Migrant finds a place to call home

Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
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Yvonne Cunningham joined New Plymouth migrants at Witt yesterday to celebrate the United Nations' International Migrants Day.

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Yvonne Cunningham has migrated four times in her life, but now calls New Plymouth home.

The New Zealand citizen shared her story with about 30 people from some of Taranaki's 57 migrant communities, at a luncheon marking International Migrants Day.

The event was put on by Settlement Support Taranaki, and held at the Western Institute of Technology Taranaki yesterday.

"Although we all come from different walks of life, and we have some similarities and differences, it's important to become part of our new communities.

"But it's also important to celebrate our own cultural roots and the things that are of value to us," Mrs Cunningham said.

She was born in Scotland and while young moved with her parents to Germany, London and South Africa. In 2001 she moved with her husband, and two children to New Zealand.

"My husband and I came for a two-week holiday and were blown away by New Zealand and its people," she said.

"We wanted a safe environment and to create opportunities for our children."

Mrs Cunningham studied counselling and drug and alcohol studies at the University of Auckland, and has now opened Future 4U - a counselling service in the New Plymouth CBD.

She said she had faced her fair share of challenges, including mastering the Afrikaans and German languages, and keeping in touch with family and friends, particularly before the internet.

However, she had also learned to adapt, and find her place in various communities. "I've taken different cultural components and made it my own identity."

After living in five countries Mrs Cunningham said New Zealand would be her home for the long haul. "I think I've done enough of this tiki-touring."

The United Nation's International Migrant Day will be officially celebrated tomorrow.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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