Archive for the ‘Emigrating’ Category

Welcome, listeners of Four Seas One Family.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

If you have landed here after listening to the 4S1F25 Jon Dunning: Consciously Contribute episode of James Thomas’ podcast, welcome!

Tucked away in posts on this blog, you will find many more stories about our emigration experience – leaving London, finding work, settling on the other side of the world – most of them under the ‘Emigrating’ category.

Dad's Diary from New Zealand Pocket Radio

If you’re looking for ‘Dad’s Diary, my first podcast series, head over to the New Zealand Pocket Radio website, where you’ll find ten episodes on family, ranging from adopting kittens to being involved in the London terrorist bombings of 2005.

Thanks for dropping by.

The Haves and Have Nots

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Consultants © imperator fish

* Average taken from figures from 2008-2009 to 2010-2011 financial years. Source 

** Child Poverty Action Group’s estimate of annual cost to provide breakfasts for the poorest 30% of primary and intermediate schools ($18.9 million)  Source 

Wandering through my Twitter feed, I came across Scott Yorke’s tweet about his latest post at Imperator Fish which contains the chart above.

While I know, like and respect some of the consultants with whom I have worked in my time in New Zealand, these figures only increase my concern about the real costs of the culture of consultation that exists today and raises more questions about who benefits from the same.

Acknowledging that one infographic can never tell the full story and recognising the private sector can spend money however shareholders will allow, I would guess that the true cost/benefit of, and the tangible return on, public sector consultation would be almost impossible to calculate without employing yet more consultants.

On the other hand, the cost of poverty – whether first hand for those in its grasp or the consequential impacts elsewhere in the economy has been diligently recorded in the quarterly Vulnerability Report from The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) since it was first published three years ago. It makes for sobering and occasionally harrowing reading.

As a former public sector social responsibility manager, I know that there are no easy answers to child poverty and the associated health implications or to addressing the cyclic issues that keep families in poverty and debt. As a citizen who immigrated seven years ago to give his own four kids a better start in life, it troubles me that many in this country are unable to do the same and seem to have little hope of ever doing so.

That the government seem to diminish, marginalise, or worse blithely ignore the issue is unconscionable.

The last piece of paper

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Five years, four months and 25 days ago, I wrote a post entitled Two pieces of paper, in which I celebrated our family being granted returning residency in New Zealand.


Today, we each received a letter (above) requesting we attend a ceremony next month at Auckland Town Hall.  There, with just a twist of irony, we will swear allegiance to the Queen of the country we left six years ago and, by doing so, become citizens of New Zealand.

We are ‘encouraged to wear the national dress of [our] country of origin’ and I am currently favouring a curry and beer-stained England football shirt over a three piece suit and bowler hat.

Rooney Citygent

Needless to say, we are chuffed to bits and look forward to the day when, 38 months after arriving in New Zealand ‘fresh off the boat’ as they say here, we can, with hand on heart call ourselves Kiwis.

Non-Feathered Friend

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Catching up on my blog reading, I clicked through Dave Funkypancake’s pictures to find one of me, enjoying myself at the  afternoon tea celebrating the Funkypancake family’s first year in New Zealand.  Nothing remarkable in that, save to say that it was nice to note that the photo was in Dave’s  ‘friends’ category and I am glad to have him as my friend.

Two pieces of paper

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

The result of 3+ year’s research, time, effort, worrying and more than a few tears.
Some people can tell you where they were when Kennedy was shot or how they stayed up late to watch Kennedy’s pledge to put a man on the moon come true. Well, it may not be on the same world-rocking scale but I’ll always remember where I was when I learned we had been granted indefinite residence in New Zealand. It was the rather mundane and unglamourous men’s toilet of a conference venue because SWMBO has an unerring habit of calling me whenever I’m otherwise engaged.Earlier today, exactly eight months to the day from the day we flew into Auckland as a family of emigres, I walked out of the Immigration New Zealand office into the crisp Kiwi winter sun, clutching passports with residence permits and returning resident’s visas for 4 of the 6 of us. The last two permits and visas will be issued when the passports concerned are renewed in a month or so. I shall be using my newly enhanced passport next week when I travel to Melbourne and Perth on business but, for now, I’m just happy to relax and drink a glass of Pinot and be thankful for the outcome of our hopes and labours.

One acronym begets another

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

In the last five weeks, our previously mentioned EOI (Expression of Interest) has undergone a metamorphosis. Today, what left this house as bits and bytes – and a large credit card payment – returned in the form of a large courier package containing a large bundle of papers, forms and supporting material which makes up the New Zealand Immigration Service’s ITA (Invitation To Apply) – along with a request for another, much larger credit card payment.

If we thought that we’d broken the back of the bureaucracy involved in securing residency, a quick review of the covering letter and checklist put us straight. As well as having to provide panel medical reports, X-rays and police check documentation within the next ten days (before their six month lifespan expires – we had them for a while), we now have to provide all the ‘proof’ documentation to support our claims in the EOI. This might sound fairly straightforward but I have discovered that one of the companies I worked for in the ’90s has been swallowed up by another and getting proof of employment might be difficult.

To be honest, my heart sank upon realising that we’re in for another extended bout of paperchasing and cajoling folks into providing evidenciary documents. Being in the middle of two very heavy weeks at work, I am finding it hard to work up the enthusiasm right now, even thought the ultimate goal is what we’ve spent over two years working towards. Recognising this, I have decided to stop beating myself up, stuff it all back into the courier pouch, grab a beer and take a night off, as has SWMBO. What that really means is that she’s surfing real estate web sites for houses and I’m catching up on email and paperwork. I suspect I’ll last all of 30 minutes before I give up and wander off to watch House, followed by the superb James Spader/William Shatner double act in Boston Legal.

From spring to autumn

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

It was only when I was on my second St Patrick’s Day Guinness that I realised why the date of the Paddy’s Day posters looked familiar – March 17th was the expiry date on the original visitor’s visa in my passport meant that we have been in New Zealand for exactly six months. I thought I’d ask the rest of the family to say what they have liked the most and least about the last six months and here’s what they said.


  • MOST: Seeing the children exhilarated by outdoor activities; driving to school through rolling countryside rather than city streets.
    LEAST: Not having old friends on hand to share great experiences; missing Radio 4 – and our old milkman.

No. 2

  • MOST: Lots more opportunities at school and home like softball, sailing, cheerleading; swimming with dolphins; lots of new friends.
    LEAST: Being away from friends; the mosquitoes.


  • MOST: Swimming with dolphins; the great weather; the views; athletics and swimming
    LEAST: Seeing lots of roadkill; the dangerous roads and drivers.


  • MOST: Watching sunsets; feeding roosters and cows; going to Kindy and friend’s houses.
    LEAST: “Nothing’s bad about New Zealand”.


  • MOST: Seeing the kids reveling in their new surroundings; more time doing fun family stuff outdoors; laid back attitudes; beautiful countryside.
    LEAST: Lack of cycling buddies, old friends and trusted colleagues; no old stone buildings; favourite pubs and The Lahore restaurant.
However, the fact that No.1 is in her room, hates me and is generally exhibiting all the teenager symptoms of parent-itis proves that, regardless of what country we are in, some things don’t change. That said, the last six months have seen our family grow and change in ways that means that we look forward to the next six with hope, excitement and expectation – and just the occasional look over our shoulders.
A midweek teatime picnic – one of our new family activities
There is another noteworthy event this weekend – SWMBO is launching her own blog. Whilst she is certainly not a Luddite, SWMBO is not an early adopter of most technology and has a pathological aversion to reading instruction manuals of any kind. This combination means that it has took the insertion of 12,000 miles between SWMBO and her friends to prompt her to embrace email as quick and effective way of closing that gap. A few weeks back, to support her first business venture, she put up a branded web presence and added a separate email address. This week, she has decided to put up a blog. Like me, she tried to keep friends and relatives up to date with family news and adventures with emails but has, I think, found it difficult to ensure that she gets the same news to everyone who wants to know and remember who has read what. I have just managed to sneak a quick preview and I can see that I am going to have to raise my game. So, if you have always wondered what SWMBO has to say for herself or why on Earth she puts up with me, head on over to A Word From Wendy to find out – and now you know what her name is!

Don't blink – it might disappear

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006
About 10 minutes ago, SWMBO idly surfed onto the New Zealand Immigration web site to login in and check whether status of our Expression Of Interest submission had altered from the ‘received’ it has been showing since we lodged.

We were certainly not prepared to see the following message.

Whilst hopeful and positive in outlook, I had quietly counselled myself for disappointment – at least the first time we applied – and had certainly expected to wait somewhere closer to the full 24 weeks our submission was valid before we heard anything. To be selected for vetting, and potentially an invitation to apply for residence, from a pool of around 800 well-qualified immigrants on the first draw after our submission is beyond any reasonable expectation we might have held.
All credit to SWMBO who collated all the papers we needed, highlighted the data I needed to provide and bullied me into filling in the labourious online application on evenings after work when I just wanted to grab a beer and relax. As it is too late for a beer, I’m off to bed with a mint tea and a book. Goodnight all.

Clearing more hurdles

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

The Pinot Noir is flowing again. As related in Lining up the second hurdle, we have submitted our Expression Of Interest to the New Zealand Immigration Service and so have begun the long haul towards securing residency. In the meantime, we have continued to chase up various leads and applications and I am now happy to relate that, in the last 24 hours, we have been informed that:

  • Our EOI has been received and submitted to the pool for bi-weekly consideration over the next 6 months.
    Our police check documents, fresh from the UK, state that we are not criminals.
    SWMBO has been granted a work permit to run concurrent with mine.
    Now we have paid handsomely for student visas, the sprogs can now [legally] attend school.

With that, I’m off to watch All Celebrity Kitchen Makeover with SWMBO and the rest of the Pinot.

Lining up the second hurdle

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

I can hardly believe it myself. About 30 minutes ago, I willingly and without menaces, voluntarily read out my credit card details to SWMBO, who was seated at the family PC. That said, this was not your common or garden run of the mill internet shopping session but more of your landmark fingers crossed and hope for the best moment.

We have just coughed up $300 dollars in order to submit our Expression Of Interest to the New Zealand Immigration Service. If you follow the link, you will see that this process is not for the faint-hearted, the poor or the ill-prepared. If you are not up for being honest, spending many hours doing research, even more collating documentation and then having every aspect of your very being scrutinised, then emigration is probably not for you. It will test the strength of your marriage just as much as your resolve, it will provide opportunity for self-doubt at every turn, it will rob you of the time to enjoy your new surroundings and it will cause you to question just why you wanted to embark upon the journey in the first place. What is more, this is just the process to signal your desire to remain resident. We now must wait to hear whether I am selected from a bi-weekly draw from the pool of applicants, with the likelihood of success inexorably linked to the number of points attributed to one’s skills, qualifications and experience. If you have significant experience but no degree (like me) and you only just make the minimum number of points required to express interest, this could be the start of a long drawn out cycle of six-monthly submissions (with the attendant fee, of course) and bi-weekly draws. Whilst I am usually the half-full foil to the half-empty SWMBO, I am not holding my breath in this instance. New Zealand quite rightly attracts a lot of bright and highly qualified folks and I do not expect to have the same luck I had with the extraordinarily quick turnaround of my work permit application.

Having anaesthetised myself with half a bottle of our neighbours Pinot Noir, I am now off to bed. I will leave you with a mildly humourous but true work story. Next week, I shall be heading off to my first overnight business trip in my new position, on a two day management strategy and team building session with my peers. I scanned the email for the venue details, lobbed them into the NZ equivalent of Google Maps and, lo and behold, it is exactly 5.7kms from my home. I can’t decide if this is good (short drive home afterwards) or bad (was hoping for Pacific island resort).