Posts with tag: beach
Letters from the Southern Man
Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people.
Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.
I mentioned a week or so ago that autumn was slowly winding its quiet way up the country.
Well it has now arrived in Auckland. It almost feels like someone has flicked a switch.
It is a time of year I love and a change that I enjoy (although I could have done with one more month of the amazing summer we have just had). I start thinking about getting out the jacket and pulling on something warmer in the evening. Five months of shorts and tee shirts are not yet over during the day but at night you have to have thick blood or be an English immigrant (everything is relative) not to need a sweatshirt or jacket.
The humid, muggy nights with overnight temperatures of the mid to high teens have been replaced by temperatures of around 13 degrees here in Auckland. Daytime temperatures continue to be in the 22-24 degree Celcius range and there has still been precious little rain. Autumn really is a special time in New Zealand. In the far south you get the trees turning rich reds and yellows about now before discarding their leaves. This colour explosion slowly moves its way up the country through late March, April and May although I heard today autumn is late down south after their summer that has lingered on longer than usual. We see these autumn colours less vibrantly up here as autumn and winter are relatively short and the temperature cools down slowly through April and May before warming up again by September. And with winter, rain. Although it will inevitably come right now my garden is thirsty and requiring constant watering. The fields and farms outside the city and over most of the North Island continue to be parched and dry.
The days are growing shorter and we have just put back the clocks by an hour – the end of daylight saving draws a curtain on summer around here. The sun is now setting around 6.30pm (on the longest day December 22nd it doesn’t set till just before 9pm – don’t forget we also put the clocks forward for by an hour in summer). I tell myself about this time each year there is only eight weeks till the shortest day and then we are all downhill to spring and summer again!
Although the trees in my garden and the city’s parks aren’t yet losing their leaves they will certainly be thinking about it.
It is a time of year when the fishing is nothing short of spectacular as it tends to be every autumn as the fish look to fatten up before the winter arrives in a few more weeks. Last weekend my wife and I caught our daily legal limit of snapper (a superb eating fish for our overseas readers) in a little over an hour. We actually caught about 36 but as the legal daily catch is only 9 per person (and woe betide if you get caught with more – you can lose your boat and whatever is pulling it as well as being stung by huge fines) so we threw back anything under 35 centimetres (legal minimum size is 27 cm) and stuck to our 18 fish limit. That will keep us in fillets for a few weeks.
At this time of the year the fish practically jump in the boat. We use two hooks and flasher rigs and I cannot tell you how tired we got of hauling up two fish on each line every time the bait was lowered 40 meters to the bottom. We caught our limit too quickly. Seriously, the fishing is that good at this time of year.
However, as the fishing won’t get this easy till next summer and the seas can, at times, get quite rough through winter I am heading north next weekend to have a final crack and fill up the freezer before the fish lose interest and head into deeper waters.
For those living here who don’t have access to a boat you can just as easily perch yourself on one of the wharves in downtown Auckland and try your luck. Plenty a feed of fish are caught down there – people fish in their lunchtimes!
A must do for those of you who have recently moved here or are looking to visit is to head to the Matakana Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. I particularly enjoy it at this time of year- wandering around the stalls with their local produce and ready to eat food on a crisp autumnal morning is great fun and a wonderful way to while away an hour or so. This is a very interesting example of rural regeneration and ‘build it and they will come’. This picturesque little village which is an easy one hour drive north of Auckland was, until about ten years ago, a sleepy little village you drove through on your way to somewhere else. With the Farmers Market, their choice of stall holders (all locally produced foods, wines, olive oils, pastries etc) and its layout which resembles something from Medieval times and village shops it is a destination in itself. The Farmers Market stalls are made of rough sawn timber and chunky native wood and each is covered by fabric in faded red stripe. The gravel underfoot is fine and you expect to hear the sounds of knights on horses jousting in the distance. It doesn’t look like a film set – nothing Disney or tacky about it - it is just well thought out and stylish and the coffee, food and produce are great.
I was sitting outside one of the cafes on the weekend and seven ducks – three white and four brown wandered across the road behind me stopping the traffic before waddling up the footpath stopping to see what titbits of food they could coerce out of the diners. They were very comical and awfully cute.
Matakana has become so popular now with day trippers from Auckland in particular some of the locals are moaning about the traffic jams on Saturday morning and the inconvenience. But this commerce has brought considerable wealth to the area and there is a definite whiff of money about the village and surrounding farms, orchards and lifestyle blocks.
I managed to buy and consume in my hour or so there last Saturday a South Island whitebait fritter (whitebait are the juvenile form of native freshwater fish and are a rare delicacy in this country), consumed a Belgian style custard filled doughnut, had a great coffee and munched my way through a bap filled with rocket and a locally made pork and fennel sausage with caramelised onions (makes me drool just remembering it). And I skipped lunch……
We bought seedling lettuces for the garden, basil and coriander to plant and a 1 litre bottle of local olive oil which is seriously right up there with the best we have ever tasted anywhere in the world (and that includes Italy).
Matakana and the Farmers Market is a place to linger. Once you have eaten your fill and/or bought lunch my advice is then to head off to the Goat Island Marine Reserve. This is about another 15 minutes drive. This was New Zealand’s first Marine Reserve and has been around since I was a small boy. I remember many a summer’s afternoon spent there when I was only 5 or 6 being mesmerised by the fish and marine life while baking under our hot summer sun.
The Marine Reserve gives visitors a sense of what our inshore seas must have been like before humans settled this land. It is breath taking if you take a mask and snorkel. At this time of year the water temperature is still around 22 degrees Celsius so it is quite warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit.
The fish are everywhere and literally even if you stand in the water up to your ankles you are quickly surrounded by them – and some are quite big. Kelp grows in great brown swaying beds. Sea urchins litter the seafloor. Crayfish (lobster) dance on their many feet at your approach and slink backwards into their rock crevices as you pass by. Large crusty old snapper will circle you and smaller schools of fish swirl just out of reach. Truly magical and a wonderful way to introduce your children to the way things were and many of us hope one day they will be again. For those a little less keen to get their head under the water there are glass bottom boat trips and kayaks are available for hire. It is also a popular scuba diving spot.
There is even a camping ground there for those that might wish to pitch a tent and stay the night. In summer it is a real treat – in winter it can be cold (not freezing, just cool).
Within 10 minutes drive of Matakana are a number of vineyards so you can always call into one of these for a wine tasting, to buy a few bottles or just to enjoy the afternoon sun, tapas or dinner before the drive home to Auckland.
I hope you take the time to visit these places. They are well worth it and I was encouraged to see a number of tourists wandering the markets and sampling the wares. I must have heard 25 different languages in the space of an hour.
Add it to your to do list.
To see some more great images of the markets click here>>
Until next week
Iain Macleod - Southern Man
It’s been a long, hot, rainless summer for most of New Zealand. It has been fantastic if you like, sun, surf (and fishing), but things are getting pretty dire if you are a crop or dairy farmer.
This time last year we ‘townies’ were moaning of the summer that wasn’t, overcast, humid and plenty of rain. A boom for the farmers reflected later in the year in their incomes.
This year, however, the boot is on the other foot.
Virtually the whole of the North Island has been declared a drought zone which means farmers get access to Government assistance.
Climatologists are talking of this being the worst in seventy years.
Parts of the South Island (the north and east) are also suffering severe soil moisture deficits and many will shortly also be declared drought zones.
Most parts of the North Island have now not received any substantial rain (if any rain at all) for over three months.
Those green rolling hills of the Hobbit movie and post card fame have been replaced by dry, parched, straw coloured fields empty of livestock. Those that rely on rain water to fill water tanks are on short ration (or trucking in expensive water by the tanker load).
Drought is a normal part of life in New Zealand with the last major one being in 2010 and before that 2008 and 2004. What is not so common is to have so much of the country affected so badly.
Given half of what we export comes from farms and forests then any extended period of drought hits our economy where it hurts – in the soil. Perhaps perversely, however, I see that the latest international auction of dairy products saw already high process surge by 10% as international buyers recognise that milk production in New Zealand is going to fall fairly dramatically in many regions. Economists are muttering about a net NZ$1 billion coming off export receipts notwithstanding these higher prices.
This wonderful weather (depending on your occupation) has been caused by a steady procession of large, fat anti cyclones parking themselves over the country for weeks on end acting to block the fronts that bring rain from the south west and the sub tropical lows that come down from the tropics bringing rain with them.
At the same time as we are being parched northern New South Wales and Queensland are being hammered by rain event after rain event as weather systems that would usually drop rain but move on across the Tasman Sea and fall on us, stay put and are pushed south along the New South Wales coast.
This summer cycle is not at all unusual in pattern – Brisbane, for example, gets ample summer rain (far more than cities like Auckland – and comparable with Durban in South Africa for you South African readers) and this is why – but is somewhat unusual in intensity. The north of the North Island of New Zealand usually gets some rain in summer – Auckland averages about 70mm in January and February but that rain usually comes in two or three hours over a few days over the course of those months.
Temperatures have been about normal – mid to high 20s but the humidity has been noticeably lower. Usually at this time of the year humidity levels lie between 70 – 95%. Northerly winds, of which we have received little this year bring the thick moist air and rain down from the tropics blanketing us in muggy air.
So the difference this year has been more than the absence of rain – it has been the significant increase in sunshine as well, drying out the soils.
Although I need to get the sprinkler on the garden every summer to keep everything from drying out, this year I have had to water even more. Up north at my beach house the cracks in the ground are now wide enough to lose a small child down. Okay, not quite, but many are over 3cm wide – you’d definitely lose the car keys.
In January we received around 10% of our normal monthly rainfall in Auckland and about one third of what we would get in February which is usually precious little but at least it keeps the garden ticking over. March has been equally dessert like.
While on things climatological do you know which are the hottest, driest and coldest urban centres in New Zealand?
The answer is all three statistics are held by one place - Cromwell. A small town in Central Otago which began life as a gold mining town and is about an hour and a half’s drive inland from Dunedin towards the bottom of the South Island. This town receives 350mm of rain in a good year, in summer has temperatures in the low to mid 30 degrees, yet in winter averages about 10 degrees. Incredible when you think about it – this is Pinot Noir country, cherries, apricots and other pip fruit, Lord of The Rings looking country. Wonderful really – tussock country where three colours dominate – straw brown of the grasses, grey blue of the schist rock and blue (big towering and wide blue) skies. Long, hot, dry summers dominate this part of the country despite being so far south.
As summer turns to autumn the first touch is being felt at the bottom of the South Island. Daytime temperatures start to slowly fall as the first fingers of winter weather fronts tickle the bottom of the island on their journey eastward.
Autumn then slowly makes its way north over the coming weeks and reaches Auckland in mid to late April. The temperatures will gradually fall a degree or two each month as autumn becomes winter.
And the rain will come for us up north. It always has and always will.
While the farmers will all celebrate the change we ‘townies’ will lament the passing of what has been one of the best summers in many years.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
Happy New Year and can I take this opportunity of wishing you all the very best for 2012.
So where to begin with this, my first Letter from New Zealand in 2012?
We could talk immigration policy, pass marks and so on but that would be a bit dull.
Although I have only been away for three weeks it seems like months. Over my summer (such as summer has been up this end of the country this year) I once again realised that the more time I spend travelling around this country the more I appreciate how lucky my family and I were being born here. And I love to share it with you…….
I couldn’t get out of the office fast enough toward the end of December. For Immagine NZ, 2011 was most definitely a year of two halves. The first presented difficult trading conditions given the ongoing (but still unofficial) cuts to migrant numbers and the difficulties many potential clients continued to experience selling up their homes in order to free up the cash to make migrating possible, but the second half was strong with December being our best in 23 years. Either world property markets are starting to free up or people are just a little more desperate to get somewhere civilised and are taking whatever equity they can extract from their houses and just doing it. Possibly before things get worse.
We appear to have hit the ground running in 2012 with a busy first week. Having a working knowledge of the crazy Australian General Skills Category and related visa categories has allowed us to offer clients greater ‘offerings’ and as I have mentioned before I enjoy using Australia as a backdoor to New Zealand as it often presents a far less complex visa pathway than coming directly to New Zealand.
I want to tell you a little more about a special part of New Zealand where my family and I spent a few days last week with close friends.
Matapouri Bay. Shortly after finishing posting this I am heading back up there for a few more days (the sun is out – what am I to do?) to pick up my youngest son and enjoy a friend’s 50th birthday tonight. Alfresco dining under a balmy summer sky, big trestle tables with brightly coloured tablecloths groaning under a heavy load of barbequed meats and seafood, with crisp salads prepared from local gardens, sweet hot summer corn dripping in melted butter, lit by large candles , a few beers and wine – I cannot wait!
For me there is nothing like spending time around a barbeque (braai to our South African friends) at night with close friends and family, a good local boutique brewery produced beer or world class local wine in one hand eating the best of the local produce and kai moana (seafood) with the other.
The fishing, when the weather has allowed, has been fantastic the past few weeks. They are biting and biting hard and we have eaten and given away many a good sized snapper over the past ten days. So many I confess I am almost all fished out. Catching and consuming I mean. Well, almost…….
Matapouri is an absolute gem. If I could upload a few photos to The Letter you could see what I am talking about but as I can’t(!) you will need to rely on http://www.tutukakacoastnz.com/matapouri-bay/ in the meantime. Check it out.
A smallish coastal village about two and a half hours drive north of Auckland on the East coast (my favourite side of the island) this sickle shaped bay is protected from the open ocean that lies beyond its two headlands. An estuary flows out at one end and is guarded by mangrove forests which are the spawning grounds for many types of inshore fish including sharks (yes, really), home to sting rays and provide predator free nesting sites for many native birds. The headlands are covered in dense native forest.
Last Thursday we took a walk around the northern end of the bay to visit and swim in the (locally famous) Mermaid Pools. Virtually inaccessible to all but mountain goats and very determined humans the afternoon began with a wander though a reserve covered in regenerating and mature native forest. The sun was out and the humidity was high as it always is at this time of year. It was a 25 degree day and the humidity was probably around 90%. The enormous trees acting to keep the sun off us also provided thick, sultry warm air – the type you can feel when you breathe it in. With the village on one side and steep forested hills on the other, a great track has been carved into the soft dark soils by the local Council making the initial climb somewhat comfortable but none the less by the time we got to the top of the first hill after perhaps 10 minutes the heart was pumping pretty hard.
From the top we enjoyed a spectacular view north all the way up to Cape Brett (home to the Hole in the Rock for those of you that have been to the Bay of Islands) which was shimmering blue on a distant horizon. Five minutes or so of further walking along the ridge we arrived at the first lookout and rest stop. Picture sheer cliffs on both sides of you with trees clinging by their root systems (if they were humans I’d be thinking toenails) and a drop of probably 100 metres to the roiling sea, whitecaps and swells generated by a strong ocean breeze lining up to throw themselves at the shoreline. The two metre swells crashed against the craggy greywacke rocks that lined the pebble strewn beaches. Below us Gannets wheeled and dived into the bay, like bunker busting bombs, popping up to the surface with a plump wiggling silver fish in their beaks more often than not. A cooling breeze demanded rest and a few holiday snapshots.
We set off along the trail again and as we walked stole glimpses of the ocean to our left. Sheep grazed in the fields to our right – the old New Zealand and the new. I definitely prefer the old.
Having picked our way down onto the sand dunes we enjoyed a different assortment of native plants – the sand was covered in native flax and blankets of grasses with seed pods that look and feel like rabbits’ tails waving in the breeze.
Then up the next headland and on toward the Mermaid Pools. I suspect this headland is an abandoned Maori pa (fortified village). What appeared to be old kumara (sweet potato) pits were dotted throughout this forest but now trees grow where once the food was stored. These sorts of headlands were popular with Maori as they were easy to defend thanks to their extremely (death defying actually) steep slopes. So steep in places we were hauling ourselves up for 30 metres on (and between) the twisted root systems of ancient Pohutukawa trees and thinking crampons may have been the order of the day! Saplings provided handholds. You hoped like hell you didn’t slip.
When we got to the top and had caught our breath I marvelled at the power of nature to take back what is hers when we leave her to it. Now covered in regenerating forest of Nikau palms, Karaka and Kowhai trees the light filtered through and provided us with an explosion of differently hued greens courtesy of the trees around us. The ground was thick with seedlings wherever there was enough light and I stopped and collected seeds of some of my favourite native trees for planting back at my beach house. There was that pleasant, mother earth smell of rainforest – damp soils, sweating vegetation and rotting wood.
When we emerged on the other side of the summit the view was magnificent – directly out to sea lies the Poor Knights Islands – a marine reserve and one of the top ten dive sites in the world. The sea a deep deep blue, the rocks jagged, intimidating and unforgiving. The spray of the waves as they crashed onto their hardness the purest white. And below us the Mermaid Pools. Two swimming pool size rock pools that lie just above the high tide mark they have only one opening to the ocean. The pools themselves were about 3 metres deep in their middle. Just for a second I thought I saw two mermaids swimming in the largest pool but they turned out to be a couple of female German tourists – close, but no cigar……
We wound our way carefully down the path toward the ocean and the very inviting looking pools. Slipping and sliding, grabbing at the flaxes that lined the path we were being beaten by the sun again but fanned by the ocean breeze. Ahead of us the land disappeared abruptly into the deep churning Pacific Ocean.
Off with the shirt, Raybans and Fedora and into the pool!
Because the ocean never reaches it but the sea gently flushes it through one narrow opening the water never stagnates and was as clear as any seawater I have ever been in. There were kina (prickly sea eggs) and crabs a plenty. Strands of smooth seaweed provided shelter for tiny fish and shrimp that had been washed in on a passing swell. The walls of the pool were dotted with limpets, cats-eyes and other assorted molluscs. Surrounded by sharp angular rocks the pools themselves were very conveniently full of small motorcar sized boulders covered in a light salmon coloured seaweed. Pale, soft on the feet and very inviting.
A truly wonderful place to cool off.
At the end of the pool where the rock face heads back up the headland is the ‘jumping rock’. It doesn’t – you are meant to. Wedged like a gargoyle about 20 metres above the deep water below it is a favourite place for teenage lads to impress the girls by jumping, bombing or to really make a statement, dive off. Shades of cliff diving at Acapulco and no less scary.
Although my days of being interested in impressing teenage girls are far behind me I none the less had to fight the urge to at least make one jump myself. I’ve jumped out of planes enough to think this couldn’t be scarier. Just wetter. However with the words of my far more sensible wife ringing in my ears I resisted the temptation.
A truly amazing spot and one you should try and visit on a hot summer’s day.
As close to paradise as I suspect there is.
On a slightly more mundane and back to work note I am returning to South Africa for seminars in early February. Click here for details. For those of you in Malaysia and Singapore, click here.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod – Southern Man
This is my last Southern Man Letter from New Zealand for 2011.
My bags are packed, I’m going to do the family thing and then it is off to the peace and quiet of Lang’s Beach in northland for three weeks of not very much.
What a year it has been.
It began as 2010 finished – uncomfortable trading conditions thanks to our Government’s ongoing (but unofficial) cut in migrant numbers, flat property markets in the countries so many of our migrants are sourced from, fewer people being able to realise the equity in their homes that funds the move to New Zealand, a tight labour market here making the prospect of finding work (often to secure residence) daunting and the uncertainty in the global economy causing many a would be migrant to ask themselves if they were jumping out of a local fire into a New Zealand frying pan.
I can tell you though that it has ended on a very positive note – for us anyway. The last few months have been pretty good. Although we all have to work far harder for our clients given their heightened fears about what they are doing and the risks they are taking I am not aware of any client who did not find work and we haven’t had a residence case declined yet that has meant our ‘money back guarantee’ required a refund.
I suspect 2012 will continue to be challenging given the uncertainty in international markets.
It is funny though how we view the world. This week there was a business headline in the local rag that trumpeted a fall in business confidence in the last quarter of 2011. Reading through the survey what it actually said was ‘I am worried about everyone else’s business but actually we are doing pretty well in our own and think the next year will be better than this year for us’.
This was a typical survey finding over the past two years here. We worry about the economy but feel relaxed about our own prospects. Weird how it works but everyone I know from manufacturing through construction to real estate is feeling positive about the year ahead.
New Zealand remains well placed to ride it out with low Government debt (albeit climbing) and everyone I know doing their utmost to pay down their own private debt.
The next few years will see further reform of the welfare system which is simply too generous to too many people and the public servants will be twitching as Government signals they will have to keep delivering quality ‘service’ with fewer people. Should be interesting!
Our Australian operation, Immagine Australia has made great strides and it has been a lot of fun learning Australian policy (just to prove our own Government policy makers aren’t the only people on Earth who understand little about migration and the realities of labour markets). Really good fun to use Australia as the welcome doormat to New Zealand.
We are looking forward to growing that business through 2012.
And so it ends for another year.
Christmas here is not so much religious any more, it is a day pass from the day job. With summer heating up it marks the first day of a well deserved summer break. Beaches, books, good food and family time. If you are lucky a few days at the beach – its free, its clean and the water warming with every passing day.
For me it is as I say off to the beach house up north. The fishing rods are ready, the new fire pit has the wood stacked in it, the wine is stacked, the freezer full of food.
All that remains is for me to thank my dedicated team of consummate professionals for their efforts this year. Jo, Kay, Chris, Paul and Karina all take this break knowing that not only is it well deserved but they can pat themselves on the back for another year in which they made a real difference to people’s lives. We all know how hard migration is – leaving friends and family, homes. Security, jobs and settling in a new country is never easy and is always stressful. This small but dedicated team takes away so much of the fear and I can but thank them all and salute them on behalf of all our clients.
And to finish on a lighter note a Christmas ditty put together by Paul. I promise it won’t fry your computer but will bring a smile to your face.
Take care, look after yourselves, have as Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012.
Until, well, next year
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
Waiheke Island is often referred as the “jewel” of the Hauraki Gulf.
Lying 45 minutes ferry ride to the east of downtown Auckland it is an island of incredible contrasts and beauty.
I had the opportunity of spending the day exploring the island with my wife, cruising in her VW Beetle with the soft top down this past Sunday. The reason for being there is that a very good friend of mine is the Chairman of a Trust which he set up to honour the brief life of his 13 year old daughter who died suddenly a number of years ago of meningococcal disease. The Trust raises money to support the locals with medical, travel and accommodation expenses given if they have anything serious they often need to come to the mainland for treatment.
The Trust that he established 11 years ago organizes an annual “garden safari” and he musters the support of 80 volunteers to make it happen. People like me were afforded the privilege of buying a ticket, putting the car on the ferry, heading down the harbour and enjoying a wonderful day in the sun touring some of the most magnificent properties I have ever seen.
Waiheke is a very interesting place. Until about 25 years ago it was very much viewed as a hippie hangout where dropouts and dope smokers used to go to escape Auckland’s rat race and ‘do’ pottery. It has an almost Mediterranean climate which sees 25% less rainfall than downtown Auckland, with around 750mm, even though it is literally only 20 kilometres down the harbour.
The soil is poor and predominantly clay and in summer baked to the hardness of concrete. After European settlement this island which is 20 kilometres long was largely cleared of its native forest and turned into farmland. Around 20 years ago, however, Aucklanders with money along with migrants or foreign investors realized what a treasure this island was with its pristine beaches with golden sand, clear waters and many safe anchorages and harbours which was perfect for building holiday homes, permanent residences and parking the super yacht.
Vineyards and olive groves were planted and are now common. Some of New Zealand’s best world class wines are produced on Waiheke; there are now many cafés and restaurants and it has become a bit of a Mecca for day trippers and boaties of Auckland who will often head down there for a night or two.
One thing which really struck me about Waiheke is that it is something of a microcosm of New Zealand but without much in the way of middle classes. In some ways it represents what New Zealand used to be i.e. a population overwhelmingly of European ethnicity unlike Auckland which is these days so multi ethnic and diverse with 40% of its residents not having been born in New Zealand.
Equally and of some surprise if not shock is the amount of wealth that is now down on that island.
Nestled (or standing out like the proverbial dogs bollocks) among magnificent rolling gardens attended by full-time garden staff are stunning architecturally designed houses with helipads alongside and some even have landings to tie up the super yacht or very large pleasure craft.
That these people have opened up their properties to the Trust is quite wonderful and allowed a few nosey Aucklanders to get a glimpse of some of the sculpture and other artworks these people possess. I can tell you it is jaw dropping.
Sometimes clients who come to New Zealand question how much wealth is here but I can tell you after an afternoon on Waiheke it becomes quite obvious – there is far, far more than what first appearances might suggest. I only visited five properties and at least two of them had sculptures in their garden which cost tens of thousands of dollars each.
A close family member of mine who met us out there also told me of a friend of his who recently spent NZ$500,000 on a sculpture for her property. I understand she has several. She is, with due respect, a ‘no name” in New Zealand as in if I mentioned her name to any of my friends no-one would ever have heard of her, yet she is clearly utterly loaded. Out on Waiheke she is one of many.
At the other end of the spectrum I believe a few of the hippies or their offspring are still there. With their unkempt hair and sandals many are driving around in cars that wouldn’t fetch much more than $200. Their houses are modest.
I suspect that there are many people out on that island who are reliant on Social Welfare to a greater or lesser extent and it makes for interesting public meetings from all accounts. For example, one of the wealthy owners wants to put in a marina for the boaties who use the island or who live on it. Of course those of more “green” persuasion are fervently opposed and I understand that it can take an eternity to find compromise and decide on whether projects should go ahead.
For all that it is an utterly wonderful environment and it must be great to raise kids out there. We sat in one garden, perched on a sandstone promontory of land watching a flock of Gannets diving into a bay 150 metres below us and coming up with their mouths full of fish. Other friends of ours were out on Waiheke enjoying the same garden safari and they were lucky to sit in one of the local cafés and watch three Orca (killer whales) cruise through the bay below them.
As Waiheke has grappled with population growth and sub-division it is, to my way of thinking, another great example of how coastal development and compromise can, in fact, enhance the natural environment. Waiheke has incredibly strict environmental controls designed to protect the intrinsic beauty of the place, yet it does not stifle development. It seems to me most people who live out there are also incredibly generous and some of the extremely wealthy people have covenanted large areas of their land and are allowing it to return to its natural state. Native bird life abounds. The fishing is sublime. The sea is clear and warm.
There were twelve gardens on display and we only got to see five. Or should I say my wife got to see five, when I got to the fifth it was such a warm sunny day I couldn’t get out of her VW Beetle Cabriolet but reclined the seat, tipped my Panama hat over my face and proceeded to doze for an hour. Sublime. Paradise...
If you live in Auckland or have recently moved here, spend a day or two out at Waiheke – take your car on the ferry, it is not too expensive and enjoy the beaches, the secluded and private bays, the vineyards, the olive plantations, the cafés and restaurants, the fresh air and the beautiful scenery.
Seminars – Malaysia & Singapore
Don’t forget our final seminars of the year will take place in Kuala Lumpur on 26 November 11.00 a.m. and Singapore a week later on 3 December at 11.00 a.m.
We are not going to be back in that neck of the woods until March next year so if you wish to attend or have friends or family considering a move to New Zealand I woudl urge them to attend.
Until next week...
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
Sport is a funny thing, it can bring out the best and worst in us. It can be a force for good and it can also be used for negativity and destruction. So too migration.
I can see with the All Blacks now poised to take the World Cup for the first time in 24 years how dedication to a single goal; a goal that is researched, visualised, planned and then executed can be such a force for good, not only for those involved but for those around who get to bask in the reflected glory.
If you win you can look back and pin point the pivotal moments where the decisions that made the difference were locked in.
If you lose you can look around and find blame with everyone and everything else except yourself and your plan. Blame those around you because in the end you were just not up to the challenge.
I am still ashamed of the vilification of referee Wayne Barnes in this country and the way New Zealanders blamed that referee for their departure from the 2007 quarter final in Cardiff. No referee ever cost a rugby side a game in the World Cup. Not the ref in the game between Samoa and South Africa three weeks ago, not South Africa when they played Australia in the quarter final and lost and not Wales when they lost to France in the semi.
Scapegoats are for those that seek factors other than themselves. It might be natural to lash out when you fail to reach the summit of your own Everest but, not only is it unseemly, the reasons given are often so wide of the mark.
I was thinking this past week about some of the toys being thrown from cots in certain parts of the rugby world when I got to reflecting over a client of ours from South Africa who has just found himself an offer of skilled employment here that will secure his and his family’s future. As a senior Police Officer in South Africa he has seen all pathways to promotion blocked owing to that country’s employment policies which nowadays specifically excludes most ‘whites’ from advancement.
His salary is pitiful given he puts his life on the line every day he gets dressed in that uniform and his savings as a consequence not high. In fact so bad is the salary of a Police Captain, shot twice in the line of duty that he has had to set up and run his own small business on the side to supplement his income. Pest control (the irony is wonderful) has kept himself and his family from the gutter.
When I met with this potential client back in July in South Africa, I outlined a strategy to achieve Residence for his family in New Zealand. I counselled him that it would not be easy but was doable. I told him he would be tested like he has never been tested before.
He needed a job offer to make it happen. Skilled and relevant employment and it would not be an easy nut to crack.
I explained that the two weeks he had planned to set aside to come to NZ and try to secure the job was simply unrealistic, greater investment in both time and money would be needed. Two things he was very short on.
We discussed the obvious employer – New Zealand Police. New Zealand is recruiting more front line police but unfortunately I told him that he would not be able to apply to join them as they have a policy of only employing New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, but that there were other sectors which would and had recruited former policemen we had helped to get Residence Visas of New Zealand.
He was understandably very nervous about it all. I might even suggest he was petrified. He was one of the few clients that just before he flew out here I emailed and asked ‘Are you really sure you want to do this? Are you really sure you are up to it?”
He was quite determined and was willing to follow our advice and the plan we laid out for him.
He has now been in New Zealand for about ten weeks, having left his wife and daughters behind and has been busy applying for various management level positions in retail, security and other sectors.
He has applied for jobs up and down the length of this country, travelled thousands of kilometres for interviews, been rejected by almost all but stayed stoic and focussed when he did not get them.
Then it happened. Last week he secured the position he needed for us to unlock Residence Visas of New Zealand for him and his family and we have just filed his Work Visa application (from within NZ) which will enable him to start his new job in a couple of weeks.
This job will also now enable him to proceed with confidence on our plan to secure his family Residence Visas of New Zealand.
The word “hero” is to my mind over used. It is very easy to suggest everyone is a winner and there can be no losers but life isn’t like that, we all know it. There are winners and there are losers.
Lady Luck plays a bit part at times but overwhelmingly we make our own luck.
The All Blacks aren’t about to play the greatest game of their lives owing to any luck or fortune. They had to beat some very good teams to make this final. They planned for it. They trained for it. They spent four years on it. And I have no doubt they will achieve it. They have been the best team at this tournament and I am truly honoured to have sat in the stands at Eden Park last Sunday and watched them beat the Australians, clearly the second best side at this Rugby World Cup.
All migrants that take the risks involved in scaling the mountain that is migration are to my mind heroes. All are taking risks that have real and meaningful consequences on a financial, emotional and logistical level if they fail. And make no mistake - all can fail and many do. There is something Darwinian about this process – New Zealand gets highly focussed and driven people who have been prepared to sacrifice and fight for the chance to live here.
There are many for whom the climb is too steep, the battle too hard, the rejections too frequent and who when faced with the adversity, the cost, the emotional investment, the time, the rejection and the fear find they just cannot scale the heights required to secure that key to a new life for them and their family.
And to this client, this dedicated, single bloody minded client, who has been tested in this process and his life like few others and who can add a few more scars to the bullet exit wounds on his body, I salute you. You are a real hero – you had a plan, you had a vision of where you needed to go and how to get there and you did it. Your children will one day, I hope, thank you for what you have risked and what you are about to give them.
I am genuinely proud, as a coach is of his rugby team, that although we have a long way to go to finish the residence process, the single greatest impediment to securing that residence is a barrier smashed and he will make it.
To all those who seek residence for themselves and their families who want to do this on the cheap, by cutting corners, by thinking it can all be achieved without real struggle – stay where you are – you will likely fail.
To those who are willing to get good advice, and yes pay for it (for these things are not mutually exclusive), this mountain is able to be conquered.
And to our beloved mighty All Blacks who stand for all that is great and good about this little country that could – who have put their bodies on the line in the quest for greatness and glory, a noble goal will be realised on Sunday. Not through cutting corners, not through trying to win this World Cup with anything other than a good plan, sweat and tears but through a vision held steadfastly to, a plan and single minded execution, taking the knocks and setbacks and conquering all those that stood before them.
To the All Blacks - you are all real heroes.
As is every one of our clients, including our Police Captain from South Africa who take all that the Immigration Department, New Zealand employers and the visa process can find to hurl at them and who win – whose ‘World Cup’ is a somewhat innocuous looking label in a well worn passport but which ultimately says it all - I came, I saw and I conquered.
Until next week...
This week, rugby or my favourite place on Earth?
Rugby or my favourite place on Earth? What to do, what to do…..
Springboks back in their own beds. Hmmm. Wallabies to follow??? Hmmm, better not speak too soon. The glorious performance of New Zealand referees? Hmmm.
Nah, there’s plenty of water to pass under the Rugby World Cup bridge so let me tell you about my favourite place on Earth and we might return to the rugby if the All Blacks win against Australia this Sunday. If they don’t win we’ll discuss the varying standards of Rugby World Cup referees and blame everyone but ourselves (would put us in good company).
An easy 90 minutes drive from Mount Eden in Auckland is Lang’s Beach. I am lucky enough to own half a beach house (or ‘bach’ – as we North Islanders call it – don’t ask me why) along with my brother-in-law.
Nestled on the east coast of Northland Lang’s is a safe beach, about one and a half kilometres long and protected at each end by promontories of land. Perfect for launching my boat off the beach as it is sheltered from incoming swells.
The sand along this part of the coast is fine and a pale yellow. In summer the sea temperature is 23 degrees and during winter it gets down to a rather chilly 16 degrees. The beaches immediately to the north and south get serious regular surf and are used by the local surfing population all year round. Wetsuits in winter. Boardies in summer.
The water is clear and clean but through the months it changes from an almost grey green in winter to a deep blue green in spring to almost turquoise in summer. Near the shore the water is crystal clear. So clear you have to remind yourself there is no need to constantly watch the bottom while out catching a wave because that shadow isn’t likely to be anything more than loose seaweed and not some deadly form of sea life preparing to end your days.
Plankton abounds. And building on that a robust and healthy food chain exists. Scallop beds lie 50m offshore, lobster hide among the rocks, shellfish lie in their multitudes under the sand. Bait fish abound. Predator fish are everywhere. At certain times of the year their density is so great the water literally turns black with them and boils as the predator fish dart and charge into the masses – an absolute food frenzy. Gannets, Petrels and shearwaters attack from the top. Little Blue Penguins patrol the edges. The fishing is bountiful (for us as well as the birds) either off the beach, off the rocks or out in small boats. Sharks patrol. Harmless ones although we get the not so nice ones from time to time forcing swimmers out of the water……
I’ve seen 3m Orca (Killer Whales) that uniquely for New Zealand come in very close to shore into water as shallow as 2 meters hunting for stingray (you have to see how far a stingray can jump out of the water when it has an Orca on its tail!!).
I have even seen a pod of a half dozen Bryde’s whales fishing and ‘spy hopping’ about 2km out to sea. The largest was about 13m long. Spectacular.
About 15 kilometres out to sea lies Taranaga (The Hen) and a series of six smaller islands (the Chickens). These are protected islands and no landing by humans is allowed. These offshore jewels teem with native birds in forest as pristine as it was 1000 years ago. The ancient Tuatara are found in abundance here. This ancient reptile (it isn’t a lizard) was around when the dinosaurs walked other parts of the Earth.
We first had a holiday up there when my eldest son was about four. We stayed successive Christmases in three different beach houses before finding the one we currently own.
Perched high above Bream Bay the view is spectacular. We sit about 150 meters above sea level and have a 270 degree view north toward Whangarei, out toward New Zealand’s largest marine reserve at The Poor Knight Islands, around to the Hen and Chicks and south toward Bream Tail.
When we first stayed there everything below us was rolling hillside and grazing cows. There were few trees and fewer people. The walk down to the beach with little ones was down a steep gravelled track until we hit the coast road. On a hot summer’s day the walk down was far easier than the walk back with tired little feet soon joined by a younger brother whose preferred method of transport was stroller or dad’s back.
We are no fuss Charlies and the boys would take their afternoon nap in small shelters under a beach towel before waking up and charging off into the ‘bagoon’ as they called it (a tidal pool where a stream that meanders down the hillside met the incoming tide).
Those little boys are now 18 and 15 and prefer the company of their peers to the company of their parents so my wife and I are lucky enough to escape the rat race and two teenagers these days and steal away to our favourite spot on our own or with friends.
A couple of years ago we added a new outdoor ‘room’ – around 20 square meters of open north facing deck and it was while relaxing in a deck chair this past Saturday that made me decide to write and share my impressions ofthis place with you.
High wispy clouds dawdling eastward overhead, a warm breeze coming up from the ocean below, pleasant enough to take the heat out of the sun but not cold. The winter skin was enjoying the warmth of summer’s early rays. Sun block on nose. Looking up I watched as a Skylark, balancing on thermals of air, sung its territorial song before dipping its wings and falling in controlled flight out of the sky back to its grassy nest.
Seagulls wheeled about overhead as did the local harrier, fancying no doubt to make a meal of one of the local feral rabbits that live on the property. In the grass and underbrush pheasants called warnings to one another. Scuttling with quick steps was a covey of Californian Quail; I would like to think owing their existence to my rat eradication programme about our property.
The local boisterous bunch of Tui, a native bird I have written of before, flew from tree to tree chasing one another and warbling their melodic calls each time they were stationary long enough to do so (which wasn’t long – these birds live their lives expending energy to find more sources of energy in the next nectar bearing flowering trees and shrubs). They fly with heavy wings these guys, like so many of our native birds.
It is now early summer up north and it is spreading its warm tentacles slowly southwards. The ground, which is predominantly clay and like concrete in summer, is still soft enough to plant at this time of year. Over the years I have been investing in coastal natives in an attempt to return the grassed hillsides into something resembling what it must once have been. I love the native birds of New Zealand and most are berry or nectar feeders but many parts of the country have become like Dharfur to these native pigeons, Tui, Kakariki, Bellbird and others – a virtual food desert owing to deforestation and ‘conversion’ to grasslands.
I aim to change that - at least on our 6000 square meters of paradise by planting native trees and shrubs.
I considered, as I sat there dozing in the sun, how human coastal development can actually enhance the return of native forest and it’s inhabitants. The farms are subdivided and many of the new buyers want trees and birds and so thousands of native trees and flowering shrubs are planted every year along this coast. It will take many years for the birds to come back in the numbers that James Cook in 1769 once described as a ‘deafening dawn chorus” (the birds were so loud he had to park the Endeavour 400m offshore so his crew could get some sleep), but I have confidence one day they will return, if not in ‘deafening dawn chorus’ numbers at least in reasonable, seduce me with your song, numbers.
And so it was I sat in my deck chair enjoying a pre Ireland-Wales quarter final glass of red and day dreamed - post planting of 71 native plants I should add and I considered how lucky I really am.
Lucky to live in a country where all this is possible. Lucky that I stumbled across a piece of New Zealand I can escape to with family and friends. Lucky to find and buy before the coastal boom of the mid 2000s (and which I could not likely afford now).
A place where, when I stroll along the beach, I consciously look for a piece of rubbish, a coke can, something – anything! – that might tell me I am not imagining how beautiful and clean this place is.
Lucky to take walks along soft sand under mighty Pohutukawa which in summer are adorned in bright red flowers (a bit like those bottle brush flowers you might know if you are not from New Zealand) and listen to the waves hissing as they crawl up the beach.
A beach which is open to one and all. Where sections are roped off every year so the highly endangered New Zealand dotterel can nest in relative peace along with the raucous Pied Oyster catcher.
Where people walk their dogs (on leads of course) and the teenagers light fires and surreptitiously (and sometimes not so surreptitiously) sip their beers and imagine what might be.
She’s a special place is Langs.
I hope you get to enjoy it one day.
Until next week,
*** Passmark updates
In the latest pool draw 628 EOIs were selected including the following points profiles:
*All those with 140 points
*All those with 125 points or more including six years work in an area of absolute skills shortage
*All those with 100 points or more including an offer of skilled employment