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Vaibhav Gangan

Business Immigration News

Top 3 reasons to give up citizenship

Many people around the world give up their citizenship for various reasons. Let’s look at the top reasons for giving up your citizenship and taking up citizenship of another country.

This article is not about a particular country’s citizenship such as US citizenship or UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France or Singapore.

US citizenship passport

In this article, we will look at some of the countries where people are rapidly giving up their citizenship, and reasons for it.

Before that, let’s appreciate that the prospect of giving up citizenship divides people in two categories:

1. The emotional ones

2. The practical ones

The emotional ones: Many people I have spoken to are emotionally attached to their citizenship. It is a sign of their identity, or part of their identity. Giving up citizenship, is like renouncing your parents, one person told me. Another said, citizenship is a privilege. It is something to be proud of, and should not be traded for anything.

In the emotional category, there is one minority extreme – the disgruntled emotional. They are so politically fed up of their country that they would give up their citizenship at the first opportunity.

The practical ones: This article is largely about this type. These pragmatic wanderers would consider the pros and cons of giving up their current citizenship for a more favorable nationality. There’s little or no emotional bond with citizenship for these people.

Here we will not discuss the emotional reasons for keeping or renouncing citizenship.

Here, we will only consider reasons that practical people are considering for renouncing their citizenship.

1. Tax

This one applies to the US citizenship.

Americans are giving up their citizenship in record numbers. About 10 years ago, only 500 US citizens gave up their citizenship. In 2013, that number was SIX times as high – at 3000, according to International Tax Blog.

Why? Because the United States probably the only country in the world which taxes its citizens wherever they live in the world. So, a US citizen could be living in Italy for 20 years, and could still be expected to pay US tax on income earned outside the United States.

This is not the case for most countries. For example, if you are a Brit living in Canada, you will have to pay only Canadian tax, not UK tax. You will not be taxed twice. This is not the case for American citizens.

When the global economic recession peaked in 2008, the US administration decided to come down heavily on tax evaders. The US government wanted to crack down on Americans storing their wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

As a result, they wanted to know the overseas assets and bank account details of all American citizens.

While this was intended to stop tax evasion, the crack-down affected honest American bank-account holders too.

Many Americans have now started to renounce their American citizenship. In fact, the queue for renouncing the US citizenship in Switzerland is so long that there’s a waiting list, according to a media report.

It is felony under the US law if an American citizen living abroad fails to pay US tax on their income overseas. The US government has treaties with most countries for extradition of US citizens from other countries if they fail to pay tax to the US government.

Wait. It gets worse. There is the 2010 enactment of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Under FATCA, many financial institutions outside the United States will need to report to the IRS (American tax department) the account details of the US citizens.

Uncle Sam has made it hard to escape the IRS.

Obviously, the easiest solution for many non-resident American citizens was to give up their American citizenship, rather than pay double tax.

2. Marriage and divorce

Most foreign nationals who marry an American citizen choose to take up American citizenship. In doing so, they renounce their existing citizenship. This is because the United States requires a person to go on oath ‘renouncing’ their original citizenship. However, the US administration does not explicitly seek the person to give up their original citizenship.

This is another reason why people give up their original citizenship and become “naturalised” citizens of the United States. If you were not born a US citizen, then you can acquire U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

For naturalization, you must be A. 18 years of age or older, and B. a permanent resident of America for five years. Spouses can apply for US citizenship after three years of marriage to a US citizen.

However, spouses may fall out and marriages may end. In such instances, a spouse may want to leave America. The US government allows naturalized citizens to retain American citizenship, even after they leave America and reclaim their original citizenship.

But a spouse may consider giving up US citizenship, so as to avoid paying taxes to the US tax department, on income earned outside the United States.

3. Travel

This is the third most common reason for giving up your existing citizenship.

Many people have a love for travel, and would be keen to make at least one overseas trip a year.

However, if you are a citizen of a country from Asia for example, you will need visa to visit most countries popular with tourists.

visafreePassport

But citizenship of certain countries give visa-free entry to most countries around the world. And if an avid traveller has a choice between keeping their original citizenship with limited visa-free entries, and choosing citizenship of a country that opens visa-free doors to more destinations, the choice becomes obvious.

The countries that offer visa-free entry to 170 countries or more, are:

  • The United Kingdom, Sweden and Finland. (visa-free entry to 173 countries)
  • The United States, Germany, Denmark and Luxembourg (172 countries)
  • Belgium, Italy and Netherlands (171 countries)
  • Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Portugal and Spain (170 nations)
News Work Abroad

10 best NZ companies to work for

Jobs in New Zealand
Overland Footwear is the best company to work for in New Zealand. IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces in New Zealand survey reviewed 243 companies in New Zealand.

Overland was the overall winner as well as winner in the Large Companies category (those employing 400 to 749 staff) in 2013. This was the second year in a row that Overland secured the top position. Overland was a finalist in each of the eight years between 2005 and 2012.

Jobs in New Zealand

Mars NZ drives high engagement culture (Photo: Mars New Zealand)

In the Enterprise category (companies with more than 750 staff), Warehouse Stationery secured the top spot.

In the Medium-Large Workplace Category (150-399 employees), Mars New Zealand was named the best company to work for.

In the Small-Medium Workplace Category (50-149 employees), Giltrap Audi secured the top spot.

In the Small Workplace Category (20-49 employees), Kellog New Zealand got the top honours.

Flight Centre has been a finalist in 10 out of the last 11 years.

TOP 10 WORKPLACES IN NEW ZEALAND

  1. Overland Footwear, fashion footwear retailer
  2. Warehouse Stationery, stationery, technology, art and craft, copy and print, and office furniture retailer
  3. Mars New Zealand, FMCG food manufacturing
  4. Giltrap Audi, luxury car retailer
  5. Flight Centre, international travel agency
  6. VTNZ, vehicle testing and repairs
  7. FMG Advice and Insurance, insurance and financial advisors
  8. Leading Edge Communications, sales channel management company (primarily telecommunications)
  9. Southern Cross Health, health insurer provider
  10. Trade Me, online selling and auction site

What drives these companies?

Employee engagement and participation is the common theme among the companies that are most sought after by job seekers in New Zealand.

Sanchia Yonge, IBM’s GM Smarter Workforce for Australia and New Zealand says, “Year on year we’re seeing more businesses in New Zealand viewing participation as a critical tool to help determine the drivers of business performance.

“The Best Workplaces Survey uncovers the best New Zealand organisations that are creating a Smarter Workforce; one that attracts the best talent, understands their employees and empowers teams.”

News Property

Is NRI income from Indian assets taxable?

Mohit has a three-bedroom apartment in Noida which is rented out for Rs 35,000 a month. He also has a share in agriculture land that was once owned by his father and uncles. He gets income from the land too.

The rental income from the flat and from land is deposited in Mohit’s bank account in India.

Does Mohit need to pay tax on this income in India? Is income earned by NRIs on assets in India taxable?

NRI tax on property income in India

As per the Indian Income Tax Act 1961, all income earned or accrued from any asset in India is taxable in the country. Mohit will need to pay income tax on both – rental income from the flat as well as income from agriculture land.

It doesn’t matter whether the income is earned by a resident Indian or a non-resident Indian.

It is mandatory to file income tax returns if the total income earned in India exceeds Rs 200,000. Mohit’s income from the Noida flat alone is Rs 420,000. So he need to file the returns and pay tax.

Mohit’s income from agricultural land is exempt from tax. So he will not have to pay any tax on agricultural income. However, income from agricultural land will need to be declared in the income tax returns.

Because Mohit’s income is less than Rs 5 lakh, he can file his IT returns either in paper form or electronically. For those whose income exceeds Rs 5 lakh duriing 2013-14, cannot file paper returns. They will need to file their income tax returns electronically.

As per a directive issued by the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT), all persons, whether resident Indians or NRIs, whose income exceed Rs 5 lakh per annum, will need to file their returns electronically. This rule is applicable from this financial year – 2014-15.

The due date for filing returns for 2013-14 financial year is 31 July 2014.

Do NRIs have to pay advance tax on income in India?

Any person, whether resident or NRI, whose tax liability is likely to exceed Rs 10,000 in any assessment year is required to pay advance tax.

Failing to pay advance tax will attract an interest of 1 percent per month.

Can I claim exemption for my income in India?

Yes, Indian government is kind to allow exemption for certain types of income, in a bid to encourage savings and investment.

The exempted income includes:

  • Dividends and long-term capital gains from equity shares and equity mutual fund
  • Interest received on the NRE and FCNR accounts
  • For rental properties, an ad hoc deduction of 30% of net annual value is excempt as repairs and maintenance expenses
  • For rental properties, mortgage interest is also exempt

What if I sell my apartment in India?

If the apartment is more than three years old, long term capital gains tax will be applied on it, unless you use the sale proceeds to buy another property (either land or house). The long term capital gains tax is quite heavy – 20 percent of the transaction amount.

Can I transfer house sale proceeds to US?

An NRI who sells his house/land in India may repatriate funds received from sale to the United States, as long as he has paid tax in India. Income from sale of immovable property attracts long term capital gains tax. So non resident Indian will need to pay the tax and obtain a certificate from a chartered accountant.

Who is an NRI as per income tax rules?

India’s tax department will consider you a non-resident Indian if:

  • You lived outside India for 182 days or more during the previous year.
  • You did not live in India for more than 60 days during the previous year; and again for a combined 365 days or more during the previous four years prior to the previous year.
I am a non-resident Indian (NRI) and have a piece of agricultural land and an apartment in India. I earn agriculture income and rental income from these two. Do I need to file income tax return? If yes, kindly advice on the procedure. Also, can an NRI buy agricultural or farmland in India?Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Money/RnWrp4KRtUwM8iTL31p52L/Income-arising-from-Indian-assets-is-taxable-for-NRIs.html?utm_source=copy
I am a non-resident Indian (NRI) and have a piece of agricultural land and an apartment in India. I earn agriculture income and rental income from these two. Do I need to file income tax return? If yes, kindly advice on the procedure. Also, can an NRI buy agricultural or farmland in India?Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Money/RnWrp4KRtUwM8iTL31p52L/Income-arising-from-Indian-assets-is-taxable-for-NRIs.html?utm_source=copy
I am a non-resident Indian (NRI) and have a piece of agricultural land and an apartment in India. I earn agriculture income and rental income from these two. Do I need to file income tax return? If yes, kindly advice on the procedure. Also, can an NRI buy agricultural or farmland in India?Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Money/RnWrp4KRtUwM8iTL31p52L/Income-arising-from-Indian-assets-is-taxable-for-NRIs.html?utm_source=copy
I am a non-resident Indian (NRI) and have a piece of agricultural land and an apartment in India. I earn agriculture income and rental income from these two. Do I need to file income tax return? If yes, kindly advice on the procedure. Also, can an NRI buy agricultural or farmland in India?Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Money/RnWrp4KRtUwM8iTL31p52L/Income-arising-from-Indian-assets-is-taxable-for-NRIs.html?utm_source=copy
Immigration News

Policy should encourage migration

As New Zealand gets ready for the next election in a few weeks, it is no surprise that discussion around immigration is warming up, and enticing comments against ethnic communities are used to get political mileage, in an attempt to ride the xenophobia wave.

Labour says its immigration policy will target people who can make the strongest contribution to New Zealand regardless of ethnicity or country of origin.

The policy recognises the strong and positive contribution immigration has made and continues to make to our country’s development, says Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson, Phil Goff.

Highlights of Labour’s immigration policy:

  • Encourage high-wage migrants: ensure that the immigration system promotes a high-skilled high-wage economy rather than exploiting cheap labour
  • Drive migration away from Auckland: reward skilled immigrants who live in the regions, where their skills can unlock growth
  • Promote settlement services: seek to reduce the numbers of migrants on temporary visas for long periods
  • Refugee support: increase the number of refugees New Zealand accepts
  • Restructure Immigration department: reform the operation of Immigration New Zealand where necessary
  • Protect workers’ life: prevent exploitation of new migrant workers

Recently, the ruling National-led government announced an extra $5.6 million over the next four years to help new refugees during their first 12 months in New Zealand.

All quota refugees spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, before being resettled in five regions throughout New Zealand: Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington and Nelson.

Core funding for resettlement services for quota refugees has remained at the same level of $7.6 million a year since 2004/05.

Labour seems keen to retain that support for new migrants as well as refugees.

“(Labour’s policy) recognises that policies that encourage immigration need to be accompanied by strong settlement programmes to enable new migrants to settle and participate fully in their new country as quickly as possible.

“These programmes include assistance to speak English fluently, to help new migrants find employment and to ensure that people can access good housing.

Most new migrants choose Auckland to settle in, as it is New Zealand’s largest and most culturally-diverse city. It also offers the most job opportunities. However, the growing number of job seekers creates high competition for jobs in Auckland.

Population growth in Auckland is also pushing up house prices, making it the most expensive city in the country for houses. It also puts pressure on limited infrastructure in roading, public transport and utilities.

Labour intends to fix this by encouraging new migrants to settle outside New Zealand.

“Labour will provide incentives in the points system to encourage migrants who want to settle outside of Auckland. This will be part of Labour’s wider policy of regional development.

“Ensuring that new migrants settle in and are welcomed to their new communities also requires active policies that promote tolerance and good race relations and understanding about cultural diversity.

If Phil Goff’s comments are anything to go by, this will be the most immigrant-friendly immigration policy that New Zealand would see in the recent years.

“New Zealand should also encourage new migrants to retain and pass on their language and culture to their New Zealand born children,” says Phil Goff

“Labour will utilise the points systems for work based permanent residency and the number of temporary work visas issued to ensure that immigration flows are not subject to severe fluctuations.

“A modest increase in the refugee quota will be implemented consistent with housing availability.

“Labour will review and where necessary reform the operation of Immigration New Zealand. It will act more vigorously to prevent exploitation of new migrant workers and to crack down on immigration fraud.

Earlier this year, the current government introduced new business visa to encourage migrants to set up high-quality businesses and create new jobs.

The Entrepreneur Work Visa operates under a new points-based system that will result in higher quality, more productive businesses, says New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. It replaced the Long-Term Business Visa, which was “attracting too many low quality applications”.

There are over 100,000 migrants in New Zealand on work visas for less than two years, while 147,000 New Zealanders remain unemployed. Migrant workers are brought in for relatively low skilled jobs on low rates of pay with deductions from their wages which leads to undercutting of the local labour market, says National’s Trevor Mallard.

“This is not fair either on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents or the migrant workers involved. That people won’t work for the wages offered is a market signal that wages in those sectors need to rise, not a reason to undercut wages.”

Why immigration is so important

New Zealand’s economic growth is intertwined with migration growth, as new migrants fuel the economy with more skills, money and cultural diversity.

After throttling migration to a halt in the 2000s, the government had no choice but to open the migration tap to revive the struggling New Zealand economy. The results are positive.In 2012-13, New Zealand’s net migration became positive – 7900 more people moved to New Zealand than left for overseas, according to the 13th annual Migration Trends and Outlook report.This was in stark contrast to the situation of a year earlier when there was a net migration loss was 3200.

Our long-term migration is expected exceed 30,000 from mid-2014 onwards.

New Zealand economy grew 3.5 per cent in 2013, and is expected to record an impressive 3.6 per cent growth this year (2014).

At such a poignant time, having skilled workforce with the right set of skills will create a strong competitive advantage for New Zealand, and this is possible through well-sourced migration.

With strong expected growth in the economy, New Zealand has already started attracting skilled migrants.

New Zealand migration highlights:

  • Net migration gain in 2012/13 following net loss in 2011/12
  • India is the largest source of skilled migrants
  • China is the largest source country of family-sponsored migrants
  • 1 in 5 international students gained permanent residence
  • Migration is expected to increase alongside economic recovery

According to a report by Immigration New Zealand, the total number of people approved for temporary work visas in 2012/13 was 144,978, a rise of five per cent on the previous year.

The Essential Skills Policy category recorded a rise for the first time (in 2013) since the start of the global economic slowdown.

India is the largest supplier of skilled migrants to New Zealand.

Of 18,156 people who received a visa under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), the most (19 per cent) were from India in 2012-13, followed by the United Kingdom (15 per cent).

However, not all these Indians are fresh migrants to New Zealand. Most are international students who have contributed to New Zealand economy through student fees and transitioned to residence.

New Zealand’s visitors trend is also reflecting changing priorities of migrants. The UK is no longer the largest source of tourists.

China now supplies the most visitors after Australia, compensating for the lower numbers from traditional long-haul destinations such as the United Kingdom.

News Work Abroad

Less-known NZ job websites to visit

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

Most job seekers are already aware of Seek, and Trade Me Jobs – two of the most popular websites to visit if you are looking for a job in New Zealand. Both these websites publish thousands of jobs every week – and most New Zealand employers advertise on these sites by default.

However, many niche job boards, some of which are run by the government, are equally important or even more crucial if you are looking for a specialist job.

Job seekers should bookmark this page for easy reference.

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

General jobs

Auckland Council jobs

Most job seekers who come to New Zealand choose Auckland as their preferred city to settle in. It multicultural composition, moderate weather add to the attraction of living in a city with most jobs in New Zealand. And Auckland Council is the largest employer in the city, and is also known for hiring new migrants.

The careers section of Auckland Council provides an option to subscribe to their job feed, so that relevant jobs could be emailed to you. This is a good option to consider.

Jobs.govt.nz

One of the largest employers in New Zealand is the New Zealand government, and the hub of the government is Wellington. While Auckland has the most jobs in the country, Wellington has the most-paying jobs in New Zealand. The government sector is also known to have openness to hiring migrants.

Work and Income New Zealand job board

This is the job website maintained by the social benefit department of New Zealand government, especially designed for people who are on benefit and are seeking gainful employment. The website usually lists low-paying jobs, but is a useful resource for new migrants who are struggling to find a job that matches their expectations.

Jobs for new migrants

Since not every migrant is seeking a top-paying job in a glass office, New Zealand offers many low-paying, part-time or seasonal jobs that help new migrants hit the ground running and pay bills as they word towards their dream job.

Seasonaljobs.co.nz
This job board specialises in seasonal job vacancies around New Zealand in many industries.

Seasonalwork.co.nz
Similar to seasonaljobs.co.nz, this website lists short-term work especially in hospitality, agriculture and horticulture.

Working in New Zealand
This website provides a list of key employers and recruitment agencies in various specialist industries and occupations. It is a very useful research website for job seekers.

New Kiwis
This is an initiative by chambers of commerce and is designed to match skilled migrants with appropriate New Zealand employers. Register on this website if you are already in New Zealand, or intend to travel to New Zealand soon.

Workhere New Zealand
Find information on employers and recruitment agencies relevant to the occupation and industry you want to work in.

IT and telecommunications

IT jobs are the most sought after jobs in New Zealand, especially by migrants. IT jobs also pay well, and because the skills are transferable, qualified migrants tend to have a better chance of getting a job in the IT industry than in other industries that rely on soft skills.

Candle New Zealand
Candle is the largest placement agency for IT jobs in New Zealand. The website has many IT jobs to choose from.

Comspek
Compspek is particularly good for contract jobs in IT and telecommunications industry, though they also cater to permanent jobs.

Geekzone
An online technology community with an extensive job listing section.

MCC People
Browse for ICT jobs available through this agency.

Pinnacle Recruitment
An organisation providing a list of vacancies in the information technology and technical electronics sector.

Potentia
Find jobs in the information technology sector.

Searchworks Ltd
A recruitment agency specialising in IT and software engineering jobs.

Top recruitment agencies in New Zealand

While most recruitment agencies list their jobs on Seek and TradeMe Jobs, it pays to register directly with an agency. This helps in arranging a meeting with a specialist from the recruitment agency.

Once you are on their file, they may be able to actively seek job on your behalf. Many times, you may be considered for a job that’s not even listed and advertised.

While the following list is not exhaustive, it covers some of the popular placement agencies in New Zealand.

Adecco  (for engineering jobs)
Advanced Personnel  (for engineering, infrastructure, warehousing and construction jobs)

Beyond Recruitment (for IT, accounting, telecommunications, engineering and government positions)

Enterprise Recruitment (for all sectors)

Fosterra (primarily for South-Island jobs in technical fields)
Frog Recruitment  (for jobs in accounting, IT, human resources and sales)

Hudson  (one of the largest recruiment agencies; has jobs in all sectors)

Kelly

Kinetic Recruitment  (for secretarial and entry-level roles in New Zealand)
Lawson Williams Consulting Group
Martin Personnel
Momentum  (for jobs in PR,  communications, finance, and bicultural employment)

OCG  (for mid to senior level positions)

Salt (for flexible and permanent positions mostly at entry level)

Tell employers you are looking

This is a new crop of websites that provides a platform for jobseekers to profile their skills and make them visible to prospective employers. These websites take out the middleman (recruitment agency) from the hiring process and puts employers in touch with prospective employees. Migrants don’t have to worry about the recruitment agency’s bias, and employers save on hiring costs.

Green Sky

Job seekersc can promote their skills to employers by creating a profile on Green Sky. This website is not only useful for seeking full-time jobs, but also a great place to find assignments as a freelancer or part-time employee.

Similar websites:

I’m Looking
JobCafe

Jobit
This is an online marketplace used by employers looking to outsource project-based work.

For more specialist listings of job websites, visit the Careers website run by the New Zealand government.

News

Which is the world’s most useful passport? Not NZ

Want to know which country’s passport gives you visa-free entry to most countries around the world? Read on. For people who love to travel (who doesn’t?), having a passport that qualifies for visa-free entry to popular tourist destinations comes very handy. In fact, that is the main reason why most people seek a foreign passport – it opens doors to many countries which would otherwise be off limits, or have stringent (and expensive) visa regulations.

So which passport is most sought-after for international travel?

Bad news: New Zealand’s passport isn’t the world’s most useful passport.

Good news: It is still more powerful than Australian passport.

According to statistics released by website Good.is, the passport that gives visa-entry (or get visa on arrival) to maximum number of countries is that of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Finland. (See infographic below.)

Passport-holders from these countries get visa-free access to 173 countries around the world – that’s almost the entire world, isn’t it?

Close on the heels are the United States, Germany, Denmark and Luxembourg, which open doors to 172 countries.

Not to be left behind are Belgium, Italy and Netherlands with visa-free entry to 171 countries.

Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Portugal and Spain passport allows visaless entry to 170 nations.

Where does New Zealand stand? At number 18. New Zealand passport provides access to travellers to 168 countries; Australia’s passport provides access to 167 countries.

visafreePassport

 

Immigration News Work Abroad

Lawyer found guilty of immigration fraud

Work visa
A former New Zealand lawyer  has been found guilty of 93 immigration-related charges at Auckland District Court.

Albany-based Richard James Martin is found guilty of forgery, giving false or misleading information to an immigration officer, and providing immigration advice without immigration license or exemption for license.

Work visa

Between May 2009 and September 2010, the 49-year-old:

  • provided immigration advice to ten families through Richard Martin Immigration Limited
  • forged lawyers’ signatures on immigration documents
  • used licensed immigration advisers employed at his company to “sign off” visa applications of clients they had never met.

Zannah Johnston, prosecuting on behalf of the Crown on charges brought by the Immigration Advisers Authority and Immigration New Zealand (INZ), said: “Licensed immigration advisers were used to sign applications because Mr Martin was unable to.

“Some would say he used the advisers as puppets for rubber stamping. Mr Martin met with each of the clients, not the licensed advisers.

“Mr Martin told clients what the requirements were, what the best times were to make applications, sent letters to the Minister of Immigration and answered questions on how to fill in forms.”

Judge Mary Elizabeth Sharp said: “I found Mr Martin to be a witness of untruth. I am satisfied that he lied throughout his testimony. Ultimately, I am afraid that I reached the conclusion that if it suited him, Mr Martin would swear black was white.”

Mr Martin has been remanded in custody pending sentencing on 1 August 2014 at Auckland District Court.

Charges against Richard James Martin

  • 37 counts of Forgery
  • 35 counts of Supplying False Or Misleading Information to an Immigration Officer
  • 11 counts of Asking for or receiving fees for immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
  • Nine counts of Providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
  • One count of Holding out as an immigration adviser when neither licensed nor exempt

New Zealand law requires that immigration advice must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority, unless exempt. Exempt people include lawyers who hold a New Zealand practising certificate.

Mr Martin previously surrendered his practising certificate.

Immigration News

Conference to discuss migrant voting in NZ

Discussing ways of encouraging ethnic communities to vote in the upcoming elections is one of matters on the agenda for an ethnic conference in Wellington this weekend.

The annual general meeting of Multicultural New Zealand, the Federation of Multicultural Councils, will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Eid_NZParliament1

Also on the agenda is a panel of political party representatives that will discuss policies relevant to migrant, refugee and ethnic communities, says a statement from Multicultural New Zealand.

The conference will also look at fundraising, working with volunteers, and a more topical theme – countering family violence.

Ambassador of Philippines Virginia H. Benavidez and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown address delegates from 19 regional multicultural councils and three national councils for youth, women and senior citizens at the Wellington City Council offices from Friday 27 June to Sunday 29 June.

Also speaking at the conference are: Vanisa Dhiru (Volunteering New Zealand), Joris de Bres (former Race Relations Commissioner), Peter Dunne (United Future Party), Trevor Mallard (Labour Party), Jan Logie (Green Party), Sarah BridglandHill (Office of Ethnic Affairs), Ann Dysart (Ministry of Social Development) and Heather Newell (Foresee Communications).

Editorial Lifestyle News

India’s zest for fair skin creates odd jobs for white girls

Morgan Kane is not her real name. When she decided to share her story online, she chose a pen name. As many white girls working in India do – change their name for work.

I am not referring to shady or hanky-panky work – though some of the work borders in that area.

I am talking about legitimate though unusual work that white girls have started to pick up in India.

“Tonight, I am going to be a table! A human table wearing a glow in the dark fireman’s hat,” says Morgan Kane, one of the many white girls in Delhi, who pick up such odd jobs.

WhiteGirlAsTable

This is not human trafficking. Neither is it skin trade in its literal sense.

This trade is purely based on the colour of their skin, and probably  gender.

Indians’ fascination for fair skin has found a new expression in the form of hiring white girls (European girls as they are known in India), mostly for ‘display’.

The trend is growing in the northern region of India, where it fuels the ego of the host as they show off their power and wealth by showcasing exotic girls at weddings and private parties.

The girls, who have gained nickname ‘white trash’, are used for everything from modelling to ‘elite guests’ and as bartenders at events, to add glamour quotient.

“Why do patrons feel that being seen to be able to afford to hire or associate with white women in some way improves their social status and perception of pecuniary wealth?” asks one such Morgan Jane in another media report.

According to the media report, these girls earn as much as Rs 10,000 (US$170) per day, with some events extending over many days. While it may not sound like big money in dollar terms, India’s low cost of living makes the pay attractive.

Two prejudices are at play here.

First, the British rule caused an inferiority complex among Indians. White skin began to be considered superior.

Second, which is a corollary of the first, hiring white girls gives a boost to status of the Indian host.

It could also be argued that getting Caucasian people to do odd jobs becomes some kind of a redemption for 200-years of British rule in India.

Life has come a full circle, it seems.

“Back in the days of empire, no colonial Indophile worth their salt would have been without their harem of Indian entertainers,” writes Morgan who worked as a human table at a wedding.

“From snake charmers to sitar players – imperialists loved to surround themselves with what, to them, seemed exotic. Today, the roles have been reversed – an irony I mulled as I stood there, laden with drinks.”

To be fair, white girls have always found work in India for many decades. Initially Bollywood provided them jobs as dancers for songs, and more recently they began to be seen as cheerleaders in the popular Indian Premier League.

Also, having humans as tables at events is neither a new concept nor a derogatory one. See Strolling Tables, a San Deigo Spotlight Entertainment website that provides theme-based human tables for events. The concept was popularised by Russians, and is widely used in the Middle East.

Even in India, it is Russians who are active in this “white girls” industry, as Morgan explains: “Some of the girls – from my experience, mainly Russians – work full-time on contracts. They get paid upwards of Rs 80,000 a month (£800 – not bad at all in India), as well as having their accommodation and living expenses covered.

“However, these girls are pretty much unable to refuse work, no matter where or what it is or how long it lasts.”

Many of these girls take up these high paying jobs at the risk of being attacked, abused, molested and even raped.

In a country where people are blatantly bombarded with fairness cream advertisements not only for women, but also for men, a rise of an entire industry based on skin colour is setting a dangerous precedent.

“As a white woman participating in this industry and a client paying them to do so, you are not only profiting but perpetuating an already well-established beauty myth that lighter skin is better,” says Morgan, who realises that she is also adding to the difficulties of local girls.

“I can hardly complain of exploitation as a result of my alabaster skin in a country where millions are exploited every day for having the “wrong” skin tone.

“The main inequity, I felt, wasn’t one suffered by me; it was that I was earning double the amount of the native Indian girls who were also working at the event. And why? Because I’m Western and white.”

News Work Abroad

How many deaths before drug laws tightened?

Arun Kumar migrated to New Zealand from Fiji for a ‘safer’ future for him and his family. The morning of Tuesday 10 June 2014 turned out to be his last day in the country that he chose to bring up his children in.

At about 7am, two young boys, aged 12 and 13, entered his dairy as he got ready for early customers. One of the boys fatally stabbed the 57-year old dairy-owner who is now remembered by the community as a “loving, family man”.

Arun Kumar dairy owner killed in Auckland

Only about a fortnight earlier, another migrant fell victim to a vicious attack. Philippines-born Blesilda “Blessie” Gotingco was on her way home from work on 24 May 2014.

As she got off the bus, barely a few hundred meters from her home,  she was attacked by a repeat offender. Her dead body was found by the police search team the next day.

Police arrested a 27-year old man with previous convictions, who was under supervision with an ankle bracelet, says E2NZ website.  The accused was living just 1.4km from Blessie’s home, says the New Zealand Herald.

Arun Kumar’s death has evoked angry reactions (rightfully) from the community.

“We want to send a strong message that this is not acceptable in a country like New Zealand, where people have migrated for the betterment of their family and friends. To die in such a way is really saddening,” a family friend of Arun Kumar told TVNZ.

New Zealand is always considered to be a safer place by migrants coming from civil-strife-ridden countries like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Fiji and Bangladesh.

However, the clean and green image of New Zealand that’s portrayed to prospective migrants often underplays the crime scene in the country. While large-scale organised crime is certainly low, the violent acts of desperate people, often on drugs, claim the lives of unsuspecting migrants who are often seen as easy targets.

The police as well as justice system acts swiftly as it did in Arun Kumar’s case – the accused boys were arrested and brought to court in less than 48 hours. However, Arun Kumar’s death brings up questions about other systemic failures:

1. Did the ambulance respond swiftly enough?

I am reminded of the murder of 29-year old liquor-store owner Navtej Singh in Manukau in 2008, when the police prevented ambulance staff from accessing the dying victim, despite the offending criminals having fled the crime scene. It was alleged that Navtej could have been saved if medical help was allowed in time. A police inquiry found that the 37-minute delay was “undesirable” and cannot be justified.

2. Did the police arrive in time?

We will need to wait for the police report to be made public on this one.

3. Did the parents of the boys raise them well?

Why were the boys on the street instead of in school, and what role did the parents play in their upbringing?

The parents of both boys, aged 12 and 13, are in jail or facing active criminal charges, says a report in the New Zealand Herald. Because the boys are teens, their names are suppressed. The Herald reported that both the parents of the 13-year old murder accused are in jail, and the boy was being looked after by his grandmother. The younger boy’s father too was in police custody this month on violence charges.

“Were the alleged offenders attending school regularly, if not where was the truancy service?” asks Phil Goff, Labour spokesperson for ethnic affairs.

“If his parents were themselves offenders what was being done to try to lead him down a different path? Why are young people able to become petty offenders without enough being done to stop them progressing to more serious crimes as in this case?”

4. What is our role as a community?

Where did we fail? Is our social system protecting ineffective parenting? Are we supporting dysfunctional families on benefits? As they say in Africa, it takes a village to raise a child. This beast (the accused) is a creation of the wider community, says New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) President Harshad Patel, in a report in the Indian News Link. 

By accepting children on the streets during school hours, by supporting parents who do not look after their children and by allowing gangs to proliferate, we are breeding criminals at an alarming pace. The offender knows that human rights exist for his security,” he says.

5. The Drug Issue

The Bigger question: why has New Zealand failed to control its drug problem?

According to the Drug Foundation of New Zealand, New Zealand has some of the higher per-capita drug-use rates in the developed world.

One in six (16.6%) New Zealanders aged 16–64 years had used drugs recreationally in the past year, according to the 2007/2008 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey.

It gets even worse – at least half of New Zealanders (49%) have used drugs at some point in their life – excluding alcohol, tobacco and even party pills.

The situation is bleak with our children – one in three children (below 18 years of age)  report drinking alcohol on more than three occasions in the past month.

One in four (24%) children of 16-17 years of age report using cannabis in the last year.

Substance abuse is a double-edged sword – it influences senses, and it creates thirst for immediate money and gratification.

Vulnerable migrants

This addiction is not only spoiling the future of a beautiful country, it is also exposing its most vulnerable communities – ethnic and migrant groups – to some of the most hideous and violent crimes in the country.

Denied equal job opportunities, migrants usually find themselves in ‘dangerous’ professions (in New Zealand):

Too often ethnic communities working in retail and service businesses were on the front line of crime, says Phil.

Sometimes, migrants don’t even need to be in a dangerous profession. Merely walking down the street could be fatal as 25-year old Indian student, Tarun Asthana, found out on 4 November 2013 after being punched to death outside McDonald’s in downtown Auckland.

In January 2014, Praveet Chahal was attacked by a bottle-wielding man on an Auckland street just a few meters away from her home. As she lay bleeding on the ground, she cried out for help, but none of the by-standers stepped in.

Indian attacked in Auckland

Praveet Chahal was viciously attacked by a stranger on an Auckland street as by-standers looked away. (Photo: Praveet Chahal)

Praveet suffered a broken nose, a fractured eye socket, extensive bruising and a big setback to her confidence. “I have never felt this violated in my entire life, for once in my life feel that my freedom has been taken away,” says Praveet in a Facebook post. The offender was on bail.

“In broad daylight (I) was attacked by an intoxicated pyscho who beat me up in front of more than 15 Fiji Indians who stood and watched the entire ordeal like they were watching some show while I screamed and yelled for help.

However, Praveet has regained her confidence and her faith in humanity. “I am still working towards bringing awareness so that people feel safe and get their independence and confidence back.

Migrants are easy prey as they are least likely to put up a fight, are struggling to adjust to new legal and cultural systems, are desperate to succeed and would like to stay out of trouble at any cost.

Police issue

High-crime areas in Auckland and around New Zealand are known to the law enforcing authorities. However, limited policing resources put our communities in these high risk areas in danger.

If the government kept cutting the budget for police in real terms that we would invite more crime by lowering the risk to criminals that they would be caught, says Phil.

“In Henderson, other shopkeepers told us they wanted a community police station and a more visible police presence in the shopping centre,” says Phil.

“They also told us that out-of-control young kids have been a problem in the community for quite a long time – kids that beat up other young people, shoplifted, pestered the public for money and painted graffiti.”

With elections approaching, the voters will have crime and safety at the top of their mind. Any government that concerns the safety of its people would stand a good chance of winning the trust and vote.

Auto Immigration Lifestyle

Too many car crashes? Blame Asian tourists

New Zealand media’s blame game seems to have one target for all problems – from rising house prices to job shortages, and the latest in the list is – road accidents.

road accidents cyclists

House prices going up? Those Asians are buying expensive houses. (Don’t ask me why North Shore, with predominantly European population, has some of the highest median house prices.)

No jobs for Kiwis? Yes, Indians are taking those qualified jobs. (Don’t ask me why there are immigrant doctors driving cabs, or civil engineers issuing parking tickets.)

And now, it is Asian drivers, particularly tourists, that have given ammunition to New Zealand media to cry foul.

In a Stuff story titled “Asian tourist drivers prompt complaints“, reporter Emma Bailey claims that “Asian tourists driving rental vehicles continue to raise alarm in South Canterbury.”

Her source? One Gerardine tow service company owner. Statistics? Three smashed up cars.

Later in the story, Emma cites six more accidents since Christmas, caused by tourists.

No official statistics included in the story.

Up north, the New Zealand Herald provides an accurate and balanced picture.

According to Sam Boyer of the NZ Herald, 558 crashes that resulted in death or injury last year involved overseas drivers. About 66% of these crashes were caused by overseas drivers.

But that does not mean those crashes were caused by driving errors that Kiwi drivers won’t commit.

Very few of those crashes were caused by errors typical of a foreign driver – new road layout, unfamiliar driving rules, distraction by scenery.

In fact, Sam Boyer says a lot of the crashes involving foreigners were consistent with errors made by Kiwi drivers too.

Sam reveals some more interesting figures: the most number of fatal crashes caused by tourists was in 2013 – just 4.2 per cent.

Last year, it dropped to 2.9 per cent.

Then why blame tourists, and that too particularly Asians? Because it is fashionable and in line with growing perception that everything wrong with the country is caused by Asians.

Instead of xenophobic media stories like the one from Emma Bailey, it could be more fruitful to identify the real causes of crashes and address those.

An online petition started by 10-year old Sean Roberts, who lost his father Grant in 2012 in a car crash involving a Chinese tourist driver, has attracted 27,000 signatories, seeking overseas driver test.

Introducing overseas driver’s test could be an option, but a cost-benefit analysis should confirm this.

One of New Zealand’s largest source of revenue is money spent by 16 million visitors every year. Introducing tourist driver’s tests would be detrimental to tourism in a country with almost non-existent public transport.

Prime minister John Key probably realises this, and isn’t too keen to introduce stricter regulations for foreigners.

“If you look at the accident rate of tourists who come and drive in New Zealand versus New Zealanders themselves, it’s pretty consistent,” says the prime minister.

Current rules for tourists driving in New Zealand

Tourists must have a current and valid overseas driver licence or international driving permit if they wish to drive in New Zealand. For new migrants who wish to live in New Zealand for more than 12 months, they need to gain a New Zealand driver licence.

Important overseas driver resources for New Zealand driving

What’s different about driving in New Zealand
Driver licence requirements

 

News

No English? No problem: App To Improve Doctor-Patient dialogue

A New Zealand clinician has developed a mobile app to improve communication between patients with limited English skills, and their medical staff.

Dr Janet Liang from Auckland hopes to improve access to medical advice for people with limited knowledge of the English language. (Photo: NZ Doctor)

The iOS app could be downloaded by hospital staff on their iPad and used to either ask questions, or explain treatment to patients.

Similarly, patients can use the app to communicate with their doctors and medical staff.

Dr Janet Liang, an intensive care specialist at Auckland’s North Shore Hospital,  spent almost five years in developing and fine tuning the app –  Listen Please.

“The app has been created out of my own professional observations about how we can better communicate with patients who don’t understand a lot of English, and for them to communicate with us more clearly when they cannot speak English or can’t speak at all,” says Janet, who believes that the app is not designed to do away with medical translators.

“Clinical translators do a fantastic job, but it sometimes isn’t practical to have one around all day, or sometimes they cannot be available quickly enough,” says Janet. The app could prove to be a life-saving tool in emergencies when no immediate translators are available, even among family members present.
Medical app iOS and Android

 

The beauty of the app lies in its versatility – it can be used in day-to-day conversations with inpatients, as well as in intensive care situations.

“The app allows for clinicians to ask simple questions that would be covered in a standard consultation, such as ‘are you in any pain?’ or ‘where do you feel pain?’”

The app offers two-way communication in that patients can also communicate with medical staff, for example, if they we wish to speak to a family member or to go to the toilet.

While there are other translation apps available including Google Translate, this app has been specifically designed for medical situations, and contains illustrations and photos to make communication faster and accurate.

 

Created for New Zealand, it contains written and audio translations in five main non-English languages in New Zealand – Samoan, Tongan, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin.

There are plans to add more languages, including Hindi, Janet tells The Global Indian magazine. “I would love to include more languages, including Punjabi, although in New Zealand, Hindi is more common so that would probably be included prior. We’ll be guided of course by what the population demographics  indicate, and what population groups have the highest identified language barrier.”

As it is a stand alone app, it does not need internet access to work, which makes perfect sense, as it could be used in hospitals as well as clinics.

Janet was able to fund the development of the app after she won NZ$10,000 as prize money from the Health Informatics New Zealand Clinician’s Challenge in 2011 with her concept of Listen Please.

She received a further funding of $20,000 from the Waitemata DHB Asian Health Support Services, so that Janet could hire New Zealand mobile software company MEA to develop the app, according to a report in the NZ Doctor.

Janet then topped up the funding with $6000 from her own savings to bring the app on the iOS platform.

The proceeds from the sales of the app, available for NZ$12.99, would fund further improvements, and for adding more languages.

“I’m hoping proceeds from downloads will enable me to develop Listen Please further, so it becomes available on iPhones and on Android phones/digital tablets.”

 Listen Please

This is a mobile app to improve communication between doctors and their patients who cannot speak at all, or have a limited understanding of the English language.

Download Listen Please now

Operating system

iOS (May become available on Android later.)

Languages:

  • Samoan
  • Tongan
  • Korean
  • Chinese Cantonese
  • Mandarin

Modes

Patient Talks Mode: If a patient wants to communicate to the clinician, after their language is selected the patient can use the Patient Talks mode to communicate their needs e.g. wanting to speak to one’s family/ friends, wanting to go to the toilet.

Clinician Asks Mode: The clinician can take a basic history/perform an physical examination, or

Clinician Explains Mode: The clinician can explain what care is going on or to explain clinical procedures (NOT for gaining informed consent), e.g. inserting an intravenous cannula. There is a session log that records Yes/ No/ Don’t know answers so that the clinician can go away from the bedside and write down what has happened; this clears every time a new language is chosen.

Price

NZ$12.99

Business Lifestyle Money News Work Abroad

Can you save $2550 by carpooling?

The week beginning 9 June marks Kiwi Carpooling Week in New Zealand, and Auckland Transport wants to encourage drivers to consider car-pooling as an environment-friendly gesture which also saves money.

carpooling effect

I asked Auckland Transport – does carpooling really save money? Do they have any numbers to support the claim?

Auckland Transport believes carpooling helps us in saving costs of petrol and parking.

And these savings can be as high as $2550 a year.

They provided some numbers:

If two people carpooled for a 15km journey, this is what their daily costs would look like:

  • Petrol prices = $1.50 each
  • Parking cost = up to $9 per day each
  • Total daily cost = $21 for two people
  • Savings per person = $10.50 per day; $52.50 per week (carpooling 5 days); $210.00 per month (carpooling 5 days a week for 4 weeks); $2,550 per year

Yes, you could save up to $2,550 annually by carpooling, and put that saving into paying off your mortgage sooner.

Auckland Transport has even provided an online cost calculator so you can figure out how much you could save – www.letscarpool.govt.nz

But what’s the biggest hurdle to carpooling? Timing. Each person has their own time to go to work and come back from work. Also, because of the location constraint, commuters are limited to consider their own work colleagues as co-passengers, which also means you would typically carpool with people you get along with.

Auckland Transport helps you with the first part of this problem – finding a car buddy.

You can visit the site to find people living and working near you who are looking to join a carpool, or talk to you friends and colleagues about setting up your own.

Just put the starting point, destination and journey date and the website will find suitable rides for you.

Already, nearly 5000 Aucklanders have signed up on the website for carpooling, which increases your chances of finding the right carpooling partner.

What if you don’t find someone that lives nearby and works near your workplace? You will need to be a bit flexible.

You don’t need to carpool all the way to work. Consider sharing a car to a central place, and jumping on a train or bus from there.

Also look at the larger picture. With more people carpooling, there will be fewer cars on the road, less traffic congestion, and less pollution.

And there is the benefit of human interaction, instead of shuffling through mundane radio stations.

Having another person in the car makes your journey more enjoyable and interesting, says Auckland Transport’s Manager Community Transport Matthew Rednall.

Need more reason to carpool? “Another benefit of having two people in the car is that you can use some transit lanes.”

Carpooling could be a good opportunity to network with other professionals which could open up doors for the next big job opportunity or business potential.

Business Immigration News

How to spot immigration scams

New Zealand is a country of dreams for many poor families in rural India, who see the Land of Long White Cloud as their escape destination from years of toil and turmoil.

Migrate to Australia

In their desperation, these migrants are willing to go to any length to secure a visa to New Zealand, a visa to their dreams.

Which makes these migrants highly gullible to immigration scams that promise quick visa to New Zealand, along with a job offer.

Such scams have resurfaced as the net migration to New Zealand is expected to grow this year.

Scammers phone Indian nationals living in New Zealand claiming to be from Immigration New Zealand. They demand payment to a Western Union account in India and threaten deportation.

What makes this scam unique is that the scammers have managed to make their calls appear to have come from the official Immigration New Zealand contact centre number.

Jarrod Rendle is concerned at the number of people being caught out by this scam. He leads the Advice, Information and Education team at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

“The callers are quite persistent and aggressive and they have personal details of the person they are speaking to which makes the caller think it could be genuine.”

“The calls also appear to be coming from the Immigration Contact Centre number, but in fact they are not. We call this practice a caller id spoofing scam,” says Jarrod.

Immigration New Zealand first posted a warning about the scam on its website on 30 October 2013. Since then almost 300 Indian nationals have reported being called by the scammers, with reported losses of close to $65,000, according to figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Last year New Zealanders lost $4.8 million to scams. This year, this number has already reached $1.7 million.

How to protect yourself from falling prey to immigration scam

Knowing about the common types of scams and the typical red flags can help avoid being scammed, advises Jarrod.

Remember, banks, Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue will never email, call or SMS people to ask for information or money to be sent using money transfer services.

If you receive one of these calls do not pay the money. Contact the New Zealand Police or report the call to Scamwatch.

An official Facebook group by the ministry runs real-time scam alerts.

Don’t get scammed

  • If you find the call suspicious, hang up immediately.
  • If it doesn’t seem right, be cautious, double check details first.
  • Do not pay money to anyone you have never met.
  • Look after your personal details in the same way you would your wallet and other possessions. Your personal details are also very valuable to scammers, they will use your details to take out loans or run up debts if they can.
  • Warn others. If you have been targeted by a scam, report it straight away to Scamwatch, and help prevent others from becoming the next scam victim.
Lifestyle News

New laws for dispersing ashes in NZ concerning

The religious Indian practice of scattering the ashes of a loved one after cremation may become costlier to follow in Auckland — New Zealand’s largest city and home to the largest group of Indians in the country.

burial, ashes scattering new zealand

Auckland Council is considering a by-law which, if approved, will require family members to:

  • seek council permission before scattering the ashes of their dead family member, and
  • pay for such permission.

Read the Auckland Council Cemeteries and Crematoria By Law here (PDF)

A general read of the by-law indicates that Auckland Council is trying to rationalise a number of differing by-laws inherited from the legacy councils that preceded the creation of the unitary council in Auckland.

I can understand the need for uniformity. It seems legacy council for former Waitakere region contained provision for scattering of ashes. So did Franklin and Papakura, whereas other regions had varying restrictions.

However there was no consultation with many ethnic bodies, including:

  • The Council’s own Pacific and Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panels the Maori Statutory Board
  • Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
  • The Office of Ethnic Affairs
  • The Auckland Interfaith Council
  • The Hindu Council of New Zealand
  • The Federation of Islamic Associations and
  • The New Zealand Jewish Council  as per a statement released by Multicultural New Zealand.

And these are only some of the ethnic bodies in New Zealand.

Was it just rationalization of laws across the Auckland region, or are there any environmental or health concerns arising from the practice of dispersal of ashes? And if there are such safety concerns, are these borne out of the ‘mainstream’ culture’s less-informed opinion?

If the cremation happens at 800 degree Celsius, what is left of human body is pure carbon in the form of ashes. There are no apparent health concerns in other developed countries. And if there are health concerns, then a complete ban on dispersal of ashes will be in order.

Also, putting so many restrictions, including bureaucratic approval, will introduce delay in the dispersal of ashes, something that’s not advisable in Hindu tradition.

Describing the plan as “heavy handed, unnecessary and bureaucratic,” Labour’s Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says there has been insufficient consultation with the public and in particular with the ethnic communities, and that the decision is more likely to create problems than resolve any.

“Families almost always conduct the scattering of their loved ones ashes with care and consideration.

“The last thing we want to impose on grieving families are bureaucratic procedures, long time delays and additional expenses all for the simple duty of scattering the ashes of their loved ones,” says Phil.

Another restriction put by the council is on the number of people allowed to attend the process of placing the casket in the cremator. It again shows lack of awareness of Hindu rituals.

It is customary to have four members of the immediate family to carry the casket in to the cremator, says National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi who feels they are likely to have direct impact on the Indian community.

“The council bylaw limits that to two.”

“It is also part of the Indian tradition to scatter ashes into a river or sea. The council bylaw further restricts areas where ashes can be scattered.”

“Any decision that has such impact on areas of such cultural sensitivity ought to be made after active consultation with these communities.”

Kanwaljit  says he intends to submit to the council to express his personal concerns about the proposed changes.

Phil Goff has written to the mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, asking for the council to think again.

Unfortunately, consultation on the issue is closed, but the council would do well to re-consider its decision.

While I am on the issue of consultation, I won’t put the blame entirely on the government. Numerous studies have shown that migrants, especially those from less developed countries, show apathy towards political activities. This includes voting as well as consultation.

Many ethnic communities, including Indians, are apathetic towards consultation. First generation Indians were not used to being ‘consulted’ extensively by law-makers in their country of birth.

A typical response to consultation in India is: “It’s a futile exercise. Which government has ever listened to people’s voices?” This could be partly true, but it creates a catch-22 situation. Lack of participation in consultation almost creates the environment of apathy on both sides – the government and its people.

So, as much as the onus lies on the council to consult, it is also on us migrants to play an active role in this.

Another critical role is of community leaders who are expected to raise the issue.

Ashes: Maori and Indian views clash

While dispersal of ashes in rivers is a Hindu ritual, such a practice is unacceptable for many Maoris, as was evident during the consultation for the  Burial and Cremation Act review last year.

Law Commissioner Dr Wayne Mapp said last year it was clear, for example, scattering ashes in rivers or on the foreshore was culturally unacceptable. “There was already conflict about it in Wellington, where Sikh and Hindu communities wanted to scatter ashes in the Hutt River, the practice finding offence.”

— Vaibhav Gangan is the managing editor of The Global Indian magazine – published since 2004.

News

Indian words that confuse foreigners

When I first visited New Zealand, I asked for directions to the nearest petrol pump and was greeted by confused looks. Apparently, what I was looking for was a gas station, where you get gas, not petrol.

There are many such words that we Indians regularly use which are uncommon in western culture.

How many of you have gone for a movie and asked for “normal” water, because your throat is bad (I mean you have a sore throat), and you don’t want to drink cold water.

 

 

Or you have gone shopping, bought a toaster and asked the salesperson for a “fresh” piece, because you don’t want the one on display?

I know, we all do that. Here’s a list of words and phrases that Indians use freely, but are not understood by native speakers of the language.

Typical words Indians use that confuse foreigners

Signal: This is a word that Indians use for traffic lights. Preferred word: Set of lights or traffic lights.

Prepone: There is no such word in the language of the British, but this word is prevalent in India where it is used as an acronym to postpone. Preferred word: bring forward.

Hanky Panky: OK, this one is really funny. My friend told her kids who were being picked up their friend’s mother for a sleepover, “Have fun but no hanky panky!” The lady who had come to pick up the kids nearly fainted. In India, hanky panky is broadly used for anything that’s shady. In the western world, it generally refers to sexual behaviour that’s dubious or unacceptable.

Give tests: Indians don’t “take” tests, they “give” tests, an usage which is a legacy of literal translation from an Indian language.

Rubber: Often used for an eraser in India.

Mugging: Indian students cramp up a lot of information just before “giving” exams. It’s called mugging.

Out of station: This phrase is used to describe going away, usually out of city or town.

Tiffin: Yes, that’s lunch-box, but in India it is tiffin, whether you are going to school or work. And by the way, in India, you don’t go to ‘work’, you go to ‘office’.

Same to you: Indians use this instead of ‘wish you the same’. They also say “Thanks very much”.

Having: When Indians great creative, they use ‘having’ not as a word but something else. This is how it is used: “Our company is having offices in…“. It is also used as: “I am not having that information” which means “I don’t know”.

Based out of: If you ask an Indian “Where is your office?”, don’t be surprised if he tells you, “I am based out of Auckland”. Similarly, someone’s office could be located “at” Auckland, not “in” Auckland.

Pan-India: Yes, many Indian companies have “pan-India” presence, which implies they have offices in many Indian cities.

Revert back: Indians love to use the word revert and we don’t stop there. We attach “back” to it and say “I will revert back to you.” Revert implies “getting back to someone”, and doesn’t need the extra “back”.

Pressurized: When an Indian tells you “I am pressurized”, it does not mean what you think it does. He means that he is hard pressed for time.

Yesterday night: I know it’s an oxymoron, but it is a common phrase used in India.

Nothing doing: There’s no accurate translation of this Indian phrase, but it loosely implies “no arguments on this”. However it is used in a positive tone among friends, like inviting someone for dinner: “We will see you for dinner this Saturday. Please don’t make any excuses. Nothing doing!”

Cousin brother/sister: OK, there’s redundancy in this phrase but I guess Indians use it to specify the gender of the cousin.

Next to next: Would you be able to guess what it means? Here’s how it is used: “If you can’t come next week, how about next to next week?”

You’re coming or what: This means “Are you coming or not?”

Solid: OK, this does not refer to state of matter. It is used as a superlative. “We had solid fun.” “What a solid rain this morning!”

Hard: This word is used in place of “difficult”. Like, when you ask a student, “How was the exam?” He says, “Hard!”

On my face: Again a literal translation from a regional language, Indians may tell you “on your face” that you are fat.

Your good name? In India, it is common and not at all unfriendly to ask a stranger their name. Indians soften the blow by adding “good” or “sweet” to the question. This practice is absent in the western world, and foreigners are often perplexed by the intimidating question.

Do you have any favorite Indian phrases that confuse you? Share in comments below.

Immigration Lifestyle News

New to New Zealand? Know these Kiwi phrases and slang

When someone first asked me, “Do you have a brolly? It’s raining!” I was as clueless as a pirate wearing two eye-patches.

Kiwi slang can be daunting not just for new migrants but seasoned settlers.

Don’t get caught off guard at the next work barbie. (Read on if you are not too sure what a barbie is.)

Familiarize yourself with this Kiwi speak.

Maori Haka, New Zealand slang, Kiwi phrases, New Zealand sayings

Maori haka is a spectacular but daunting dance to watch, and is usually performed at the beginning of an event.

 

Understanding Kiwi terminology and sayings

Here are some of the most commonly used Kiwi words, sayings and phrases that confuse new migrants the most.

Snowed under: very busy

Anklebiter: A toddler or small child

Bach: A holiday home

Barbie: A barbecue or shortened to BBQ.

Banger: A sausage

Bicky: A biscuit, also called crackers

Bash: A party

Brolly: Umbrella

Cardie: A cardigan. Also called a jumper.

Coconut: A pacific islander (Offensive word)

Chilly Bin: An ice box for keeping beer or food cool. (similar to an esky in Australia)

Across the ditch: In Australia. Also referred to as Down Under

Curry Muncher: An Indian. (Yes that’s what they call all of you from the subcontinent.)

Dole: Unemployment benefit or social welfare payment paid by WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand.)

Dairy: A small shop in the neighbourhood. Also known as the corner store.

Fag: A cigarette. Also used as “Let’s go for a fag”, which refers to smoking.

P: refers to the drug Methamphetamine

Footy: Rugby or football. Also refers to rugby union or rugby league

G’day or gidday: It’s a short form for Good Day.

Mate: friend. It is common to call a stranger a mate.

Aye or eh: Pronounced as letter “a”, Kiwis use this instead of a question mark, to convert a normal sentence into a question. For example, “It’s hot, eh”. Also used in place of ‘what’ if the listener didn’t hear you or doesn’t understand what you are saying.

Heaps: A lot of something. For e.g., my backyard has heaps of firewood.

Hoodie: A jacket with a hood.

Jandals: Thongs, flip-flops

Speedos: swimwear

Kia Ora: Hello in the Maori language.  Propounced as ki-ora.

L&P: New Zealand’s brand of soda. Stands for Lemon and Paeroa

Oi: To get someone’s attention if someone is within sight but not paying attention

Old Lady: Used for wife or girlfriend

Old man: Used for father

On the piss: Gone out for drinking

Piss: Beer

Pissed: 1. Drunk, intoxicated. 2. Angry (He is really pissed at you)

Pom or Pommie: Used for a person from the UK

Tall poppy syndrome: This is a phrase used for commonly observed New Zealand attitude of being modest about one’s achievements.

She’ll be alright: Another trait of New Zealanders who like to get on with life and dealing with problems without whining or complaining.

Tangi: A Maori word which means funeral ceremony. Not to be confused with Hangi which is a traditional Maori way of cooking.

Haka: A Maori dance which you will usually see before the beginning of a rugby match.

Trolley: Shopping cart.

Truckie: A truck driver.

Whanau: Family

(Source: NZ Guide)

Do you know any other slang but confusing words used by New Zealanders? Share them in comments below.

Business Loans Money News

Want to earn $8000 from home? Get ready to be scammed

“A single mother earned $8000 from Google Adsense in one month. Find out how!” says an internet advertisement,  targeting unsuspecting prospects.

New Zealand is hit by many internet scams, with the latest being ‘work from home‘ or ‘part-time’ job scams, which typically target students or at-home mothers.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says an internet security expert.

Because the jobs are advertised on typical job portals where genuine employers post job ads, job-seekers often trust these scammers.

How It Works

New Zealand’s Consumer Affairs department explains the scam: You see an ad in a spam email, or on a website banner, and it is just the kind of work you are looking for:

  • working from home
  • good rate of pay
  • not much work.

Don’t fall prey to these scams, because fraudsters are either trying to steal your money or your identity.

These scams try to use attractive job ads as a gateway for:

  • money laundering
  • pyramid schemes
  • or upfront payment fraud – a scam which asks you to send money upfront for a product or ‘reward’ later.

Protect yourself from employment scams

Look for employment through well-known recruitment websites or reputable recruitment agencies, advises Consumer Affairs. Also it helps to be suspicious for anything that sounds too good.

Here’s what you can do to spot a scam:

  • Be suspicious of online ads promoting the opportunity to work at home – most of them are scams.
  • Contact your bank if you have received money into your bank account that you believe to be illegal. If you have any problems, contact the Banking Ombudsman for guidance.

Report scams

Another mistake people make is they keep quiet if they have been a victim of a scam. Who in their right mind wants to be seen as stupid, or greedy or both?

However, this only strengthens the odds for scamsters to succeed.

If you have been affected by a scam, please report it to Consumer Affairs’ Scamwatch. Your personal details will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Consumer Affairs have even created a Facebook page where New Zealanders like you and me are reporting new scams almost every day. Head over to the Facebook page for some entertainment, if nothing else. You will be surprised at the ingenious ways used by some scamsters.

Other frauds and scams in New Zealand

Other than employment scams, Kiwis are fallen prey for credit card scams, ATM skimming, dating scams, computer hacking, identity scams and phone scams.

Identity theft

With people putting pictures of themselves and their family on social media, identity theft is one of the easiest thefts that could happen to anyone onliine.

One Kiwi lady found a picture of her horse on a horse-trading website. A picture of her horse was stolen and published with a “For Sale” advertisement in an overseas market. She managed to get the website to take the picture down, only to find another advert spurring up somewhere else, almost instantaneously, the lady said in a post on the ScamsNZ FB page.

Travel scam

Another person reported Air New Zealand scam, where scamsters (obviously not from Air New Zealand) call up and offer heavy discounts on Air New Zealand airfares.

Air New Zealand has been contacted by people who had received automated phone calls claiming to be from Air New Zealand offering “significant credits” to be redeemed on Air New Zealand bookings, the airline’s spokesperson Brigitte Ransom, told Stuff.

Air New Zealand has confirmed that it is not offering any special discounts on international travel via automated phone calls.

In fact, holiday scams and air ticket scams are common in New Zealand. In 2013 alone, as many 63 Kiwis lost $38,000 to travel scams, says Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise spokeswoman Peta Baily Gibson.

Lonely? your love is waiting

Many New Zealanders have fallen trap to a Facebook predator, only to find the imposter to be much older, or with criminal intentions. Online predators often target younger girls, or even boys, who are vulnerable and trusting.

“Go online for the right reasons, ignore those who write in capital letters and weed out those who can’t even spell their own job title,” advises Andrew Bonallack in the New Zealand Herald.

Tax refund scam

How many of you have dreamt of taking a windfall from Inland Revenue in the form of tax refunds? I know. I have too. But that’s where the good story ends.

Many people have reportedly received a door knock from someone claiming to be from the tax department and offering a tax refund.

Has anyone ever heard of tax guys going door to door offering refund checks?

“Just to be clear, Inland Revenue will never telephone, email or knock on your door regarding your tax refund,” Inland Revenue’s group manager customer services, Eleanor Young, told media.

“Neither will we ask for your credit card details or monetary payment in order to receive your refund.”

The scamsters are so bold that they have even used official logos of major brands and government departments, including Inland Revenue.

Consumer Affairs department offers ready guide to use in case you suspect a scam or have been a victim.

 

 

News

Want to stay young? Learn more languages

Here’s good news for most Indians who are bilingual.

In a study conducted by the UK’s University of Edinburgh, it was found that those who spoke more than one language were able to slow down the aging of their brain.

teaching, learning, language, biligual, study, education, school, college

What is more reassuring is that the additional language could be learnt at any age and still receive the same benefits of good brain health.

The study of 262 people found that reading, verbal fluency and intelligence improved.

The research, published in Annals of Neurology confirmed that learning a new language helped in developing cognitive functions.

The lead of the research Dr Thomas Bak, who works at the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, studied  262 volunteers from Edinburgh at the age of 11, and then again in their seventies.

Dr Bak confirmed that people who spoke more than one language had better cognitive abilities compared to what would have been expected if they spoke only one language.

And it didn’t matter at what age the second language was learnt.

Dr Bak also completed another study in India where most people are bilingual. This study found that being bilingual could delay dementia by many years.

So there you go – you have something to be thankful for if you are an Indian. Your brain is likely to remain younger compared to your western counterparts where being bilingual is not as prevalent as in India.

For those who are not Indians or bilingual, there’s still hope. Enroll to learn a foreign language. It will stand you in good stead in your old age.

Immigration News Opinion Work Abroad

OPINION: Immigration policy may stall growth in NZ

ImmigrationAttorney

 

Migrate to AustraliaNew Zealand’s xenophobia, rather its politicians’ attempt to capitalize on xenophobia, has raised its ugly head again.

This time it is Labour leader David Cunliffe, who has blamed migrants for housing crisis and has suggested putting brakes on immigration following Treasury’s prediction that net migration may cross the 40,000 mark very soon.

If Cunliffe has his way, New Zealand could curb the projected migration levels of 40,000 to just in the “zone of between 5,000 and 15,000”.

Cunliffe wants “enough new migrants to fill our skill gaps but not so many that it overwhelms our housing market or the ability of our schools and our hospitals to cope”.

How convenient! Has he done research to learn about the number of migrants serving in New Zealand’s healthcare sector?

In the case of hospitals, he seems to be forgetting that without migrants as staff at all levels, they would gradually grind to a halt, says the NZ Herald columnist Brian Rudman.

It reminded me of the early years of 2000s, when net migration was as high, and there was a wide-spread feeling of resentment against migrants – Asians specifically, as they look and sound different.

However, those were the times when New Zealand economy was growing at a record rate of 3% to 3.5%. Individual incomes were high; people had steady jobs and spending rate was comparable to most developed countries.

We don’t have the same scenario now. The leading economies of the world haven’t recovered from the historic recession, with no clear signs of better days ahead.

This is a time to make the most use of available resources and bat on, so that New Zealand economy is able to create a distinct competitive advantage on global platform, despite its geographic remoteness and small market size.

This is possible by attracting the best talent from around the world in face of growing competition for talent from bigger economies like the US, the UK, Canada and of course, our fortunate cousin Australia.

Instead, policymakers like Cunliffe are busy finding ways to protect the sentiments of homegrown Kiwis, and ride on the anti-migrant wave.With elections around the corner, and poor voter perception, Cunliffe seems to be trying everything he could to revive his campaign.

However, let’s not politicize the issue.

If Asian population is expected to hit 800,000 in another decade, then it should be seen as an opportunity, not threat.

Let’s not drive skill-based migration, which benefits a few cities like Auckland, at the cost of other regions.

Auckland is a major winner from the government’s skilled-based immigration policies, says analyst Rodney Dickens of Strategic Risk Analysis Ltd.

“Wellington and Canterbury benefit to a moderate extent, while Canterbury benefits form the rebuilding-related skill-based policy.  All other regions are double losers as a result of the skilled-based immigration policies,” says Dickens in his latest report (PDF).

“Skill-based immigration policies would appear to be great at ensuring the largest group of immigrants, excluding Kiwis returning form OE, offer skills that fit with the evolving economy.

“However, the evolving economy and the skilled-based immigration policies both favour large urban centres over other centres.  This is having a significant impact on regional economic growth, retail spending, residential building and house prices.

“Restricting where immigrants can live would be self-defeating.  In time many skilled immigrants would end up filtering to the major urban centres even if they were originally restricted to living in provincial towns and cities.”

Dickens recommends an immigration policy that puts less emphasis on skills and gives more importance to hard work.

“If the criteria were relaxed to include hard-working people with lower formal
qualifications, it would create a more balanced playing field from a regional perspective,” argues Dickens.

“If this were done it would allow regions with smaller urban centres to better compete in part because they offer much more affordable housing costs compared to income levels than the large urban centres.”

“It would allow regions with cheaper housing costs to compete for immigrants on a much more equal footing with regions dominating new economy job creation.”