We arrived in January this year. My partner is the New Zealand High Commissioner, responsible for 12 countries including South Africa. I am working remotely as a barrister on New Zealand cases.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the President, appears to be a fan of Jacinda Ardern and has followed her lead. We had five levels, though the lockdown was more extreme than at home. Leaving the house for exercise was not allowed. There was a curfew enforced by the defence force.  They banned tobacco and alcohol sales. Smokers and drinkers were not happy.

Lockdown was difficult. We were away from our family and had not been in South Africa long enough to make contacts here. The kids school closed and we were at home with them for 156 days straight. But we were luckier than many in South Africa.

Poverty here is such that many people need to work or they don’t eat. So, they carried on working. A lot of people live in Informal Settlements with no sewerage and no running water. Social distancing is impossible as can be regularly washing hands.

There are some real security issues, especially in the urban areas. We haven’t experienced crime directly, everyone has been extraordinarily friendly and nice.

Inter-provincial travel is now allowed so we have been to see a game park.

I was born at the Hutt Hospital and brought up in Karori, I attended Onslow College, then studied at Otago. I got a Rhodes Scholarship to read mathematics at Oxford. I wanted a career with more social involvement so I came back to Wellington to study law.

This is our second posting, we were also in London where I joined the bar after working for Clifford Chance.

I have just voted, possibly the first New Zealander to do so.


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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