Voices of the Kea community
Each month we talk to Kiwi all over the world and ask them a series of questions about the country they live in, what they miss about New Zealand and their aspirations and inspirations for the coming months. This month we meet Darren Straker from Shanghai, Tim Drysdale from Edinburgh, Kat McMillan from Paris and James Turnbull from the Czechia.
Darren Straker, Shanghai
How long have you lived offshore? About 30 years I’ve lived in the UK, Germany, France, US, UAE, Oman, Japan,Hong Kong and now China.
What do you love most about Shanghai? It’s a cosmopolitan area vibrant, with plenty to do and historically very interesting. There are good bars, restaurants etc. Workwise, there’s plenty of technology development and it’s possible to generate funding and potential for new projects with access to venture capital and investors.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend them visiting and why? Any of the museums and/or the art galleries plus walking around the historical areas of Shanghai, the Bund etc. I also have a number of favourite restaurants.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? Higher relative salaries, working in high tech industries at levels not possible in New Zealand. Living in other cultures, developing a global network of contacts both business and socially plus being able to see the world, travel and experience different cultures, languages, perspectives
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Access to fantastic sports areas – skiing, cycling, mountain biking and sailing. No endless expat bureaucracy for work visas etc plus the
space and open areas, including beaches and quality of life options.
What do you think will be the big issues or events which will command attention this year? Assisting Chinese civil aviation to get European certification for their new passenger aircraft will be a major game-changer. EU certified aircraft opens huge export potential with the obvious advantages of increased manufacturing and export market potential. The global multi-polarization of trade and industry as exemplified through the BRICS agreements. Markets will open, with changes to a trade balance that is not European or US centric. We will see Russia, Asia, Africa and South America emerging as potential trade and market influences as historical hegemony transitions to a balanced trade zone with emphasis on the APAC region and developing markets and zones. My specific area is aviation, within the aviation research and development sectors, new emerging technologies with venture capital funding as these new technologies move into industrialization with significant Government and offshore funding
Finish this sentence “In 2023 the world needs more…..”Funding in developing APAC countries to lift the standards and increase the levels of manufacturing capability, more cross border tech projects to establish multinational consortiums for the application of new technologies and less barriers to the movement of people around APAC.
Tim Drysdale, Edinburgh, Scotland
How long have you lived offshore? Since 2002
What do you love most about Edinburgh? The mixture of capital city culture, proximity to professional critical mass, and fabulous outdoors right on the doorstep. Not to mention sometimes I see the hills by the city and forget I am not in Christchurch anymore.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend them visiting and why? The first is my favourite mid-bike-ride cafe (Drift, North Berwick). It’s a couple of repurposed containers with glass walls on a coastal cliff, so it has a lovely view and it’s also a reminder of the great spirit Christchurch showed post-quake with its container mall. You can probably tell from the photo I have a fondness for repurposed containers – the model containers hold remote experiments we developed for our students here at the University of Edinburgh to access from their laptops/phones. The second is the single-track road across the heather moorland by Longformucus – it’s both stark and beautiful and it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, yet only an hour east of town. Plus it has great corners if you are on two wheels.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? The Kiwi culture of ingenuity and hard work lends itself to creative disruption, and our egalitarian approach tends to help dissolve social barriers. That’s a great set of ingredients to bring to the international arena because you can do rewarding work with them, but there is also a lot to learn from other cultures – and together the results are greater than the sum of the parts.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? The scale of the scenery, BBQ Shapes, kiwi dip, and the ridiculously friendly banter at all times. But most of all, it’s the family connections. My nieces are growing up fast! Fortunately it’s much easier to keep in contact with modern comms.
What do you think will be the big issues or events which will command attention this year? In the Higher Education sector we’re getting to grips with the rapid emergence of generative artificial intelligence. I’m almost certain we’re not the only sector responding to this development. It’ll be a great opportunity for many, if handled well.
Finish this sentence “In 2023 the world needs more…..” understanding and empathy for ourselves and others, as we go about our day-to-day lives and contributing to the world around us.
Kat McMillan, Paris, France
How long have you lived offshore? On and off since January 2017, I move all over and work remotely.
What do you love most about Paris? The food! My key reason for travelling and spending my time somewhat nomadically is to discover and enjoy food from all over the world which I document and share through my IG blogs @what_kat_eats and @foodkatmade. Paris has some amazing classic foods (pastries and baguettes will never be the same elsewhere) as well as a plethora of top notch international food spots including the best Ramen and Middle Eastern food I’ve ever tried.
If someone was coming to visit the area what are two places you would recommend
them visiting and why? The Marais because it is uber central but not touristy and filled with unique eateries, boutique shops, quaint streets and colourful buildings. The 11th arrondissement because of its endless eateries, wine caves, gardens and seriously good boulangeries. It’s a fantastic mix of young families, elderly that have lived here most their lives and young people. You will also spot the red michelin stamp of approval often here. It’s the perfect area to meander and feel safe without the (sometimes) parisian annoyance you get in more touristic areas.
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? People everywhere love kiwis – you don’t really see the impact of this until you travel offshore. This alone opens you up to more experiences, meeting new people and making connections because Kiwis as a whole are seen as good, kind, fun, down to earth and hard working.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Green spaces that are not curated. Being able to drive to some nature or a space without people very easily.
What do you think will be the big issues or events which will command attention this year? The cost of living – it’s global and maybe we will see a shift in how people live based on this both at home and overseas. Thanks to the silver lining of covid where remote work has become more accepted, this could mean that we see more people living ‘off the grid’ or choosing to sell up and spend chunks of time living and working remotely in countries where the base cost of living is lower.
Finish this sentence “In 2023 the world needs more…..” Kindness and connection.
James Turnbull, Slany, (a small town 30 minutes outside Prague in the Czech Republic)
How long have you lived offshore? I moved to the Czech Republic in 2003.
What do you love most about the Czech Republic? The Czech Republic is a great place to visit, but it’s also a great place to live. People here are friendly and happy and there is so much to see and do. Czechs have a wicked sense of humour much like our own and they love their wine and beer. As the economy transitions from the post-communist phase there are also all kinds of great business opportunities – although to be fair, that transition is pretty much complete. We are right in the centre of Europe. From my front door I can be in a different country in just over an hour. Berlin and Vienna are a day trip.
If someone was coming to visit the area, what are two places you would recommend them to visit and why? Everyone who comes to Czech visits the ‘standard attractions’: Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square. But there is far more to see than that. I would encourage everyone to try to stay a couple of days extra and get outside Prague to visit places like Cesky Krumlov or Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad).
What’s the best thing about being a Kiwi offshore? People here know and like New Zealand. A surprisingly large number of the younger generation have been there – on holiday or fruit picking. Those that have not been, want to go. Local Kiwi are something of a novelty item there are only a few hundred of us in the entire country – so it is never that difficult to start conversations.
What do you miss the most about New Zealand? The sea! We are 7 hours’ drive away from the nearest beach, and if you want actual waves, then that jumps to 15 hours. Almost worse, because there is no sea, there is also not much sensibly priced fresh seafood. So an annual trip to the ocean to ‘get my fix’ becomes absolutely essential. In New Zealand I lived close to Muriwai beach, but of course you don’t really appreciate the value of something until you don’t have it anymore. Oh, and lamb. Lamb is not really a thing here. Pork, chicken, beef; that’s it!
What do you think will be the significant issues or events which will command attention this year? From where I sit as I write this the distance to the Ukraine is roughly the same as the distance from Auckland to Wellington. Because of that there is only one big issue – the war. It is having an immense impact on life here in every way. People here have genuinely welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees with open arms. It was just 54 years ago that Russia last invaded the Czech Republic. Czech membership of NATO changes everything, but people here take what’s happening on the other side of the fence very personally.
Finish this sentence “In 2023; the world needs more…..” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc