A helping hand for Kiwis on their big OE

Clint Heine, the New Zealander living in London who has set up the Kiwis in London Facebook page.
Nicholas McBride

Clint Heine, the New Zealander living in London who has set up the Kiwis in London Facebook page.

If you are a New Zealander who has lived in London in the past five years, you'll probably know who Clint Heine is.

If the name doesn't sound familiar, his Facebook page Kiwis in London may ring a bell.

The former Nelson man administers the page, which has more than 66,000 members – beating his hometown by about 16,000 people.

"Two years ago it was on 30,000 members, so it kind of blew up."

Heine has been running the page for five years now, helping New Zealanders - and the odd Australian - find a job, a flat, and anything else to start anew.

"London is such an optimistic city – despite the weather – you can really become the person you want to be."

His efforts even saw him nominated for the United Kingdom New Zealander of the Year Award in 2015.

But the page had humble beginnings before the age of Facebook.

Clint Heine has helped thousands of Kiwis, and the odd Australian, find flats and jobs in London through his Facebook page.
Nicholas McBride

Clint Heine has helped thousands of Kiwis, and the odd Australian, find flats and jobs in London through his Facebook page.

"I was answering questions vaguely on the internet and it wasn't going anywhere."

Heine had been a careers advisor, but found it too bureaucratic.

"It was more ticking boxes and not helping people in the way that I wanted to."

He started out running the Facebook page for the London Waitangi Day celebrations.

He then set up the Kiwis in London page and gained a couple of thousand people on it inside a few months.

"It grew from there, once I put a couple of jobs and some flats on it."

He quickly found it taking up a lot of his time.

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"I was spending 10 hours a day on top of a fulltime job."

When he was made redundant from his job he decided to make the page his fulltime job.

"I decided 'let's do this'."

Just like those who use his page now, Heine was once a fresh-faced expat, having moved to London in 2003.

When he arrived he had a story similar to many others, starting out living on a floor, with no money.

He discovered the Kiwi fraternity was a welcoming one.

"When I came there were so many New Zealanders here, you know the cliche of not wanting to hang out with New Zealanders and Australians.

"But I decided to give it a go."

The page, and a companion chat page, has now become the staple for anyone moving to London, with it fielding questions on everything from visas, to bank accounts and travel.

But it was more than just an advice outlet, Heine said.

It has helped turn things around for those struggling or ready to give up on the city.

"The group just rallies around them so much and suddenly life is good," he said.

"There are so many stories of people finding flats on the page and it has just changed their direction.

"That is why Kiwis in London is here."

The weekly flat post is one of the most viewed aspects. 

"That came to me as an idea at 3am," Heine said.

Despite the uncertainty of a Brexit future, the influx has not diminished.

"If anything, more jobs came on my page."

And the page is only getting bigger, growing by about 400 people a week, according to Heine.

The Kiwis in London events have grown too; the first one in November 2012 brought along 80 people.

Christmas 2016 marked the 50th event, which hosted 1100 people.

Heine said the future of the group is expanding outside of Facebook with more events and adding to the Kiwis in London website, and jobs directory.

He has not ruled out a return to New Zealand in the future, but is happy with London life for now.

"I've got over missing the food, we can get ready supplies."

However he admitted he missed the weather, the relaxed attitude of Kiwis and his family. Though there is one he does not miss; "I don't miss the coffee because there are so many cafes run by New Zealanders and Australians."

 - Stuff

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