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Aucklander dies in Afghanistan

Dr Hashem Slaimankhel, a well-respected community leader from Auckland, lost his life in a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan, which killed at least 95 people.

Dr Slaimankhel, who was a co-founder of Afghan Association of New Zealand, was on visiting his family in Afghanistan when a Taliban suicide bomber struck in Kabul.

Omar Slaimankhel, Dr Slaimankhel’s nephew and a professional rugby player told media that his uncle’s wife, son, and siblings have flown to Afghanistan to join other family members for the burial.

Dr Slaimankhel was one of the former board members of Auckland Regional Migrant Trust, and was “very active within various migrant communities,” said the Trust in a Facebook post. “Condolences to his family. It’s a great loss.”

 

 

Politics

India-US step up cooperation to combat terrorism

 

On his maiden visit to India in his current capacity, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two discussed stepping up effective cooperation to combat terrorism in all its forms and promoting regional stability and security.

The India Prime Minister noted the firm upward trajectory in the bilateral strategic partnership following the positive and far-reaching talks with President Trump in June this year.

Modi shared the resolve expressed by Secretary Tillerson on taking further steps in the direction of accelerating and strengthening the content, pace and scope of the bilateral engagement. They affirmed that a strengthened India-US partnership is not just of mutual benefit to both countries, but has significant positive impact on the prospects for regional and global stability and prosperity.

In the context of President Trump’s new South Asia Policy, Prime Minister noted the commonality in the objectives of eradicating terrorism, terrorist infrastructure, safe havens, and support, while bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, Secretary Tillerson also had detailed discussions with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

News

JLF’s US edition gets great reception


Typically this time of the year, Boulder (USA) witnesses an odyssey of autumn colors with the cottonwoods, aspen and maples trees decorating the side walks with golden leaves. This time, however, it is witnessing a display of culture and literature with 70 eminent authors around the world descending for the third-edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in Colorado.

India’s Ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna, joined in two sessions at the Main Boulder Public Library on 15 and 16 September. Sarna, is also the author of the novels “The Exile” and “We Weren’t Lovers Like That”, the short story collection “Winter Evenings”, and non-fiction works including “Indians at Herod’s Gate”, “Second Thoughts”, and “The Book of Nanak”. Sarna has served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador to Israel, Secretary at India’s Foreign Office, and also as its longest-serving spokesperson.

Sarna spoke at the inaugural session Freedom to Dream, which was the theme of the Literature Festival. The session was underpinned by a provocative dialogue about diverse topics like migrating, poets, American dreams, globalism, nationalism, climate control, feminism and ancestral cultures.

Sarna explored the benefits of the growing interest in literature in India which is celebrating 70 years of independence. “We have come a long way. Where we once had few writers, we now have many and the journey of our literature’s outreach to the world is one of the most significant aspects of this journey as Indian writing has now been brought to the world. India is now a literary destination and a reading destination and the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has led this growth.”

Sarna also participated in the session The Untrod Path: Writing Travel: Christina Lamb, John
Huston, Lori Erickson, Navtej Sarna and William Dalrymple. In a suddenly shrunken planet, the
conventions of travel writing are being challenged by more experiential insider accounts. Five
panelists speak of their very different approaches to recording and sharing their journeys with Irene Vilar.

“Descriptions of the peaceful and lavender filled gardens of the 800-year-old Indian hospice in
Jerusalem moved me to a much deeper understanding of this land and the people who call it holy.”
said Sarna in his exploration of his own father’s story, adding that “the barbed wire was rolled up many years ago but the virtual barrier between east and west Jerusalem still remains.”

During his final session – Second Thoughts: A Writer and a Diplomat, Sarna discussed his books on subjects as varied as romance, religion and history, in conversation with John Elliott.

“Sikh history is a young religion, just 500 years old. But it is replete with dramatic events in this period: a lot of the martial aspect, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of battles. All that together is a huge area waiting to be written about,” said Sarna.

News

Spicy performances come to NZ as part of Diwali Celebrations

International performers, the Kalika Kala Kendra dance group, will bring centuries-old traditions to life on the main stage at the 2017 Auckland Diwali Festival, being held in Auckland’s central city next month. This is the 16th year of the Auckland Diwali Festival, which will take place at Aotea Square and Queen Street from midday to 9pmon Saturday, 14 and Sunday, 15 October.

The free, family friendly festival showcases and celebrates traditional and contemporary Indian culture, including dance and music, food, fashion, arts and crafts, and street-theatre, ending with the famous Barfoot & Thompson fireworks finale.

The renowned Kalika Kala Kendra dancers, who will travel to Auckland from Ahmednagar in Maharashtra State, India to perform at Auckland Diwali Festival, were founded by Marathi film star and social activist Rajashree Nagarkar to provide girls in her nomadic community with a livelihood.

They are experts at the romantic folk dance style known as ‘lavani’ – a combination of traditional song and dance performed to the quick tempo beats of dholki, a percussion instrument.

While the origins of lavani date back to the 1560s, it wasn’t until the 1700s that the musical style came into prominence as a form of entertainment and morale booster for weary soldiers.

The dancers wear 9 metre long saris and heavy jewellery including a wide belt at the waist. Their ghungroos, or ankle bells, can weigh as much as 10-15kg.

Charmaine Ngarimu, Head of Major Events for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), says Auckland is shaped by a rich ethnic mix of people and traditions.

“The Auckland Diwali Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and connect with local Indian communities. It’s a must do event in Auckland’s major event calendar, and the popularity of the festival continues to grow every year, attracting tens of thousands of people during the weekend.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation Executive Director Simon Draper says the Auckland Diwali Festival brings together many different Indian communities.

“This festival is an opportunity that gives these communities the chance to share their own special cultural traditions and foods with the wider Auckland community. We’re delighted to still be supporting this iconic event 15 years after it was first held.”

The Kalika Kala Kendra dance group will join more than 800 local performers,  including regular festival favourites BAD (Bhangra Auckland Da), Raunak Punjab Dee, and the Khottey Sikkey Dance Group, and the hotly contested Radio Tarana Bollywood Dance Competition and the Indian Weekender Mr and Ms. Diwali contest.

The Kalika Kala Kendra dance group is visiting New Zealand courtesy of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the High Commission of India and Air New Zealand.

News

Mahendra Sharma to lead Waitakere Indian Association

Mahendra Sharma has been appointed president of the Waitakere Indian Association at the association’s recent AGM meeting on 10 September in Auckland. All of the association’s new and existing Board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table, says says Sharma. “We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen community in Waitakere.”

Speaking at the event, Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector, Alfred Ngaro, said that the Indian community has been contributing positively not only to the New Zealand economy but also culturally and events such as Holi and Diwali bring all Kiwis together to celebrate the great diversity in our country.

A new partnership was also signed between Waitakere Indian Association and Best Pacific Institute of Education. Speaking on behalf of Best Pacific Institute of Education, the Community Development Manager Li‘Ilolahia said, “Partnership with Waitakere Indian Association is a pivotal for the growth of education sector in West Auckland as the institute provides free education for various courses and the ethnic people can increase their skills by availing such opportunities provided by Best.”

The Trustees of Waitakere Indian Association also honoured five new life members who have not only contributed to the welfare of the Indian Diaspora in West Auckland but also to the community at large.

There are more than 180,000 Indians living in New Zealand and Hindi is the fourth largest spoken language.

Since its formation in 2000, Waitakere Indian Association has been working with various government agencies and local Indian associations in promoting, advocating and integrating the Indian Diaspora, culture and values with the Kiwi way of life.

News

Indian students earn NZ Excellence Awards

 

As many as 31 talented young university students from India have received a 2017 New Zealand Excellence Award, Education New Zealand (ENZ) announced today.

The students are pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate study in New Zealand in the fields of business, design or STEM related programmes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson says India is a core trade, economic, political and education partner for New Zealand, with two-way trade valued at around $2.5 billion.

“These top young scholars will further strengthen ties between our two countries, by contributing to a broader exchange of ideas in our universities, building our respective research capabilities, and enriching New Zealand culture.

“I congratulate these students on being selected by their university for these awards, and I hope they succeed in their studies and become lifelong ambassadors for New ZealandIndian students scholarship in New Zealand.”

Nineteen of the students received their awards in person at the annual India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) Summit in Auckland today, which is focussed on education and technology opportunities. INZBC invited a delegation from India to take part in this summit.

The New Zealand Excellence Awards were established by New Zealand’s universities and Education New Zealand in 2016, to increase the number of talented Indian students studying in universities here. All eight of New Zealand’s universities are ranked in the top 450 in the QS world rankings.

This is the first round of the awards, and each scholarship has a value of NZD $5,000 towards the first year tuition fee. The scholarships will be awarded again in 2018, and applications are due to open on 1 September 2017.

Last year, more than 28,000 Indian students came to study in New Zealand, making India the second largest source of international students. Indian student enrolments at New Zealand universities are continuing to increase each year, reflecting a market trend towards higher level qualifications.

The full list of 2017 New Zealand Excellence Award winners has been published on the Study in New Zealand website here.

Entertainment News

India’s largest lit fest ends on a high

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, advertised as the world’s largest free literary festival, attracted 2,45,000 footfalls over the five days ending 25 January – the highest ever in the festival’s eight-year history. The over-crowded festival compromised the quality of experience for many visitors who had to either share crowded standing space, or be disappointed as gates were closed for certain popular sessions.

This was no surprise as the festival saw a doubling of international visitors from 50 countries, according to an official statement, and a 40% increase in students attending the festival held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur.

While more than 300 authors (up from 240 in 2014), and 140 musicians participated, only a few authors dominated audience’s attention, while many struggled to attract enough numbers to their sessions. The crowds struggled to secure space even as 209 sessions were spread across 10 venues, including two new locations Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal. The festival also took some authors to schools in Jaipur, with 50 sessions taking place over two weeks.

– Electric sessions with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Sir. V.S. Naipaul rocked the festival on the fourth day

– 40% increase in students visiting the Festival, with average age of visitor being 21 years old
– Dates for next year announced as 21-25 January 2016
– Festival set to travel to London, UK and Boulder, USA later this year

The sessions that attracted the most cheer and crowd were by Nobel laureate Sir V.S.Naipaul, and by former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The two speakers drew the biggest audience at the Rajnigandha Front Lawns with 5,000 excited book-lovers per event. Another sweet-heart of the crowd was legenday Bollywood actor Waheeda Rehman who launched her book Conversations With Waheeda Rehman, written by Nasreen Munni Kabir.

Similar crowds were also attracted by Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor who was in Jaipur to launch film critic Anupama Chopra’s new book: The Front Row: Conversations on Cinema.

Anupama Chopra and Sonam Kapoor

Other highlights over the five days included Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, renowned travel writer Paul Theroux, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi as well as leading novelists Sarah Waters, Kamila Shamsie, Amit Chaudhuri and Eimear McBride.

This year the Festival awarded three prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was won by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Ojas Art Award which was presented to Bhajju Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, as well as the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry which was awarded to poet Arundhathi Subramaniam for her work When God is a Traveller.

However, the highlight of the festival was its programme that brought together a plurality of speakers from across the political, social, religious, artistic, and national divide, to create a cultural forum for discussion.

The festival also championed freedom of creative expression with daily drawings from DNA newspaper’s Chief Cartoonist, Manjul – prompting discussion and debate over the rights and responsibility of writers and artists in the current climate.

The concluding debate of the festival was titled “Culture is the New Politics” featuring Suhel Seth, Rajiv Malhotra, Arshia Sattar and Shazia Ilmi. The audience were also polled on the debate during the event, with 55.7% agreeing that culture is the new politics.

Encouraged by this year’s success, the organizers have decided to add two further editions of JLF across the world: first at the Southbank Centre in London this May, and then a third JLF festival in Boulder, Colorado, US in the autumn. The international outposts of the JLF festivals will be produced by Teamwork Arts, in addition to the 21 other festivals they produce in 11 different countries each year.

“Another year over and the next one just begun,” says Namita Gokhale, author and co-Director of the festival. “My head is already teaming with ideas, themes, concepts for next year. 2016 will be our best yet!”

Not wishing to rest, William Dalrymple, author and co-Director of the festival, is looking forward to the next year. “We already have Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Noam Chomsky, A L Kennedy and Thomas Piketty confirmed for next year.”

Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Producer of the Festival, said, “We have seen a record footfall across the five days.”

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.

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.