AS I SEE IT : Danica Aitken

• New Zealand product marketing manager for entertainment & devices at Microsoft
• Represented New Zealand in sports aerobics with her triplet sisters and secured 10 national titles
• 25 years old

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
The New Zealand identity is diverse and always changing. It is very difficult to tie it down to being one thing in particular, as essentially this is question that has fairly personal answer. New Zealand has fairly short history yet has very strong cultural origin, with very strong mix of influences over the years from various migrant groups. My father’s parents came here from England and Scotland and he grew up in Taumaranui, whilst my mother came here at an early age from Samoa. I was born in New Zealand and I identify myself very strongly as New Zealander despite my cultural heritage. One of the beauties of New Zealand’s identity is that in recent times it has become diverse multicultural community where many cultures and backgrounds all blend to become our identity today.

What will be our next major challenge?
I believe our next major challenge will be that there will be large skill shortage in the future. We will all begin to over-work ourselves as the cost of living in New Zealand is increasing at rate much higher than incomes are increasing. It is becoming increasingly difficult for first time buyers to purchase their own houses and I see this situation only getting worse. We are all consequently being forced to work harder and longer hours in order to afford comparative lifestyle to the ones our parents used to live. This has other negative effects including the fact that our quality of life will decrease and those with children will have less time to spend with them.

What do we need to do to prepare ourselves for this?
I think this is very difficult challenge to address because of the values we seem to hold in society today. We live in capitalist society, in material world, where personal expenses and commodities that weren’t around in our parents’ day, such as cell phone bills, personal laptops, digital music players, LCD TVs, trans-Tasman travel, all come as fairly standard. These extra costs, along with increasing interest rates and high property prices make it fairly expensive world to live in. Working at
Microsoft, it has very strong policy around work life balance and we are constantly encouraged to get this balance right – this is great because it allows lot more flexibility in the way we live our lives. question I think we all need to ask ourselves is, “Are we working to live, or are we living to work?”.

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