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Migrant Story

Hi again,

We are online! Dial-up for a couple of days ... but hey, better than nothing. Here comes Part 2, reading for those who have nothing better to do !

I was a bit rushed finishing Part 1 - pressure from hubby – and I don’t think I mentioned how really pleased we were to be in NZ. Even though we were tired we were still excited and thrilled at the scenery and different sights and sounds. In some way, it was all rather unreal … being in a country at the other side of the world when it also felt like ’home’. Difficult to express as my feelings as a ’ping pong pom’ were different to the rest of the family. Life goes on as far as kids are concerned – on that journey north they still argued, complained, dozed and asked for drink/food/toilet stops; one even threw-up. Never did we doubt whether we had done the right thing.

That first night was chilly. We had one radiator in the motel room – thank goodness for electric blankets. The next day we left the kids watching those dvds (at long last after plugging into the mains) and went into town to activate our ASB bank account. The manager wanted to see us personally so we made an appointment to go back later. We then drove down every single road in the area and visited every real estate agency for sections (plots) of land, houses and rentals. It became clear looking at what was available that it would be cheaper to buy a section and have a house built. Property is expensive here in Kerikeri – a small 4 bed house of any quality on a 2000 sq.metre (quarter acre) plot is usually between $500,000 and $650,000. The biggest drawback to this is having to live in a rental for a year. Rentals were thin on the ground. We looked at one rental and walked quickly away … nice view but damp, smelly and poorly fitted. Activating our account later was no problem and we were given a cheque book and EFTPOS card straight away and credit cards to follow. Must say the bank (well, this branch as I cannot comment on others) was far more pleasant than UK ones.

The next couple of days were spent looking at houses, sections and sorting out issues like car insurance, solicitors etc. We experienced our first shop at New World and were very pleasantly surprised at the range of foods on offer … it is going to take a while to sift through what is yummy and what is yucky. It was also pleasant to have our bags packed by friendly staff. Actually, I can say that everyone we have met have been friendly, the only exception being a car driver who put up the finger for some unknown transgression of ours. We also visited building company showhouses to look at their plans, finishes etc. and are certain one will be building our new house. For a little break we visited Paihia where we enjoyed a walk on the beach in nice sunshine with just a fleece on … can’t imagine that in the UK during winter!

On Monday we had made appointments to visit the kids’ schools. The high school here has a good reputation but, looking at the outside sitting areas, they obviously enjoyed food fights. I also had the urge to attack the place with a big brush and a tin of paint. The teachers we came into contact with seemed very nice though, and many of the kids very polite. As it was end of term at the end of the week, we had hoped to get the kids sorted out for 25th July or soon after when we hoped to have residency, however it was made clear that my daughter would have a student’s visa and be classed as an International student with fees paid up front. The problem with student visa’s is that the application is not the easiest to complete and a lot of questions are irrelevant unless you live in NZ. However, completing it in NZ is not a good solution as we are now told it will take 6-8weeks to get a visa. The school said they will take Fiona if we can prove we have applied … however, we will need her passport when we apply for our residency in about three weeks time – so it looks as if she will not be starting until then. The primary school for our two youngest, though again very friendly, were quite firm on the subject – no schooling unless we have a suitable permit to reside in NZ. I was told to homeschool until that time. My eldest will be going to a small private school and they were prepared to take him as long as we could guarantee residency within three weeks.

Thankfully on Tuesday we found a rental. It was advertised in the paper and the owner quite happy to rent to us considering we really did not have jobs. The house sounded too good to be true … five beds in a good area near schools, an acre with orange orchard – but yes, it exists and we arranged to move in on Thursday. An agreement was signed and we arranged a transfer of bond and four weeks’ rent ($380pw). Simple. We also put in an offer for a section of land – the offer was typed up at the real estate agency, we signed it, it was sent to the owner, he signs, and the deal is done when it is approved by our solicitor and a 10% deposit put down. Simple. There were one or two conditions – title, geotech report etc. but still quite simple. The weather at this time changed … it rained, and rained and rained; not drizzle, buckets of it non-stop for over two days. The creeks and rivers were swollen and looking rather hairy, there was some flooding and a bridge was partially swept away near Whangarei. There was not much the kids could do but stay put in the motel room or get wet. We sorted out plans with Sovereign Homes who will be building our house and sorted out issues like what their price includes, restrictions on the site etc. We also discovered the delights of The Warehouse – I would describe it as a large retail shop full of Argos-type products. It was really cheering, even though we had been warned that some items were crap. To give you an idea of prices, we looked around Kerikeri for a pair of trainers for daughter and had trouble breathing at the prices - $265!!! We did find a shop that sold a pair of $145 and snapped them up, however at The Warehouse they were selling were $29.95!!! We bought a car load of items ready for the move the next day – we were really really ready to get out of that motel room.

Continue to Part 3