Woman standing in public place, with speech bubble explaining about communication differences

Is it easy to settle in a new country?

All migrants go through a number of stages. 

The Settlement Curve

All migrants go through a number of stages as they get used to their life in a new country. It can take up to two years. The settlement curve diagram shows how your emotions may change as you start living in a new culture.

The Settlement Curve

The stages of settling in

You are likely to experience highs and lows 

Forethought - Do you and your partner have realistic expectations about living and working in New Zealand and understand that these settlement phases are normal?

Fun - You are excited about moving to a new life in a new country.

Fright - You might have a bad experience, large or small, that frightens you.

Flight - You are not sure if you want to stay and may decide to leave.

Fight - You fight against the bad feelings and decide to make the most of the opportunities here.

Fit - You start to feel settled and comfortable in your new life. Some people will feel settled sooner than others.

Tips for settling in

For more information about the stages of the settlement curve, and some tips and suggestions about making a smooth transition to life in New Zealand, check our 'Tips for settling in' section.

Get support from the people around you

  • Gather as much information as you can about your new job, New Zealand and the settlement process.
  • If you are here with others, show them the settlement curve and talk about it together.
  • Talk to workmates and friends and seek support during the low period - it can make all the difference.
An employer shows a migrant employee the controls of a tractor

Can my employer help with settlement?

Good employers will help you to succeed. 

Your employer should be aware that many newcomers have partners and families and will need time to organise the essentials for their new life in New Zealand when they arrive. Discuss this with your employer before starting your new job. 

The Workplace Settlement model

The Workplace Settlement model shows how settling in both at home and at work are part of a successful shift to a new culture.

Graphic of the Workplace Settlement Model (complex diagram showing stages of settling in a community)

Workplace Settlement model.


The Workplace Settlement Model uses two triangles to represent the overlapping priorities new migrants face in settling somewhere new - settling into the new job and settling into the community. 


The workplace triangle follows the steps a new migrant takes at work, starting as a new migrant employee, receiving training and support, integrating into work and becoming a High performer.


The community triangle follows the key steps for a new migrant in their personal life - finding employment and schooling for their partner and any children, and each of them integrating into their schools and their place of work, and becoming well settled.


The overlapping section holds the tasks that sit between work and personal such as getting a tax number, finding a home and transport, getting the power, phone and internet on, arranging bank accounts, a doctor, a dentist and other everyday tasks, which together contribute to the feeling of being settled in the community.


The workplace settlement model helps new migrant employees, their employers and their other staff to understand the wide range of things that contribute to successful settlement, and anticipate that while the newcomer will be trying hard to fit in quickly at work, they also have pressing priorities outside their job - and that to become a high performer they need to address the personal and community aspects of their new life at the same time. 

Your work colleagues can help

Talk to your employer, your work buddy or your new workmates about groups or clubs that you, your partner or your family can join.

Use their local knowledge and advice to help you integrate into your new community.

You can also check our tips for meeting people and find community networks in your area on our regional Community Services pages.

Meeting people

Our regions and cities

three engineers meet on-site, in safety gear

How will I fit into the New Zealand workplace?

The Kiwi work style is relaxed but professional

Different people value different things. These values affect how people think and act in the workplace. Everyone in the workplace can benefit from knowing a little about these differences so they can work better together.

Cultural value differences

This cultural value differences chart is adapted from the work of Geert Hofstede. Fiji and Sri Lanka are also in the top 12 countries but no data was available for these countries. 

Cultural values difference chart showing a country and associated status vs rules importance

Cultural values difference chart.


The cultural values difference chart maps attitudes to the importance of rules and the importance of status in 11 countries with high migration to New Zealand.


The importance of status rankings are approximately: Malaysia 100, Philippines 90, China 73, South America 62, India 58, South Korea 55, and South Africa 45. The UK, USA and Germany are all at 38, and New Zealand is at 20.


The importance of rules rankings are approximately: South Korea 83, South America 75, Germany 63, South Africa 48, Philippines 44, New Zealand, India and China 42, USA 32, UK and Malaysia 23.


Please note these figures are an interpretation of the chart and are not exact.

Note that New Zealanders place the lowest value on status compared to people from the top 12 countries that provide migrants to New Zealand. What does this mean for you in the New Zealand workplace?

It is important to note that not all people from one culture are the same.

Tips from successful migrants

Man standing in front of workplace with speech bubble talking about workmates liking to chat

I noticed that Kiwis like to have a chat before starting work. My workmates like to talk about sport- I've learnt a lot about rugby, and netball, since I got here!

Man standing with speech bubble talking about success and bragging

Kiwis don’t like people who brag so I’ve learnt to be careful how I talk about any successes and I always acknowledge the contribution my colleagues have made.

Woman in vineyard with speech bubble talking about socialising with workmates

In my company they often have drinks after work on Fridays. I don’t drink alcohol but I still go. It’s a good way to get to know my colleagues better and they always have orange juice!

Migrant workers on a farm quad bike with employers behind them

How different cultures like to be managed

Clear commands or suggestions and encouragement?

Knowing about the different work styles of Kiwis and other cultures can help new migrants when they first arrive.

Cultural differences in management style preferences

Chart showing cultural differences in management style by country

Chart showing cultural differences in management style.


This chart shows a bar chart which measures how much 10 countries like their work to be directed by their manager.


The results are: New Zealand 20% UK and Germany 34% USA 39% South Africa 44% South Korea 59% India 75% China 78% Philippines 92% Malaysia 100%


Please note these figures are an interpretation of the chart and are not exact.

Things people from different cultures say about how they work

These are some of the things that people from different cultures say about how they work.

Graphic with written examples of what different workers say about how they prefer to communicate in the workplace

What would you say about how you work?

Five office workers meet around a kanban board

How New Zealanders like to work

Here, everyone is on first name terms. 

Compared to workers from other countries, New Zealanders are more likely to:

  • make suggestions to their boss and talk to them in an informal way
  • expect everyone to be treated fairly
  • enjoy working without close supervision
  • be willing to do a range of tasks, not just those they were hired for.

What are you like compared to New Zealanders?

For more information and advice about settling into the New Zealand workplace, visit our section on our New Zealand way of working.

Our New Zealand way of working

Support in the workplace

Communicating in the New Zealand workplace


The New Zealand accent may be unfamiliar to you. New Zealanders often speak very fast and use a lot of informal language (slang). 

Ask them to slow down and explain any words you do not understand. You will soon find it much easier to follow what they are saying. 


If you have an unfamiliar accent when you speak English your new workmates may find it hard to understand you to begin with. If you speak fast, slow down and pause between sentences.

What about my English language skills?

If you do not feel confident when you speak English, or you need to improve your English reading and writing skills, talk to your employer about getting some help. 

Practise your English whenever you can

Look for opportunities to speak English - both at work and outside of work. The more you speak English the easier it will be for others to understand you.

Volunteering and local community classes are a good way to meet others, and to practise your English.


Two people in kitchen preparing food, with speech bubble talking about how cooking classes improved their English

Photo of a couple saying, "We enrolled in cooking classes one evening a week. We improved our English and made lots of new Kiwi friends!"

Check our English language section for tips on improving your English, and the learning English section of the regional pages for information about learning English in your area. 

English language

Our regions and cities

Cover image of 'Settling into NZ' document

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