I’m landscaping, mostly stonework, retaining walls, staircases, that sort of thing. It’s physical work – it’s killing my back. We’ve been here since the end of March.

I met my girlfriend Julie in Australia, she’s from Quebec City. I was supposed to do a surf trip in Central America in May with the boys and then come here. Through my mum I’ve got a Canadian Passport, so we just came here.

When I got here I didn’t have work and I didn’t speak French. I applied for 30 or 40 jobs and on April the 18th the construction sector opened up, that’s when I started.

Montreal is the worst affected area of Canada right now. Just today they opened up the restaurants. I haven’t been to one since we got here, now I’m going to have to hit them all pretty hard.

I was born in Auckland, we lived in Boston when my dad was studying there, then we moved to Wellington. The day after my last exam at school I started as an apprentice carpenter. I did the whole thing with the one builder.

As soon as I qualified I moved to Byron Bay. I built there too and then worked as a tyre fitter before coming here. I’m not much of an office kind of guy. It’s nice to be outside and meeting people. NZ Tradesmen are pretty sought after overseas.

Julie is a lawyer, she specializes in translation and is working from home. Mum is originally from Alberta, I have aunties, uncles and cousins there and my sister lives in British Columbia.

I was hoping to play rugby but Covid has stopped this season. I think we’ll end up in New Zealand or Australia – we both miss the beach too much.


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.

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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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