Voices of the Kea Community – June
Each month we talk to Kiwi and ask them a series of questions about the area they live in, what they like most about living offshore and how they remember home when New Zealand seems far away. This month we caught up with Rachael Pynenburg from London, Anderson Li from Guangzhou, Vanessa Leung from Shanghai and Tony Frost from Changshu and Suzhou.
Rachael Pynenburg, Camden London.
How long have you lived offshore? 7 years now. I went back and forth between working in France and London, but I’ve been settled in London since July 2021.
What do you love most about London? I love that London is truly a melting pot of people from all over the world who are united in the decision to call London their home. Friendships form fast and run deep as we look to form families away from home. And working in hospitality is definitely the epicentre of this multiculturalism. In kitchens I’ve worked in there have been as many as 10 different countries and languages represented. The other best thing about being in such a large and diverse city is, whatever your interests are, no matter how niche, you’ll find a bunch of people who love them as much as you do.
If someone was coming to visit, what are two places you would recommend them visiting and why? St Johns, it’s an absolute London institution! As a chef eating out I can be a little particular, but St John’s always impresses with a daily changing menu, fantastic service, a wonderful wine list and top-notch negronis. There are several sites in the city, each which have their own vibe but all are equally delicious!
And then the Southbank Centre, they have such an incredible range of shows catering for everyone and in an expensive city you can see so many shows for less than £20. I’ve seen experimental soundscapes, the London City Orchestra doing techno covers, jazz quartets, major artists at the Meltdown Festival and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. As well as an epic programme it’s a lovely building with a great roof terrace for a pre-show glass of wine.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? Getting the best of both worlds – there are so many opportunities and experiences that being offshore allows regarding career and travel but every time I get off the plane, hear kiwi accents en masse and see the first glimpse of hills, sea and horizons I know I’m home.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Horizons, hills and open space. And drying my clothes on a washing line.
What advice would you give to your pre-offshore self/What would you have liked someone to have told you before you travelled? It takes a good 18 months to really feel settled and you really have to work at it to build those roots. A new city doesn’t become home if you’re heading to the airport every other weekend to travel and explore other countries. Put the time in and you’ll reap the benefits.
How do you remind yourself of home on days when you miss New Zealand? By going to one of the many cafes we are lucky enough to have with NZ baristas and beans and enjoying a good strong flat white. Sometimes you’ll even hit the jackpot and find an afghan biscuit or lamington!
Anderson Li, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
How long have you lived offshore? 5 years and counting.
What do you love most about Guangzhou? Guangzhou is a cosmopolitan city which is also a sister city to Auckland and New York. It is a city mixed with a modern and bustling rhythm as well as a well preserved old town area. Guangzhou is well known as a food paradise. It offers gastronomy from around the world, convenient services, advanced transportation and attentive community services to many people from all over the country and the world. The annual Canton Fair brings together businessmen from all over the world, allowing Guangzhou’s economy to continue to grow and flourish.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend them
visiting and why? First of all, I would recommend the Guangzhou Tower. It represents the rapid modernisation of Guangzhou. Secondly, I would recommend the old pagodas in the old town area, as they represent the survival of the old Guangzhou culture, as well as the food that you can’t resist.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? I think the greatest experience was being able to bring the Kiwi culture to a new place in my life. I also felt the impact of the local culture on me, as I believe that one cannot grow without understanding different cultures and growing up in a new place can bring some unexpected gains for my future life and work when I get back to New Zealand.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? I can’t forget the beautiful New Zealand where I have lived for almost 15 years, it is so pure and fresh. When I was sipping a cup of coffee by Lake Wanaka, feeling the breeze from the snow-capped mountains and talking to friends about ancient legends, everything was so beautiful. I think what I miss most is my old friends in New Zealand. It is said that whether a place will be missed or not is because there is a story there for you, good or bad, it is an experience that you cannot forget.
What advice would you give to your pre-offshore self/What would you have liked
someone to have told you before you travelled? Firstly Google to learn about the customs of the country you are going to visit, as well as the laws and regulations. For example, if you go to Singapore, you cannot chew gum, if you go to India, you cannot eat beef. Secondly Respect for local religious beliefs is very important, for example in Dubai you cannot look
directly at women.
How do you remind yourself of home on days when you miss New Zealand? Sometimes missing something doesn’t need to be spoken out loud, hiding it in your heart and remembering it is the best option.
Vanessa Leung, Shanghai
How long have you lived offshore? A year now! As of the 10th May
What do you love most about Shanghai? There are so many things I love about Shanghai. If I had to pick one it would be there is always something to do in this city and it accommodates everyone. I am a massive foodie, so what I love in particular is there are so many cheap local eats to experience delicious Chinese food like beef noodles, shengjian bao, dumplings etc. but at the same time there is a huge range of other cuisines and world class restaurants to choose from.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend
them visiting and why? I would recommend them taking a trip up to the top of the Shanghai financial tower to experience the views from the 92 nd Floor, especially during the night where you can see the spectacular view of the bund lit up. Second place would be to go to Yu Gardens and experience the view of a classic Chinese garden, and historical Chinese buildings. It is essentially a 400 year old garden in the middle of Shanghai. Super beautiful!
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? You meet and come across so many new people who come from all over the world, especially in a city like Shanghai where there are quite a few expats. Everyone you meet has a different story and you can learn more about different countries and customs through them. You can also experience different cultures, for example, last year I didn’t only celebrate the classic kiwi holidays, but was also invited to my first thanksgiving!
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Besides mince and cheese pie… I miss the space and view! Living in NZ, you take for granted the beautiful nature that surrounds you. Back in Wellington, I can walk 30 mins, and be on a hike where it takes me out of the city, climb to the top and experience the beautiful view. In Shanghai, it’s a lot harder to get that without travelling a fair distance.
What advice would you give to your pre-offshore self/What would you have liked someone to have told you before you travelled? Keep an open-mind towards everything and try to do some culture and history training before you arrive and after you arrive. There are so many reasons why people behave the way they do, and by understanding this, your experience offshore will be further enriched by this knowledge.
How do you remind yourself of home on days when you miss New Zealand? I would go and hang out with the kiwi community – always nice to hear the accent and hang out
with a bunch of people that have the same background. I also cook! I will make food that reminds me of home, for example a good lamb roast, anzac biscuits or hot cross buns for
Tony Frost, Changshu and Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.
How long have you lived offshore? I have been working in China since July 2005 and travel back and forth between New Zealand and Shanghai, most stays here are 30 to 120 days and home for 60 to 100 days and then back again.
What do you love most about Changshu and Suzhou? My China home is full of friendships with wonderful Chinese and foreigners, the atmosphere is electric and the working environment is hugely satisfying.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend them visiting and why? For me I love Suzhou (Lake side city) and Shekou (seaside city), both places are relatively young cities with amazing old China towns in the mix of 20th century architecture and wonderful eateries and bars.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? I feel it is the respect we have as Kiwis, generally known as honest hard working polite people that think of others ahead of ourselves, this too often gets lost in the busy life we have in NZ, Kiwi’s in most are calm good people as are most Chinese I have met here.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Family, Friends, hobbies and the lifestyle, NZ is always home and will always be where I belong, China is also a place I will miss dearly when its time to hang up my career and settle back into the Kiwi lifestyle when home. A cold beer with a fishing rod in hand with friends and family on a boat in the Marlborough Sounds is bliss and I do miss this.
What advice would you give to your pre-offshore self/What would you have liked someone to have told you before you travelled? From day one I have always felt welcome here and have no regrets other than I wish I had learned Chinese so communications were easier, that said I have always managed to get my point heard and heard the other side (WeChat is amazing :-). The balance between living here and New Zealand makes me feel incredibly privileged and in some ways proud that I seem to have made myself welcome wherever I go.
How do you remind yourself of home on days when you miss New Zealand? Seeing New Zealand produce in restaurants and supermarkets always brings a sense of pride and reminds me of NZ. Meeting up for a beer with Kiwi’s watching a game of the All Blacks also reminds me of very fond memories of home.