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The FAQ (part 3 of 6)
Section - B3.3 Life In General

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Top Document: The FAQ (part 3 of 6)
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

B3.3.1  Business Hours

Banks 9:00am to 4:30pm - can vary slightly.  Otherwise, Monday to Friday
9:00am to 5:30pm.  Late night for shopping is either Thursday or Friday.
Changes to the Shop Trading Hours Act means that most shops are open for
longer hours than this.  Almost all are open Saturday morning, many are
open on Sunday with some shops and markets remaining open later during the

Automatic teller machines are widely available including a system in many
supermarkets and petrol stations called EFTPOS where you can buy goods with
your card and a PIN number and/or obtain cash.  Many Atm's will accept
Cirrus cards.

All international credit cards are accepted in NZ.  Travellers cheques can
be changed in banks, hotels, stores, etc.  Mike Gill said; "I used MC and
carried some Travellers cheques for emergencies.  This worked out great".

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency which may be
brought into or taken from New Zealand.  Funds may be in the form of bank
notes, coins, travellers cheques or any other instrument of payment.
Visitors may convert surplus NZ currency at any outlet authorised to deal
in foreign exchange.


B3.3.2  Tipping

Tipping is not expected in New Zealand, but is not unheard of.  Employed
people don't depend on tips for their income and service charges are not
[usually] added to hotel and restaurant bills.  Tip for service if you
think it's really deserved, but don't be surprised by the response.  Some
(many?) consider tipping to be an undesirable practise.


B3.3.3  Cost Of Living

B3.3.3.1  Rent
A moderately decent house/week (VERY approx!):
Dunedin      $130 - $180
Christchurch $140 - $200
Wellington   $160 - $300
Auckland     $200 - $350

The average house price is hovering around $140K, mortgage rates are
fluctuating around 11% currently.  Mortgage rates include inflation

Lin Nah adds (2 Dec 1996):
"Auckland: Nice comfortable 3 bedroom house around $250 - $350 per week but
you won't be very close to the central city.  Broken down 3 bedroom house
close to the city for around $240 per week.  A room in a flat for around
$100 per week.  An inner city appartment (depending on location) anywhere
from around $200 per week for a studio."

Normally 2 weeks bond and two weeks rent are required in advance.  Talk to
the local Tenants Protection Association about your rights.


B3.3.3.2  Wages
The govt would have us believe an 'average' income is around $26K, people
with an income over $30K are considered well off.  That was in 1994-5.

Superannuation is sorted out with the employer.  It's no longer compulsory.
No doubt some will regret this later.


B3.3.3.3  Transport
Petrol is $0.93 per litre (+/- $0.05), insurance on a small car (eg.  85
toyota starlet 1.3l) is a mere $240 per year, registration is another $200
per year.  There are lots of cheap Japanese used imports over here, so you
can get a good car for as little as $5K, and a cheap car for less than $2k.
Repairs are the worst cost - especially parts for late model cars, so
getting something reliable is a good idea.


B3.3.3.4  Food
Pretty cheap depending on how much you eat of what.  It'd be easy to eat
your way through a lot of money, but it is possible to live on less than
$40/wk and probably quite a lot less depending on how keen you were...


B3.3.3.5  Consumer Goods
Most import duties have been abolished, and instead we have a flat 12.5%
goods and services tax (GST).  Beware of advertised prices which exclude
this.  This means that imported goods (electrical appliances, clothing
etc.) are pretty reasonably priced.


B3.3.4  Crime

Yes, we have crime.  While it may be 'safe' compared to most other
countries, serious crime does exist here and visitors should take sensible
precautions.  Always lock your vehicle, and don't leave it in isolated
locations for extended periods.  Avoid leaving valuables visible in the
car.  Avoid areas/situations which appear unwholesome.  The emergency phone
number (police, ambulance, fire) is 111, and ask the operator for the
service required (this can be used from payphones without paying).


John Davis wrote:

"The crime rate isn't overly high, there was some information in the paper
today (1/95) showing the average number of reported crimes per 10,000
people for Chch is 1877.  The NZ average is 1457, Chch came second
(Auckland had 2130).  The safest place is rural Canterbury at 568.  This
may sound rather high, but this _all_ reported crimes, from shoplifting up.

If you break it down into crime types, the NZ average for violent crimes
per 10,000 is 124, sexual crimes is 14, drugs and 'anti-social' crimes
(presumably things like being drunk and disorderly) is 150, property damage
is 98 and property abuse is 74.  As you can see from this, the serious
crime rate here is therefore very low, things like murder and rape are
fairly rare (rare enough to make the national TV news), armed offences are
virtually un-heard of (again, and armed hold-up will make the national
news).  You're most at risk from petty crime (opportunist car theft,
break-ins etc.  - as opposed to 'professional' thieves who are fairly
rare).  Your chances of being assaulted, held up, or murdered are virtually
nil.  Probably the most dangerous part of day to day life here is the way
people drive :-)

On the other hand, do silly things like leave a nice expensive camera
sitting in your car whilst it's parked in a dark street in the middle of
town at night, and you'll probably find someone's nicked it (lots of
tourists find this out the hard way - wish people would stop telling them
NZ is totally safe)."


Murder Statistics for 1991

Brian Dooley wrote:

(1) All data taken from NZ Year Books and adjusted to include only males
aged 15+ years.

(2) Numbers marked "*" are taken from Year Books where murders and
manslaughter (not incl. deaths by careless driving) were aggregated.

(3) Numbers 1967-82 are taken directly from tables which give

(4) Numbers 1974-94 refer specifically to murder only.

(5) These numbers are approximations but good enough to allow reasonable
conclusions.  You will observe that my value of 3.3/100,000 for 1991
accords pretty well with the value of 3.4/100,000 quoted before from the

MURDERS/100,000 of Total Population:

1967  1.4*      1970  1.2*      1980  1.3      1990  1.6
1968  0.7*      1971  0.9*      1981  1.3      1991  1.5
1969  1.1*      1972  1.0*      1982  1.3      1992  2.1
                1973  0.8*      1983  ---      1993  1.1
                1974  1.4       1984  1.2
                1975  1.0       1985  ---
                1976  1.1       1986  1.8
                1977  1.8       1987  1.7
                1978  1.9       1988  ---
                1979  1.6       1989  2.0

MURDERS/100,000 MEN for NZ (men=age 15+):

1967  3.2*      1970  2.7*      1980  3.0      1990  3.8
1968  1.6*      1971  2.0*      1981  3.0      1991  3.3
1969  2.5*      1972  2.3*      1982  3.0      1992  4.9
                1973  1.8*      1983  ---      1993  2.6
                1974  3.2       1984  2.7
                1975  2.3       1985  ---
                1976  2.5       1986  4.2
                1977  4.1       1987  4.1
                1978  4.3       1988  ---
                1979  3.6       1989  4.8

The thing which strikes me about the table is that it does have a
consistency, which implies that if the Economist's conclusions are true
then not only is NZ comparatively violent now - it has been for a long
time.  However I am not persuaded that a simple ratio is applicable to all
situations, particularly where small numbers are involved.  The table has a
volatility which I don't think it would have if a population of 50 million
were involved."


I had a debate with myself about where to put this stuff.  After the murder
stats seemed as good as any...

Frank van der Hulst offers:
"Whilst doing a spot of research in Massey's library, I took the time to
look for road traffic accident stats.  Like all stats, take them with a
grain of salt.  Your mileage may vary :-)

"What I found is somewhat dated, but FWIW here are comparisons of injury
accidents/100mill km for various countries.  Illuminating perhaps for those
who claim NZer's are the worst drivers in the world (possibly excepting

Finland          62
Norway           70
USA              72
Niger            79
Denmark          79
NZ               88  *
Canada           88
Turkey           88
Italy            91
Australia        92
Spain           120
France          127
Germany         129
Great Britain   130
Peru            131
Netherlands     157
Hungary         193
Israel          229
India           242
Syria           264
Morocco         279
Belgium         285
Japan           320
Ivory Coast     539

"These data are for 1970/71.  As usual, I ask anyone with more recent stats
to email them to me or post them.

"Don't go driving in Ivory Coast!"

Steffan Berridge has added the following.

Here's some authoritative info which I found in "Motor Accidents in New
Zealand" published by the LTSA, originally entered in the OECD
International Road and Traffic Accident Database held by Bundesanstalt fur
Strassenwesen, Germany.  The data are all 1993 except the ones with *s
which are 1992 and the countries are ordered in decreasing vehicles per

Country   Deaths per   Deaths per
         100,000 pop  10,000 vehicles

USA         15.6        2.1*
NZ          17.0        2.7
Italy       12.6        2.0
Luxembourg  19.2        3.1
Canada      12.5        2.0
Australia   11.1        1.9
Switzerland 10.5        1.8
Germany     12.3        2.2
Japan       10.6        1.9
UK           6.8        1.3
Austria     16.2        3.1
Norway       7.6        1.3*
Iceland      6.4        1.3
Sweden       7.3        1.5
Belgium     16.5        3.4
France      16.6        3.4
Spain       16.3        3.6
Finland      9.6        2.1
Netherlands  8.2        1.9
Denmark     10.8        2.7
Ireland     12.1        3.7
Greece      20.3        6.6
Turkey      14.3         -
Portugal    32.9*        -

Kind of makes you wonder what they get up to in Portugal...  NZ roads are
safe after all!  It looks like the figures for 1994 should have been
published by now, and the 1995 due shortly.


Hantie Braybrook wrote:
"all reported crimes per 100 000 of the entire 1994 population:

 South Africa    5651
 Norway          5563
 USA             5820
<lots of countries deleted>
 UK              8986
 Canada         11443
 NZ             13247
 Sweden         14188

Why are the figures for NZ almost 3 times those of SA ?"

The following suggestions are in response.

John Mee:
"According to Statistics New Zealand, Distinct Cases Resulting in
                      1991    1992    1993
 Against the person  7,603   8,454  10,681
 Property           20,669  21,166  21,459
 Drug                6,930   6,652   7,949
 Other              16,115  16,661  20,759

Total convictions, exclusive of traffic: 60,848

And the population:
Census at 31 March    1993     1994     1995
  Total Population   3,435.0  3,541.6   3592.4

Since the only overlap is 1993, only consider that year, therefore there
are 34.35 (100,000) divided into 60,848 gives a rate of 1771.412/100,000
CONVICTIONS (not crimes).  Since I can't lay my hands on a conviction rate,
or total of crimes committed, this will have to do.

I suspect somebody fouled up, or there are vast differences in reporting
methodologies from country to country, making any statistic meaningless."

Bruce Hoult:
"I'd take a wild stab in the dark and guess that these numbers include
everything down to and including speeding tickets, and that the majority
are in fact exactly that."

Paul Dansted:
"Because of changing attitudes towards domestic violence in NZ assaults in
the home are now more likely to be reported as crimes.  I think domestic
violence accounts for something like 80% of violence in NZ!

Policy changes have encouraged police to treat these incidents as crimes
rather than 'just domestics'."

Hantie Braybrook
"There was a follow-up article the next day which is summarised below.
Anyone interested can search the articles at the Independent Newspapers WWW
site viz.

"Essentially, the crime and murder rates could be double estimates due to
the 50% rate of under-reporting.  According to Nedcor researcher Simon Lee,
the project used current SAPS (SA Police Service) crime statistics and
statistics obtained through its own study to calculate an overall crime
rate of 5,651 per 100,000 people.

"Lee said that the crime rate could be doubled to at least 11,500 if the
under-reporting rate were taken into consideration.  This would also apply
to the murder rate of 45 per 100,000 people which could in fact be 90.

"Commenting on the high overall crime rate in countries such as Sweden, New
Zealand and Canada, Lee said it could be attributed to the fact that these
countries had a reporting rate of at least 95%.

"The international rates had been obtained through Britannica World Data,
which publish reliable forms of comparative crime statistics."


B3.3.5  Finding A Job

Employment Resources 
NZ Employment Service
NZ Government Jobs Online

IT Placement Agencies
Professional Engineers

The Ministry of Health has started a new web site for health related work:

Those interested in teaching in NZ should refer to section B3.3.6 
and B3.3.6.7, especially B3.3.6.1  Online resources for Education

There is an outfit called Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) which
costs $15 to join.  For that you get a booklet containing a list of
addresses and phone contacts for hundreds of organic farms.  It is up to
you to make the contact and arrangements with the specific farm where you
would exchange work for food and lodging.  Contact:
 Janet & Andrew Strange
 PO Box 1172
 Nelson, NZ.
 phone 025-345-711 (mobile)

The NZ Employment Service appears to be a final resort.  It is far better
to have a job lined up before you arrive (from overseas) or before you're
out of school...

Labour force: 1,603,500 (June 1991)
  services 67.4%
  manufacturing 19.8%
  primary production 9.3% (1987)


B3.3.6  Schools And Education

Compulsory from age 7 to 15, but almost all children start kindergarten at
age 4 and then school at 5.
Primary schools: J or Primer (pron. 'primmer') 1 and 2: approx age 5-6
                 Standards 1-4: approx age 7-11
Intermediate schools: Form 1-2: approx age 11-13
                      (these are sometimes included in primary schools
                       or in secondary schools)
Secondary schools: Form 3-7: approx age 13-18

NZ schools have a high international reputation, especially for their
reading and remedial reading programmes.  A growing number of schools have
special programmes for children whose first language is not English.
Most schools require school uniforms except some primary schools.  Some
schools do not require 6th and 7th formers (last 2 years of school before
entering university) to wear uniform.

National exams/qualifications:

Form 5: School Certificate
Form 6: Sixth Form Certificate
Form 7: Bursary (entrance to university is mostly based on this)

School term and holiday dates:
The term dates for state primary and secondary schools can be 
found at the URLs below.  The private schools have approximately the
same dates.  Usually the difference is only by about a week or 2 only.
        1998 :
 1999 - 2000 :


B3.3.6.1  Online resources for Education

NZ Education
  Although this web page is set up to inform and attract International 
  students to study in NZ, it provides the following information:
  - a description of the education system in NZ
  - Information and contact details of all secondary, tertiary and other
    private and public post primary educational institutes (includes 
    English languate schools)

Ministry of Education
  With links to various papers by the ministry regarding education in NZ.

Education links
  You'll find pointers to pages with links to web pages of various schools 
  in the country.

Links to home pages of Universities in NZ

For those looking for a teaching job in NZ:
Teach NZ - has adverts and other information for overseas teachers
    wishing to teach in nz.
Learning Media (Includes the Education Gazette)
NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority)


B3.3.7  Universities

Otago is the oldest, Waikato is the newest, Auckland is the largest, and
Lincoln is the smallest.  Apart from Lincoln which is essentially a
technical university offering a very limited range of courses (but is
expanding fast), all are full-scale universities.  Try:
This will send you to home pages (and all sorts of info including snail
mail) of universities in NZ.

As an indication, deadline for enrolment in 1996 closed on 12 Dec for
returning students, 7 Dec for new students and for overseas students it
closed much earlier.  The first semester starts at the end of February.


Lin Nah wrote (edited somewhat):

"In New Zealand, it does not matter as much which university you attended,
at least not like in the US where the Ivy League graduates are very much in
demand compared to the lesser known schools.  Within NZ they are more equal
although the culture and way things are done within each university is

"Academic Considerations:
For many (most?) degrees, there is nothing stopping you from moving to a
different campus if you do not like the uni you choose (assuming they also
offer the course(s)).  Of course it would be nice if you pick a good one in
the first place.

"Things you should look for when choosing a university include:
 types of papers offered
 structure of degree
 research interests of staff
 publications of staff

"There are certain strengths within each department in NZ, even though at a
BSc level they probably all teach the basics.  It is very important to
consider these strengths as they may influence post-grad work.

"Financial considerations:
Cost of living in Auckland is certainly much higher than that in most other
Universities (except perhaps Wellington).  While it may be possible to get
a room in Dunedin for $40 a week (yes, I did see at least 2 adverts at this
rate), the cheapest room in Auckland (per week) is probably around $70.
And that does not include expenses like food, transport, phone and

"Fees vary from university to university for the same course, so do not be
surprised if your total bill at one uni is higher than another could have
been.  Some universities set a rate for each type of degree, so, for
example, an arts degree would be cheaper than dentistry.  Other
universities set a flat rate throughout the whole campus, not
differentiating between arts and science degrees.  There are probably
variations inbetween.

"If you are a NZ permanent resident or a NZ citizen, you pay what other
NZers pay.  If you are entering as an overseas students, there is a
separate schedule for fees which differ from institution to institution.

Campus life is very different at each university.  Auckland University is
right in the middle of the city.  It is therefore a very cosmopolitan
campus and does not have much of a campus life as known by Waikato or
Canterbury students.  It also happens to be the biggest University in NZ.

"Check the webpages as they do say a little bit about life on campus."


B3.3.7.1  Teaching Focus
Most Universities have a core of basic subjects common to all; Chemistry,
Physics, Biology, Maths, Stats, Economics, English, Psychology, etc. etc.

University of Auckland (Auckland and Tamaki)
  fine art, architecture, engineering, law, medicine, optometry, fine arts,
  architecture, engineering, zoology, languages,computer science, music,
  maori and pacific island studies, women's studies, commerce, accounting,
  finance, economics, management, science and information systems,
  international business, management and employee relations and commercial
  law, BTech in optoelectronics, Sports Science, Environmental Management, 
  and BTech (Information Technology)
University of Waikato (Hamilton)
  Law, Maori, Computing, Psychology
Massey University (Albany - Auckland's North Shore)
  Business Studies, Information and Mathematical Sciences, Social Sciences,
  Food Science.
Massey University (Palmerston North)
  Agriculture & Horticulture, Business Studies, Information and
  Mathematical Sciences, Science, Social Sciences, Technology, Veterinary
  Science, Aviation, Education.  There is also an arts faculty...
* Many of the Massey programmes are available by distance education (Centre
  for University Extramural Studies)
Victoria University of Wellington (Wellington)
  arts, law, computing, commerce/economics, geology, meteorology
Canterbury University (Christchurch)
  fine art, all sciences, computing, engineering, commerce, law, forestry,
Lincoln University (Christchurch)
  agriculture, economics, landscape architecture, cultural studies
Otago University (Dunedin)
  medicine, law, phys. ed., computing, consumer sciences, surveying,
  dentistry, commerce

Marty Burr wrote:
"Aviation has been around since 1990, when the Massey University School of
Aviation was established.  It offers degrees in Aviation (BAv) with majors
in flight crew development (probably one of the most expensive degrees in
NZ!), Aviation Systems, and Air Traffic Systems Management (ATSM This major
trains Air Traffic Controllers in association with the Singapore Aviation
Academy, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore) It also offers
Masters in Aviation (MAv), and Doctorates in aviation.

"Education is offered as a degree in conjunction with the Palmerston North
College of Education.  Next year (1996) the Palmerston North College of
Education is to become part of Massey, and come under the Faculty of
Education at Massey.  I'm not sure what the name will be.  It also offers
several postgrad degrees in Education."

Michelle Elleray wrote:
"I think you'll find Massey, Auckland, Victoria, Canterbury, Otago and
Waikato Universities all offer Maori Studies.

"As for PI studies - Auckland has a PI Studies Centre and teaches Samoan,
Victoria used to teach Samoan and Cook Island Maori.  There's sure to be
more at both these universities, and possibly at other universities around
the country - check the web pages."


B3.3.7.2  Addresses
University of Auckland (Auckland)
  Private Bag 92 019  or
  ph (09) 373-7999

University of Waikato
  Private bag 3105 

Massey University
  Private Bag      
  Palmerston North 

Victoria University of Wellington
  PO Box 600       

University of Canterbury
  ph (03) 366-7001

Lincoln University
  ph (03) 325-2811

University of Otago
  PO Box 56        

Email to postmaster@university.of.choice for someone who can help.  You can
try sending email to for details.

There is a NZ Universities page at:
will send you to home pages (and all sorts of info including snail mail) of
universities in NZ.

A fair chunk of VUW information is on line.  The starting point is

For Victoria's English Department, have a look at:

Computer Science departments at various universities:

You can view the University of Canterbury Dept of Civil Engineering home
page at:


B3.3.7.3  The University Hierarchy

Basically, it goes something like this:
  Associate Professors/Readers (depends on department)
  Senior Lecturers
There are also Head of Departments, Deans, etc., which may or may not be
professors, although they are usually pretty senior.

In NZ universities, a Professorship is a *very* prestigious title.  There
may be a rough equivalence between a US associate professor and a NZ
lecturer, and a US professor and NZ senior lecturer.  There is likely to be
some overlap.

Per department there is about 1 professor per approx 10 'lower' positions.
For example, in Electrical Engineering at Canterbury there are currently 2
professors, 3 associate professors, 9 senior lecturers, and 5 lecturers
(from the 1994 calendar).


B3.3.7.4  Postgrad Study
I'd appreciate some information on ease of obtaining positions in
post-grad study, what positions are increasing/decreasing, etc.  Please.


B3.3.8  Health

NZ operates a no-fault accident compensation scheme which covers residents
and visitors.  Personal injury through accident entitles the injured party
to compensation for reasonable expenses related to the accident.  Due to
abuse, this has been reworked recently and compensation is far harder to

The official line (on the health care reform) can be obtained from The
Ministry of Health at:

For general comment and opinion, consult the NZ Doctor magazine online at:

Here's a link to some NZ health sites including the NZ GP organisation:

Life Expectancy (M)         71.0 years
Life Expectancy (F)         77.0 years
Crude Birth Rate            16.3 /1000
Crude Death Rate             8.3 /1000
Infant Mortality            10.8 /1000
Total fertility rate         2.1 children born/woman (1992)

No. of Hospitals             318
No. of Hospital Beds      23,052
No. of Physicians          5,210
No. of Dentists            1,160
No. of Pharmacists         2,300
Nursing Personnel         22,000


B3.3.8.1  Water Supply
NZ cities and towns have good public water.  Water is safe to drink out of
the tap.  The water in Christchurch *is* totally untreated and is supposed
to be the purist domestic water supply in the world...

In bush walking areas giardia has been found so its advisable to check
before drinking from rivers or streams.  Boiling water for five minutes or
more is advised where advice is not available.


B3.3.9  Communications

Telephone Country Code         64
National Directory            018
International Directory      0172
National Tolls                010
International Tolls          0170
Telex Access Code             791
Ham Radio Prefix               ZL

For information about NZ broadcasting, particularly locally produced
material, have a look the New Zealand On Air site:
which has info on broadcasting fees, programme funding news, weekly updates
of funded programmes, contact information, etc.


B3.3.10 Misc

Air Craft Registration PreFix  ZK
Yatch Registration PreFix      KZ
X.25 Country Code           05301


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