Kiwi Life: From New York to Wellington

Dan Laufer is pictured hiking near Mount Cook in the South Island.
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Dan Laufer is pictured hiking near Mount Cook in the South Island.

New York native Dan Laufer is impressed by all of the cultural activities on offer in the capital.

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Where are you from?
I was born in New York City.

Laufer is the head of the School of Marketing and International Business at Victoria University.
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Laufer is the head of the School of Marketing and International Business at Victoria University.

What inspired your move, and how long have you been here? 
Victoria University was looking for an associate professor of marketing in 2011. My research collaborator is from New Zealand, and he highly recommended both Wellington and the Victoria Business School. In addition, my younger brother worked in Wellington for a year as a policy analyst after he finished his master's degree in the USA, and he enjoyed living in the city. I received an offer from the university at the end of 2011, and I moved to Wellington in April 2012.

What do you do here? 
Since the beginning of 2014, I've been the head of the School of Marketing and International Business at the Victoria Business School, a group of over 20 academic and administrative staff. The role involves managing people in the school, as well as overseeing the teaching and research programmes. A highlight of the role was successfully organising a high-profile Global Political Marketing and Management conference with presenters from both government and academia. This included presentations by Finance Minister Bill English and the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown, as well as well-known researchers from around the world.

What surprised you most when you first arrived?
I was very impressed by the wide range of cultural activities in Wellington. Despite being a small city, it has an amazing number of activities happening all the time. High quality festivals, museum exhibitions and theatre productions take place year-round.

Wellington is small but has a lot to offer, says Laufer.
LUKE APPLEBY/Fairfax NZ

Wellington is small but has a lot to offer, says Laufer.

What are the greatest advantages to living here?
The natural beauty of Wellington, and the compact size of the city. The harbour is amazing, and I enjoy exercising on Oriental Bay before work. I also enjoy walking to work from my apartment. Everything in Wellington is within walking distance, so there is no need for a car.

Disadvantages? 
The distance from the USA and Europe. Flight times are very long which makes it difficult to visit friends and family.

How expensive do you find it compared to back home? 
When compared to the USA, the cost of living in Wellington is relatively high. However, it is well worth it when you take into consideration the excellent quality of life in the city.

Laufer is a fan of Wellington's Circa Theatre.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Laufer is a fan of Wellington's Circa Theatre.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love travelling around New Zealand. I also enjoy taking advantage of the cultural events in Wellington. Te Papa has very good exhibitions, and I also enjoy the various festivals throughout the year.

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What are your favourite NZ foods? 
My favourite New Zealand foods are lamb, white wine, and hokey pokey ice cream.

How do you get around? 
I walk.

How do you find the shopping?
There is no place in the world like New York when it comes to shopping, so there are far fewer options in Wellington. However, this doesn't pose a problem. If I need something I can't find in Wellington, I wait until I go on an overseas trip.

Favourite after-dark activity?
I like going to the theatre. Circa Theatre, which is near my apartment, has very good plays.

What are the top three things you recommend for visitors? 
1. Zealandia - an amazing nature reserve where you can see kiwis at night, as well as a lot of other types of native New Zealand birds.
2. Te Papa - a world-class museum with the best in New Zealand art, as well as outstanding exhibitions from around the world.
3. Oriental Bay - a beautiful way to walk around the city, and enjoy the beautiful harbour.

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?
The cultural scene in New York City. Even though Wellington has a lot to offer for its size, there is no place like New York!

How easy is it for you to go home?
New York City is very far, over 20 hours from Wellington.

If you could change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be?
Increase the number of international flights into Wellington. New Zealand needs to increase its efforts to further develop areas outside of Auckland, including the capital.

  • If you know an expat who has made New Zealand their home, email travel@stuff.co.nz with Kiwi Life in the subject line.

 - Stuff

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