Faces of Auckland: A move to safety

17:00, Aug 18 2014
Baba Dole
FROM SRI LANKA: Baba Dole made a tough decision to leave his extended family and friends behind in Sri Lanka and moved to New Zealand in 2006 with his wife and two daughters.

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.


Baba Dole made the tough decision to leave Sri Lanka for New Zealand because of an ongoing civil war but has no regrets about making the move.

Dole left his family, friends and job behind, migrating to New Zealand in 2006 with his wife and two daughters.

He said it was difficult for the family to up and leave everything that was familiar to them for a foreign country.

''We didn't know anyone in New Zealand, just one friend at the time.''

Although Dole had a great career and was living a comfortable life in Sri Lanka, he and his family decided to move to New Zealand for safety reasons.

''We had a war going on for 30 years and we thought it would never end,'' he said.

The family weighed up the options and travelled to New Zealand before visiting Sydney to see which country they would prefer to live in.

''We stayed a while in Sydney and felt New Zealand was more suited to us.''

Dole's daughters were teenagers when they moved and initially struggled leaving their friends back in Sri Lanka.

But once they attended Auckland University they made good friends and started to enjoy being in New Zealand.

''It was difficult for them to adjust to begin with,'' he said.

''I studied in the US so I knew the feeling of leaving your country but my wife and children were not used to that.''

Dole now lives in Avondale and loves the sense of community that it offers.

''We have been citizens for the last six years now and love it, this is our home.''

He said one of his daughters is now married.

''She met him in Sri Lanka and he came out five times to New Zealand.

''Once he finished his masters in the UK he moved here to be with her.''

Dole said initially he had to take a step back in terms of his work in sales but the overall outcome has been very beneficial.

''You have to give something away to gain something,'' he said.

''My children will be alright, they both have good jobs but for us it has been difficult to begin with but in life you need to be content and I am content.''

Dole said he has been back to Sri Lanka four times since the move to New Zealand.

Sri Lanka is like his second home, despite all his family being there.

He said an extra benefit of living in Auckland is the large variety of foreign foods for sale at supermarkets and specialty stores.


Is New Zealand tolerant of different cultures and are you able to express your cultural identity fully here?

Definitely, I am a Muslim but what I believe is if you live in a country that enables you to pray freely to a god it is very tolerable and there are so many mosques around New Zealand. Here we have Muslims, Christians and Buddhists to name a few and everyone respects each other.

Have you ever travelled in New Zealand outside of Auckland and where to?

I have travelled to Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin and Kaitaia among other places. I have not been to Invercargill and would love to go now that my friend has got a job and moved there.

What is best about being an Aucklander?

I think it's the people they are so friendly. We have met people from all over the world from the US, France, Spain, the Middle East, South Asia, China, Japan, Turkey, we have people from all countries here in New Zealand.

If I was Auckland mayor I would...?

I would certainly improve the transport system because it takes me one hour to get home from work. When I first came it flowed and now it doesn't. Our parks our beautiful though everything is good but the roads.

Do you watch rugby and do you support the All Blacks?

Oh yes I do. All Blacks they are the best, they are unbeatable, they have a class that cannot be matched and I hope one day the Black Caps can be number one in the world too.