This blog doesn't necessarily have much to do with business but rather how New Zealand has given me the wings to give a start-up business a go. We have been living in New Zealand for close on 5 years now. We arrived at the start of the World Cup 2007, I was extremely homesick when I saw the South African Springboks, our 'Bokke' lining up belting out the national anthem, a proud, spirited side representing a proud spirited nation. New to NZ, I knew enough about the All Blacks to know that every kiwi worshipped them and that's about all I knew. The national anthem had no recognition for me yet, the players were not recognisable to me and I didn't know enough about the Kiwi nation then to know what the proud team was representing as a country. I remember feeling "how will I ever be able to support anyone other than South Africa, I'm South African regardless of where I'm living!!" It was a worry for me, I'd always been so patriotic towards my side and I wanted to feel that way about my new side but the emotions just weren't there.
Fast forward to 2011 World Cup and it was a different story entirely. I now know the National Anthem (not the maori version but I do try), I can name most of the line-up on the field and I now, 5 years later, am proud to feel more Kiwi. I'm not by any means less of a South African but I'm very much more of a Kiwi. 2011 World Cup opening ceremony was such a spectacular moment and I felt proud to be a New Zealander and along with 4 million people, I chose to 'back Black'.
My kids are kiwi, they know Richie McCaw and Piri Weepu above Francois Pienaar and the legendary Brian Habanna, they recognise the All Blacks flag and silver fern before they do the Green and Gold. This realisation would have made me feel sad 5 years back but now, 5 years on, I'm grateful that we've embraced it and our family does feel so settled and so at home here. Because we are so far away from our family we didn't spend Christmas Day with anyone other than myself, husband and our kids so as I was training for the Half Ironman, my present was a two hour training slot. Feeling a little homesick I decided to get out and about on the walkway where I'd see loads of people and as always, bump into friends as one does so often here in New Plymouth on the walkway. If I left home because I was lonely, the run was a very lonely move...........
.........there was no-one to be seen, my social run route was deserted!. Everyone was indoors eating and laughing and celebrating and caring and sharing with their families. I ran past houses with marquees bustling with activity and bursting with laughter, I ran past lines of cars parked down the streets as families gathered together on this one day called Christmas. Young daughters helping grandmothers up the steps, young grandchildren squealing at uncles and grandparents, cousins running around elated together. My loneliness filled with a deep contentment, this is New Zealand! Families want to return HOME. and Home is one of the few beautiful, safe, down-to-earth, naturally breathtaking places that still exist. Why wouldn't you want to come home for Christmas and better still, home to settle among your extended family. New Zealand is unique in this way and that is one of the reasons we immigrated. I want my children to have a choice, I want them to grow up with us around them in their lives. I want to be just down the road when they start their own families, New Zealand offers that opportunity and most Kiwi's have no idea how lucky they are that this doesn't have to become a choice.
Immigration is such a massive step and you always worry that you'll never truly belong but after 5 years we now qualify for kiwi citizenship and I feel ready to be a kiwi. Apart from feeling more allegiance to the All Blacks, my boys have had such a natural upbringing in the true sense of the word. My 3 year old says things like 'New Zealand is cool as' and my 5 year old says he never wants to live anywhere else but New Zealand. I know they're words from 'babes' but to hear these things means they're happy and that was the main priority behind a step as bold and big as leaving the country you love and the people you love and the spirit you love. I miss so many things about beautiful South Africa but thank you New Zealand for making it so easy to feel a part of you! So, in closing, at least I always say, if I back both the Bokke and/or the AB's - i've always got a good chance of coming out tops!!! I couldn't think of two better nations to sit on the fence for......."Hamba Gahle" "Kaketeya"