Name Emma Walker
Duration 3 years
Occupation Part-time secondary school teacher
Interests Walking and running in the Redwood Forest, dining out in Rotorua, modernising furniture and interior design
After reaching a stalemate situation with their jobs, Emma Walker and her husband, who have 18-month-old twin boys, were looking for a change in their lives.
“We wanted to move before the boys started school or we knew we would never do it,” Emma says. “We chose New Zealand because there was no language barrier and for work we didn’t need to retrain.”
Emma’s husband works in health and safety. She says he had three interviews for jobs in Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua and they choose Rotorua because of its central location.“
We have found the quality of life fantastic. It’s a really good climate in summer and winter is not as harsh as they United Kingdom so you can spend more time outdoors.”
In particular, Emma says she has found the play / park facilities brilliant for the children. “They are clean, safe and tidy, which has been nice for the children. They are not as good in the United Kingdom.” She says Rotorua has lots of things for mums with preschoolers from the skyline skyrides to the aquatic centre. “The lakes are fantastic and we can just go and sit on the beach or have a picnic.”
Even though wages aren’t as good, Emma says the standard of living is better. “You do get more for your money but certain things are expensive like clothing – about three times as much as in the United Kingdom. Things like shoes, makeup and shampoos are expensive but food is relatively cheap and better quality. You can buy good quality meat cheaper.”
The immigration process was fairly straightforward for the Walkers. Emma says they applied for residency before they came because having young children they wanted to make sure they had work. “We took a trip over about a year before we got residency as we hadn’t been to New Zealand.” Emma says the residency process required a lot of information and she is still facing the problem of getting her Honours qualifi cation recognised in New Zealand. Apart from this, Emma says the main challenges have been having no family or friends here so they have to fi nd things out from scratch. “There hasn’t been anything huge – just personal challenges,” she says.
Since coming to New Zealand Emma says her husband has become very involved in boating, triathlons, mountain and road biking and rugby. The boys are also playing rugby and her husband coaches the team. He also plays football and indoor netball. “He was playing rugby in the United Kingdom but we just fi nd there are so many more opportunities here for people to play sport. It is on your doorstep and more approachable.”
Emma says she has found day care fantastic in Rotorua. “There is a huge choice. I was able to choose what I was looking for. I am pleased with what day care has done for the children. Even if you’re not working, you still have the choice to send children to play centres for free so kids can socialise and so on. “ Emma says she is happy that the schools aren’t zoned so she has been able to make a choice about where to send her children. As a secondary school teacher, Emma says while she thinks the system and standard of education in the United Kingdom is better, she feels the New Zealand system offers more fl exibility and encourages teachers to be unique. She says New Zealand also has more money for facilities.“The buildings are of a better standard and schools have more money. There are nice surroundings and buildings which is good for education and learning.”
Emma says they love all the natural things available in Rotorua like the lakes, hot pools and geysers. “It’s a good location for visitors to come too. It is very central, a tourist ‘hot spot’ so lots of people come and visit us and base themselves here to travel around. The Walker’s are currently applying for citizenship although they have kept their house in the United Kingdom primarily because if they did want to return it is so hard to get back into the housing market there.
“We are really enjoying it here. initially we came for just a few years but we have extended that now,” Emma says.