Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Comers guide

Settling in

Treaty of Waitangi

New Zealand useful Information
Accident Compensation (ACC) - No Lawsuits Allowed
If you're injured in New Zealand, regardless of cause or blame, the ACC scheme entitles you to:

>> Free medical care.
>> Payment of a proportion of your salary, while you recover.
>> Payment of compensation, if appropriate.

The ACC scheme replaces the right to sue for damages. In New Zealand you cannot sue someone for causing you injury.

Ages of Consent -
Legal ages for activities in New Zealand
Leaving a child alone in your house: 14
A babysitter's minimum age: 14
Buying alcohol: 18
Buying cigarettes: 18
Getting a restricted driving licence: 15
Getting a full driving licence: 17
Cohabitation: 16
Getting engaged to be married: Any age
Getting married (with parents' permission): 16
Getting married (without parents' permission): 20
Sex: 16
Starting school (earliest age) : 5
Starting school (latest age): 6
Starting school (latest age if the child must walk more than 3 km to school): 7
Leaving school (earliest age): 16
The right to free education ends: 19
Joining the Police force: 19
Opening a cheque account/borrowing money: 18
Getting a tattoo: 16
Becoming an adult (in law): 20

Cats and dogs from many countries are allowed into New Zealand after a quarantine time. There is no need for quarantine if your pet is coming from:

Australia: You can move your pet here freely.
Hawaii: Your pet can come with certain tests carried out.
United Kingdom: Your pet can come with certain tests carried out.

If you're going to bring a pet from anywhere else, you're certainly showing you love it. Quarantine is for at least thirty days and will cost you around $1,000 for each thirty day period.

Bringing your pet here can be quite complicated and it's best to start making arrangements a few months before you plan coming here yourself.

The MAF website has more information.

Attitude to Smoking
All forms of tobacco promotion, advertising and sponsorship are banned in New Zealand. 20% of European New Zealanders and 50% of Maori New Zealanders smoke. In most circumstances, it's fair to say that smoking is unwelcome. Many smokers do not smoke even inside their own houses. They smoke in the garage, shed or garden. It is illegal to smoke in the following places:

the buildings and grounds of schools and early childhood centres
>> licensed premises (bars, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs, casinos) indoors
>> workplaces including offices, factories, warehouses, work canteens and 'smoko' rooms. Shopping malls are smoke-free.

The basis of government policy is that people who do not smoke should not be exposed indoors to tobacco smoke.

Most high-street banks charge you for writing cheques, making cash withdrawals, etc.

To avoid their charges, you must keep significant sums of money in your account(s) or have a mortgage with them.

The KiwiBank and TSB Bank offer completely free banking, provided you keep $4,000 - $5,000 in your account.

Most banks open at 9.00am and close at 4:30pm. Cash machines are everywhere. You can also use telephone banking or internet banking (my personal favourite).

When paying for goods in shops, most people use credit-cards or EFTPOS cards. Paying by cash or cheque is less common. When you use your EFTPOS card, money is transferred out of your bank account straight into the shop's bank account.

Capital Gains Tax
New Zealand has no tax on capital gains. If, however, you buy and sell shares or property frequently, gains will be taxed as income.

Cervical Screening Programme
Cervical screening is provided free of charge to all women aged 20-69 years. The usual screening interval is every three years.

It is your choice where you have your baby and who cares for you during pregnancy and birth. All maternity services are free of charge.

Dental Treatment - Typical Costs
Schoolchildren up to the age of 18 get free dental treatment. Not all treatments are free though; you have to pay for coloured fillings and orthodontics (tooth straightening). Adults have to pay for the full cost of all treatment, typically:

Check up with x-rays: $70 - $110
Check up with x-rays and Scale/Polish: $80 - $130
White-filling (molar): $80 - $150+

If your teeth are damaged in an accident, rather than through normal wear and tear, your treatment will be heavily subsidised by the government's accident compensation scheme.

Doctors/GP's - Typical Costs
All GP's in New Zealand are private practitioners.

In practice, because of government subsidy, children under 6 are treated free. Some GP's may charge you $5 or $10 if your child needs a home visit or out-of-hours treatment.

Older children are subsidised less than under 6's. This means you will pay about $20 for an older child's visit to the Doctor. If you ask around, you may be able to find a GP who will treat all ages of children free of charge.

Adults (unless they are receiving social benefits) pay to see their GP - around $40 on average.

Driving - Key Points for Overseas Drivers and New Residents
>> You are allowed to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months using either an International Driving Permit or your current overseas driving licence. After that you will need to get a New Zealand driving licence.

>> Drivers from Australia, Canada, The European Union, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States are issued with New Zealand driving licences after a written test. Drivers from other countries must pass both a written and practical driving test before getting a NZ licence.

>> You must carry your licence with you at all times when driving. If you are stopped by the Police, and do not have your licence with you, you will be fined.

>> If your licence is not in English, you should get an International Driving Permit or bring an official, English translation of your licence with you. Further licensing details are available from the Land Transport Safety Authority.

>> Vehicles drive on the left side of the road.

>> The urban speed limit is usually 50 kph (31 mph). Elsewhere it's usually 100 kph (62 mph).

>> Vehicles turning left give way to those turning right - the cause of many accidents.

Driving Times between the Main Cities
From Auckland to:

Christchurch:14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Wellington to Picton
Hamilton: 1hr 55mins
Wellington: 9hrs 20mins
Napier: 6hrs 30mins
Tauranga: 3hrs 20mins
Whangarei: 3hrs

From Christchurch to:

Auckland: 14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington

Blenheim: 4hrs 35mins
Dunedin: 5hrs
Nelson: 6hrs 20mins
Picton: 5hrs
Queenstown: 7hrs 15mins
Wellington: 5hrs plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington

From Wellington to:

Auckland: 9hrs 20mins
Christchurch: 5hrs plus ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton*
Hamilton: 7hr 20mins
Napier: 5hrs 10mins
Tauranga: 7hrs 35mins
Whangarei: 12hrs 15mins

* Ferry crossing time is normally 3hrs or 2hrs 15mins using The Lynx, a fast catamaran.

Economic Freedom
In 2007, The Wall Street Journal's top 10 countries for citizens' economic freedom were:

1. Hong Kong
2. Singapore
3. Australia
4. United States
5. New Zealand

6. United Kingdom
7. Ireland
8. Luxembourg
9. Switzerland
10. Canada

Education - Schools
In most circumstances, your children will attend the school they are zoned for. If you choose to live outside the zone of your preferred school, your children will probably not get places. Any spare places at popular schools (those with good reputations) are allocated by ballot.

School rules are set by the Board of Governers. The Board is elected by parents. School rules usually mean that school-uniform is compulsory at secondary school. In addition to wearing the uniform, pupils/students must not wear make-up, jewellery, unusual hair colourings, nose-piercings, etc, etc.

Exceptions to zoning may include attendance at a school with a special character - such as a religious school.

In addition to the state sector, there is also a flourishing private education sector.

Children who attend any of the better state schools in New Zealand receive a very good education.

Most children start Year 1 on their fifth birthday.

>> Primary schools teach Year 1 to Year 6 children.
>> Intermediate schools teach Years 7 and 8.
>> "Full Primaries" teach Year 1 to Year 8 children.
>> Secondary schools teach Year 9 to Year 13.

Education - School Costs
State education in New Zealand is free of charge. You will, however need to pay for your childrens' school uniforms, pencils, pens, glue-sticks, stationary etc. Text-books are provided free of charge, unless their use involves writing on them and they will not be returned to the school. Most state schools charge a fee of somewhere around $100 per year per child. Although payment of the fee is voluntary, most parents pay. The fee pays for extra resources for your children's school and it is tax-deductable.

Education - Schools - The School Day and Holidays
School days are Monday to Friday. Primary schools usually start at 9 am, or a little earlier, and finish at 3pm. Secondary schools usually start at 8.30am and finish at 3pm or 3.15pm.

The school year runs from February to December and has four terms. Each term is roughly ten weeks long. Summer holidays last about five and a half weeks at primary schools and about a week longer at secondary schools. The autumn, winter and spring holidays each last two weeks.

Primary and Intermediate School Holidays 2007

Term 1
7 February - 5 April
Term 2
23 April - 29 June
Term 3
16 July - 21 September
Term 4
8 October - 20 December
High School Holidays 2007
Term 1
7 February - 5 April
Term 2
23 April - 29 June
Term 3
16 July - 21 September
Term 4
8 October - 14 December

Electrical Equipment
The New Zealand electricity supply is 240 volts, 50 hertz. Your electrical equipment should work here if you come from The UK, continental Europe, South Africa, South Korea, India, China, Russia or Malaysia.

You will usually need to fit new plugs to your equipment because New Zealand plugs are most likely shaped differently from those in your country. A good tip is to bring 4-socket extension boards and fit a New Zealand plug to each board. In this way, you will be saved from putting new plugs on irons, kettles, toasters, computers, Hi-Fi's, etc. Keep the old plugs on them and plug them into the extension board.

If you come from a country with a 100 - 120 V supply, first check if any of your equipment can be switched to 240 V operation. If it cannot, it will need an electrical transformer to work in New Zealand. This is an expensive solution and you are probably best to sell the equipment before you leave and replace it when you get to New Zealand.

Your electrical equipment will need to be modified if you come from The US, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and most of Latin America.

Wherever you come from, don't bring telephones or faxes. They probably won't work here.

Emergency Services
Phone 111 to get Police, Ambulance or Fire Service.

Ethnicity of New Zealanders
2001 Census figures indicate that New Zealanders' ethnicity is:

European: 80%
Maori: 14%
Asian: 7%
Pacific Islander: 6%

Some people belong to more than one ethnic group so the numbers add up to more than 100%.

Two thirds of New Zealand's Asians and two thirds of New Zealand's Pacific Islanders live in the Auckland region.

Hospital Treatment
Hospital treatment is free of charge. As a result of this, there can be long waiting-lists for "non-emergency" cases. Many employed people pay for private medical insurance to avoid waiting for "non-emergency" treatment.

Immigrants - Where Have They Come From?
According to the 2001 census, almost one in five residents of New Zealand were born overseas. The top six countries represented in New Zealand's current immigrant population are:

England: 178,000
Australia: 56,000
Samoa: 47,000
China: 39,000
Scotland: 29,000
South Africa: 26,000
*British citizens consist of English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish. The New Zealand census form requests British people to enter their individual country of birth within the UK.

Immigrants - Where Are They Coming From?
Immigration Service figures show the top five source countries for immigrant arrivals in New Zealand in 2004 were:

Great Britain: 8,165
China: 4,809
India: 3,057
South Africa: 2,630
Fiji: 2,307

In 2003:

China: 7,990
India: 7,588
Great Britain: 6,729
South Africa: 2,634
Fiji: 2,602

In 2002:

China: 8,750
India: 8,430
Great Britain: 6,693
South Africa: 4,303
Fiji: 2,967

In 2001:

Great Britain: 5,565
India: 5,474
China: 5,383
South Africa: 4,057
Fiji: 3,021

The tightening of English language requirements announced in November 2002 and immigration restrictions on workers from "non-equivalent" labour markets are responsible for the decrease in arrivals from China and India.

Immunisation of Children
The New Zealand immunisation schedule in 2002 was:

6 Weeks: DTaP (Diphtheria - Tetanus - acellular Pertussis + Hib/HepB (Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) - Hepatitis B) + IPV (Polio).
3 months: As for 6 weeks.
5 months: DTaP + HepB + IPV.
15 months: MMR (Measles - Mumps - Rubella) vaccine + DTaP.
4-5 years(before entry to school): MMR + IPV.
11 years: Td (tetanus - diphtheria)

New Zealand lies three hours east of Australia by passenger jet. New Zealand's main islands lie between latitudes of approximately 47 o South and 34.5 o South. In Northern Hemisphere terms, New Zealand would stretch from Dijon, France into the Sahara Desert; or from Seattle, Washington to Santa Barbara, California.

Military Service
There is no compulsory military service (conscription) in New Zealand. All members of the armed forces are volunteers.

Most cars in New Zealand run on standard unleaded petrol. This has varied in price from about $1.10 to $1.25 per litre during the last year. Premium unleaded fuel, for high-performance cars, costs about 5c per litre more than standard.

Police Force
In general, the New Zealand Police Force is honest, free of corruption and enjoys a great deal of respect from ordinary New Zealanders. Police officers normally carry a baton but no fire-arms. Trained, armed response teams are available if needed.

Population Density
As you might expect, New Zealand is hardly over-populated. There are currently about 14 people per square kilometre in New Zealand. By comparison, in terms of people per, The USA, 29; The Irish Republic, 53; The UK, 241; India, 322; Japan, 335; The Netherlands, 467; South Korea, 477; and Singapore, 6255.

Population - Effect of Migration
New Zealand usually gains more people through immigration than it loses from emigration. There was a rough patch between 1997 and 2000.

Year: Effect of Migration on New Zealand's Population

1992 - 1993: +11,000

1993 - 1994: +19,000
1994 - 1995: +25,000
1995 - 1996: +25,000
1996 - 1997: +10,000
1997 - 1998:
1998 - 1999:
1999 - 2000:
2000 - 2001: +5,000
2001 - 2002: +38,000
2002 - 2003: +48,538
2003 - 2004: +39,017

Population Size
New Zealand's population reached four million early in 2003.

Prescription Drugs - Cost
When a GP prescribes drugs, children under 6 pay nothing. Everyone else pays $15 for each course of treatment unless they have a low-income community services card.

The number of religious people in New Zealand has been declining steadily for many years. The most recent breakdown, from 1996, is:

Protestant: 37% (Mainly Anglican: 17.5%, Presbyterian: 13%, Methodist: 3.4%)
No Religion 37%
Roman Catholic: 13%
Others, each 1% or less: 13%

Renewable Energy
Almost three quarters of New Zealand's electricity is generated by renewable methods - hydro-electricity and geothermal. Less than 5% of electricity comes from burning coal and none comes from nuclear plants.

By law, you can work to any age you want to in New Zealand.

If you live here continuously for at least ten years, five of them after the age of 50, you get state superannuation at the age of 65. This is currently worth $249 per week after tax if you're single or $383 per week after tax for married couples. New Zealand Superannuation is maintained between 65% and 72.5% of average full-time net earnings. Any pension you get from an overseas government will probably be deducted from your NZ pension. If you're hoping for a more comfortable retirement than the state-pension provides, there are plenty of private plans you can save with, and many employers also offer contributory superannuation plans.

New Zealand is almost 20% bigger than the UK but has a smaller population than Scotland. New Zealand is 7% bigger than Oregon, three times bigger than Portugal and one half the size of France.

Taxation (Business)
If your business is a limited company, it pays company tax at 33% of profits.

If your business has sales of $40,000 or more, you must register and charge a sales tax, GST, on sales. If you register for GST, you can reclaim any GST you are charged by other businesses. GST is charged at a rate of 12.5%.

The amount of accident insurance your business pays to the government depends on whether it has any employees. If it does, you pay insurance at the "employer rate" of 90c per $100 of payroll. Otherwise, you pay the self-employed rate of $1.79 per $100 of liable earnings.

The IRD and ACC websites have more details if you need them.

Taxation (Local)
Towns and regions raise money by levying property taxes. Each house or building has a "rateable value." The rateable value determines the amount of local tax the owner of the building pays. These local taxes are called "rates."

Owners of modest houses in rural areas will pay rates of a few hundred dollars each year. An average to above average suburban home will attract rates in the region of $1,000 - $2,000 each year. Houses with very high values will attract higher rates.

If you intend renting a house, find out if the landlord is asking you to pay the rates in addition to rent. If he (or she) is, clearly it will make your overall costs higher.

Taxation (Personal)
You pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 12.5% on everything you buy in New Zealand except for financial services and the rent or purchase price of residential property. Price tags you see in shops always include GST, so you needn't add anything to the display price.

If you are in New Zealand in 2006/2007, you will pay tax on your personal income as follows:

$0 - $38,000: 19.5%
$38,001 - $60,000: 33%
$60,001 upwards: 39%

In addition to these payments, you also pay 1.2% of your wage for accident insurance (ACC levy).

If you have children, you may qualify for assistance.

If you live overseas and have a bank account in New Zealand, the tax rate on the interest is 10%.

New Zealand has five, national, free-to-air, television channels plus local channels. All five channels carry advertising. If you live in a remote, rural area, you might not receive all channels. You can pay to get Sky (satellite/cable) TV.

The free-to-air channels and Sky show sports, movies, drama, documentaries, international news, (including BBC and CNN,) and magazine programmes. Most of the programming comes from New Zealand, Britain, America or Australia.

Time Zone
New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT, so it is the first (slightly) major country to greet the dawn of each new day. New Zealand's Chatham Islands, several hundred kilometres east of the South Island, are the first part of the country to be bathed in sunlight each morning.

Most New Zealanders don't tip staff in restaurants, hotels etc, because bills from these businesses already include a service charge. Most of the younger staff in such establishments will be happy to accept a tip if you offer one, although they will not expect one. Many New Zealanders would rather you didn't tip as they regard tipping as undesirable.

Water - Drinking
Ministry of Health figures show that 85 percent of the population have certifiably safe water supplies. Ten percent of the population have their own individual supplies - private water tanks or bores (rural areas). Five per cent of the population are on community water supplies that the Ministry of Health either has concerns with or has insufficient information to judge.

The message is, if you intend living in a rural area, get yourself a water filter.

Water - Fluoridation
In many countries fluoride is added to water supplies to prevent tooth decay. A large number of people object to water fluoridation, believing it causes health problems. The larger centres in New Zealand which do not have fluoridated water are: Whangarei, Tauranga, Wanganui, Napier, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru and Oamaru.

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