Those first unsettled months
The first few months are a mixture of excitement and confusion. Suddenly I found that I did not automatically know the answers, you cannot take anything for granted, things are different here.
After years of drumming into the kids to dial 999 in an emergency, suddenly I was telling them to dial 111. When I first watched the news and read the papers I did not know to whom they were referring . Even the weather forecast takes concentration to begin with! When my daughter needed to know the highest mountain in New Zealand, I had to look it up, it did not spring immediately to mind from my early education.
At a function when they sung the National Anthem everyone broke into “God Defend New Zealand” instead of “God save the Queen” and I didn’t know the words.
Before I left England, I always followed my instinct, I knew what to wear and when to wear it. I understood jokes about the Prime Minister (well most of them) and I just knew on what occasion to take a bottle of wine and when not to! Not so here.
We had an amusing experience before my son started High School (or college as it is known). They had an open evening for the parents whose sons were starting school the next term. Having heard so many times that New Zealanders are casual in their dress, we deliberately ‘dressed down’ and arrived at the school looking like ‘the poor relations’ whilst everyone else looked like they were going to a wedding! Whenever I accept an invitation to any function now, I always ask what everyone is wearing.
I found I had been tipped from my very comfortable ‘perch’. There was much I did not know and at times it was very unsettling
The favourite catchphrase in our family now is “What is that based on?” and is a good one to adopt. If your decisions are based on your experience in England, then you might not have all the information you need to make an informed judgement. Do not automatically assume that everything is the same.
A family who arrived here and had the chance to buy two properties at a ‘give away’ price, turned down the opportunity because they were concerned that most of their profit would go in capital gains tax. It was not until some months later that they learnt that there is no capital gains tax, as such, on a ‘one off’ property in New Zealand.
I have found most New Zealanders to be friendly and kind people and am grateful for the amount of hospitality that has been extended towards me and my family. People that we have met only briefly have invited us for meals or included us in their invitations to BBQs. I have been touched by people who have welcomed us to a new neighbourhood with home made biscuits or cakes. I am thankful for the habit New Zealanders have of including everyone into the conversation and making countless introductions for the sake of newcomers.
They are justifiably proud of their country and very interested in your opinion of it. A word of warning, in my experience they are only interested in confirmation that it is the best place in the world to live - avoid negative comments.
Number one Rule here is “Don’t be a whinging Pom”. Otherwise you might get the same treatment as did the Englishman who kept complaining. In reply to his consistent comments that things were so much better in England he was asked “Why don’t you clear off back home then?”