Sunday, September 7, 2008

Emigrating to New Zealand: 12 years later

It struck me a couple of days ago that we have been living in New Zealand for 12 years now. These years have not been easy in many respects, and on some levels the move here was a poor decision.

Finding an identity
One of the things I have struggled with is finding an identity. Even though I have lived here for so long and have a Kiwi passport I still strongly identify as being English. And some times, when I am watching an English TV program or eat English food, I yearn to be back. I desperately miss the history and as I get older (and probably more and more senile!) I feel the call of generations and generations of family. I am an integral part of the country's fabric, and England is a part of mine.

Home at last
But yesterday, I fly the length of the country from Rotorua, back to Dunedin after being away for a couple of days at a conference. For most of the journey the sky was clear so I had a fabulous view of the land. And as my flight progressed and I got nearer to Dunedin, I was engulfed with a feeling coming home. I felt a really strong connection with the land I was flying over. It is my land. It will never be my land in the same way that England is, but it is now home. And I think at last I feel at peace about that.

Do you ever feel at odds about your cultural and spiritual identity? Do you live in one place but have a strong connection with another? How do you cope with that dissonance? What advice would you give people who are trying to settle in another place or land?

Postscript: If you want to know more about emigrating to New Zealand, here is some advice for people thinking about moving here, both in general terms and more specifically for midwives wanting to work here.


Carolyn said...

I have been here 27 years and I know exactly what you mean Sarah. The trip I made to the UK this year was lovely and it was harder than ever to leave and come home, but this is my home and I love it. Margaret Thatcher was midway in her leadership when I left. The Falklands war hadn't happened yet. The truth is that the UK is not the same place it was when I lived there. I know none of the celebrities or what is happening in the news over there. All of my day to day knowledge is in New Zealand I live here and know this place and yet I still feel a little apart, as I would I am sure, if I decided to go back to the UK.
I will always have some longing for the UK but if I left New Zealand I would have a longing for here too.
Anyway welcome home. I am dying to know how your presentation went.

Sandra Elias said...

Although we were only in NZ for 8 years I really felt connected with it by the time we left. Although Canada is a great place too (especially where we are at the moment) there is something about NZ that really captured me. Perhaps it was because it started out as an adventure for us, its where we started our married life and where we started raising our family or perhaps there is something about it being a smaller and therefore more intimate country with lots of individuals in the same situation as us - 'new' NZers. Not sure! I still feel teary every time I see pics of NZ...

Sarah Stewart said...

The thing that interest me is that there are some places that feel more 'right' than others. For example, I remember the first time I went to Salisbury, in England. I immediately felt that that was the place that would have considerable meaning for me - and I was right. I feel the same about Dunedin. It's almost like an intuition. What do you think?