And most of them are Kiwis and Pacific Islanders! Who knew that we had more than a million expat Kiwis living in other parts of the world. Those who had family who did their big OE didn’t expect many of them to come home for years if at all, especially after it became easier for Kiwis to live and work longer in the UK.
What’s really interesting is the reason the expats are coming home. We expected many would come home because they wanted to raise families and this is one of the safest countries in the world, but not because of climate change, water wars and the worst droughts and heat in over 1,500 years. It’s not just places like the Middle East, there is fighting between States in the USA, where higher states are blocking off rivers to provide water for their citizens at the cost of people living farther down river. Some States are vying for independence in order to gain the right to keep water for themselves. It is now more valuable than oil and more like the costs of printer ink, back when we still used that.
Potable drinking water has become scarce in many parts of the world, places where Kiwis made their homes, found lifestyles they felt were way better than they could back home, measured by wonderful big homes, cool cars and gadgets, technology, the American Dream. But when it got to a point that the rivers, which many of the cities relied on, dried out; even places like San Diego are now recycling 40% of their waste water into drinking water. After the big California droughts, even Santa Clara which I once thought I would call my home is now doing it.
The other day I was on the train going past the poo ponds on the North Shore and saw geese swimming in it and cows grazing alongside it. The thought of towns in America, land of the brave, where in places like Wichita Falls, they now produce all their drinking water from waste water AND sewage. “You don’t say!”, and “Hell no!” people said “I’ll buy bottled water, but I’m not drinking that shit!” But water became so expensive that population starting moving out of Kansas into other places that had the same problem, but not quite as bad yet.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) half of the world now lives in areas of severe water stress. Luckily that doesn’t apply down-under in New Zealand where we still have plenty of fresh drinking water. The problem is that now everyone has discovered us and Kiwis are filling Dreamliners, and drought plagued Aussies are crossing the ditch because we let them. Pacific Islanders whose islands haven’t been totally drowned by sea water as was predicted, but their water tables have; are also racing down to join the water rush as is their entitlement. They tried desalination, but they didn’t have the resources to freshen enough sea water to meet their populations basic health and sanitation needs.
Whist we still have water aplenty (although some of it still comes from polluted rivers like the Waikato (It does still irk me) as NZ6 goes back to the USA almost empty) that the signs say it isn’t safe to swim in it, but we fill our filter stations with water from it), the same can’t be said for houses, for infrastructure, for roads and highways, health and education services.
Of course the migrants are bringing lots of money and paying for those services, but in the meantime houses, schools and hospitals are packed to overflowing. Aucklanders are fleeing south because they can no longer afford to live here unless they already owned property, with the average house price starting at $1.5 million in the cheaper suburbs of Puhoi and Pokeno, nothing under $2.5 million within 5km of the CBD, even 70 meter apartments go for close to a mill. Warkworth prices with the new light rail are also around the $1.5 million on average now and going up fast. I wish I had invested in Waiwera Water or a lifestyle block or two, but I’m OK. The rates hurt though. I pay council around $15k a year now just in rates. That’s $300 a week!
The population of New Zealand is approaching $6 million and the tsunami wave of expats coming down continues. The big worry is that there are also huge numbers of wealthy Americans, Europeans, people from the Middle East and Asia buying up everything they can find as a bolt hole when the drought and heat becomes untenable. As they try to escape from the water wars, climate change continues to increase in pace and the latest predictions are that our NZ population could be as high as 10 million by 2050 more than double that of 2016.
We live in exciting times and I am glad that I lived in greener times. I just worry about my grandchildren and more to come. It may still by a paradise compared to the rest of the world, but it isn’t what it used to be. I just hope that Kurzweil’s singularity doesn’t arrive because it is patently obvious that human beings threaten the viability of our planet and we are the most nonsensical of the animal species that still exist on this planet. The Moon Base still doesn’t feel like somewhere I’d want to live either. OK, I’ve had my soap box once again.
I’ll finish in the words of the Carole King some 60 years ago: And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late. Though we really did try to make it. Something inside has died and I can’t hide it. And I just can’t fake it. Oh, no no no no