Play it cool when they need help.
Returning Kiwis might ask you questions that you think have obvious answers, but the mechanics of living in New Zealand have changed over the years. They’re in a vulnerable spot being unfamiliar with their home, reconnecting with their roots, and holding onto the culture they’ve picked up. You can help by answering with a straight face and your best information.
Or they may hire a professional to do something that you think they should DIY. Understand that they need expert guidance right now from someone who offers multi-cultural perspective and independent advice. By working with a professional, they’re likely to get the outcome they desire, and it won’t risk putting pressure on your relationship.
The years you’ve spent apart have helped shape who you both are today. Honor that growth and give them the space to make independent decisions and do things their way, even if it’s not your way. They may be choosing a different neighbourhood to yours to stay connected to hobbies they’ve developed overseas or because of a school that is a better fit for what their kids are used to experiencing. While they likely put a Kiwi twist on living wherever they were overseas, now they’re bringing some of their overseas culture back with them, especially if their partner is not a Kiwi.
Welcome them back to the Relationship.
Invite them out for a drink at your local or along to an activity you once enjoyed together. Try new activities together or – better yet – try out something they’ve grown to love. Returning Kiwis often feel that people here don’t want to hear about their lives overseas, so being curious about hobbies or interests they’ve developed while you’ve been apart is a meaningful gesture of friendship.
Be generous with your social circle, too: introduce them to friends with similar interests, other repats, or expats in your life. You never know who might hit it off!
Show up for them.
There are experts who can help your mate find a house, select the perfect school for their kids, and handle their taxes.
You’re the expert at showing up for them.
The day that we left MIQ, a close friend came to stay with our kids while we toured neighbourhoods and houses with our relocation specialist. To have her show up to offer our first post-MIQ hug and be the first person to care for our children after months of isolation meant so much to the whole family.
There are plenty of opportunities for you to help out by showing up as only a friend or family member can. Go by their MIQ hotel and wave from outside. Drop off their favourite lollies while you’re there. Watch their kids when they need a date night or to convert their drivers license. Loan them bedding and some toys when they’re waiting for their container to arrive. Introduce them to the best cuppa in town or your favourite apple variety. Ask how they’re doing after the novelty of moving home has worn off.
You’re a big part of why they came home, and they’ll be glad for your help making it feel that way again.
Thanks to our partners at Mobile Relocation for this piece. Amanda Sadlier is a lawyer who writes, runs, and lives with her family in the eastern bays of Auckland with her partner, George, and their three young children. Mobile Relocation is thrilled to host Amanda as a guest blogger for this post.
Join the Kea community, NZ’s online home for returning Kiwis.
We’re here to support returning Kiwi. Here’s our list of resources to help you plan your return and next steps.
Looking for a new role in New Zealand? Visit the Kea job portal and find your next career opportunity.