NZ seems to be on a steady slide to mediocrity. The result of all the politically-correct nonsense is that school-leavers have third-world literacy and numeracy skills, yet they all pass NCEA."

* Mary-Anne Litchfield
Recruitment agent, London

"When I have kids, I wouldn't want them to go through the NCEA."

Sixteen of the 188 respondents voiced worries about race relations.

* Carole Wright
Computing consultant, UK

"Of greatest concern to me is the 'racial' situation now. In regular 18 month/two-year visits home I have watched this issue polarise NZers."

* John Hawkins
Cellphone development, Sweden

"I have a problem with the thought of living in a country where my children will be discriminated against because they are not defined by NZ law as belonging to the Maori race."

* Malcolm Boyce
Systems manager, Bendigo, Victoria

"I'm Maori so in NZ I will be expected to go to prison sooner rather than later. In Aussie it is seen as a God-given right that everyone owns their own homes/cars/playthings, and the incomes and costs support this. It's going to take a lot more than patriotism to lure expats back to NZ. I do not know anyone insane enough to work for a pittance, pay extraordinary rent, and then happily inform the family unit that in order for NZ to grow this family has to live like paupers."

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