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NZ ranked world’s most socially advanced country

New Zealand is the most socially advanced nation in the world according to a global index published by US-based nonprofit, the Social Progress Imperative, and released at the 2014 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.

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New Zealand topped the rankings across a wide range of measures–according to the Social Progress Index 2014 which ranks 132 countries based on their social and environmental performance. The result was described as “exceptional” by Michael Green, Executive Directive of the Social Progress Imperative.

The Social Progress Index, created by a team led by Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, is designed as a complement to GDP and other economic indicators to provide a more holistic understanding of countries’ overall performance.

What is social progress?

Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens to improve their lives, and create the conditions for individuals and communities to meet their full potential.


Measuring a country’s social progress outcomes the Index identifies a number of areas in which New Zealand is performing strongly compared to countries with a comparable GDP per capita, including on ‘Personal Rights’, ‘Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’.

Until now, the assumption has been that there is a direct relationship between economic growth and wellbeing, says Professor Michael E. Porter.

“However, the Social Progress Index finds that all economic growth is not equal. While higher GDP per capita is correlated with social progress, the connection is far from automatic. For similar levels of GDP, we find that some countries, like New Zealand, achieve much higher levels of social progress than others.”

It’s some accolade that across so many measures New Zealand outperforms countries like the United States, UK and Australia, says
Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative.

“It’s particularly on the measure of ‘Opportunity’ that New Zealand performs strongly thanks to it’s top global rankings on ‘Personal Rights’ and ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’.”

The Social Progress Imperative created the Social Progress Index working in collaboration with scholars from the Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as international organizations in social entrepreneurship, business and philanthropy led by the Skoll Foundation and Fundacion Avina as well as Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Global and its member firms (Deloitte).

The result is particularly impressive in the context of New Zealand’s relative economic weakness compared to countries that finished much lower on the Index. New Zealand enjoys the world’s 25th highest GDP per capita of $25,857, finishing ahead of the United States in 16th ranking with a per capita GDP of over $45,000*; the UK in 13th with a per capita GDP of over $32,500*; and Australia in 10th with a per capita GDP of $34,669*.

Key global highlights:

  • The top five countries in order of ranking are: New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland, and Norway.
  • Canada is the best performing G8 country.
  • Brazil is the top of the BRICS, followed by South Africa, Russia, China and India. Apart from Brazil, the BRICS are all significant under-performers on social progress, suggesting that, for China and India in particular, rapid economic growth is not yet being converted into better lives for their citizens.

Key New Zealand findings:

Of the 54 indicators measured within each country to make up the overall Index ranking, New Zealand scores top spot in no less than 20, across a wide variety of different measures. These include tying in first place globally on measures of homicide (less than 2 per 100,000 people); levels of corruption and religious tolerance.


New Zealand scores strongly on the ‘Access to Basic Knowledge’ component finishing 2nd globally. Included in this is secondary school enrollment on which New Zealand scores top.

New Zealand also finishes top ranked on ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’, owing to impressive results on religious freedoms and freedom over life choices.

On ‘Tolerance and Inclusion’ New Zealand scores fourth globally, thanks partly to its high tolerance for immigrants and religious tolerance.

On the ‘Access to Information and Communications’ measure New Zealand scores 7th globally, which is a relatively strong result compared to countries of a similar GDP. The result owes partly to an exceptionally high rate of mobile telephone subscriptions (more than 110 for every 100 people) as well as ranking number one globally for press freedoms.

Other findings

According to the researchers New Zealand doesn’t have any specific weaknesses. However, the Social Progress Index 2014 highlights obesity as a challenge to ‘Health and Wellness’ – more than one in four New Zealanders are obese.

Also, one of New Zealand’s weaker score is on ‘Nutrition and Basic Medical Care’ (28th), a result partly of its 36th place ranking on the measure of maternal mortality (15 deaths per 100,000 live births). The top ranking country on this measure is Estonia with just two deaths per 100,000 births. Similarly, New Zealand’s child mortality rate of 5.7 deaths per 1000 live births is more than double Iceland who ranked in first place with just 2 deaths per 1000 live births.

Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, said: “Making social progress a true imperative means putting the progress of humanity and our wellbeing on an equal footing with GDP. The Social Progress Index prioritizes and measures what matters, capturing data that ranges from basic needs such as health to the building blocks and guarantees of opportunity such as education and rights.

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Immigration scam exposed in New Zealand

An immigration fraudster in New Zealand faces a possible jail term after an investigation by the Immigration Advisers Authority uncovered a $100,000 immigration scam.

Tengyu (Nick) Yuan, a New Zealand citizen from Albany, admitted providing immigration advice illegally to six migrants at Auckland District Court. The court heard Tengyu, director of Auckland City-based Noahark Consultant Limited, took large sums from migrants promising to secure them visas, only to carry out little or no work.

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to six charges of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a fine of $100,000 under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.

Under the Act anyone providing New Zealand immigration advice must be licensed by the Authority unless exempt. Exempt persons include lawyers.

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to protect people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

Anyone seeking help from an immigration adviser, consultant or agent is urged to check the Authority’s register of licensed immigration advisers.

The register contains an international list of licensed immigration advisers and can be checked either online or by contacting the Immigration Advisers Authority directly on freephone (from New Zealand) 0508 422 422.

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Visa free entry for Indians to New Zealand?

Will Indians get visa-free entry to New Zealand by the end of 2011? If you think it will, you can put your money where your mouth is.

New Zealand’s online predictions market, iPredict Ltd, launched stocks to predict whether the Kiwi Government will waive visa requirements for India – an emerging tourist market.

The iPredict stock predicts whether New Zealand will announce by December 2011 that it will waive visitor visa requirement for tourists travelling on an Indian passport.

India is one of the top 10 source countries of visitor to New Zealand. While a whopping eight are on the visa-waiver list, India and China are the only two countries in the top 10 whose nationals have to pay a sizeable visa fees and obtain a visa.

100% Pure New Zealand fun. Image: Tourism New Zealand

China and India are emerging economies, and strong growth in tourist numbers is projected in the next five years, according to iPredict’s chief executive, Matt Burgess.

More than 27,000 Indians visit New Zealand every year, according to a Tourism New Zealand estimate. In 2010, Indian tourists spent 13 days on average in New Zealand, and spent NZ$55 million. Nearly three in four (76 percent) Indian visitors to New Zealand are first time visitors.

Indians are among the world’s most optimistic consumers in terms of job prospects, personal finances and attitude to spending, according to a Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey. After saving and investing, Indians love to spend their spare cash on holidays and vacations, another survey found.

“We are interested to see if the market believes the Government will relax visa requirements to attract more tourist dollars from these valuable economies,” Burgess said.

Change has already begun for China. Immigration New Zealand has simplified visa processes for Chinese tourists and increased staff numbers at its three China branches. Providing further boost to Chinese visitors to New Zealand, China Southern Airlines began flights from Guangzhou to Auckland.

“China is our second largest trading partner, and Chinese tourists are among the biggest spenders when travelling in New Zealand. It makes sense that the Government would look for ways to encourage additional travellers from China,” Mr Burgess said.

However, New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development predicts a 60 percent increase in Indian traveller numbers over the next four years.

India has experienced strong economic growth, and has a growing middle class with propensity to spend on international travel.

“New Zealand is growing in popularity, partly thanks to the country’s recent starring role in Bollywood blockbuster I Hate Luv Storys,” says Tourism New Zealand outlook. “But lack of airline seats is restraining growth.”

Bollywood new zealand i hate luv storys

"New Zealand is growing in popularity, partly thanks to the country's recent starring role in Bollywood blockbuster I Hate Luv Storys," - Tourism New Zealand

There are no direct flights from India to New Zealand, and tourist numbers from India have not shown any significant growth. While Air India is likely to start flying direct from Delhi to Melbourne this year, the country’s national carrier has no similar plans for New Zealand. “It’s not a lucrative market for us,” an Air India official told The Global Indian magazine.

Which are the visa-free countries?

If you hold a passport of any of New Zealand’s visa-free countries, you don’t need a visa to visit New Zealand. List of visa-free countries for New Zealand.

If you are a passport holder of any other country, for example India, you will need to apply for a visitor visa.

What are the visitor visa requirements for New Zealand?

You need to demonstrate to Immigration New Zealand that you are of good character and are in good health. You need to apply for the visa that matches your intentions of the visit.

Your passport must be valid for minimum three months past the date you are to leave New Zealand.

In the light of alarming number of overstayers, the government is concerned about your intention to leave. You need to show a proof about your intention to leave New Zealand and that you have the means to leave the country.

You need to show your return air tickets. You also need to show an evidence of funds – NZ$1000 per person per month of stay, or $400 if accommodation is already paid for.

How long can I stay?

The maximum validity of a visitor visa is nine months.

Visit Immigration New Zealand website for more details.