An international family

Migrant stories

After many years of moving around the world, settling in New Zealand has given a whole new quality of life as well as new careers to one English family.

The Newman family

Getting out and about and joining in with things has helped the family to feel part of the community

The year before last, Terry and Elaine Newman moved from the UK to Palmerston North with their two teenage sons, Jack (15) and (Joe) 18. The move represented changes on several fronts for the family. It was a time for them to settle in one place together and enjoy a pace of life not afforded to them before.

Terry was in the British Army, which meant the family was moving to a different country every couple of years. The children had to spend time in boarding school, and sometimes Terry had postings overseas without the rest of the family.

The decision to leave the army after 31 years gave new freedom to the family. They had reached a stage where they wanted to have more control over their lives, like choosing where to live and what to do.

“We’d always thought that we would settle somewhere overseas,” says Elaine. “We didn’t have one strong home town in the UK. I was born in Yorkshire, Terry’s from the Midlands, Joe was born in the south of England and Jack was born in Germany. Our extended family’s scattered all over the place as well.”

“This move was definitely going to be all or nothing. We had family discussions along the way, and if any of us didn’t want to do it, we would not have come.”

The family chose New Zealand for several reasons, including the fact that it provided great opportunities for Elaine to develop her career as a midwife.

It was while she was attending an international midwifery conference as a student in Scotland a couple of years ago that the appeal of New Zealand became apparent.

“There were midwives from all over the world, and I was really impressed by the enthusiasm of the New Zealand midwives,” says Elaine. “I came over here for two weeks in May 2008 as part of my course, and had interviews in Palmerston North and in Auckland. Auckland wasn’t right for us as it was too big and busy, so we chose Palmy.”

Terry almost moved to New Zealand as a child when his father’s best friend moved to Christchurch.

“My mum changed her mind at the last minute, and I always felt like I’d missed out so I’m pleased I finally made it out here” says Terry.

He has just started a new job outside of the military, as a civilian with the New Zealand police working in intelligence, which is what he used to do in the army.

The couple say Settlement Support, Career Services and Immigration NZ were really helpful and provided loads of ideas for things to do. They also helped with making CVs more NZ-friendly, especially making Terry’s military CV more civilian. The couple’s eldest son Joe has also started new work in New Zealand, as the move out here happened shortly after he left school.

“Settlement support were at the local library at that time, and were brilliant. They hooked Joe up with the Palmerston North Youth Council,” says Terry. “He now edits their website, and is on the planning committee for the new youth centre that’s being set up”.

Joe also works for Study Link as a processing officer. He got the job within a couple of weeks of arriving, after giving his CV to a few job agencies and getting interviews a week later. He’s now saving money to go to drama school and do a degree in performing arts management.

Jack, the youngest member of the family, made friends at school straight away. “You’d think he’d been here all his life now – we struggle to put a pair of shoes on him!” laughs his mum.

The family have quickly settled into their new life and are enjoying the novelty of being together permanently.

Just over a year ago, Terry was in Pakistan for six months without the family, which meant he missed Christmas, New Year, Jack’s birthday, Elaine’s birthday and their 20th wedding anniversary.

The biggest challenge has been buying a house, but the couple say they just had a run of bad luck. For various reasons it took them ten attempts before they were successful, but they know the system really well now and are happy with the house they finally got.

They enjoyed last Christmas together in their new home, and decided to have a traditional British Christmas with roast turkey. They plan on embracing the Kiwi-style barbeque this year.

They do find New Zealand to be very open and friendly. Elaine recounts the story of when they first arrived. She and the boys came a week ahead of Terry. “We’d just arrived in the country and were on the short flight from Auckland to Palmerston North. By the end of that one hour flight we had the name, contact details and invitation to dinner from the lady sitting next to us!” They took up the dinner invitation and it led to one of several invitations they received for Christmas dinner too.

Getting out and about and joining in with things has helped the family to feel part of the community. Terry now coaches the Manawatu under16 football team, and Jack helps him set up the training sessions.

The Newmans’ best tip for other new migrants is, “Get involved in the community, don’t sit back and wait for people to do things for you. Become part of your new country”.

“New Zealand is a land of opportunity, and as long as you do your preparation and research then there are a lot of opportunities,” says Terry. “It’s not a case of getting off the plane and finding the streets are paved with gold. Do your homework first and make sure it is the right move for you.”

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