Armand has been living in Australia for 4 years and just got his double nationality.

November 20th, 2011

In Cairns where he has to go for administratives matters.

Visit the photo gallery : Armand

Armand came 4 years ago in Australia. First he was planning to travel and then to work to complete his training in the area of hospitality. He is originally from Beaujolais and then went to study in Lyon (France). He had heard about Australia a lot before from his friends, who all came back mesmerized. So ha had decided to see it through his own eyes. He ended at the top of the east Australian coast in Port Douglas (40 km up Cairns), poch seaside town, after a travel along the east coast with a friend, who then came back home (in France). That was his first travelling for a long period to live outside France, which has been positive, as he hasn’t come back !

On the road between Port Douglas and Cairns. The first time that Armand arrived and saw that he loved the place straight away.

Since that he has been working a lot to save money for travelling, among else in India, and then to build his own buisness. He has been working hard as a waiter, dishwasher, cook, which gave him a lot of experiences and to get quite quickly a position as a manager. He has done it in the hotel and restaurant « Hi Tide », by the sea in Port Douglas.

Swimming in a river of Daintree's rain forest.

Since that Armand came back in France twice. His goal was at getting his residence in Australia because it’s now his country as well and he says that it brings him some safety : he is sure that he will always find a job and that it will be sunny and warm ! To achieve that he has been sponsorized by his boss (to get a visa to work which is quite expensive if not paid by a compagny if you stay for more than a year). After 4 years he had to pass an exam (which he found quite easy) about Australia (its geography, politics and so on). That’s it, he is now franco-australian.

Reading time by the Blue Hole, a spot where the river is very blue in the rain forest.

He is going to travel for a year now and plan to come back in Port Douglas after that, where he thinks that he can find some work easily and where he can save money without difficulties. But plan can change quickly… Also he has some real and deep friend over there now, who have been like « family » during those years. Indeed although there is Skype (which allows to talk with a video through the internet) he is far from his true family. He has always been living with housemates which allowed him to meet a lot of people from all over the world. He feel totally well-integrated, among other reasons one is that australians are used to this mixe of culture.

English breakfast with his indian friend Rupa.

He explains that to speak English was first really hard for quite a long time, and when he is tired or speaks with somebody who has a new accent to him he still find it difficult. But he is proud of his « French accent » which is very often considered as sexy. He also misses good cheeses, good wines and French gastronomy, and to stay around the table for eating for hours and then to talk about politic (very typical French). But he has met some friends with whome he can do so and can find some good products imported from France when he goes to Cairns in special shops (only problem : it’s very expensive!). It’s balanced with the amazing quality of life that he finds in Port Douglas : it’s very sunny and warm all along the year, the ocen is beautiful, people are relaxed, he is leaving less than an hour from the rain forest at Daintree and Cape tribulation, where he has seen crocodiles and this funny animal nammed cassowarrie. He is also living by the Great Barrier, which is a huge barrier with a lots of pretty corrals along the north east coast of Australia. And, he appreciates the fact that work doesn’t miss while he always hears the French to complain about unemployment.

Armand is smiling while he is working at the restaurant « Hi Tide ».

Armand doesn’t forget his French ots, that he likes and claims. But today he feels more like a « citizen of the world ». if you go to Port Douglas he recommands to sit in a café and to observe, to look at the people walking, at the peacefull and cheerful atmosphere of this town. Then go for a boat trip to the great barrier to snorkle or to dive if you can. Try to get 2 or 3 days to camp at the rain forest in Cape tribulation, you are going to feel totally immersed by this wild nature.

Lookout on Cape Tribulation and its jungle. Far on the end is the Great Barrier.

Stéphane, has been living in the eco village Crystal Water for 7 years.

October 17th, 2011

Visit the photo gallery : Stephane

Stéphane is 40 and has been living in Australia for 7 years. First he wandered around the world sometimes on his own and sometimes with an Australian girlfriend that he met over there. They had two children and even though they are not together anymore they raise them alternately.

Stéphane's house, looks like one from the brothers Grimm's tales.

He has been living in Crystal Water for 5 years among kangaroos, wallabys and an amazing nature, where he is gardener and road-mender. This eco village ( located at the east south of Queensland area in Australia (26 km from Maleny) was created about 20 years ago. There are about 200 houses and most of the population is part of the cooperative based on the permaculture principle. Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs; it’s a system of design where each element supports and feeds other elements, ultimately aiming at systems that are virtually self-sustaining and into which humans fit as an integral part.

Stephane does the maintenance of the roads, fences and different common places of the village (600 acres). He also helps some people from the village to keep there house nice. He collects and grows

Wallabys are walking around

rare seeds of trees and acts to make them growing back in his area, the Queensland.

How do you feel about your emigration?

I am feeling great about it, I have build my life there with my children, friends and job. I would have done the same if I would have been in France.

He had learned about it while he was living there. He is very happy with his integration, probably thanks to the alternative way of life he is living. He believes that they all have a lot of common ideas, the way of thinking about life on topics like education or politics. Also there are many people who come from different parts of the world.

Nowodays, his life is bringing him more and more to the eco-agriculture, natural agriculture

After a swim in the river Stéphane helps his neighbours who have some troubles this day to move the cows to another paddock.

(Masanobu Fukuoka) “forest-garden” and common agriculture. He is one of the originator of the common vegetable garden and is part of the common dairy with six others, where everyday somebody different is coming to milk the cows.

Where are you from?

From the stars?! I was born in Châteaubriant, we used to live in Rennes for my 14 first years, then we moved around Paris, and then in the south west part of France.

Stéphane is doing his own garden.

Why did you decide to leave from France?

I originally left to improve my English speaking, I wanted to work there, but I first had only a tourist visa and couldn’t work in the field I wanted to work in (luxury hospitality). So then I have picked up fruits.

Have you had already lived abroad before?

Crystal water at twilight, always a magic time.

Crystal water at twilight time, always a magic time.

Yes I used to live in England for 3 months where I was working in a hotel. Then I have spend one and a half months in Barcelona during the 92 olympics games, but my surroundings was mainly French.

Why did you choose Australia?

A friend came to visit me for a week-end when I was living in Rennes (France), he was with an Aussie woman,

A banyan fruit. This special fruit is native from this area. It tastes and has a similar texture as chestnut. Every year there is a festival organized around it to celebrate its arrival. This old tradition gathers locals from the surroundings for a day of g

Julia, I had just left my job and was thinking about going abroad to improve my English speaking. I wasn’t interested by the States and I had already been to England, so I was thinking about Scotland or Ireland. At the end of the week-end julia gave me her parents’ phone number in case I would get there. So I went there for 3 months then to New Zealand for 6 months and went again to Australia for 3 more months. The day I left I was thinking at the airport that my story there wasn’t over.

Stéphane is selling his trees at the market, like every market days.

When I came back in France few things in me had changed, I felt a want to live in a different way I was understanding the world LIVING in a deeper sense. At this time it wasn’t really clear in my mind I was confused and was looking for answers to my questions. After few months spend at my parent’s I went to Scotland with one of my friend’s phone number. There I have been working for two months and left on a road trip, hitchhiking (France, England, United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain) meeting people from different background and kind of life. I was randomly following the coincidences one after each others like if I was climbing up a stair. I went to Australia again with a 3 months visa but I couldn’t re new it so I came back to France, went to festivals, grapes harvesting, fruits picking up with a group of friends and with three of them I came back to Australia.

After a couple of months we took different roads. I stayed for sometimes with an aboriginal community, who helped me to get an extension to my visa, so I stayed with them for longer.

Everything started with a simple phone number during a meeting in France. So he went there but because he couldn’t get a visa he kept travelling for more than 4 years picking up fruits in both sides of the world.

It’s during his third visit in Australia that he met Zoe, the woman with who he shares two children.

What are you missing from France?

My family, some old friends with who I have lost contact and a part of the French culture.

He admits that sometimes he can miss a good French meal (yes… the famous cheese!), but he is satisfied here and balances that with all his activities, experiences and people he had met here.

Stéphane is using an old machine to select the « Acacia Macradenia » seeds. He keeps an artisanal way to work on this tresor. These seeds make trees with vivid yellow flowers and are natives from Australia.

The machine helps him to share the seeds from the wastes.

He sees his parents about once every two years and the rest of his family less.

He doesn’t think that he will go back to live in France, he is happy with his life over here. But he would like to bring his two children for about 6 months to show them his roots and to make them travel. He doesn’t go to France often (average of about every 3 years) and his parents came only once. He misses his mother but he had built and found a new family here.

He speaks English really well now, language that has come naturally throughout his travels. It helped that he used to live in England for about a year before he came to Australia. He heard about Australia while he was working as a waiter, then he decided to see it by himself. Once his visa expired he decided to stay. First the government refused to extend it, but the second time he got it.

What have you kept from the French identity?

Pleasures of the table.

Stéphane is selling his trees at the market, like every market days. 4. He informs curious people.

Do you feel well about the language?

Yes totally. Humor and expressions are an endless discovery.

How many years did it take you do feel comfortable about it?

I cannot count with years, it depends with who and of the environment.

If you go over there he recommends you to come on a Saturday when there is the market. The farmers from the village gather to sell their fresh organic vegetables and fruits depending on the season, some honey, home-made cakes, bread cook in their common brick oven, a restaurant with vegetarian or healthy food, and Stéphane sells his seeds and young plants of unusual trees. Also you will enjoy listening the village band (Crystal Limba) that plays cheerful songs only on drums.

An article about “Insider : Outsider”

September 30th, 2011

“North & South” magazine (NZ) on its June 2011 issue talks about the project.

Pierre, in Australia since 47 years!

June 2nd, 2011

Pierre is seated in his living-room. In the background is an aboriginal piece of work.

Visit the photo gallery : Pierre

In his quiet and peaceful apartment Pierre is telling me his story. I’m feeling like I`m in a museum… Pierre’s hobby is aboriginal art and he has been collecting paintings, objects and sculptures for years that are decorating his cozy apartment. He is one of the first to pioneer the collection of this kind of art. But because he has moved out of his big house by the beach to a smaller apartment in the heart of the cultural capital of Australia, Sydney, he has had to sell a part of it. He is now 69 years old and has been living in Australia for 47 years. Here are his words…

I was born in Tourcoing (north of France) on 11th of April 1942. I studied marketing and textile in a famous high school in this area, which was at this time the capital of French textile. Woolen industries of Roubaix/Tourcoing were famous all over the world. When I went into the army and a small woolen company who had a branch in Australia since the 1900’s has hired me.

Pierre enjoys books and wine. This book is open at a page which depicts aboriginal rituals. artistic creations are the results of these rituals. Just near an Australian rosé.

When I turned 22 in 1964 they sent me to Australia (12th Aug) with a 3 year contract that has been renewed again and again. And now, that’s an old story as I am still living here in Australia.

I had to buy wool in suint (from sheeps) at the trade market with the quality that was demanded by European clients. Markets were at the north of Australia : Sydney, New Castle, Goulburn and then Brisbane. I was travelling there by car or plane.

After 22 years the company closed so then I began working for our Australian broker on purchasing, and no longer selling wool. I had to deal with the French and Italian clients, as well as with Chinese, which led me to travel over there 8-10 times per year.

When I was around 50 years old I decided to work for myself in my house in a small office. The fax and mobile era gave me a total freedom. My house was by the beach. I was wearing shorts and had my feet in the send every day! I became an agent for Chinese government al Cooperations. and had my feet on the send ! I became an agent for Chinese government al Cooperations.

Details of an aboriginal painting. Little spots are usually realised on the ground with color pigments on the sand. Artist : KATHLEEN PETYARRE , 122 c m x 122 cm, 2005me le sol, sur le sable, avec des pigments. Artist : KATHLEEN PETYARRE , 122 c m x 122 cm, 2005 -Artiste represente dans plusieurs musees dont celui de Lyon et Quai Branly.

At age 56 and thanks to the Australian law I could access to my retirement funds.

My emigration has been a dream come true because I came here when I was 22 years old, with a 3 year contract and 2-3 months of holidays per year with expenses included. It does sound too good to be true! When I turned 27 I became the only person in charge of purchasing at the branch. I was often working 60 to 70 hours per week excluding transport hours. But I was my own boss. Every second year I would come back to France to visit the Head Office. And then when I was working for the Australian company I would go back to France every one or two years.

Morning ritual : Reading the news paper and on sunny days on the balcony. Behind him the financial district of Sydney, the famous Harbour bridge and the botanical gardens.

When I arrived here in 1964 the French community from the North of France was quite large. After two years of living here I realized that if I wanted to improve my Australian integration, I would need to keep myself separate from French community. In 1967 I met my partner Ken and we’re still living together after 44 years. Ken was studying pharmacy at Sydney University and he is now retired after owning several pharmacies.

Being gay in Australia during the 60’s never gave me any problems. I have been accepted by Ken’s family really quickly, although they are very conservative being from the north of France. My parents treated Ken like a second son and few of my uncles accepted him as family. We traveled often to France – last year for example we have been living there for 4 months (in Provence, south of France), we rented a country house in a small village.

Every mornings at 10 a.m you can watch the French news on an Australian channel. Pierre tries not to miss it.

Of course I missed my French family at first. But little by little it has been replaced by Ken’s family and our friends who come from Australia and all over the world (South Africa, Germany, Britian, Scottland, Irland etc), gay and straight. During our New Year Eve’s party for example there was 14 of us with 9 different nationalities, but we have all now become Australians !

Yes, I have kept my French passport but I don’t know why… I prefer to travel with my Australian passport now because when I’m travelling with Ken we both have the same. Yes, I have had the Australian nationality since 1975. So I’m voting (which is compulsory here, otherwise you get a fine) and I am following the Australian politics closely.

Aboriginal owl. Utopia - Artist : EMILY KNGWARREYE - Hauteur 51 cm – 1996/1997.

After so many years abroad I am now feeling fully integrated with such traditions as the Australian day or Anzac Day… when we are then having a time with our friends. For Anzac Day, we wake up early, at 3 a.m to go to the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Sydney for the emotional ceremony at 4 A.M. to commemorate the lost battle of Galipolli (Turkey) where millions of Australians and New Zealander volunteers have been. Because I’m coming from the Flandres where World War 1 (1914-1918) occurred and as Australia had suffered a great loss too, to be here during this ceremony has became a yearly obligation.

A message to people who want come to visit us in Australia… Leave your pre-existing judgments (racial, religious, sexual… and others…) overseas. You will feel lighter and born to live again.

The amazing tale of Dominique… Why has she been living in New Zealand for 29 years?

February 26th, 2011

Iris, Dominique’s favourite flower

Dominique, ready to accompany John to his Yoga classes in the bigger town of Oamaru.

The amazing tale of Dominique… Why has she been living in New Zealand for 29 years?

Visit the photo gallery :Dominique

Dominique Davaux has been living in New Zealand for 29 years, with John, her Australian husband.  I am interviewing her in the living-room, drinking some herbal tea (meadowsweet plants from her garden that taste amazing). John, who speaks a little bit French, is leaving after a little while because he has some work to do in the garden, and doesn’t want to disturb us. She takes time to tell me her stories and is looking for some French words that have ended to be hidden somewhere in her memory.  I have been living at their own place during this photo reportage and came back from it feeling like «new»!

Where about are you from?

I am from Vert-Galant, near Paris.

Why have you decided to leave France?

Because I’ve met John!  He came in France through a French friend that he met in India, who told him to come to visit him.  I was in a small village in the Tarn and Garonne area, where his friend was living too.

Have you already had the opportunity to live abroad before?

No.  And I had no intention to emmigrate; I didn’t know that I was a migrant. And I didn’t know at all whereabout was Australia and even less New Zealand! In the plane, during our first travel, on the stop-over in the Philippines, where it was stiflingly hot, I thought «but where are we going like that?  Aren’t we arrived yet? ».  Ahlala… naivety! If I would have known I wouldn’t have done it.  It was total wrecklesssness.

Why New Zealand?

It’s total random!  We arrived here in 1980.  We had been living for a year in Melbourne before, but John had enough.  Before that he had been travelling a lot through Asia, and couldn’t stand living in this big city.  The gap between what he had experienced before all along those travels before he arrived in France, and Melbourne was too big.  So we started to travel with a big car and a tent from there to the north of Australia, following the east coast, and also a little bit in the outback.  In Cairns we met Sheila, an American and John Hayes, an Englishman.  They were travelling in a campervan and showed us a photo album, where there was some building works that John Hayes had been doing, including a meditation hall in a Buddhist community in the bush, in the north of Sydney.  Just on the page nearby was a picture of a small house, and we asked about it.  They answered that it was their house in New Zealand, where they had been living for 3 years but they didn’t want to live there anymore, they wanted to sell it.  Then John said: «A house in the country, why not!».  So they made the transaction with a New Zealand solicitor that Sheila and John knew.

Their house in Waimate

You hadn’t even seen the house?

No, just few photos! And we spent some time camping with this couple (we didn’t want to loose contact while the transaction was taking place in Waimate!). We visited some amazing parts of Queensland together. In October 1981 we went to NZ.  Once in Christchurch we first thought that it was horrible !

In Melbourne John was working as a roof layer and I was taking care of the baby, our first one, a little girl, Arwen.  To me, living in Melbourne was like coming back to the past:  I was living in Paris until I was 23, then I escaped Paris and went to live in la Baule with my first partner and then in the Lot-et-Garonne and in the Tarn-and-Garonne, where I learned gardening.  In Paris I

Souvenirs from France, New Zealand and all over the world

saw everything in black.  I was working in a library, where we had to clean all the books.  All this dust accumulated throughout the years… And this constent noise… But once I arrived here some things were missing: exhibitions, good movies, stone villages, talking with people… But in Melbourne it was actually different, not at all like Paris: the CBD is quite small, although there are many skyscrapers.  Around that there are suburbs.  So we needed a car, whereas in Paris I was walking everywhere.  In Melbourne, avenues seemed so huge, very wide, I couldn’t walk everywhere!  Although I saw many different cultures: for instance the chinese area, the turc, greek, italian, spanish, portuguese, vietnamese ones. It is a very dynamic city with lots of good food, if you know where about to get it.

So once we arrived in Christchurch we thought that there was nothing in comparison!  It was a cultural and gastronomical desert!  When we took the bus on the National 1, which was at this time empty: it was all straight, the road, the railwayline, electric lines and poles, and shelter belts of macrocarpa trees. We started to wonder what have we done??

But we found that people were so kind, lovely, helpful… We had contacts from Sheila and John, who told their friends that we were coming.  We even spent our first night at the lawyer’s house, with his family.  They all came the day after with brooms, vacuum cleaner, cloths and buckets to clean the house.  It was in Morven.  It was a settlement near the train station. In the early 20th century it was a dynamic village with a grocery, a butchery, a bakery, a tea room (a cafe where people could drink a tea or coffee and eat a sandwich while they were waiting for their train to arrive).  But when we arrived there was already nothing left. Thanks to all the friends of John and Sheila, so kind, we thought that it was finally not that bad.  They asked an electrician to come to restart everything because the water supply was working with a pump.  And that’s it, little by little…

In April 1982 I came back in France for 5 months, 2 years after I had gone.  I was hoping to find something that could make me stay, but no, there wasn’t anything!  Of course it was great to see everybody again, but I found odd that there wasn’t really any

Healthy and well-balanced food

opportunity that could have made me stay… There was nothing at all, so I came back.  But it allowed me to escape the fisrt winter here, while John was freezing, working for a farmer.

Then we wanted to buy our own property, and not only a quarter acre! We wanted more land. We didn’t want to stay in this area because there was too much to restaure in this house that wasn’t really well done (no toilet, too rustic!).  In Waimate there are a few hills, it’s nicer, but Morven is very flat.  So we went travelling all around New Zealand.  It was in March 1983, it was raining a lot on the West Coast so we went to Nelson and Motueka then from the South Island to the North Island. We were going from a Real Estate Agent to another to visit houses. We saw some wonderful places but without finding our property, with the idea to make our organic farm.  At this period there was speculation around land for kiwi fruits so it was very expensive. We didn’t find anything during our big road trip, so we came back.

Then our son Raphaël was born.  Eventually in 1984, the lawyer that had helped us to buy our house from Australia found for us

Organic artichokes

a 15 acres block of land in Morven, where it is quite flat, but at least not too expensive! My parents came at Xmas 1985 when John was still building our new house, but that was their first and last trip to New Zealand because they found it too far away, they felt the journey was too long.

Once we moved in we had a flood, 13th March 1986.  The flood bank along the river broke.  It happened in our new house, while we were still unpacking. It took us several months to repair everything, and we had two small children, it was hard. Once that was done, we started our bio-dynamic business, but we needed a temporary organic certification.  Once a year we had a visit from the bio-dynamic inspector who also gave us advice.  Our neighbours, born and bred here helped us a lot as well; they taught us what we couldn’t learn from books. At the beginning it didn’t work really well, organic shops didn’t exist at this time and there were only a few cooperatives.  The trucking system didn’t help either.  But little by little laws were evolving and so delivery courier companies were allowed and started to be cheaper.  First we mainly had vegetables.  Some of these, people didn’t know, such as celeriac, lamb’s lettuce, Florence fennel, scalopinis.  People’s diet was not varied in those days.  We were also growing some Chinese and Japanese plants such as daikon radish, mizuna and giant red mustard.  We had to «educate» people.  I was sending recipes.  And little by little people were trying everything.  But carrots remained our main sale.

Then organics shops started to open everywhere and we also had a box system sent to individual customers living in isolated places.  For those customers I was also trading Demeter or Bio-Gro fruits or vegetables that we couldn’t plant ourselves (like

John and Dominique are working in their garden

avocadoes and oranges) because of the climate. But we were trying not to spend too much energy with transports.

Along the years we also hosted several field-days or seminars on Organic methods, on Bio-Dynamics or Permaculture or maybe we had local gardening groups visiting.  We had students from the organic course of the Christchurch Polytech coming on their work experience.

Was it only both of you to do all of that?

At first, yes.  Then we had an employee 2 to 3 days per week.  She even looked after the place when we had to go to France or Melbourne.

We stopped the organic business and sold the property in 2004, which makes it exactely 20 years, because we could feel that it would be difficult to switch to a new type of occupation.  We wanted the property to keep its value, to stay clean and nice.  So we couldn’t really stay living there without the business.  To take care of this kind of property costs quite a lot.  For example after 15 years we had to cut the trees that took too much space or were giving too much shadow.  Arborists are expensive!  We had planted our trees according to permaculture books, but reallity is different!  We used a scrub-cutter around the gardens and mowed around the ornamental trees; we actually used quite a lot of petrol.  So we didn’t want to carry on like this, we thought that it was the right time to stop. We still wanted to cultivate our own garden, but somewhere smaller.  But once again the property market was inflated.  In two months, between March and May 2004, prices went up incredibly high.  So we had to rent a house on a farm for 3 years while we searched for a small block of land.  We wanted to create a Bed & Breakfast, with a large garden and orchard still using biodynamic methods.  We even made the house plans and the map of the landscaping. And John could have given yoga and massage classes. But we never found the right place in the right location; maybe we were too fussy and difficult.  Finally we decided to buy this house, in the town of Waimate where we are today, smaller with less land.  It is the first time that we live in a town since Melbourne in 1980/81.

Children were gone then?

Yes, during her last year of secondary education our daughter left for 11 months to France with a high school program, and then in 1997 when she came back she went to study and work in Dunedin.  Our son went to study in Nelson in 2001.

One of Dominique’s favourite walk to Waimate’s Hunter Hills

And are they now living in Europe ?

Our daughter left in 2001 and never came back.  I thought she would go to France because when she came back her level of French was quite good, but not enough to get her baccalaureat (equivalent to e-level).  But in France it is quite complex, so she went to England, where it is easier to find a job, and even easier than here.  It is easier about your level of studies and your diplomas, they trust you more. Also you can evolve in the companies quite quickly.  She met an Englishman from Cambridge and so she stayed in Cambridge.

And our son has travelled a bit. He went to work in Melbourne and spent time with John’s family.  Then he left to work in England from 2008 to 2010 with his New Zealander girl friend.  They visited Morocco, Venice, Prague, Vienna, Rome and of course Paris and my mother’s town in the South-West.  He has a French passeport, through me, an Aussi one through John, and

John and Dominique, still in love

a Kiwi one, because he was born here, in Timaru.  So he could have stayed longer, but his girl friend couldn’t stay longer than 2 years with her New Zealand visa.

So he can get three passports?

Yes, but it’s interesting to see that John, as an Aussie, can’t have any other nationality.  He can’t have any other passport, whereas for children it’s possible to have Australian citizenship by descent as well as their original citizenship.

And you?

I made the application for a New Zealand citizenship in 2006.  It took me a while (laughing)! 1981 to 2006!  People were actually surprised to discover that I had not done earlier.  It was a very official ceremony in the town hall with the mayor in full regalia.  We had to swear on a bible and read the allegiance to the Queen.  We received a certificate and a gift of an alpine totara tree.

But are you still French?

Yes and I am travelling on my French passport.

There are some countries, such as the United States for which it would be easier to travel with your New Zealand passport, according to some agreements…

Oh yes! Indeed this is true.  But anyway, we are going only to France, England and Australia.

For Australia, as French I need to apply for a tourist visa whereas if I had a New Zealand passport I would not need it.

And when you first arrived here which were your possibilities to work here?

I was trained as a librarian in Paris but my English was still not good enough to work in this field here.  So I became self-employed and helped John.  I had the Australian residency, then the N.Z. residency.  But when we wanted to buy the property we needed an authorisation from the Department of Internal Affairs in Wellington, at that time. Maybe it’s going to be

Their house in Waimate

like that again soon because there are more and more foreigners and companies who want to buy land in New Zealand, maybe too many. In 1983 we needed authorisations.

How do you feel about your emigration?

Pffff… It’s too far away!

The worse was in 1984 when the Rainbow Warrior bombing occured.  People in this district were just saying lots of jokes, but we know a French guy who had serious trouble in Christchurch.  French people suddenly had a bad reputation and French products were boycotted.  Plus one of the three responsible agents’ name was Dominique (Prieur)!

Our only long trips to France were in 1990 and 1998.  It was for 4 to 5 months, to get enough time to visit all the family and old friends, to get used to the culture and language again, to have enough time to enjoy it, the way of life and all.  But in 2003, 2007 and 2010 we could not stay in France for more than 5/7 weeks and we thought that it was really too short for the expense.

What are you missing from France?

Now I am ok, I’m a hybrid.  Now I know New Zealand and its history better.  But I still miss nice villages, castles, the remnants of Greco-Roman or even older architecture, exhibitions, the language (apart French from Paris because I don’t like its accent, but I really like the one from the south west of France for example).  I was good at French and French literature at School so it was quite a grief not to have this anymore.  I realised that I was identified by all these things and had to slowly reinvent myself, I suppose.  About food it’s ok because we can find good bread now, croissants, good olive oil, but when we first arrived… no!  Wine was expensive and imported.  But New Zeland has changed a lot which makes things easier.  But there is still not much history…

And family?

Yes it has become difficult, especially with my mum who is getting old and and who can hardly move now… Also I have never

Butchery «Havoc», pork specialist at Waimate!

really known my nephews, or the opposite: they have never really known me.  And I’ve missed it a lot.  If we would have lived in France our children could have gone on holidays together for example.  My sister has four boys but they have never come here.

Last time we were in Paris, for the first time one of my nephews suggested he might come over. But he has already gone to Japan, so he is more into travelling than the others.

This year we have met a young French student in organic husbandry, Pierre.  And he had an internship period in the Lot-et-Garonne, where I was living for some time and he knew some people that I knew in 1977.  And randomely we’ve met here.  Pierre was really amazed by the coincidence, well me too.  He stayed in New Zealand for a year and with us here for a week and is leaving soon.  He had 3 or 4 people that came to visit him!  He is the same age as our son and we have developped the same kind of relationship as auntie/uncle to nephew.

Also nowadays communication has improved a lot, with Skype we can talk with the family, it isn’t less frustrating than it used to be?

Yes, for us when we were travelling in Australia in 1980/81 the only way to communicate with our parents was to send mails to poste restante, and we had to tell on every letter where we would be next to get the answer in another city!

What have you kept from your national identity?

I’m wondering!  I should ask our friends!

Probably some expressions and interjections and a bit of an accent.

While I was talking with a Japanese friend I also realised that my vision of the world is very «eurocentrical», whereas his is «asiacentrical».  When he is talking about learning more about his neighbours he would talk about Malaysia for example.

Dominique is buying local meat

Whereas I see everything from the Western Europe point of view.

How do you feel integrated about the langage?

About that I do, now.  But for a long time I had trouble with the accent (stress accent), and it still happens sometimes nowadays.  For years I hated the glazed stare of people who wouldn’t understand me.

How long did it take you to really feel well-at-ease?

15 years at least!  And before I could feel totally bilingual 20 years!  And I was good at English in High School, it was my favourite subject.

How do you feel integrated with politics?

Well, I am a member of the green party, I have always been part of the ecologist movement, but while I was living in France there wasn’t any green party.  Here this party gathers always at least 7% of the votes, here it’s the third party.

How do feel integrated to the life here?

Good, I am part of a gardening association.  I don’t really like how it works: with a president, a secretary, a treasurer.  Meetings can be formal. But we know lots of people now in the district.  That is the advantage of the fact that we haven’t moved too much.

Weeding and gardening are John and Dominique’s main hobbies

We have some american friends that have been moving so much that we are wondering how they can get roots and know some people really well?  I like the fact that I know how to find help easily to resolve any problem, for example.

How do you feel involved in New Zealand traditions?

I find them less colourful.  But I assume that it’s the same everywhere.  Because of urbanisation traditions get lost, it’s less and less colourful everywhere…

For example?

Public parties, such as balls.  Like the 14th of July (National Bastille day) street balls doesn’t exist here.  And all that come from religions. I think that a lot of things got lost while pioneers travelled by sailing ships, because it took at least 3 months by boat, and then they were isolated from their original civilisation.

However there are architectural buildings here which kept British style.

There are also the traditional Fish & chips on Friday evenings, pubs, but I don’t like pubs!

When we first arrived there were no cafes but since about 10 years lots of them have opened.

Have you ever felt any kind of discrimination?

I have been affected by the Rainbow Warrior (Green Peace) drama.

As long as we were self-employed it was all right but when I’ve tried to find a job it has been much more difficult.

My name on my resume -Davaux, I’ve kept my maiden name-, that nobody can pronounce was wrong.  When I had to fill in forms about my studies I couldn’t find any equivalence and nobody knew my schools, so people didn’t consider that I had a diploma.

Daily yoga session in the studio next to the garden

Do you live surounded by French people?


And other foreigners?

Yes, our friends are often foreigners (Americans, Canadians, English, Deutch), or people who have travelled a lot.  We tend to hang out with people who have been working in the organic//biodynamic field or who are doing yoga, or who are artists.


Yes, a few, neighbours…

Do you have the project to come back to live in France?

Sometimes we think that «yes»!  But because John has his mother who is living in Melbourne, 3 hours by plane only, we couldn’t leave, she wouldn’t understand.  We are used to live here now.  In France it wouldn’t be easy either because I am not sure that John could have the residency to live over there.  But after the big flood we had in March 1986 and with this cold wind from the

Tea time at their American friends

south, the sharp breeze from the east, I was thinking that living in France would maybe be better!  But we don’t really want to start all over again in Australia either. At least here we don’t have any fire risks like in Victoria.

Do you feel more French or world citizen?

Maybe both… It’s difficult to answer.

Why have you asked for the kiwi nationality?

Just in case, because for some time there was lots of movement against foreigners.  Also, as I am now closer to retirement than when I arrived here in Waimate I was scared that laws on retirement pension would change for foreigners.

How often do you go back to France?

The first time was in 1982, 2 years after I left from France, then 8 years later in 1990 (with the children), but it was too long.  So many things had changed, even the language!  And then 8 years later again (just with our son Raphaël), which was again too

Dominique and John are extracting their own honey

long!  My family had changed too.  My grand-mother had died in between.  My father was very ill.  I had lost touch with good friends.  And then it was 5 years later in 2003, which was a better time frame.  Then 4 years later, we did an effort for my mother 80’s.  And then 2 years later, this year 2010 (because our daughter had twins in Cambridge) which was better, it was closer.  But the problem is the cost.

La fabuleuse histoire de Dominique… Pourquoi vit-elle depuis 40 ans en Nouvelle Zélande ?

February 23rd, 2011

Dominique Davaux vit depuis 40 ans en Nouvelle Zélande, avec John, son mari, australien…
Je l’interviewe dans sa salle à manger, autour d’une tasse de thé (reine des prés, qui à un goût délicieusement surprenant, car de leur jardin). John, qui parle un peu le français, s’éclipse au bout d’un moment car il doit retourner s’occuper du jardin, et ne veut pas nous déranger. Elle prend le temps de me raconter et cherche certains mots français, qui ont fini par se cacher dans un coin de sa mémoire. J’ai vécu à leur rythme pour réaliser ce reportage et en suis ressortie revitalisée !

D’où viens-tu ?
D’Edna, en région parisienne, 93 qui était le 78 à l’époque.

Pourquoi as-tu décidé de partir de France ?
Car j’ai rencontré John ! Il est arrivé en France par un ami qu’il avait rencontré en Inde et qui lui avait dit de venir le voir. J’étais dans un village dans le Tarn et Garonne, où était aussi son ami.

Avais-tu déjà eu l’occasion avant de vivre plus ou moins longtemps à l’étranger ?
Non. D’ailleurs je n’avais aucune intention d’émigrer, je ne savais pas que j’étais une émigrée. Et je ne savais pas du tout où était l’Australie, et encore moins la Nouvelle-Zélande ! Dans l’avion, pour notre premier voyage, aux Philippines, sans air conditionné, nulle part lors des connections alors qu’il faisait une chaleur étouffante, je me suis dis : « Mais où on va comme ça ? On n’est pas encore arrivés ?! » Ah ! la ! la… La naïveté ! Sinon je ne l’aurais pas fait ! C’était de l’inconscience complète.

Pourquoi la Nouvelle Zélande ?
Complètement par hasard ! On est arrivés en NZ en 1980. On a vécu un an à Melbourne avant, mais John en avait marre. Avant ça il avait beaucoup voyagé en Asie et il ne supportait pas de vivre dans cette grosse ville. Il y avait trop de différence avec tout ce qu’il avait fait et vu pendant tous ces voyages, avant d’arriver en France. On a donc commencé à voyager avec une grosse voiture et une tente depuis Melbourne jusqu’au nord de l’Australie en suivant la côte est, et un peu à l’intérieur des terres. À Cairns en campant nous avons rencontré Sheila, américaine et John, anglais. Ils voyageaient avec une camionnette bien aménagée et un album de photos qu’ils nous ont montré. Dans ce dernier, John montrait les chantiers qu’il avait effectués, dont un temple réalisé à l’ouest de Sydney, dans la forêt indigène. Sur la page d’à côté il y avait une photo d’une petite maison et nous avons demandé ce que c’était. Ils ont répondu que c’était leur maison en NZ où ils ont habité pendant 3 ans mais où ils ne voulaient pas retourner. Ils voulaient la vendre. John a dit : « Oh ! Une maison à la campagne, pourquoi pas ! » Ils ont donc effectué une transaction avec un notaire néo-zélandais qu’ils connaissaient.

Vous n’aviez pas encore vu la maison ?
Non, juste quelques photos ! Puis on a passé quelque temps avec ce couple (pour ne pas les perdre de vue tout de même !), on a visité des coins magnifiques… En octobre 1981 nous sommes donc allés en NZ. Arrivés à Christchurch on s’est d’abord dit « quelle horreur !».

À Melbourne John travaillait dans les toitures et moi je m’occupais du bébé, notre première petite fille. Pour moi habiter Melbourne était comme un retour en arrière : j’ai habité à Paris jusqu’à l’âge de 23 ans (1976) puis à La Baule et au Lotte dans le Tarn et Garonne, où j’avais appris à jardiner.
À Paris, je commençais à voir « noir, noir, noir ! ». Je travaillais dans une bibliothèque où on a dû nettoyer tous les livres ! Cette poussière noire accumulée pendant toutes ces années… Et le bruit constant… Mais arrivée ici certaines choses me manquaient : les expositions, les bons films, pouvoir discuter avec les gens… Melbourne est en fait différent, pas du tout comme Paris : le CBD (quartier financier) a des gratte-ciel –encore quelques petits immeubles coincés au milieu- mais est assez petit. Autour de ça c’est la banlieue. Il fallait donc une voiture, alors qu’à Paris je marchais partout. À Melbourne les avenues étaient immenses, très larges, ça n’était pas possible de se déplacer ainsi ! Il y avait quand même des cultures différentes, par exemple un quartier avec des Turcs, des Grecs, ou le quartier italien, d’autres quartiers espagnol et portugais, vietnamien, chinois… C’est une ville dynamique avec pas mal de bonne nourriture, si tu sais où aller !
Donc arrivés à Christchurch on s’est dit qu’il n’y avait rien ! C’était le désert culturel et gastronomique ! En plus de ça nous avions conduit sur la nationale 1, qui à cette époque était vide, c’était tout rectiligne : la nationale, la voie ferrée, les lignes électriques et les haies d’arbres… On s’est demandé ce qu’on avait fait !
Mais on a trouvé que les gens étaient tellement sympathiques, aimables, serviables… Nous avions les contacts de John et Sheila, qui avaient prévenus leurs amis. Nous avons même passé la première nuit avec le notaire, sa femme et ses enfants ! Ils sont arrivés avec des aspirateurs, chiffons, balais, seaux pour nettoyer la maison. C’était à Morven. Avant c’était un bourg, à côté de la ligne de chemin de fer où il y avait dans les années 80 tout ce qu’il faut pour un village dynamique : un épicier, un charcutier, un boulanger, un tea room (café pour que les gens qui s’arrêtaient en train puissent manger leur sandwich et boire un café)… Mais quand nous sommes arrivés il n’y avait déjà plus rien du tout. Quand nous avons vu tout ces gens si sympathiques nous avons pensé que finalement c’était pas mal ! Ils ont fait venir un électricien qui a tout remis en marche, car il y avait une pompe. Et voilà, de fil en aiguille…

En avril 1982 je suis rentrée en France pendant 5 mois, 2 ans après mon départ de France. J’espérais peut-être trouver un filon qui pourrait me faire rester, mais non, il n’y avait rien ! C’était sympa de revoir tout le monde bien sûr, mais en fait je me suis dit « c’est bizarre, il n’y a aucune avenue qui puisse me retenir… Il n’y avait rien du tout, donc je suis rentrée ! ». Mais j’ai pu échapper au premier hiver ici ! Mais pas John, lui il a eu froid et travaillait pour un fermier.

Après ça on a voulu acheter une petite propriété, pas seulement un mètre cube ! Nous voulions un peu plus de terre. Nous ne voulions pas rester dans la région parce qu’il y avait trop à restaurer dans cette maison qui n’était pas vraiment pratique (pas de salle de bains, trop rustique !). À Waimate il y a quelques collines, c’est plus beau. Donc nous avons voyagé dans toute la Nouvelle-Zélande. C’était en Mars et il pleuvait beaucoup. Nous sommes donc allés de l’île du sud à l’île du nord. Nous allions d’agences de logement à agences pour visiter des maisons. Nous avons vu des endroits magnifiques mais sans trouver de propriété, avec l’idée de fonder notre ferme biologique. À ce moment-là, la spéculation pour les terres avec des plantations de kiwis rendaient ceci très cher. Nous n’avons pas trouvé malgré notre grand tour, donc nous sommes rentrés. Après ça, notre fils est né.
Le notaire qui nous avait aidé à acheter notre petite maison depuis l’Australie nous a trouvé un terrain de 15 acres (6 hectares) à Morven, où c’est aussi assez plat, mais au moins pas trop cher ! C’est comme cela que nous avons commencé… Mes parents sont venus à cette période, mais ce fût leur 1er et dernier voyage car c’était trop loin, ils ont trouvé le voyage trop long.
Une fois que nous avons aménagé nous avons eu une inondation, le 13 mars 1986. Les digues des rivières ont éclaté. Ceci est arrivé dans notre maison « neuve » alors que nous déballions encore nos cartons. Il nous a fallu plusieurs mois pour tout réparer, et nous avions les deux enfants, c’était dur. Une fois remis nous avons commencé le maraîchage biologique/biodynamique, mais nous avions besoin d’une certification temporaire. Une fois par an nous avions un inspecteur qui venait nous conseiller. Nos voisins assez âgés, « born and bread » comme on dit ici (né et grandi) là nous ont également dit comment faire, ce que nous ne pouvions pas apprendre dans les livres. Au début il n’y avait pas tellement de marché, les magasins bio n’existaient pas, il n’y avait que quelques coopératives ici et là. Il n’y avait pas de livreur non plus à cette époque. Mais petit à petit les lois ont évolué et donc les compagnies de transporteurs ont été autorisées et sont devenues de moins en moins cher. Au début nous avions surtout des légumes, dont beaucoup que les gens ne connaissaient pas, comme le céleri rave, la mâche, le fenouil. Les variétés étaient moins diverses. Nous faisions aussi pousser des plantes chinoises, comme des sortes de radis. Il a fallu « éduquer » les gens. J’envoyais des recettes. Petit à petit nos clients ont essayé les choses. Mais les carottes ont été ce que nous avons le plus vendu.
Après des boutiques bio ont commencé à ouvrir un peu partout et donc nous avons élargi nos variétés. Nous échangions parfois nos légumes avec d’autres fruits ou légumes qui ne poussaient pas vers chez nous à cause du climat, comme le panet (une sorte de carotte blanche que l’on cuit au four). Mais dans l’idée nous essayions de ne pas trop faire dépenser d’énergie en transport.

Vous n’étiez que tous les deux pour faire tout cela ?
Au début oui. Puis nous avons employé quelqu’un 2 à 3 jours par semaine.
Nous avons arrêté en 2004, ce qui fait exactement 20 ans, car nous voyions bien que si nous n’arrêtions pas à ce moment-là nous n’arriverions pas à nous reconvertir. Nous ne voulions pas attendre jusqu’à ce qu’il y ait trop de travaux à faire dans la propriété. Nous voulions qu’elle reste belle et propre, bien entretenue, qu’elle garde sa valeur. En plus pour bien s’occuper d’une grande propriété comme cela ça coûte assez cher. Par exemple après 15 ans nous avons dû faire tailler ou faire abattre les arbres plantés à notre arrivée qui prenaient trop place et faisaient trop d’ombre. Les élagueurs sont chers ! Nous avions planté nos arbres selon les conseils de livres sur la permaculture mais dans la réalité cela était un peu différent ! Les débroussailleuses et scies électriques étaient prohibées mais en fait nous utilisions quand même pas mal d’électricité et d’essence. Donc nous nous sommes dit qu’il était temps d’arrêter. Nous voulions quand même continuer de cultiver sur un plus petit terrain. Mais encore une fois ça n’était pas la période idéale pour l’immobilier. En deux mois, entre mars et mai 2004, l’immobilier a augmenté de manière frénétique ! Donc nous avons loué pendant trois ans une maison. Nous voulions faire un bed & breakfast, toujours dans la biodynamie. Nous avions même fait les plans de la maison ! Et John aurait pu donner des cours de yoga et de massages. Mais nous étions difficiles et n’avons jamais trouvé ! Finalement nous nous sommes décidés pour cette plus petite maison avec un petit terrain, où nous sommes aujourd’hui.

Et les enfants étaient partis alors ?
Notre fille est partie en France pendant 11 mois en échange de lycéens avec une association, et après ça, en 1997 quand elle est rentrée elle est allée étudier et travailler à Dunedin. Notre fils est allé étudier en 2001 à Nelson.

Et aujourd’hui ils vivent en Europe ?
Notre fille est partie en 2001 et n’est jamais rentrée. Je pensais qu’elle allait aller en France car à son retour de son échange son français était quand même assez bon. Pas assez pour passer son Bac français à Orléans, où elle était, mais quand même elle avait un bon niveau. Mais en France c’est assez compliqué. Alors elle est allée en Angleterre où elle a rencontré un anglais et où trouver un travail est plus facile qu’en France, et même qu’ici. Plus facile au niveau de l’expérience et du niveau de diplôme, ils font plus confiance. On peut aussi évoluer hiérarchiquement de manière assez incroyable. Elle est donc restée à Cambridge.
Quant à notre fils, il s’est pas mal baladé. Il a travaillé en Angleterre de 2008 à 2010 avec sa copine néo-zélandaise. Mais sa copine n’avait qu’un visa de deux ans et ils ne pouvaient donc pas rester plus. Lui il a un passeport français, par moi, un passeport australien par John, son père qui est australien et un et néo-zélandais, étant né et ayant grandi ici. Il aurait donc pu rester plus longtemps.

On peut donc avoir 3 passeports ?
Oui, mais c’est intéressant de remarquer que John, étant australien, n’est pas autorisé à avoir une autre nationalité. Il ne peut pas devenir néo-zélandais, ou perd sa nationalité australienne. Mais pour les enfants qui sont la descendance c’est possible.

Et toi ?
Je suis devenue naturalisée en 2006. Il m’a donc fallu pas mal de temps ! (rires) 1981 à 2006 ! Les gens ont d’ailleurs été surpris. Il y a eu une cérémonie avec les gens officiels, on va à la mairie, on reçoit un cadeau, on doit mettre sa main sur la bible et faire son allégeance à la reine.

Mais es-tu toujours Française aussi ?
Oui, mais je voyage avec mon passeport français.

Il y a quelques pays, tels que les Etats-Unis, pour lesquels voyager avec le passeport néo zélandais serait plus simples, étant donnés certains accords…
Ah oui ! Oui, oui, c’est vrai ! Mais bon de toute façon nous n’allons qu’en France, en Angleterre et en Australie. Mais en effet en tant que Française pour l’Australie j’ai besoin d’effectuer une demande de visa, alors qu’avec mon passeport néo-zélandais je n’aurais pas besoin.

Et quand tu es arrivée ici au début quelles étaient tes possibilités de travailler ?
Étant à notre compte, sans travailler dans le secteur d’où je venais (bibliothécaire), je n’ai pas eu de démarche spéciale à faire. J’étais mariée à John et avais mon visa (la résidence) pour l’Australie. Mais quand nous avons voulu acheter la propriété il a fallu une autorisation de Wellington, du département de l’émigration, à cette époque-là. Et peut-être que ça va redevenir comme cela car il y a beaucoup d’étrangers, trop peut-être, qui ont acheté en Nouvelle-Zélande. En 1983 il fallait des autorisations pour cela.

Comment vis-tu ton émigration ?
Pffff… C’est trop loin ! Les seuls voyages que nous avons faits étaient en 90 puis en 98. C’était 4 ou 5 mois, pour avoir le temps de voir toute la famille, de se réhabituer à la culture française et à la langue, le temps de se remettre dans le bain de tout et de bien apprécier le style de vie et tout ça. Mais en 2003 et 2007 nos retours ont été plus courts et alors on s’est dit que c’était bien trop loin et trop cher.
Le pire était en 1984 lorsqu’il y a eu « l’accident » du Rainbow warrior. On m’a fait beaucoup de blagues, les Français ont eu très mauvaise réputation et il y a eu un appel au boycott des produits français. Surtout qu’une des personnes du trio responsable s’appelait Dominique !

Que te manque-t-il de France ?
Maintenant ça va, je suis hybride. J’ai un peu plus d’histoire et connaissance de la Nouvelle-Zélande. Mais il me manque les jolis villages, les jolis châteaux, les expositions, la langue (sauf le français parisien que je ne l’aime pas tellement- mais je trouve le français du sud ouest par exemple très beau). Pour la nourriture ça va car on peut maintenant trouver du bon pain, des croissants, de la bonne huile d’olive, mais au début quand on est arrivé… Aïe, aïe, aïe ! Le vin était très cher et importé. Mais la Nouvelle-Zélande a beaucoup changé depuis ; ce qui facilite les choses. Sauf qu’il n’y a toujours pas beaucoup d’histoire…

Et la famille ?
Oui cela devient difficile, surtout avec ma mère qui est âgée maintenant, qui a du mal à se déplacer… Et aussi je n’ai jamais vraiment connu mes neveux, ou plutôt le contraire : ils ne nous ont jamais vraiment connus. Et ça, ça m’a vraiment manqué. Si nous avions vécu en France, par exemple, nos enfants auraient eu des vacances ensemble. J’ai une soeur qui a quatre enfants. J’aurais pu avoir ses enfants ici en vacances par exemple, mais ils ne sont jamais venus.
Lors de notre dernier retour, un de nos neveux a pour la première fois suggéré l’idée de venir visiter la Nouvelle-Zélande. Mais lui a déjà voyagé au Japon, donc il a l’esprit plus tourné vers le voyage.
Cette année nous avons rencontré un jeune français, Pierre, qui étudie la biologie ici et avait eu un stage pratique dans le Lot et Garonne où il connaissait des gens que je connaissais à l’époque où j’habitais là bas. Et par hasard nous nous sommes rencontrés. Il a passé un an ici et va bientôt repartir. Il a eu trois ou quatre visites en une année ! Il a le même âge que notre fils et nos neveux et nous avons développé avec lui une relation comme de neveu à oncle et tante.

Aussi aujourd’hui les moyens de communication ont beaucoup évolué, avec Skype on peut parler à la famille, n’est-ce pas moins frustrant qu’avant ?
Oui, pour nous quand on voyageait en Australie, notre seul moyen de communiquer était d’envoyer des courriers à poste restante, on devait prévenir à chaque lettre la prochaine ville où nous pourrions récupérer la réponse !

Qu’as-tu conservé de ton identité nationale ?
Je me demande ! Il faut demander aux amis !
Peut-être quelques expressions de langage, des interjections sûrement.
En parlant avec un ami japonais la semaine dernière je me suis rendue compte que dans ma vision du monde je suis très eurocentrique, alors que lui est très « asiocentrique ». Quand il parle d’apprendre un peu plus sur ses voisins, il parle de la Malaisie par exemple. Alors que moi je vois tout du point de vue de l’Europe de l’Est.

Te sens-tu intégrée par rapport à la langue?
Pour la langue oui maintenant mais pendant longtemps j’ai eu des problèmes avec l’accent tonique (et encore parfois aujourd’hui). Pendant des années j’ai eu horreur du regard des gens qui ne me comprenaient pas !

Combien d’années cela t’a pris pour te sentir vraiment à l’aise ?
15 ans au moins ! Et pour me sentir complètement bilingue 20 ans ! Et encore, j’étais bonne en anglais, c’était ma matière favorite.

Te sens-tu intégrée à la politique ?
Oui je fais partie des « Verts ». J’ai toujours été écologiste. Mais en France il n’y avait pas encore de parti vert quand je suis arrivée. Ce parti rassemble toujours au moins 7% des voies. C’est le troisième petit parti ici.

Te sens-tu intégrée à la vie ici ?
Oui, on fait partie d’une association de jardinage. Je n’aime pas tellement la manière dont l’association fonctionne : avec un président, un secrétaire, un trésorier. Les réunions sont assez formelles.
Mais on connaît beaucoup de gens maintenant. C’est l’avantage de ne pas avoir tellement bougé. Nous avons des amis américains qui ont tellement bougé que l’on se demande toujours comment peuvent-ils mettre des racines et bien connaître les gens ? J’aime le fait de savoir où trouver un artisan qui puisse nous aider à résoudre tel ou tel problème par exemple.

Te sens-tu intégrée aux traditions néo-zélandaises ?
Je les trouve moins colorées. Mais je suppose que c’est partout pareil. Du fait de l’urbanisation les traditions se perdent, c’est de moins en moins coloré partout…

Un exemple ?
Les fêtes populaires, les bals, comme le 14 juillet, ça n’existe pas ici. Et tout ce qui vient des formations religieuses. Je pense que ces choses se sont perdues quand les colons sont arrivés du fait qu’ils ont voyagé pendant trois mois en bateau, puis qu’ils étaient isolés de leur civilisation originelle par la suite.
Quoi que, par exemple, en architecture certaines constructions viennent directement d’Angleterre.
Il y a les traditionnels fish and chips (poisson frit et frites) du vendredi soir, les pubs, mais j’ai horreur des pubs !
À notre arrivée il n’y avait pas café. Depuis les 10 dernières années il y en a plein qui sont apparus.

As-tu déjà ressenti quelconque discrimination ?
Le problème du Rainbow Warrior (« Green Peace ») m’a touché.
Tant que nous étions à notre compte ça allait, mais quand j’ai essayé de trouver du travail, là ça a été beaucoup difficile. Mon nom sur mon CV (j’ai gardé mon nom de jeune fille), que personne ne sait prononcer (Davaux), sonnait faux. Dans les questionnaires que j’avais à remplir par rapport à mes études, comme il n’y avait pas d’équivalent et que personne ne connaissait mon lycée, je n’étais pas vraiment considérée car je n’avais pas un diplôme d’ici.

Vis-tu entourée de français ?
Non !

D’autres étrangers ?
Oui on a tendance à se retrouver avec des gens qui sont en biodynamie, en yoga. Et nos amis proches sont souvent étrangers (Américains, Canadiens ou Anglais), ou bien des gens qui ont beaucoup voyagé.

De locaux ?
Oui quelques-uns, des voisins…

As-tu pour projet de revenir en France ?
Des fois, on se dit « Oh oui ! ». Mais comme John a sa mère assez âgée en Australie, à 3h d’avion, nous ne pouvons pas partir, elle ne comprendrait pas. On est habitué à ici. En France ça ne serait pas évident non plus car je ne suis pas sûre que John pourrait rester vivre en France facilement. Quand même après notre grosse inondation et quelques années à vivre ici avec tout ce vent du sud froid, et la brise de l’Est qui apportait des tempêtes, je me disais qu’en France je n’aurais connu ce temps et que ça serait peut-être mieux ! Mais au moins ici on n’a pas de risque d’incendie.

Te sens-tu plutôt Française ou citoyenne du monde ?
Les deux peut-être… C’est dur de répondre à cette question.

Pourquoi as-tu fait les démarches pour obtenir la nationalité néo-zélandaise ?
Juste au cas où… Car pendant un moment il y a eu des mouvements contre les étrangers. Aussi étant plus proche de la retraite que de ma jeunesse, j’ai eu peur que les lois changent contre les étrangers par rapport aux retraites.

À quelle fréquence rentres-tu en France ?
La première fois c’était deux ans après avoir quitté la France, puis huit ans, mais c’était trop long. Tellement de choses avaient changé, même la langue ! Ensuite encore huit ans, aussi trop long ! Les gens changent aussi… Ma grand-mère était décédée entre temps. Puis cinq ans, ça allait mieux. Et après quatre ans, on fait un effort pour les 80 ans de ma mère. Puis deux ans après et c’est mieux quand c’est plus rapproché. Mais le problème était financier. Cependant nos retours étaient toujours très longs.

Aurélien, 28, engineer for DHI, is living in Auckland since 2 years.

November 8th, 2010

At the top of the sky tower, the highest tower in Auckland, 328 meters, from where we can admire a a wonderful sunset of the city.

Aurélien is engineer for DHI (Danish Hydrolic Institute). He modelises rivers, he studies river floods, river pollution, and data with models to know how rivers are represented (flow, level…). He analyses to find sensitive places of the rivers in order to know where to build protection walls… In New Zealand there is a high need in this area because many kiwis who have been studying it are leaving to work in Australia where they can get better pay and enjoy the sun more !. In his company, more than half of his colleagues are foreigners.

Visit this new photo gallery:Aurélien

The lookout is going to 80 km. The hill that we can see behind is the volcano Rangitoto, where we can go for a walk.

Can you explain to me your work, how did you end up here ?

I was doing an internship in France. At the end of it, I’ve been looking for some work, but without wanting to stay in France. So I’ve send my resume to different fields in the same company, all over the world world, with the hope of going to South America, or Asia or Spain. But I have finally ended up here, a little bit randomless ! They were looking for someone with my profile, so I taught « why not ! », and after a month I was there !

… No time to think !

Mostly no time to really ponder. If I would have asked myself too many questions I think that I would actually have never come. That was like a reflex in me : « yes or no » !

… But were you also interrested by this job ?

Yes but I could have done it anywhere else. I think that if I would have tried to balance what was for and against, too many things would have kept me in France. I have gone thinking « I’m going there, trying, and I’ll see ! ». Now i think that it was a really good idea, I have no regrets.

On the road to go to Aurelien’s work, view on the harbour from the bridge that leads to the north part of Auckland.

And so you are leaving to Malaysia in a month ? (he told me before the the interview)

Yes because I’m currently growing in my job : I was looking after rivers but now I’ll take care the ocens (ports, beaches…). But the only qualified personn here is aver booked so he hasn’t had time to teach me. There are many qualified people over there that can train me.

Can you tell us your life here since you arrived : searching for an appartement and so on ?

The problem of my company is that it’s out of downtown. So I’ve fisrt been looking for a place close by, in the suburbs. But New Zealand is a quiet country. Although Auckland is dynamic city , out of town it’s really quiet. So, because I got bored of living in the suburbs, although I was sharing the flat, after 6 months I’ve decided to move on. Nothing happend in the evenings : tv, work… Since I’m living in the city centre, it’s getting better : I have a social life. I first moved in to a big house with 20 people, where I was hanging on more and more to see my friends, go out, until I finally moved on. And few months later I’ve moved again into a new and beautiful and cheap house, well-situated. But I’ll move again to another place beacause these two french friends are going to live in Canada soon.

Where Aurelien is working, north from Auckland

Where Aurelien is working, north from Auckland

I’ve noticed that compared to when I used to study abroad, it’s much more difficult to meet new people now that I’m working. As a student I was constently meeting new people, I had always activities going on, but now that I’m in front of my computer 8 to 10 hours per day, to meet people is requiering much more effort.

And so do you meet people while your are doing activities ?

Actually there is a huge turn over in New Zealand, I have very good friends for 6 months- 1 year, and then they are leaving. So I realize that many people are leaving and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be leaving too ? The problem is that all the people I’ve met are meant to leave one day or another. Having talked about it to some friends who are living here for a while, it seems to be really common. They all told me that after a year, a year and a half living in New Zealand, everybody is leaving, but they have finally met more and more local people. The problem is that this relationship takes a while to build and I don’t really have a group of local good friends yet.

What are you missing from France ?

Where Aurelien is working, north from Auckland.

Where Aurelien is working, north from Auckland.

I’m missing three things : family and friends. But for that, when you are living abroad you know that you can’t avoid it. Then, the food, and… Social advantages ! It could seem to be silly but to work 35 hours per week, the retreat and so on are things that I don’t have here. And because I don’t have the citizenship here, my social situation is different. I have only 4 weeks per year of holidays…

Are there fundamental French things that you’ve kept in you ?

It’s difficult for me to see what is finally being « French »… Sometimes I meet Chinese people with who I havelots of things in common , and French people with who I’m feeling really far away in our way of thinking. It’s a little bit difficult to explain… But the more I meet new people, the more I’m wondering what being French means. When I meet French people, of course, I’m feeling closer to them because we are having the same references (films, music etc) but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, we all have the same values.

Elevation café, just out of Auckland and the beginning of the Waiteke Ranges National park, where you can have a drink while enjoying a beautiful view.

Do you feel that because you’ travellled quite a lot before ?

Yes maybe… I have actually been studying in England for two years, in London and then Newcastle. Between both, I have been studying for a year in Spain (ERASMUS – it’s the name of an european university exchange). I have also done a semester in Hongaria (Hungry?) and an internship period in India. All these experiences were really amazing.

And what’s in the futur ?

In a short term, I would like to go to Spain, but not now because of the ressession, there is not much work. It’s really nice, I had some great time overthere. To me Spain is like France, but better !

So you don’t plan to stay in New Zealand for a long time ?

Actually it’s 50-50… I’m giving myself until September, to see if I can feel like at home. And if in 6 months I’m not feeling well-integrated in the country, then it will mean that I’ll have to go. But New Zealand is a great country where it’s nice to live . It’s part of the culture to have a social and professionnal life well-balanced, and people are really more relaxed than other countries.

Lookout from Elevation cafe on the national park Waitakere Ranges, and then, far away Auckland city.

What make you say that you are not really integrated ?

I have more foreign friends than kiwi friends. Also I’m not feeling like living the kiwi way of life, which is manly based on sport (rugby, running, surfing…) and there green week-end in their countryside houses. But also what does « live like a kiwi » mean ? I don’t really have any answer to that either…
As a foreigner I’m not feeling really pat of this society, I don’t have enough kiwi friends to feel part of the New Zealand life.

Have you ever been victim of discrimination ?

Waterfall in the Waitakere ranges.

Discrimination, not really. It’s a Western country, New zealand is a young country with lots of foreigners. Kiwi people are really open minded and opposite to France, which has 2000 years old of history, here everybody is more or less a foreigner. The funny thing is that they really like France but hate us as well ! It hasn’t been lots of excehanges between NZ and France, they are mainly the Rainbowwarrior, nuclear tests… And in these stories French people didn’t take kiwis seriously… So these subjects are often showng up during conversations.
In France discriminations are much more important than here, and I don’t miss it !
Kiwi people are really lovely and honnest. For instance when you are going in a shop it happens that the seller tells you not to buy the product here because it’s cheaper somewhere else !

How often do you go back to France ?

I’m trying to go back once a year for a month. But because I have only 4 weeks of holidays per year it doesn’t leave me enough time for travelling and to really enjoy New Zealand. But I’m taking one week of holidays in NZ, and there are some long week-ends as well…

At the bottom of the National parc Waitekere ranges : Whatipu.

How is the atmosphere at work ?

Here it’s really relax, kiwi people finish their daya t 4pm…
Photography in the gallery : We cannot display this gallery

Benoit, 33, programmer for Telecom, lives in Wellington since 5 years.

September 17th, 2010

Benoît sitted on the waterfront, behind him Mount Victoria. Lunch break, pic nic outsider while I’m interviwing him.

See the photos : Benoit

Can you tell me your story « before New Zealand » ?

I’m originally from north of France (Lille). I have aldways been attracted by travelling. While I was studying (which level, university?) I’ve traveled as much as I could. I had a 6 months internship period in Bavaria (Germany) and in Canada (Montréal).

Does that mean you speak fluent german then ?

This pyramid is divided in two, one represents the North Island : Te Ika-a-Māui (the Maui fish), and the other the South Island : Te Wai Pounamu (jade water) or Te Waka-a-Māui (the maui waka). The top is green like the Jade stone, traditionnal from New zealand. The country would have been discovered in 900s by the polynesian sailor Kupe, who fisrt saw the clouds cover on the country, which explein its mauri name Aoteroa (« the long white cloud »).

Yep, a bavarian-german !

Then in 1999 I came back to France and worked. It didn’t go well with me, but in 2001 I’ve become a consultant and have been sent all over Europe. It saved me beacause in Paris I felt I ws dying. So I went again to Bavaria in 2001, to Austria in 2002, to England in 2003…

Did you go back and forth or did you live over there ?

I left on mondays and came back on fridays, slept in hostels. I’ve also been to Swiss, Belgium, Spain… We’ve had moved on from Lille. In 2005 it started to become difficult for my relationship, to build something lasting, so I’ve stopped this job. I knew that I wasn’t interrested in staying in France. I am with Seb, my partner, for 13 years but he isn’t a big fan of travels… Whereas for me that was necessary. We finally agreeded on the fact that we’d move away. We first thaught about staying in Europe, I wanted to live in Stocklholm, and he wanted to go to Barcelona. But for him short days in Sweden couldn’t have worked and for me Barcelona was a too big of a city. So we compromised on Munich (Germany). But while we were talking with a friend we realized that if we wanted to have a new start it was better to do it somewhere we both really wanted to be. So we finally decided to go to New Zealand. That was really a dream destination.

So in 2005 we arrived in Wellington (for the first time), we gave us 3 months to see how we liked it and if we could find some work. We have both been 100% happy. We came back to France in december for Christmas and to pack up our staff. In january 2006, we were in Wellington with a job and living in the house where we still are.

Everything happened really fast then !

Actually we fisrt rented the house and have started to buy it since the beginning of the year.

And so is your life here ?

I’ve asked to Benoît that he takes me somewhere he likes to go. It is Breaker Bay, 5 minutes from his place. Some nice fresh air !

Well, first my goal was to travel. When I was talking about it with my parents they weren’t really happy to see me going that far away… but I had the experience of Canada (while I was studying) and could remembered that after a while I needed to come back. So I told them that we would stay here for 2-3 years and then probably come back. But we didn’t excpect such a good life here and that we would feel so good. It has been 5 years now. I think that if we go back to France, it will be because of the circumstances. However, to live closer to the family by living again in an European country, why not. Well, we’ll see.

How do you find your integration ?

I find the mentality here really easy, very welcoming, very flexible. I am fascinated by the kindness of the people here. To explain better what I am feeling here I will explain how I perseve things in France, where I feel that sometimes the way the society is going, the way relationships are organised have made us forgotten about a kind of humanity. Sometimes we forget why things have been made in such or an other way. I understand better the society here, it matches better with my sense of self. Here there are as many indian people, as european people, as asian people… So naturally there are not as much identity matters as in France.

Breaker Bay , Wellington.

Are you talking about rascism ?

In the kitchen a bottle of Calvados on the shelf… A little bit of France here !

Yes about rascism, segregation… Here evreybody is coming from somewhere else. Even « natives » kiwis have actually foreigners grand-parents. People I’m hanging out with here are danish, english… I even have the feeling (although it sounds crazy !) that there is a better european integration here than in Europe itself ! where we are questionning a lot…

A day during a meeting at work, we’ve realised that we were all from a different origin around a table of 10 people, without any kiwi !

So in terms of integration I find it really easy.

What are you missing from France ?

First of all my family and friends. It would be so nice sometimes to share a beer with people from there here ! Also traditionnal sundays with the family… But nowadays there are subsitutes, with Skype for exemple, but it doesn’t replace all.

When I went to live in Canada it was the IRC (connection via a modem). We were writting a line and it took a while to come. It

Billboard of the café that Benoît was running : « Mon Ami » (My friend).

was really frustrating. And phone was very expensive. Now it’s much easier : yesterday I was talking to my mum and could ask her opinion about the color of the house wall that we’re gonna paint again. But it’s still not the same as being together around a table, to share a pic nic, or some time together…

I’m not complaining about food here but French food is still French food ! New Zealanders are becoming more and more gourmets but my dad is a great cook and you can’t replace it !

Otherwise I don’t miss the French mentality. However I don’t throw everything away. We have for exemple, without no hesitation, the best social system in the world, although we are still complaining about it.

What have you kept of your « national identity » ?

I find it really difficult to feel like « belonging to one country ». I used to feel like european, but that wasn’t really it. I have been

travelling so much that I’m not feeling really linked with a country. My education is French of course. But today I’m feeling more like a citizen of the world.

At work my reaction are often more « bloody » than most of all, and I think that it’s my latin heritage ! It can be a problem as I’m getting easily angry, I’m imposing myself. Whereas that here things are done more by « shapes ». To make a kiwi be angry at you need to really push him !

Once a week Benoît is riding his bike to work.

But now, I’m 33, have spend 5 years here, which is 15% of my life, a thing that I can’t neglect. Living abroad is an obvious fact to me, so if we would have to come back to Europe, we would prefer to live in another country than France. Cultural exchange has become really important to us. It could be in Irland, Scottland, Bavaria… Somewhere with lots of nature !

The funny thing is that the French I’m hanging out with here are coming from different horizons with sometimes very different personnality than me, and maybe that if I would have met in France we would have never become friends, and have anything to talk about. But we are sharing a similar opening of the mind, an interrest for what is « besides ». It’s very enriching.

Do you feel well-integrated to your new town, the country, a local community, its culture, language, traditions ? …

I’m feeling well-integrated. I have first been astonished by the fact that after 3 months I was living here I got a letter to subscribe to vote for the next elections ! They’ve asked me my opinion, to participate, which I’ve found unbelieviable ! It was a sign. Here the population is so divers that I’m feeling like a piece of the puzzle.

There are, however, white people (« pakeas » as mauris said), and maoris people who aren’t really going together. I think that’s a shame.

But compared to some other communities in France that are not well-integrated or arboriginal in Australia, it isn’t that bad.

The Red Rocks walk is 20 minutes from the city center, so far away already from the swirling human atmosphere.

The Red Rocks walk is 20 minutes from the city center, so far away already from the swirling human atmosphere.

About my activities here I have opened a café two years ago, nammed « Mon Ami », downtown.  As I’m working in the informatics area that was a new experience for me. We opended in September 2008 but the recession arrived two months after. The beginning was really positive, but we had to close after 2 years because of the recession. Formal matters are really easy here, nothing as complex as it is in France ! Thanks to this experience I’ve met lots of people.

I’ve also been involved with re introduction of kiwis (birds) in the nature around here. I went to pick the traps up (hedges, ferrets, small rodents…) for 6 months.

I have also played rugby. But as I’ve started when I was 30, whereas they start when they are 6 here, it wasn’t easy ! I really enjoyed the atmosphere, but had a big back injury. So I had to stop sports for a year. But I still have been playing for a year and a half. I’ve never had to spend that much time in the emergency ! It’s a very typical aspect of the life here. The welcoming was great, the team had integrated me right away.

And then I’ve opened the café, which took all my time, as I was still working as a programmer during the day.

Dawn time, lookout from the living room, before going to work.

What’s about the English language ?

I already spoke English for several years so I wasn’t worried about it. But kiwi accent is quite difficult to understand ! I have a story about it… When I’ve joined the rugby team I first didn’t understand them at all. So when they asked me something I used to answer « yes » more or less to everything. A day I’ve been thus taken on the yearly rugby trip. Five months after I said yes, they told me « It costs that much, we are leaving next week-end to Australia ! ». As I didn’t know how it would be I have been surprised !  A lot of alcool, a very touristy place… Unbeliviable experience ! Bayley’s in my coffee at 4 a.m. It was tough (lol !) At 2 p.m I was waisted !

The Batch Cafe, Owhiro Bay, Wellington.

Have you already felt any discrimination ?

Once, last Saturday, first time after 5 years. I went to rent a car, have shown my French driving licence, that is usually accepted everywhere here (and by the law). But because it was a French ID he didn’t want to take it. But it’s a minor problem.

Otherwise we are regularly teased about rugby, the Rainbow warrior, but it’s not discrimination, it’s more like a game.

Do you live surrounded by French or people from all over the world ?

All over ! lately because I’ve been very busy with the café, my network hasn’t really grown, as I was working all the time ! When I first arrived I maybe had more foreigner friends, and lately more French friends. Probably because I was looking for something easy.

Benoît likes to walk along Wellington bays and to stop sometimes at the Bach cafe, pretty place, warm and welcoming. Here are two new zealanders met at the terrasse. The woman is actually from England but lives for 40 years in New Zealand. This couple is reflecting the majority of the population : with a mixed origin and out going : after a smile the conversation starts!

There is a kiwi family with whom we are really close. They have helped Seb to improve his English, and then we’ve become friends. We are sharing a common passion, which is sailing. We are going for expeditions together sometimes. Our fisrt Christmas here was with them, which was very important to us.

How often do you go back to France ?

Until now the longest we haven’t come back was for a year. We went back on July 2010 and 2009. And we are going for about 15 days to 3 weeks. We used to try to come back every 9 months but because of the cost we can’t really afford it anymore. Also here we are having only 4 weeks of holidays per year so I have to ask for unpayed holidays.

from June to November there are dozens of wild seals that are resting along the beach.

And finally… Do you have any recommandation to give to people who would come to visit New-Zealand ?

What to recommend ???!!! Most of my favourite places are in the South Island. I like Karamea because of this « Nowhere » feeling that it brings while I’m overthere. I like Still water bay, for the same reasons.

The Red Rocks walk is 20 minutes from the city center, so far away already from the swirling human atmosphere.

Catlins is an amazing place too, but for people who have lots of time, so it goes slowly overthere.

Finally if you want to visit the fjords in the Fiordland, I recommand to go to the Doubtful Sound by kayaking, from Te Anau, at least for 2 days. I shouldn’t tell it because it may bring people, but really it’s worth it, and it’s not really expensive either, and you don’t need to be super  fit to do so, just reasonnably fit.

New zealander sunsets

August 30th, 2010

Clichés, so…
Have they all been photographed? Same but never the same? Uniques, to come and come again…
They are here and remind us the time, and all horizons of the earth.
We can’t create them.
They are inviting theirself,
and settled.
Futurs mornings of the world.”

Stani Chaine translated by Anaïs Chaine

Visit this new photo gallery:New zealander sunsets,

Laurence Ré, 26, a French student of Fashion Design in Auckland.

July 15th, 2010

To see the photos of the report clic on LAURENCE RE, or see them on the galerie menu (on the right of this page under portraits-reports).

Laurence is learning to sew in her Fashion Design school in Auckland.

It was the Sunday 6th of June at Chantal’s place where Laurence lives. It is summer in France, winter here. A beautiful house from where we can see the sea, a luxury of many villas in Auckland. Laurence has been living in New Zealand for 2 and a half years, after having spent 24 years of growing up in Paris.

Can you explain us your situation here ? For how long have been in New Zealand ? What was your way like since you arrived here ?

I arrived at the beginning of the year in 2008 with a Working Holiday Visa for a year. This 1st year I’ve been travelling all over the country. In order to survive, I did lots of different jobs for short periods of time, such as working in a supermarket, picking up fruits and vegetables, cleaning houses, selling pieces of art in an art gallery… My resume had doubled in length in a year !

In Bethell's beach, 40 minutes from Auckland central. A wild and amazing place, an escape so close from the city.

After that year, when I was moving to a new place every three months (Wellington, Queenstone…), I was tired and needed to settle somewhere. So I came to Auckland in January. Because I come from Paris I needed to live in a big city, and I have also choosen Auckland because my uncle in living here. I have found work as a caregiver for autistic or paralysed people. I was a nurse in France but I couldn’t do it here because my diploma is not valid. I should have passed some exams, but I was not really up for it. So I have worked for several kiwis families, including some maoris ones. I stayed sometimes for 24 hours at their place. It made me know how they really live, their culture, their way of life, education, … It was a really nice experience. I could learn about our social and cultural differences, between them and where I am from.

Until a day when one of my friends who studies cinema came to visit me, I didn’t see myself clearly. It had triggered something in my mind about this whole life situation.. Indeed, being a nusre wasn’t really what I wanted to become. Since I was a child I always had in mind the idea of working in the fashion arena.

So I have started to study Fashion Technology at New Zealand Fashion Tech for 6 months. I am following 3 different classes : the first teach me the technical aspect, then I will learn how to make patterns and finally I will learn how to create my own brand of cloths.

Where have you been living during all this time ?

While I was travelling I was sharing houses with different people.

Same when I first arrived in Auckland. It’s very common here. Then I have moved into my own flat. It was the fisrt time in my life that I was living by my self.

Since I have started to study again I can’t pay for that anymore. So I am living with Chantal and her husband. Chantal is French (with a French father and an american mother), who has been living here for 16 years. Her husband is English. I’ve met her when I arrived in Aucland through the French network : there are some drinks organized by a French association who gather the French aucklanders aiming at greeting the new arrivals.

During the lunch break, Laurence is playing dominos with her kiwis school friends.

Why did you decide to leave France ?

Because I could not stand my work and the stress anymore. I was working in the cardiology departement. In two years I could see my amount of work considerably increasing, but of cousre not the pay. In France nurses are not respected for what they do. It disgusted me.

I needed to change everything. I wanted to go away, to travel, to experience the unknown… That’s it !

Did you leave France before that ?

The summer before I came here, I went to Canada for a month, by my self, on holidays. It was my first step towards this adventure ! When I came back to France, I felt very quickly that something was wrong. I realised that I was too young to live the life I had : « metro, boulot, dodo » (french expression to say that you are into a routine, litteraly translated by: go to the metro, go to work, and go back to sleep before you’ll do it again and again).  Three weeks later I gave notice at work that I was living.

After a quick walk to the top of Bethell's beach, the lookout offers an amazing landscape.

About administration, what allows you to stay here more than the traditionnal Working Holidays Visa ?

I am here now as a student. During the 2nd year I will be half on holidays, half on internship periods. I eventually hope to be sponsored by a company to stay more.

Laurence's hands are drawing a pattern with a chalk.

Would you like to become a resident ?

Not really… After my studies I would like to stay maybe for a year or two, and then come back to live in Europe or to live maybe in an other country. But you never now what tomorrow will bring. I planned to stay here for 4 months and I ended up being here for more than two years now.

What are you missing from France ?

I don’t know… It’s a way of life, a culture, family, food !

It’s not like I haven’t lived and grew up in a country for 25 years. I am still feeling connected to France. I keep in touch with my family, we are talking often on the internet.

I am thinking about coming back later, when I’m ready to stay in one place, have children, make a family.

My experience as a nurse taught me that life can be very short. So I am trying to seize the day as much as I can. For now I am feeling good here. I am enjoying living abroad. I am learning new things every days. It’s difficult for me to stay in a routine.

To have a car is necessary in Auckland.

Heaps !! To me New zealand is a very young country, multicultural, which keeps evolving and changing thanks to this huge number of different nationalities. Asian, indian, polynesian, maori people and so on.

Wheras France is deeply established in its history, its culture, that doesn’t change as fast as here.

Kiwis people are really welcoming and nice. But it’s difficult for me to create deep friendships such as some that I can have with French people or other foreigners that I’ve met here.

How do you live your emigration ?

Quick walk

Really well ! I am enjoying the relax aspect of New Zealand.

And so do you have more french friends ?

I know many French people, indeed. And we all know each other, more or less. We hang out together a lot. It’s maybe a kingdom of fraternity.

What have you keep from your « national identity » ?

I consider that when you are growing in a country you keep its identity for life. Education stays in you. Our early years are fundemental. I am feeling French before any other nationality.

Laurence's wall in her school.

Do you feel intergrated in your new country, new town, its politics, local communities, cultures, language, its traditions ?

Yes I like Auckland very much. I was missing the sea when I was in Paris. Here you can see it where ever you are. It makes me feel like if I am always travelling.

About politics I have never been really involved into it in France and it’s the same here.

About culture, I realize that I start to be impregnated by it… through little silly details ! Such as getting into a jogging suit to go to work, open a bottle of wine by unscrewing it… To spend lots of time to text people because it’s too expensive to call people. To drink a glass of wine when I am going out in a pub (in France I used to have a beer or a cocktail, wine is for dinner), to wash dishes without rinsing them ! I don’t really know !

About the language I speak the « franglish » ! The first three months where quite difficult, but now it isn’t a problem anymore. Sometimes I forget some words, but it’s ok.

New zealanders skies are often very impressive

Have you ever felt any disrimination ?

Yes, once. I was working in a vineyard, and one of the employers didn’t pay us . After a month I went to threaten him, telling him that I would file a complain with the work council if he wouldn’t pay us, and that it was not because we were foreigners that he didn’t had to pay us. The day after I had the money on my bank account !

But I think that French are really well- integrated and that kiwis are very welcoming.

Do you live surrounded by local people or foreigners ?

Laurence lives at Chantal's house, in a pretty villa such as many in Auckland, from where you can see the sea.

Not at home ! But I am the only French in my class at school.

Do you feel more French or a citizen of the world ?

I don’t know… I would say more French in my soul and DNA, and a citizen of the world in my way of life…

How often do you come back to France ?

I came back only once since I have left. It took me quite a while to be able to make a step in the other way.

Bonus question : what advice do you give to people who want to visit New Zealand ?

Laurence is drawing a pattern

If you like nature that is where you have to come !

I like being surprised by heavenly landscapes that come up totally unexpectedly after having driving for one hour for no special reason.

To do something simple : to make a barbecue on the beach.

My favourite place : Cathedrale Cove in the Coromandel (north island).