How it all began
In 1990 I (Ronald) went to Australia and New Zealand on a holiday. When I came back to the Netherlands, I constantly thought about how it would be like to live in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Every time when there was something on television about emigration, I was very interested, and hoped that I would be able to emigrate myself one day.
In 1991 there was an evening organised for people interested in emigrating to New Zealand with the help of the Dutch Emigration services. So together with a colleague from my work, I attended the evening. There were a lot of people present this evening, which surprised me, I didn't know there were so many people interested in emigration. The information was mostly about starting your own business and for farmers. I wasnít interested in starting my own business or farming, but this evening gave me a lot of information about emigration. After this evening my colleague told me he wasn't interested anymore, so this would mean I had to go on my own, if I wanted to go ahead with it.
Time went by. In 1992 I started dating Marian, and in 1993 we bought a house. This was for me the first step towards staying in the Netherlands. I didnít think a lot about emigration anymore. Although we talked about it from time to time, especially when there was a programme about it on television. But after a while it would just fade away again to the background.
Again time went by. In 1995 Marian and I got married. Because we both didn't want a traditional wedding, we decided to marry in Las Vegas. And in 1998 our daughter Susan was born. Now, emigration seemed to be put off definitively. A wife, a house, a child, I was settled.
In December 1998 we bought a computer, and got ourselves an Internet account. But if youíre a beginner on the Internet, what are you going to look for? Marian started by filling in the word "emigration" at a search engine. And that's where it all really started. We got a lot of information about emigration, and after a few different persons and firms, we came to the web site of Malcolm Pacific LTD. We filled out their online questionnaire to see if we would have a chance of emigrating to New Zealand. They told us that we would have a very good chance, but that it would be a long and difficult road to get there. But in the end it would have been worth it, so they told us. After a lot of letters, emails, telephone calls, faxes, parcels and a few thousand dollars/guilders we finally got our passport with residence visa on the 9th of January 2001. It took us 2 years (!) to reach our goal, but we made it.
On the first of March 2001 we said goodbye to family and friends and took the aeroplane to New Zealand. Our adventure begins.
Our journey and the first months in New Zealand
We are going to Schiphol Airport, on the first of March 2001, with our family and friends. For the last time we look through the car windows to the Netherlands, it will be a long time before we are coming back! I have got mixed feelings, on the one hand I am so very happy that we are going, on the other hand there is that strange feeling, what can we expect from New Zealand? The last pictures are taken, tears are flowing, time to say goodbye. This is the hardest thing we have to do, saying goodbye to everybody! We are flying with Garuda Airlines. Susan is very exited about it all. We have received and made some presents for her, so she has something to fill in time on the aeroplane. Time really flies, and before we know it, we are already in Singapore, where we have a short stop over. Susan fell a sleep during the landing on Singapore, and she doesn't wake up until we land again in Jakarta, our next stop. Here we have to wait for the next 3 hours before we can continue our flight to Bali. At Den Pasar Airport on Bali we have to wait for 7 hours before our last aeroplane will take us to New Zealand. Here we buy an extra bag for our winter clothing, because with the temperatures here of 35 degrees we really don't need them anymore. Susan is the centre of attention on this airport with her long blond hair and blue eyes. All the Indonesian ladies want to get in contact with her, only Susan doesn't like this attention very much, and clings constantly to our legs. Time is really getting confusing to us now, it's March the 2nd 15.30 in the Netherlands and here in Indonesia it's March the 2nd 22.30. And it will be getting worse, because we are going to travel even further in time ahead, when we continue our journey. Via Australia we fly to New Zealand. I'm starting to get fed up with aeroplanes; this journey can end now as far as I am concerned. I want to have solid ground under my feet and a nice comfortable bed to sleep in. How people can actually sleep on aeroplanes is a miracle to me!!!
On the 3rd of March we land on Auckland Airport at 11.30 (New Zealand time), in the Netherlands it's now the 2nd of March 23.30. So we lost a day by travelling here. At passport control, we don't have to wait in line with all the holidaymakers. We can go through domestic arrivals, where we get a stamp in our passports, which state: permanent residency. Now itís official. We have to wait a long time for the luggage to come through, and after a while we notice that Susanís pram is missing. So we declare it's missing and we go to customs. Here we also have to wait for a very long time, because of the FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) outbreak in Europe. The MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) is checking everything. Susanís shoes have to be sprayed before we can bring them into the country, because she visited the sheep farm of uncle Peter (Marianís uncle) to see the lambs, just before we went to New Zealand. After this checkpoint we are finally here! All very tired from the long journey. Susan sees a very familiar "M". Itís a Mc Donalds restaurant. We decide to rest for a while, and have some fries. After that we take a taxi to our first hotel, where we all take a bath, and fall fast a sleep.
The next day, March, 4, we have to transfer to the next hotel, where we are going to stay for the next two weeks. Here we have two bedrooms, separated by a small kitchenette. This will be enough for us for the coming two weeks. We have phoned our parents in the mean while, to tell them that we arrived safely in New Zealand. They told us that the weather in the Netherlands was very cold, with ice and snow. Here the weather is absolutely wonderful, with lots of sunshine and about 25 degrees.
March, 5. Today we have to arrange the first important things, like going to the bank (see if our money arrived safely as well), buying newspapers (for jobs), go to Malcolm Pacific (to get our documents). At Malcolm Pacific we meet Edwin Lowe for the first time. He helped us during the last two years for getting our residency visa. It was very nice to finally see and speak with him in person after all this time. We asked him about car dealers, before we said goodbye to him, because we want to be "mobile" as soon as possible. Now we have to do everything on foot or by bus. After a few hours of "shopping around", we drive back to the hotel in our new car; a Mitsubitsi RVR Sportsgear. All the gadgets on it, and I (Ronald) feel like I'm the King! At the hotel we have an early diner and decide to go to bed early, because tomorrow we have to go: house hunting!
The days that follow are spend with, getting leaflets from Real Estate Agents with the rental places on it. Making efficient routes to visit many houses, in the shortest time possible. We have to stop a lot for Susan. This is very logical, because it's not much fun for a two and a half year old to sit still in the back of a car and drive around, while mum and dad look at rental places. In the mean time we have bought a mobile phone, so we can make appointments with Real Estate Agents and perhaps future employers. On Sunday March, 11, we decide to take a day of, and we visit Kelly Tarltons Underwaterworld and One Tree Hill (without the tree). We are now one week in New Zealand. Driving on the left side of the road is getting easier every day. Finding a rental place to live in is more difficult than we thought. The houses we have seen so far, are too old, or with bad maintenance. We have to start to look for houses in a higher price range, which are not that old. Finally we find a new house, so we sign the contract at the Real Estate Agent. Next day they tell us that the owner of this house already signed up with another couple. Shit! Now we have to start all over again. In the afternoon we see another new house, but again no luck, the owner already signed a contract with another couple. We only have a few days left at our hotel, and we can't stay any longer over there, so we have to decide what we have to do, when we can't find a house within the next couple of days. March, 17, we look at another rental house; this one is still available and is looking very good. We don't have to think very long about this one, we will take it !!! Now we have to buy the most important things which we will need: beds, chairs, pots and pans, microwave oven, refrigerator, washing machine, television. This will be our furniture for the next coming weeks/months. We hope the container with our own furniture will arrive very soon. We move on the 19th of March to our new home. First we have to clean the place. Susan is very helpful to us (she is everywhere we don't want her to be). In the afternoon the beds are delivered. Susan is giving all her stuffed animals a place on her new bed in her new room. As from now we can have a "normal" life again.
The next few days we have to arrange a telephone connection, an Internet provider, a gas provider and an electricity provider. Meanwhile our new washing machine has done the first washing and the refrigerator is filled with food. We had our first "normal" diner; potatoes, vegetables and meat, and that tasted very well, after having instant meals for two weeks.
I have made a lot of progress with finding a new job over here. A lot of people are willing to help me, finding a job. With my new Internet account everything goes a lot quicker and easier. We found a pre-school for Susan, near by, where she can go to. We are all anxious to know if she is going to like it. Time will tell.
April, 5. My first interview is by telephone, because otherwise I had to go to Wellington. Further we have very little to do right now. We spend most of our time discovering our surroundings and going to playgrounds and the beach, to keep Susan and ourselves busy. I hope this will not be for a very long time. It's my first time of being unemployed and I don't like it very much.
May, 7. I'm not getting the job for which I was interviewed. But there is another job, and my chances on that one are very good. I just have to wait. And we also have to wait for our container, still no word on how long it's going to take. Fall is coming, and because of that we aren't able to spend so much time outside anymore. We have to try to entertain ourselves inside now. And this is not easy when you have almost nothing in your house.
May, 14. Hurray! Good news: I have got the job, and I can start in June. That calls for a drink!
May, 15. Hurray! Again good news: the container with our furniture will be here soon.
May, 24. Finally, after travelling for about 10 weeks the container with our furniture is on our doorstep. It's so good to finally see all your own belongings after such a long time. The house is gradually filling up with furniture. It will be a lot of work to get everything in place, but we don't mind doing that after such a long time of doing nothing. We can't unpack all the boxes yet, because the MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) wants to check some of them. We realise how good it is to be able to sleep in your own bed and to sit on your own couch. Susan sees it as one great party and every box is treated like a present when we unpack them. Especially her boxes with her toys, books and stuffed animals.
May, 25. The MAF checks all the boxes we had to put aside. According to the officer everything is ok. He tells us that they have to check everything because some people just take anything with them into New Zealand. Try to imagine what happens to food when itís in a container for several months. But as far as we are concerned, everything is ok, and we can unpack all our boxes.
June, 1. We are going to look for a motorbike for Ronald. Result: Ronald is now the proud owner of a brand new Honda Transalp !!! We needed a second vehicle and this is a perfect combination with our car. Is also a way of saving on parking costs, its $ 10.- a day if Ronald has to park his vehicle in the city. He can park his motorbike for free at his work. Marian and Susan have the car for doing grocery shopping and bringing Susan to school. The bikes we brought from the Netherlands will not be used very much because the roads in Auckland are too steep.
July. We are searching for a home, now Ronald has a job. After looking at a lot of properties we finally find a nice home. A 7-year-old home on a 4700 m2 site. The house is in perfect condition. Is right beside a bush-reserve, so it has got a great view. From the living room we can see the island of Rangitoto and from the kitchen/second living we can see the Skytower. We both know that if we are going to live here, we probably donít want to move anymore.
August, 3. We are unconditional on this property, so both parties agree with the conditions of the sale of the house. From the 20th of August this will be our home. Buying a house over here is a lot easier than in the Netherlands. You find a house through real estate agents and when you decide to buy, you let your lawyer do the paperwork.
August, 8. We had to go on our driving licence exam today. Yes, although we already have a driving licence for a long time, to get a New Zealand driving licence, we still had to pass a theoretical exam. An international driving licence is only valid for a year. So, because we could prove that we had held our licence for more than 2 years, we only had to pass the theoretical exam. (Otherwise we also had to pass our practical exam). Result: Hurray! We both passed our exams!
August, 20. The big move. We hope this will be the last one in a very long time. At our rental address we didnít unpack everything, because we knew it would be a temporary place for us. Itís good to be able to settling somewhere now, and we think we are going to stay here for quite a while.
How are we getting on
Since august we are living in our own home. I'm still enjoying my work at Telecom NZ, where I started working in June 2001. Besides that I'm very busy with my hobby, and with mowing the lawn. When you have a big property, you will need to maintain it, so that means a lot of mowing for me. Susan is enjoying pre-school very much. She is making friends already. She speaks and understands the English language very good. Marian is starting to get in touch with more people now. And in the meantime we have had a new change in our lives: Jennifer. Our baby girl who is born on the 23rd of April 2002. So, we are starting to feel at home over here. New Zealand is becoming our new homeland.
We have been living in New Zealand for 4 years now. Ronald changed his job in july 2004, long hours but a very interresting job. Susan has been attending primary school for a while now, she's a year 2 now. She is a very good student, and enjoys her time in school. Jennifer has been going to pre-school since a few months and she likes it very much.On the 12th of november our son Michael was born. A beautiful little guy,who makes our family complete. I(Marian)am very busy at the moment with my family, there is never a dull moment. To us New Zealand is very beautiful, although I still haven't seen a lot of the country.For us it's a great country to raise a family.