The place they call home

The place they call home

After trialling life in several different countries, Brazilians Marcel and Nathalie Ferreira have chosen to settle down in Pegasus, just outside of Christchurch. 

Highly skilled IT people such as Marcel Ferreira are in demand around the world. For Brazilian-born Marcel and his wife Nathalie, New Zealand's lifestyle lured them to settle here instead of other countries. 

"You can go to the mountains, you can hike and do sports, and you still have the good things of a city: cinema, theatre, events and bands. That's the best part of New Zealand, I would say," Marcel explains. 

I grew up in small apartments in Sao Paolo, so to live in here in a house is a massive difference. Another thing that I really love here is the night sky: in Tekapo, which has the Mt John Observatory, you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If you grow up in a city, you never ever see the Milky Way, and here I could see it."  

Marcel works as a Technical Product Manager for DXC Technology, an international IT services company. The company originally wanted him to live in Melbourne, but Nathalie knew they would be happier in New Zealand. DXC Technology is a very global company, so it is easy for Marcel to his programming and software work from their new Christchurch base. 

The idea of coming here occurred to Nathalie when they were living in Malta. They had left Brazil in 2013 so Marcel could gain an international experience, and to escape the crime in Sao Paolo. Nathalie was on a partner visa and unable to work there. 

"I was sitting in a small flat in Malta, with a view to the Mediterranean sea - which was pretty, but I'm not into the hot and humid weather there - and thinking, 'Where could we find a place to go to?'" she says. 

Australia, Canada, and New Zealand were all options. New Zealand won because they decided it was best to raise children, which they plan to do. Marcel had job offers with work-to-residence visas from companies in Auckland and Christchurch, and Nathalie did not hesitate before recommending Christchurch.

The couple arrived in 2014, but there was still upheaval to come. Soon after becoming residents, Marcel decided he needed to move back to Europe for professional reasons. However, after two months, they realised the best place for them was New Zealand, Marcel says. 

"Even in New Zealand, there is a very good IT market. There are lots of companies that want to implement new systems, and everybody wants to shift to the cloud. So there are plenty of spaces for IT professionals, infrastructure and programmers," he says. 

"One thing about the market in New Zealand is people have to trust you, so you have to make connections. It's sometimes hard to get the first opportunity, but once you get it you make friends and business partners for life. If you do a good job in one company, it will be really easy to get more opportunities. And they really care here about the work-life balance. 

Nathalie works for Farmlands Co-operative as a procurement manager, negotiating with businesses to set up deals for the farmers who belong to the society. She and Marcel live in the new settlement of Pegasus, where they bought a house earlier this year. The 30-kilometre commute is very easy, she adds. 

"If we leave around - what time? - it takes about 30 minutes to go to the city, which is not much. With traffic it might take about 40 minutes, but if you are from a big city like we are - Sao Paolo has 11 million people and massive traffic jams - Christchurch is like paradise," she says. 

They drive an electric car, to do their bit towards caring for New Zealand's environment. First they used Yoogo Share to trial an electric car, and now they have a Nissan Leaf. They drive approximately 80 kilometres a day, and Marcel says it only uses up half of the car's battery. 

Building a new community 

A lot of people new to New Zealand also live in Pegasus. Marcel says Kiwis, Germans, South Africans, Italians, and English people live in their block.

"Our neighbours are Italian, so we eat together, and we drink a very good pinot noir from Central Otago, which is my favourite wine," he says. 

It is difficult being far away from family and friends, adds Marcel, especially because it is not easy to get to know Kiwis on a deeper level, even though they are very friendly. 

"I find out by experience that the best way to make good friends with Kiwis is to make them understand you want to stay. Once they see someone from outside who wants to stay here and be part of the community, they will be part of your life." 

Nathalie agrees. "Because this is a very small country, people grow up together, they go to the same college, the same workplaces, and they are part of a community that's already very mature and close," she explains. 

"There are a lot of immigrants here, so it quite easy to find others who are going through the same experience. So I know lots of Kiwis, and I love them very much, but I know a lot of English, German, and Indian people too. I have a variety of friends and colleagues that I would never have in Brazil." 

Certain cultural differences are obvious. Marcel sees people walking barefoot in the shopping malls; when he asked one person why, she replied, "Why not?" Lunch in Brazil is "like a party", he says, where everyone gets together for 1-1.5 hours; here, some people eat lunch at their desk. 

Marcel used to play guitar and piano in Brazil, at weddings and parties. He has just joined a band called Mama Rock, which plays covers (songs by other artists), and has also a YouTube channel where he plays and sings songs by the band Queen. His very curly hair and facial features make him look very similar to Queen lead guitarist Brian May.

"I was on Brian May's website once! I like music but I do not want it to be a profession. It's just about having a good time, playing with friends and meeting new friends." 

In the afternoons, they like to take their dog Turing (named after British mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing) for a walk around Pegasus. Nathalie says she often realises then how good their life is. 

"Many times I say, 'Look what we have got. It's amazing. I would never have thought in my life that we would be able to have this.' I'm really glad we have managed to get here." 

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