We’ve lived in our medieval longhouse on the edge of Exmoor for 17 years and been in the UK for 27. Our first child came along, then the second. Last year I realized our youngest would be leaving school in 2020. It was time to go home.

I’m a fifth generation New Zealander, my family were part of the Otago Gold Rush and the first settlers in Canterbury. I still have family and friends in Dunedin, which is where I was born & went to school. I graduated from Otago Medical School & met my future husband when we were both working at Christchurch hospital as young doctors. After that we moved to London & I trained and became a consultant psychiatrist.

I interviewed for my dream job in Dunedin back in January 2020. Then Covid happened. In April I was unwell with Covid pneumonia. I see patients in A&E who can’t always socially distance. I lost the whole of April. Our youngest also caught Covid from me. In April I was offered the Dunedin job. Quite a month.

When I got back to the hospital to work, a nurse colleague gave me a huge hug and said, “oops I shouldn’t have done that”. But I said ‘no, I needed it’, I hadn’t had a hug in months.

Our original plan was to come and go. Now my husband is remaining in the UK supporting our youngest starting university. I’m coming out with our older child. He’s studying computer science and will finish his degree in New Zealand. We leave in ten days. It will be really sad because we don’t know when we’ll all see each other next.

I don’t think there’s going to be a quick end to this, it might run for another two years.

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Images supplied by interviewee

This interview and the others in the series are an extension of my new book “This Is Us” it is in all good bookshops in New Zealand and also available in Australia. It will be available elsewhere in the world from August.

Amazon UK here.

Amazon US here

Through the publisher here

This Is Us – the diaspora in lockdown – these interviews are slightly different from the ones in the book as they focus on New Zealanders living abroad in this time of isolation.  Copyright Licensing have awarded me a grant to complete this project and convert these postings into a book.

If you can think of suitable interview subjects please let me know via pete@petecarter.nz – I currently need interviews in the more unusual places around the world.

Exisle have released This Is Us as an e-book you can buy it here.

 

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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