I trained as a Radiographer but joined Air NZ not long after graduation as International Cabin Crew.

My husband had been flying for Citijet when they folded. A friend was flying for Royal Brunei Airlines and he encouraged us to come for a one-year contract – twenty years later, I’m still here.

Both our boys were born in NZ but were raised and schooled in Brunei. There were times we were ready to return to NZ but global conditions meant there were no flying jobs at the time. We made the decision to keep the boys in the international school system.

I got a job working at the same school, initially as a teacher aide. I took my second degree extramurally through Massey and after that completed the training to qualify as a UK registered teacher .

When the virus hit, all schools closed and we went to virtual learning for about nine weeks.  They closed the borders very early and cases have been low. We could get everything in terms of local produce, but imported goods were scarce. Coffee pods were a big one, though  we spread the word quickly when stocks are in!

My husband was made redundant in March with one day’s notice. He’s back home now as he longer has a visa to stay. Naturally he’s struggling with all the changing circumstances – especially the unknown. When will he get a job again? When will we be a family again?

All of this bad feeling towards expats in the media is hard. We came here because there were no jobs at the time in New Zealand. When we wanted to come back, there were no jobs, and now there is so much apparent hatred.

We are literally surrounded by jungle – I go there to escape.  It’s my happy place.




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 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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