Where city and nature meet
Wellington is an ideal place to work and play for Latvian couple Lelde and Janis.
If we compare Latvia and New Zealand
Oh! - Cicada ! (Locust)
Hi - my name is Janis, and I am originally from Latvia and now I live in Wellington New Zealand.
I came to New Zealand together with my partner, Lelde.
It was our mutual decision that we both wanted this overseas experience.
We first thought about moving to New Zealand because
we realised that we wanted
a new adventure in our lives
and New Zealand was our top option,
because, actually, there is nothing scary that's
runs around you and tries to kill you
like in other countries.
So you are pretty safe here, except for one thing:
there's the earthquakes but it's
something that you can't really change
and you just learn to prepare for them.
Once we arrived here in New Zealand,
we were starting to look around for different opportunities.
There was this wonderful government initiative that was a three months programme
where people can
come in from the private sector
to try to solve these challenges New Zealand
When the programme ended, the Crown gifted IP
to the entrepreneurs who
participated and it provided us with
opportunity to carry on with our
and so after that we started the Bosspac.
We had some conversations with the local innovation Hub - Creative HQ.
and they decided to accept us
in their incubation programme.
They provide the mentor support and office space and business advice,
which is really important for companies like Bosspac.
It took us a while to build the product into a working solution
- so it's
been amazing actually to be part of Creative HQ community.
Lelde and Janis are amazingly resilient entrepreneurs.
They bootstrapped all the way along to make something work for New Zealand
and bring all their experience into this market - it's quite, quite amazing.
Latvians are always very hard-working people and that's just in our nature.
At the same time, we love nature and really love to go out for walks.
We live in tiny apartment in Mt.Victoria that is really close to the city centre.
It's quite central.
Everything is in a walkable distance.
There is a beautiful bush walk up to Mount Victoria
you can go up north Victoria and see beautiful scenery.
The views from the
Mount Victoria lookout are amazing,
because you can see everything - you can
see the airport, you can see the surfers' beach,
you can see the city, you can see
We try to keep ourselves physically fit
just either going up Mount
Victoria or just go for a quick run
or go to the Lyall Bay - it's just very close
Another thing that I really enjoy about living in Wellington
is that there are different markets, especially on the weekends.
At the water fountain there is food market and you cango and buy fresh veggies and foods,
is amazing if you like cooking at home.
Sunday market is quite similar to
the regular market which is in the city centre of Riga, capital of Latvia
but it just happens once a week.
So you go there, you select
your fruit and go home.
I've been living here already in New Zealand for soon it's
going to be four years.
What advice I can give you is: just plan ahead.
I would really encourage you to start thinking about it now.
So if you are someone
considering coming to New Zealand,
I highly recommend you not to delay
because you might regret not coming here earlier.
When Lelde Kukle first went into New Zealand shops, she found the shopkeepers a bit strange.
“They would say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ It was a bit of a shock. I didn’t know why a stranger was asking me such a question. And then I realised that it is common in New Zealand. People are really friendly and helpful here. They exchange smiles in the street; that really helps to make your day better.”
Lelde moved to New Zealand with her partner Janis (John) Purmalis from Latvia in 2015. John says they wanted to live overseas in an English-speaking country and the friendliness of New Zealanders was one of the reasons they moved here.
The couple have been residents in New Zealand for over three years, and now call the windy capital city Wellington their home. They live in an apartment in Mount Victoria, a hill suburb on the edge of the city with a 200m-high lookout over Wellington.
John wanted to live in the city, while Lelde prefers being close to nature. Living in Mt Victoria means they both get their way.
Lelde and John often walk or run along tracks and through bush to the lookout after work. “You can go up to the lookout and enjoy beautiful sunsets,” Lelde says. “In the morning it only takes 20 minutes to walk into the city to work.”
The couple also boogie-board in nearby Lyall Bay, or can walk 15 minutes to Oriental Bay for a swim in the sea.
John says they love hiking in Wellington and the rest of the country. “After 40 minutes of driving, we can be in a different part of the country. If you have a long weekend you can get to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (in the central North Island). That is probably one of the most beautiful walks in the world.”
Lelde says New Zealand appealed because it has beautiful nature but no dangerous animals. “You can go hiking here and there is nothing that will kill you or bite you, except there are birds like kaka that might fly onto your head.”
New Zealand still has its dangers though, such as earthquakes.
The couple felt the very large earthquake that hit Kaikoura, a town on the upper east coast of the South Island, in 2016. “We were about to go to bed and then the shaking started. We hid under the bed and it probably took a minute until it was finished. That was scary.”
But, she says, New Zealand does a good job helping people prepare for earthquakes.
John was confident his qualifications, particularly his computer science degree, would make it easy to find a job in Wellington, and he was right.
Being very organised helped too, as John and Lelde were both able to get Silver Fern job search visas. New Zealand offers a small number of these visas each year, allowing immigrants to travel to New Zealand and look for a skilled job.
John soon got a job as a software developer in Wellington and they were able to apply for residents’ visas.
In 2017, John and Lelde joined a government accelerator programme that challenged participants to come up with solutions for government problems. They developed a software platform called Bosspac that helps small business owners manage their income, expenses and tax payments in an easy way.
John and Lelde decided to quit their jobs and launch Bosspac as a business. After successfully finishing the accelerator programme, they were accepted into Wellington’s business incubator, Creative HQ, which helps new businesses grow by providing office space, mentors, workshops and advice.
Lelde, who has a business and economics degree, says they have both picked up contract work on the side, so they can pay for Bosspac’s development themselves.
She is working as a business analyst for a retirement village operator in Wellington, while John is working as a technical architect for the Ministry of Education.
John says the hardest thing about living in New Zealand is being away from their families and friends, but they use Skype to talk regularly with them. Working as contractors also allows them to take extended time off between contracts to visit family and travel.
Housing is expensive in New Zealand, and not as well insulated as European housing, Lelde says. “Even though winters are warmer here, it still might be cold in your apartment or house.”
Food is roughly twice as expensive in New Zealand as it is in Latvia, but wages here are higher so it is reasonable, she says.
The couple love the variety of food, cafes and restaurants in Wellington. They enjoy cooking and often go to the Sunday fruit and vegetable market on the waterfront, John says.
“We used to live in a place in Wellington where they had mandarin, lemon and feijoa trees. In Latvia, we do not have exotic fruits. It was so amazing to go out and pick my own lemon from a tree and it tasted so good.”
The pair say they have made good friends in Wellington – but that took some time and effort. They joined groups to meet New Zealanders, including photography and leisure groups.
New Zealand has been home for four years now but it still surprises them, John says.
“Last Christmas we travelled around the South Island and some of the places, like the Punakaiki Rocks, were so beautiful they left us speechless.”