Chasing dreams in Waimate

01:23, May 21 2014
WAIMATE: Census data shows an influx of migrants to the small town.

People from around the world are flocking to Waimate, chasing dreams of a rural lifestyle.

Latest census figures show there are 201 Asians now living in the district, up from 42 in 2006. There are also 36 people from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, up from six in 2006.

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley said he believed the region's dairy industry was the major drawcard.

Federated Farmers dairy sector chairman Ryan O'Sullivan said in many cases, overseas workers did not actively look for work once they arrived.

Instead, consultants often worked on behalf of employers looking for staff and employees looking for work, before they left their homeland.

He said many of those employees started out in the cowshed as farm assistants.


"It can be difficult to get locals, or Kiwis, to do some of the work that these migrants are happy to do," he said.

Pat and Ken Baker are among the many people who have made the move to Waimate. However it was the region's hunting and fishing that attracted them.

The couple moved to New Zealand from Britain in 1973. They moved to Waimate from Rangiora 12 years ago.

Pat admits living in Waimate took a bit of getting used to.

"I found it a little quiet for a while. It was like there was nobody here."

About two months later Pat discovered there was more to Waimate than meets the eye.

She joined an art group and later formed a newcomers' group. Today the group is known as Meet and Greet and acts as a social network for people from all walks of life.

Dutch, Australian and English migrants are among the people who make up the group, along with Kiwis, she said.

The Timaru Herald