The place they call home
I remember when I went to the supermarket for the first time. I was buying stuff and then the lady asked me, "How is your day going?" Then I said, "Why is she asking me that? People don't ask that."
Hi, I am Marcel Ferriera. I'm originally from Brazil. I currently live in Christchurch and I am a Software Engineer.
I first thought about New Zealand when I was looking for a place where English was the main language and myself and my wife could work and we could stay. We could make the place our home.
We chose New Zealand because of all the other options that we had, and New Zealand was still the best one.
I thought New Zealand was only about the Lord of the Rings and sports, because that's what people talk about when they hear New Zealand for the first time.
I did not know New Zealand had this amazing city as Christchurch is. Which I love very much.
We have been in Christchurch for four years. It was the best four years of our lives because, first, it was not boring at all.
[Nathalie now speaks]
To find a job in New Zealand, was just a little bit hard in the beginning. But I think I was lucky because Marcel was working for Farmlands and he was like, "Oh I think one of the managers is looking for someone; you should give him a call." So that's what I did, and then I got the job.
[Nathalie's boss now speaks]
Nathalie was already in the country when I met her, Nathalie applied for the role, and immediately I was very impressed and very eager to learn. And, she just wanted to work very, very hard, which she has.
The main thing for me is the lifestyle. We are a young couple. We've been together for ten years, but we have plans to grow a family, you know. I had a dream to have our own house. All these things connected and together it just made perfect sense for what we want to do with our lives.
New Zealand was a good choice because it's safe and is relatively small, like you have the good things of a city, but you don't have the problems of a city.
Living in Pegasus is nice, is good. I like it because in the suburb is not noisy. It is close to the mountains. There is a beach, there is a lake, you have a little bit of everything.
Some people think Pegasus is far but it's not really far, it's about 20-something km from the city, half an hour driving. With massive traffic, you would take 45 minutes, which is not bad at all.
There is a very good IT market here. There are lots of companies who want to implement new systems. Everybody wants to go to the cloud.
I work with Australians and US all the time, and I can be here in New Zealand.
So there are plenty of space for IT professionals, infrastructure and programmers.
They really care here in New Zealand about the life/work balance.
So this is Turing. His name is after Alan Turing, which is a British mathematician. He was kind of responsible for the end of World War II. He broke the Enigma machine. That's why we have computers, and that's why he's called Alan Turing because he's quite a clever dog.
In the afternoon, we always go for a walk with Turing, and we started talking about life and I've caught myself many times, looking at him and saying, "look at what we've got, you know." And it's just amazing and I'm really glad that we managed to get here.
Before I came to New Zealand, I did a quick research about Christchurch and at first glance, I was scared because of the 2011 earthquake. It was very shocking, I was really worried.
We never actually had experienced an earthquake before, so I called a friend who was a Professor in the Christchurch university. He explained everything about the earthquakes and then I decided to give it a chance. I'm good. I'm okay.
I was kind of hoping to have my first earthquake to see if we're gonna stay or not, because of this actually. It was quite interesting, yeah.
The hardest thing about living in New Zealand is, once you leave the country, you are on your own, so it's hard to make friends. But this is not just New Zealand, anywhere you go. I have to be fair if I compare New Zealand to any other country where I have been, New Zealand was the most easy.
We always enjoy music. I play guitar, piano and I sing as well. It's really nice to be in New Zealand because, people, they really have a good time.
If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand, what I would suggest is research. Go to the Immigration site, they have very good information. It is hard but it is worth it. You should do it.
Honestly, if you have a kid or not like we don't if you're a young couple or not, I think it's a great place to live or build a family, or if you just have a dog like we have, it's a great place.
We have no regrets at all.
I have everything I was looking for.
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."