I remember checking into my hotel at Darling Harbour and asking the receptionist where the water was. I’d just flown in from a freezing cold 4am start Wellington to Sydney flight.
It was like an epiphany. I walked through the palm trees and fountains of the harbour with the warm sun and had a sudden realisation that I was home.
From that day I made the decision that I was moving to Australia for good.
People still ask me how long I think I’ll stay here and look a bit surprised when I say ‘forever’.
Here’s why I say that.
First of all was the overwhelming sense of home that I felt and continue to feel in Sydney.
But you can’t run on feelings forever and, as part of my new migrant zeal, I read a book on the history of Australia.
One of the chapters detailed how there were two types of early settlers to Australia from England: the shipped convicts and those who chose to immigrate.
The author’s theory was that the convicts actually made a better job of settling in Australia because, once they were freed, they had nothing to go back to and made a better go of the new opportunities and adapted to the new conditions.
The voluntary migrants harked back to Mother England and didn’t settle as well. They tried to recreate the life they had in England and didn’t adapt as well.
I decided that I was going to adopt the convict strategy and force myself to forge a new life in my new colony. I banned myself from New Zealand media and old connections. I saturated myself in Australian news and read lots of books on Aussie history and politics. I went on tours of Canberra and the New South Wales parliaments and followed Mike Baird on Twitter.
I even tried
to convince people that I was ‘from Sydney’ but my accent betrayed me so I was,
and always will be a Kiwi. Making new friends and social connections was one of
the hardest things but I’m glad I pushed through the pain barrier and the seeds
I’ve sown are bearing fruit now.
Slowly, as I’ve got more planted, I’ve allowed more ‘’New Zealand” back into my life. I still listen to Radio New Zealand at work any my family recently visited and we did all the tourist things in Sydney which was fun.
I go to a physio from Auckland and one of the other physios says he can hear us in the treating room ‘talking Nuw Zeelund” and it’s like a dull mumbled hum.
Someone asked me the other day if I identify as Aussie now and I surprised myself by saying no, I am a New Zealander. We had to break a few things off to move forward but we're good now.