New Zealand is a modern democratic country in which human rights are protected. It is illegal to discriminate on grounds such as gender, race, religion or ethnicity. Complaints about discrimination should be made to the Human Rights Commission
office listed in The White Pages.
Free help and advice
Citizens Advice Bureau
All major towns in New Zealand have a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
. These provide free information and assistance on matters such as the law, translation services, social welfare, health, education, housing, budgeting, employment rights, consumer rights and personal and family issues. The service is confidential and anyone can use it – you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen. Freephone: 0800 367 222 (0800 FOR CAB).
Community Law Centres
Community Law Centres offer free legal advice and information (but usually not on business problems or buying or selling houses). Look under 'C' in The White Pages
New Zealand has laws to protect you from misleading advertising, faulty goods, poor workmanship, unfair trading and other problems you might meet as a consumer. Help is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau. Always keep receipts, quotations and estimates, copies of agreements and other such documents, since these can help if a dispute arises. (See Business: Business Conduct.)
Daylight saving time
During summer, 'daylight saving time' applies – all clocks are put forward one hour on the first Sunday in October, and put back one hour on the third Sunday in March.
The power system in New Zealand is 240 volts, 50 cycles.
In New Zealand, you are allowed to do minor electrical repair work, such as changing fuses, replacing light bulbs, rewiring plugs and installing new oven elements. However, for safety and insurance reasons, registered electricians are required to do any other electrical work. Look in the Yellow Pages, under 'Electricians'.
The main telephone companies in New Zealand are Spark
and Vodafone. Pricing plans vary widely.
Most houses will have a telephone already installed. If not, one can be purchased from an electronic goods retailer or telephone company. Your telephone should be connected within two or three days of contacting a telephone company.
Telephone books are supplied free. Each major city has its own telephone book, and other areas are covered by provincial telephone books. The White Pages is listed in alphabetical order and the Yellow Pages lists contact details for businesses organised by the kinds of goods and services they sell. Both are available on the Internet.
There are two major providers of mobile phone services in New Zealand – Telecom
. Both companies offer a range of different phone brands and payment plans. These include pre-paid plans (where you pay-as-you-go) or a contract plan (where you pay a set monthly rental fee).
Earthquakes and other emergencies
New Zealand is not a dangerous country, but it is prone to earthquakes and you are likely to feel a few minor tremors each year. Although this is generally nothing to worry about, it is advisable to take a few simple precautions. For information on how to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies, look in the inside front or back cover of the Yellow Pages or visit the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency
Rubbish collection and recycling
When and how rubbish is collected from your home will depend on where you live, so talk to your neighbours or contact your local council for details.
Most city councils provide rubbish bags that can be bought from supermarkets. These must be left on the footpath outside the home for collection on a specific day each week. A small number of councils operate a bin system.
Most councils will not collect garden rubbish or large items. These should be taken to the local tip – a council-run refuse collection centre. Call your local council for information. Freight-container-sized rubbish skips can also be hired. Search for 'Rubbish Bin Hire' in the Yellow Pages.
Many councils operate Recycling Centres where paper, glass and plastic can be placed in special bins. These are usually located near schools or shopping centres.
If you live in a rural area, you are responsible for the disposal of your own rubbish.
Maintenance and home help
New Zealand families do not have full-time servants, gardeners or cooks, but a small number hire 'home help' – usually an individual who does their house cleaning for a few hours each week. More common is the hiring of 'handymen' or small 'odd job' contractors to mow lawns, maintain gardens and/or complete minor repairs. However, electrical, gas fitting and plumbing work must be done by registered tradesmen.
When you want someone to do some work for you, it is best to ascertain costs first. There are two ways of doing this:
Ask for a 'quote'. A quote is an offer to do a job for a certain price. If you accept the quote, the contractor has to do the work for that price, unless you agree to change it.
Ask for an 'estimate'. An estimate is a price the contractor thinks the work will cost. It is not a firm offer to do the job for that price. If you decide to use that particular contractor, make it clear that you want to be told – before work starts – if the final price is going to be higher than the estimate.
Ask for quotes and estimates in writing. For advice on charges, and on ways of making sure you get jobs done well, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, freephone: 0800 367 222 (0800 FOR CAB). You can also visit Consumers'
Institute of New Zealand.
Buying a car
Protection against mechanical faults
The AA (Automobile Association) can do a vehicle inspection to find any mechanical problems. Freephone: 0800 500 333. The fee is $95 for AA members and $120 for non-members.