reader report

Global reminders of NZ spark nostalgia

22:31, Jul 17 2014
mountain glacier at milford sound
THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT: Julian says he's reminded of iconic New Zealand landscapes, like Milford Sound, in unexpected places all over the world.

As a Kiwi/Brit in London I've followed the report How does New Zealand life compare to abroad? with interest because for me it's a question that has little relevance to people that are happy with their choices.

Many of the articles try to explain perceived deficiencies in New Zealand to explain choices made to live overseas. Work, pay, parochialism, opportunity, location, government or that beauty is only skin deep are constant themes. It's a shame as it feels that for many that have left New Zealand there is little positivity in the choices made.

Being a migrant is not easy. I've spent a lot of my life in the UK as my parents were born here and a fair bit in New Zealand having been born there. Life has led me to be here in London for now. Life will lead me to my wife's European country in the future. A place I'm at home in for its own characters and its reminders of New Zealand.

The first year of a move is hard every time. I know as I've moved countries six times in my life. Perhaps this pain in moving has coloured the reasons of the authors with negative memories for leaving New Zealand. A convenient blame for loss and pain, the self-doubt and sometime loneliness that moving to the other side of the world brings.

For me, New Zealand has some very happy memories and many things I miss. The smell of the air, the brightness of light, the easy friendships made and the get up and go, number 8 wire attitude. I'm sure there were some bad things too but nothing consequential to hold on to.

London and Europe satiate my sense of adventure, my curiosity of cultures and my now growing need to settle down while still having my senses tickled by different points of view and ways of living. My heart is here. But that is not to say I don't see bits of NZ now and then.


The view from the shore of Kotor is similar to Milford Sound. The silence on Lake Balaton reminds me of my childhood lake holidays on Taupo, complete with batches and uncatchable fish. The sip of a beer in Prague brings me to a sunny day at St Johns Bar in Wellington. The ski fields of Aosta Valley remind me of the peaks in Queenstown.

Compact New Zealand and the expanse of Europe have much in common, including the odd big, noisy city. My kiwi friends and I have often said the differences are not as wide as many would have you believe. The key difference is the Polynesian cultures imprinting their unique language and lifestyles, just as London benefits from a mash-up of the world's wanderers.

So my two cents - or 1p - for How does New Zealand life compare to abroad? is to say it's irrelevant. Blaming one place for being in another or seeking answers overseas when none were found at home is irrelevant. Your life is what you make of it and where that life ends up has everything to do with your own desires and little to do with your past surrounds.

When viewed with a bit of positivity, many will appreciate that there are only small differences between New Zealand, New Zealanders and most other places and people. That most places are unique and beautiful. That a beautiful bay can always be found, a majestic mountain strike you with awe or a moment's silence stolen in the biggest cities.

A better question would be to ask what you appreciate in where you live.