How long have you been an expat?
12.5 years, we moved to London in 2005… we only intended to be here for 4 years
Why did you chose to move to the UK?
We had come to a crossroads in our NZ lives, and were presented with the opportunity to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa.After a successful application, we set off on our OE. Our family of three (our daughter was 11yrs old at the time), left Wellington with 60ltr backpacks each, shiny new passports, a few pounds in the bank and embarked on a journey with the desire to see more of the world, to try life in the UK – we had to see what some of our friends were going on about.
Are there many New Zealanders in the UK? Where do they tend to live?
There are up to 200,000 New Zealanders living in the UK. The critical mass is in London, however being curious travellers there are New Zealanders living all across the UK.
Why is the UK such a popular choice for Kiwi expats?
Our nation has strong historical links with the UK, and many New Zealand families have ancestral connections. Everyone comes here for their own personal reasons, but we do see cultural and history curiosity, the desire to travel across Europe, ancestry connections, education and career development as common factors leading to New Zealanders moving to the UK.
How did you become involved in the NZ Society and then KEA?
Having lived in the UK for six years, I began to miss elements of my NZ community and life. Several people told me about the New Zealand Business Women’s Network. Joining NZBWN led me to understand how many community groups there are here in London. I was in awe of the amazing work of the individuals who keep organisations like NZ Studies Network, London NZ Cricket Club, NZ Society, NZBWN and Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club (to name a few) thriving. They were all busy connecting, supporting and celebrating New Zealanders here in the UK.
After a friend’s introduction I joined the NZ Society, I was drawn to the history of the organisation which had activity dating back to the late 1800s. During my time as a volunteer at NZSUK, I became aware of the great achievements of New Zealanders here, hearing stories of people starting their own businesses, or bringing NZ products to the UK, as well as those making a great impact across many different industries.
My involvement with the community groups made me aware of the work KEA NZ was undertaking, and when the regional manager role become available I jumped at the chance to apply for the role.
How wide does the KEA network extend around the world, and what areas of business are the main focus?
Kea is a global Network, with circa 500,000 members around the globe. We are here to make high impact connections for the benefit of New Zealand. Taking our connection seeker requests from New Zealand businesses, projects and causes, and searching for the right expat or friend of New Zealand to help them with guidance, advice, expertise and further introductions.
Through our World Class New Zealand Network, we are able to celebrate New Zealanders’ contributions and successes around the globe, as well as build stronger connections with Friends of New Zealand. A digital network, social platforms, event hosting and person to person connecting sees our activity to be varied – but everything we do has the growth and success of New Zealand in mind.
What have the most interesting changes in expat life that you've seen during your journey?
Flat whites available in all restaurants and cafes! The increase of brunch locations, all thanks to Providores leading the way. Social media has also made it so much easier to remain connected to home and to the many friends you make from around the world.
There have of course been political climate, world events and visa changes which have affected individuals’ journeys, but when it comes down to it, the essence of the OE and expat life remains the same.
What is the best piece of advice you were given when you moved to the UK?
Explore the City from above ground, the underground tube map can be deceiving.
You can find out more about Kea's work on their website.