How The Land Of Dreams Can Turn Out To Be Your Worst Nightmare

Fijian-born lawyer Farah Khan is a Partner and Notary Public at Khan & Associates Lawyers in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a lawyer dealing in migrant issues. Her contacts are
15 Apr 2017 11:00
How The Land Of Dreams Can Turn Out To Be Your Worst Nightmare
Fiji Sun Labasa Office staff member Ashmita Prasad (right) handing over groceries and cash to Ms Parvati (left) and her daughters Reshma Singh and Sanjeeta Singh at their home in Siberia, Labasa on August 6, 2020. The financial assistance was sent by an Australian citizen. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Fijian-born lawyer Farah Khan is a Partner and Notary Public at Khan & Associates Lawyers in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a lawyer dealing in migrant issues. Her contacts are email: and on Facebook page: FARAH


Imagine moving to the land of where dreams are made of, only to find that you are in your worst nightmare!

This is exactly what happened to a family who had recently relocated to New Zealand on a nine-month work permit.

Soon after their arrival into NZ, the father who was the primary applicant, started experiencing excruciating tummy pain.

An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital and treated in an emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. All sounded pretty good right? Except it wasn’t.

Upon arrival at the hospital the family were asked to pay a NZ$1500 retainer to the hospital and to make it worse they received a NZ$5500 bill upon discharge.

The family had already spent their life savings in moving to NZ and setting up their home and they had no idea how they were going to manage this added unexpected cost.

Although this scenario sounds like something from a horror film it could have easily been avoided had the family had medical travel insurance.

NZ truly is a beautiful country, not only in the landscape, but also with regards to the people living there.

There are many opportunities that New Zealand offers its residents along with many benefits that are very attractive to people when considering a life in New Zealand.

There are a number of different visas you can enter New Zealand on. The main ones are Visitors Visa, Student Visa, Business Visa or a Work permit.

However, as in the scenario above, there are many migrants who do not realise that most of these benefits are only available once you have received residency in New Zealand.

Until then (which is approximately a two year pathway depending on the visa you entered New Zealand on) you and your family do not qualify.

Exactly what benefits are we talking about? Generally when we talk about benefits it’s a term used to describe those direct benefits provided by the Public Health Care System, the Ministry of Social Development and the ACC Scheme.


Public Heath Care System

New Zealand has a health care system that is based on the “Kiwi belief” that everyone should get a fair go in life.

However, only NZ residents and certain work visa holders can benefit from the public health care system that is free or low cost due to the heavy Government subsidies.

If you are a non-resident in NZ you can also use the public healthcare services at a cost.

These costs can vary depending on the actual services you require and in some cases can be rather costly.

If you are a resident holder in NZ then you can also opt to take out private medical insurance with agencies such as Southern Cross Health Care Society.

This would mean (depending on your policy cover) you could access certain non-urgent health care services faster and free of charge.

However, if you are not a resident, then you will need to obtain your Medical Travel Insurance from your home country and be certain to understand exactly what your policy does and does not cover. Health is something that nobody can predict and it is imperative that you have medical travel insurance to cover either a pre-existing medical condition or one that comes to light when you are in NZ.


Ministry of Social

Development benefits

Work and income provide a raft of financial benefits for people and their website has benefits under the following categories:

  • Not working;
  • Seniors;
  • Caring;
  • Relationship changes;
  • Health and disability;
  • Living expenses;
  • Children;
  • Urgent or unexpected costs and

Each of these categories again has a number of different situations in which a person or family could be entitled for assistance on either a one-off of weekly basis from the government.

Over the course of my legal practice I have met many people who were financially struggling, but were not aware that they could be eligible for a benefit.

My advice to all is to check out the Ministry of Social Developments websites and if in doubt contact them for further information.

It is always good for residences to know that they maybe entitled to assistance if they find themselves in a difficult situation.


What happens if you get injured while in New Zealand?

Accident Compensation Corporation commonly known as ACC is a unique scheme set up by the New Zealand government that provides comprehensive no-fault personal injury cover for all NZ residents and visitors to NZ.

This means that you can apply for assistance no matter how you got injured or who’s fault is was.

The role of ACC is to prevent injury, make sure people get treatment for injury if it does happen and help people get back to everyday life as soon as possible.

The ACC scheme is extremely comprehensive and mostly free of cost.

But the really important thing to note is that unlike the Ministry of Social Development benefits and the Public Health care System, ACC is available to everyone from the minute they enter NZ.


Be prepared

So please do not be disillusioned when considering your move or even your next visit to NZ.

The message that I wish to leave you all with is that NZ has many entitlements that you could be eligible for, but if you are not a resident there you will be paying for all the services from your own pocket.

My advice for anyone wishing to come to NZ, arrange medical travel insurance, it is not optional.

You need it.




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