South Africans Leaving for New Zealand: Seeking a Better Future
South African immigrants in New Zealand often find themselves confronted with a challenging question: why did you leave your home country? Providing an answer is no easy task, as it necessitates acknowledging the shameful past of South Africa, where apartheid reigned for 40 years before its collapse in 1994. South Africans are acutely aware of their nation's history, and they often become associated with apartheid, which can lead to defensiveness, fear of judgment, and a focus on their past rather than their present.
The perplexing query arises: if South Africa is such a good place and you aren't racist, why did you depart only after apartheid ended? Addressing this question can be uncomfortable, as it forces South Africans to confront the country's history of political views and international isolation due to apartheid. Living with this burden, all South Africans who migrated have had to navigate the consequences of the apartheid era.
It is important to note that the majority of South African immigrants in New Zealand do not condone racism, despite the presence of a minority of "white flight" racists among them. Zimbabwe-born management consultant Michael Clements, who relocated to New Zealand a decade ago, emphasizes that growing up under the apartheid system does not equate to supporting it.
Another factor contributing to South Africans' decision to leave their homeland is the allure of New Zealand's different everyday systems, such as education, healthcare, and banking. However, adjusting to these systems can pose challenges for recent migrants who lack New Zealand-specific experience. Although many South African immigrants possess impressive qualifications, securing similar employment opportunities in New Zealand's small-business economy can be more difficult.
Furthermore, South Africans often seek a better future for their children as they envision the potential economic setbacks that could arise from the transition to equality for black and white South Africans. This concern prompted individuals like Mrs. Parker, of mixed Irish and black heritage, to relocate to New Zealand with her family. She recognized that the journey towards equality might entail economic challenges over the next 15 years.
Presently, approximately 35,000 South African immigrants call New Zealand home. Predominantly comprising middle-class white English and Afrikaans speakers, the South African community in New Zealand also includes individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as people of mixed race and Indian heritage, as well as Zulu and Xhosa speakers. Auckland, particularly the North Shore and Howick, serves as the primary residence for most South African immigrants. While the majority have been in New Zealand for ten years or less, there are also those who arrived over 15 years ago.
In conclusion, South African immigrants in New Zealand grapple with uncomfortable questions about their departure from their homeland. They carry the weight of South Africa's history but strive to build a better future for themselves and their families in New Zealand. Despite the challenges they face, their determination to seek a brighter tomorrow propels them forward in their new home.