From skiing to surfing

Migrant stories

When Lindsey Shaw fell in love with her workmate at an outdoor equipment store in Vancouver, little did she know that she would end up changing her lifestyle as well as her country.

"I would definitely recommend that people who are new to New Zealand look into where they want to live based on their lifestyle "

Lindsey Shaw

The man she fell in love with is now her New Zealand husband and they live in Waitakere in West Auckland.

Lindsey says, “Before we moved here, I’d never even visited New Zealand so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Now I live here, I think the Kiwi culture is kind of similar to the Canadian. If I was going to compare, I’d say the Australian culture is more like the USA, and New Zealand more like Canada because it’s more low key and the people are more humble.”

When Lindsey and her husband to be first met, he was on a few years’ break from being a police officer and had taken leave to travel. So he always planned to return home to New Zealand one day.

He was born in Christchurch, but the family moved to Auckland when he was 13, and have been there ever since. So now he is back with the Police and stationed in Auckland, it means the couple are able to be near his family.

“My husband’s family has made it easier for me to settle in here- they have been very welcoming. 

“My husband’s family has made it easier for me to settle in here,” says Lindsey. “They have been very welcoming. And as practising Christians we also found the Church was a huge help when we first arrived. It was amazing; introducing us to people and just helping us get sorted, lending us stuff that we didn’t have.”

With her husband returning to the police force, one of the first things Lindsey had to do was find work for herself. She says she found this incredibly easy.

“The job market is a lot less competitive than in North America. Having a university degree helps. A lot of New Zealanders fly the nest so there’s a lot of jobs for educated people around our age. When I first got here we weren’t married and I was on a working holiday visa. I found my first job by looking on www.seek.co.nz. I was working as the manager of a retail store called MacPac – kind of similar to what I was doing in Canada.”

“After a while I decided I was ready for something more challenging and I got a job with Cambridge Clothing, which sells men’s suits and casual wear. I’m their CAD and production co-ordinator (CAD stands for computer-aided design). I work on the pattern making for factories and I plan and organise all the factory production.” Lindsey is lucky enough to get back to Canada to see her loved ones at least once a year so far, but she also managed to lure them here for a visit – by getting married.

“We only had a small wedding but people came over from Canada. We got married at Lake Tekapo so they got to see a beautiful part of the South Island too.”

In fact Lindsey says that getting around and seeing as much of New Zealand as possible is her best advice to new migrants. “New Zealand is such a diverse country. Even though it’s tiny compared to Canada, there is a huge breadth of difference between the different areas, landscapes and lifestyles. For example: you’ve got the North Island versus the South Island; and Auckland versus Dunedin.

“I would definitely recommend that people who are new to New Zealand look into where they want to live based on their lifestyle. Even the people are different – for instance, I’ve found people from Christchurch are quite different to Aucklanders.”

Since we got here, I have picked up surfing and I love it! It’s amazing, and it’s something we can’t really do as Canadians. I think it’s absolutely incredible

.

Lindsey Shaw

Lindsey says, “The different parts of New Zealand offer such different things to immigrants. My advice would be: ask yourself what you want out of New Zealand, what you are looking for, and then settle in a place based on that. There is opportunity in lots of places – it just depends the lifestyle you want.”

The Shaws are an outdoor couple so, while Auckland offers many opportunities, they don’t see it as their ideal match. “I should really be in Queenstown or somewhere down south, but Andy is stationed here at Henderson and it’s quite difficult for him to transfer,” says Lindsey. “Auckland is like our Toronto – a really big sprawl and tons of places to have coffee, but that’s about it!”

However, Lindsey has learned to adapt and make the most of her present surroundings. A girl who grew up on the lakes in Canada has found herself a new passion. “My favourite outdoor activity is skiing but, since we got here, I have picked up surfing and I love it! It’s amazing, and it’s something we can’t really do as Canadians. I think it’s absolutely incredible.”

As well as Waitakere’s surfing hub of Piha, the beaches both north and south of Auckland always promise good waves somewhere, offering a whole new world of outdoor fun and adventure for this water baby.

And that’s where you’ll find Lindsey most weekends – with a big grin on her face.

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