Expat pines for pure NZ utopia

Last updated 09:30 31/01/2013

HOME: New Zealand is "a nation of friendliness, respect, pride and support ... built on its relative isolation by trusting in one another and the land", Hanna Reynolds says.

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A Kiwi expat is no novelty. We're everywhere. In every corner of the globe, miles away from Pineapple Lumps, L&P, jandals and Mike McRoberts - there we are.

But what's changed is that I'm now one of them.

Living halfway around the world in the popular expat haunt of England after a year in Paris, New Zealand seems like a distant utopia. So many are blasphemous towards the 'clean, green' tagline attached to New Zealand, perhaps visitors or new residents are exasperated upon arrival to find no young girl riding whales, a lack of men in flax skirts holding spears in dense bush, or most shocking of all to the latest newcomers: no hobbits.

New Zealand doesn't look like it does in those ads. Neither does Richie McCaw. That's why it is an advertisement. Heck, you think London is all red buses, scones and royalty? That everyone in Paris wears a beret and stripes and rides a baguette-laden bike? It is merely the finest projection of a country's desired reflection, specifically devised by a hard working team, slogging away at their desks to create a unique point of interest to attract foreigners.

However, it is when you get on a plane in New Zealand and see the mountain ranges below disappearing out of sight, when the wide expanse of ocean morphs in to cloud and your journey to live in another country begins, that the true allure of the land of the Kiwi catches up.

In London, I often find myself wishing I could have a car without the perils of parking and the cost, paying simply to drive in the central areas. I wish I could live closer to the sea and further from pollution. I love living in London and there are certainly benefits that would never be possible if I was still in New Zealand, but I will always be thankful that I'm a Kiwi at heart and solemnly swear I will spend my future in New Zealand.

Kiwis are the friendliest people in the world. They will go out of their way to help you. They will (generalisations noted) always offer a smile, a hand, a Tui. We are by nature, easygoing people. We wear jandals in winter and no shoes in summer. Our postmen still wear Santa hats at Christmas. We are a country united in our outrage at  Marmaggedon, united by our love for Jaffas and our thick accent.

It is while overseas that those two small islands and the lifestyle, culture and people seem further away than anything. It is while overseas that wearing no shoes, tucking in to a mince pie and running through the sand to the freezing ocean is what makes the heart pine. There is an almost tangible easiness to living in New Zealand. Jokes of no electricity, no cars and no iPhones are cast on the country in vain, because if we are behind the times, it is splendidly so. People still offer help without being asked; a broken down car in the middle of nowhere is quickly remedied by the local farmer. If anything, the Christchurch earthquake showed just how helpful we are: stations of phone chargers, baking deliveries and students giving up their Xbox for a day to pick up a shovel.

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We are a country that has given birth to BoyWhale Rider, the Lord of the Rings films and Rhys Darby, but these things do not define us. We also welcomed Jake the Muss, Shortland Street and ghost chips, but don't hold us to that either. It is a nation of friendliness, respect, pride and support. It is a distant nation built on its relative isolation by trusting in one another and the land. It is New Zealand. It is but its own, a "clean, green, pure" home.

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