Faces of Auckland: A home away from home
Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with more than a third of its citizens born overseas and boasting more than 200 nationalities living here.
Faces of Auckland is a series talking to those who have left all corners of the world to make their home here, reminding us why Auckland is so good.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
If you see Mark Fisher making a volcano out of mashed potatoes and scallion, he's not playing with his food.
Rather, he's trying to create a favourite Northern Ireland dish, Champ (or brúitín to those in the Irish-know). It's like a lump of mashed potato but in the form of a volcano and the crater is filled with melted butter.
Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with more than a third of its citizens born overseas and boasting more than 200 nationalities living here and Fisher is one of the 1500 Northern Irish here.
Meeting Stuff outside popular Auckland Irish Bar Danny Doolans, Fisher talks about the stereotypes of his Belfast hometown.
"Yeah, we like to drink. I wouldn't say we are any worse than Australia or New Zealand though. But if it comes up I'm happy to live up to our [Ireland's] reputation."
Despite being so far away from home Fisher says he was able to fit into Auckland culture easily. He started the Auckland Northern Ireland Supporters Club where football fans can "meet up and have a good craic" - basically, a good time.
"I have a different accent but I feel very at home here. This is probably the furthest country away from Northern Ireland geographically but in terms of culture and people it's very similar."
Guinness aside, New Zealand offers other comforts including similar country landscapes, a laid-back nature and friendly personality.
The historical ties between Northern Ireland and New Zealand brought Fisher here.
"John Ballance, the New Zealand Prime Minister from 1891 to 1893 was from Northern Ireland, historically there is a good link between the two places."
But there is one thing missing from the vibrancy and multi-cultural hub of Auckland: potatoes. Fisher misses the token food of Northern Ireland, particularly Champ and his favourite dish The Ulster Fry.
"It's a bit like a fried breakfast but with two additions of potato bread and soda bread, you can't get it here.
"A lot of our food - stuff like champ - is derived from potatoes. It's sort of our staple diet."
Is NZ tolerant of different cultures and are you able to express your cultural identify fully here?
The Northern Ireland cultural identity fits into Auckland quite well. I don't feel like a foreigner here. I know I have a different accent but I feel very at home. This is probably the furthest country away from Northern Ireland in terms of geography but the culture and people are very similar.
Have you ever travelled in NZ outside of Auckland and where to?
I haven't - I've only been here since March. I'm going on a three week trip on the 18thof July to the South Island. We will get to see Queenstown; everyone talks about it, that's apparently the place that everyone visits.
What is best about being an Aucklander?
The proximity to everything. It's all on my doorstep and I was able to go out and find a job in three days [working for the electoral commission]. It's not hard to meet friends.
If I was Auckland mayor I would...
I'd do more to promote culture. Maybe I'd have a multi-cultural festival of all different food and drink from around the world and dancing.
Do you watch rugby and do you support the All Blacks?
Not really, I'm more a football fan. But I know this is a rugby country and if it came down to it I'd have to support Ireland but any other team and I'd support the All Blacks.