He met his wife and they moved back to New Zealand for a time before returning to Northern coastal Chilean city of Arica to open a hostel in 2001.
He has remained there since and been through many large earthquakes, but yesterday's quake was one of the strongest he had felt.
"It was about 90 kilometres south of us, it went on for about 45 seconds and yeah it was quite a good shake," he said.
"It was interesting, lots of things were breaking and falling down.
"But there was no structural damage as our house was built in 1958 to 1963 and was built very strong."
There was an older house about 500 metres from his which had been very badly damaged, he said.
"I would say there would be more [buildings] that had sustained damage as well, it's the older buildings in town that have suffered the damage."
He was not aware of any injuries in his town and said the response from the Chilean authorities and people was swift.
"The alarms went and then the police came round with sirens and the people all evacuated the low-lying areas.
"It's very well organised and it works well, it worked well last night."