Business owner moving to Australia blames NZ's poor education system, not feeling valued by commercial market

A Kiwi business owner is moving across the ditch saying her business isn't valued here and doesn't want her kids going to school in New Zealand.

It comes just a month after the new citizenship deal for Kiwis living in Australia came into force on July 1. 

The new deal sees all Special Category Visa holders able to apply directly for citizenship without becoming permanent residents first, as long as they meet a four-year residence and other eligibility requirements. 

Those who become citizens will be able to have access to things like jobseeker support, student loans, disability payments and even the right to vote for the first time.

New figures exclusively revealed by AM on Tuesday showed 12,300 New Zealanders have applied for citizenship in Australia since July 1. 

The changes have made it easier for people like business owner Tamzyn Adding who is about to move across the ditch in October. 

Adding told AM co-host Ryan Bridge the decision to move to Australia was based on personal reasons but also the Australian commercial market made it super easy for her.  

"We had pushed as a company for the commercial sector in New Zealand for years and was shut down pretty much at every avenue," she said. 

"When I decided to take the company into Australia, we were picked up instantly. So it was like five years of slog in New Zealand to have doors closed, five weeks in Australia to have everything open." 

Adding is the founder of Miss Lolo, which is a wallpaper designer business but she focuses on the commercial side.

She told AM she didn't feel valued here in New Zealand. 

"When we started getting picked up in Australia, all of a sudden the commercial side in New Zealand took us seriously. It almost felt like we had to prove ourselves on an international stage before we got recognised as a company in New Zealand that had any legs," she said. 

"My gut around that was, do I want to stay here for the next few years and slug it out and really prove myself? Or do I go like, here's a country that's gone, we love it, let's go, happy to use you."

She added the decision was personal too, as she and her husband have four school-aged daughters.

Adding didn't want her daughters to go through New Zealand's education system, describing it as a mess. 

"On a global scale, you can see the decline in those academic rates. My children are really lucky and they go to private schools," she said. 

"But even when you see the private schools ditching NCEA in favour of creating their own curriculum, you know there is a fundamental issue in our education system in the country here and I didn't want my children to be a part of it."

Business owner Tamzyn Adding.
Business owner Tamzyn Adding. Photo credit: AM

"Really pleased the number are so high"

Joanne Cox, the Chair of Oz Kiwi, told AM on Tuesday the changes a month ago were a long time coming.

There are currently around 670,000 Kiwis living in Australia but Cox believes that number will continue to grow quickly. 

"We're really pleased the numbers are so high. To put it into context, on an average month, Australia received 12,000-15,000 applications for citizenship. So basically the same number of New Zealanders have applied in one month as would ordinarily apply from all other nationalities," she said. 

"It's quite a good number to have and we expect those numbers just to keep moving along like that for at least the next several months and probably over the next year, there'll be further spikes in those numbers as people realise how easy it is to actually achieve the citizenship goal."

Cox is doing the opposite of Adding. She is moving back to New Zealand after living in Australia for 15 years. 

She said family reasons brought her back home to New Zealand as well as it being her long-term plan.

But she did have a warning for any Kiwis looking at packing their bags and moving to Australia. 

"People do have to be aware of what the situation is in Australia. They are a permanent resident only for citizenship purposes, so they can apply for citizenship once they've resided for four years," she said. 

"But until they become a citizen they don't actually have other rights. They can't get any social services, they can't get student loans if they have a child born in Australia, they're not a citizen at birth, they have to wait until age 10 or apply with their family." 

While Australia is considered to have better housing, cheaper cost of living on average and better pay packets, Cox said the major downside was racism. 

"The racism of Australia, the political situation, it's a lot further to the right in Australia and historically they've had those issues. That is illustrated by the injustice of the Special Category Visa, having no pathway to citizenship," she said. 

"Basically at its core, it's a racist policy instigated by the [John] Howard Government. So New Zealand is a lot more pleasant place and politics is a lot more friendly, even though you might not think it." 

Watch the full interview with Tamzyn Adding and Joanne Cox in the video above.