I’m doing a PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy at University of California Davis. I arrived last August, I’ll be here for four years. I was working for PGG Wrightson Seeds in Palmerston North, they asked me to come over.

This is small town USA so we’ve been less affected than the rest of the country. It has been mandatory to wear face masks in public spaces for the last three months. All my classes are on-line only. I had a field trial that had just started and I’ve been able to get out to work there. It was like a ghost town for a while. I live with two housemates but the only time I see anyone else is when I go to the supermarket.  A lot of my American friends moved home. My social life has been hit.

Luckily the county I’m in, golf is allowed. I get out on the range, putting and chipping too. I think I’m getting better.

My family moved to Taupo from Invercargill when I was five. Mum is a vet, Dad is farming. For high school I boarded in the Hawkes Bay, then went to Massey to study Agri-science. I never planned to do a PhD but the opportunity came up – and here I am. My brother is doing one too, in Civil Engineering, at Canterbury.

I’ve got a girlfriend at home, that’s been tough, she was due over in March. I was hoping to get back in July and I have a mate getting married in September, even Christmas is now looking unlikely. The uncertainty of when I will get home next is a worry.

Politics here is crazy, Davis is very liberal, though on trips out in the rural areas for golf there is a lot of support for Trump.


Image 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 now.

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.

This Is Us – please follow us on Facebook:

And/or on Instagram







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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *