Topic: Emigration by Chloe Dickenson

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The story of Chloe Dickenson's emigration from England to Katikati was the subject of her entry in the 2011 Memoir and Local History Competition.

Archived version here.

On Wednesday 29th June 2011 my parents announced that, if everything went according to plan, we would be leaving our home in England and emigrating to the mural town of Katikati in New Zealand. Indeed, I was most astonished when our visas were posted through our letterbox on Tuesday 6th September 2011. This amazement was due to the fact that it never occurred to me that we would actually be departing our life in the UK.

As the initial shock, gradually faded away, a new realisation hit me like a punch in the face: I would be leaving my dearest friends and family behind.

Friday 9th September 2011: departure day! It was 9 o’clock in the morning and we were busy loading our hired car with five substantial suitcases. Half an hour later we had fully loaded the car and had double-checked that we had all of our possessions. Then my mum’s friends arrived at my grandma’s spacious bungalow, which we had inhabited while we sold our house and waited for our visas; it was all very emotional for her!

After they had said their final goodbyes and good-lucks, we headed inside to say goodbye to my Grandma.

I gave a huge sob as I hugged my dear Grandma. She was devastated we were leaving because she wouldn’t be seeing her three precious grandchildren for at least four months. My parents and younger siblings said goodbye and we all got in the 7-seater car and headed towards Heathrow Airport, making just one more stop…

The large car came to an abrupt halt outside my best friend’s school: Joseph Rowntree’s. My heart pounded and tears were already falling rapidly down my face as I pushed open the main door of the school and located Becky, my best friend. She had already been crying, knowing what was due to happen now. I ran forward and hugged her so tightly. Tears poured down our faces and I just couldn’t release her from my firm grip. After what only seemed like a number of seconds, my mum came to escort me back to the car. I took one last glance back at my beloved friend and I cried all the way to the airport.

As we arrived at Heathrow Airport, my devastation gradually faded away and excitement began to bubble up inside me.

Once we were checked in, we visited the business class lounge, which was a tranquil haven compared to the throng that surrounded the shops outside! After a while our flight was called and so we made our way to the gate. Boarding the plane I came face to face with reality and I was finally ready to depart my life in England and start afresh in New Zealand.

Although it was a long journey, it was great thinking time for me, so whilst I watched numerous films, I began to realise that maybe it was better to live in New Zealand and that I would be seeing my family and closest friends soon. After all, my Grandma was due to visit in just a number of months.

The colossal plane landed (not so gently) in Seoul Airport for the passengers to transfer to the plane that was flying to New Zealand. So my family and I were quickly transferred from one plane to another and we were on our way to a new start!

The plane journey seemed to be everlasting; I was impatient because I was so excited and I just couldn’t wait to arrive!

When the plane ultimately arrived, I was shocked to discover that it was raining. I had actually forgotten that it was still winter in New Zealand!

Nevertheless the weather could not destroy my mood and after the two hour car journey from Auckland Airport to the mural town of Katikati, I was still in great spirits! It appeared that I had forgotten all about England for the time being.

As I stepped over the threshold of our new rented house, my heart was beating in anticipation and as I began to look around the house, a smile was practically plastered on my face. It was the most exquisite house I had ever witnessed in my whole life. There were panoramic views of the vast, aqua ocean in almost every room (even mine!) and as I stepped outside onto the decking and the salty, spring air filled my lungs I realised I was probably the luckiest girl in the world!

Later that day, we headed to the local supermarket to purchase the necessary essentials for our new house, mainly food. I was surprised to discover that not many people were wearing footwear!

Our first week living in New Zealand was both unusual and exhilarating. Looking around schools and new potential houses were the main things we had to do when we had first arrived.

The following weekend my Dad and I decided to dive into the spectacular blue sea off the jetty at the bottom of our new garden. As soon as I jumped, I instantly regretted the decision, the water was ice cold and therefore my body was painfully numb. We scrambled to escape the freezing water and once we managed to get out and place a warm towel around our cold bodies, we realised that blood was pouring down our legs!

Later that week my Dad’s cut had started to get infected and after a visit to the doctors we learnt that the cuts were the result of the barb of a stingray’s tail! We were highly shocked at this discovery, as we never even knew that there were stingrays in the sea in New Zealand.

The week following the stingray incident my younger siblings started school at Matahui Road and they were most anxious to learn the differences between English schools and Kiwi schools. Their discoveries were: not many children wore shoes to school, also that the pupils loved being outdoors; which was unusual for them as in England most children preferred being indoors!

Whilst they were busy at school (I couldn’t begin for another two weeks) my Mum and I learnt about a beautiful walk in Orokawa, so we decided to visit it. Not realising it was quite so mountainous; we were rather tired when we reached a magnificent waterfall. It was absolutely breathtaking. The fresh air filled my lungs as I inhaled deeply, grateful for a rest after an exhausting walk.

A few days later, my Mum and I went on another mountainous walk up the famous Mount Maunganui. On the rocks at the bottom of the Mount I witnessed something that I had only ever seen in a zoo before: a seal! Climbing the steep mountain I looked around and saw spectacular panoramic views of the vast ocean. It was beautiful. After enjoying lunch at the very top of the Mount, we walked back down and saw some gorgeous baby lambs, grazing in the lush, green grass. I felt so lucky to be able to witness these types of animals in their natural habitat.

One week later, on 3rd October 2011 I started school at Katikati College. My whole body shook with nerves as I stepped into my new classroom for the first time. Thirty unfamiliar faces were gazing up at me. Nervous doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt; I was petrified! However, once I learnt who most people were and that they weren’t that scary I began to feel more comfortable with my new surroundings.

In conclusion to my story I have noticed that many foods are different from English foods: some meats, biscuits, drinks, cheese and milk, just to name a few. I have begun to get used to the minor differences and I am so fortunate to have been given an opportunity to live in such a picturesque country and I am immensely happy!


‘Emigration’ was an entry in the Young Writers (13-18) category of the Memoir and Local History Competition 2011 organised by New Zealand Society of Authors (Bay of Plenty) with support from Tauranga Writers.


This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016:

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