30 Aug 2015

NZ dream not always fulfilled

11:40 pm on 30 August 2015

The West Coast has welcomed its six newest citizens at a council ceremony in Westport last week, led by the Mayor of Buller District, Garry Howard.

The West Coast welcomes its newest citizens at a ceremony at the council chambers in Westport.

The West Coast welcomes its newest citizens at a ceremony at the council chambers in Westport. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The have come from Zimbabwe, the Philippines, the UK, South Africa and Bolivia to make the Coast their home, but the dream of a better life is proving tough for some.

Below the surface of the happy occasion lay the reality that three of the six have been displaced through the loss of jobs that brought them to the area, including Daniel Villarroel Coca of Bolivia.

The civil engineer met and married a New Zealander in Bolivia. They later returned to New Zealand and settled on the Coast, started a family, then Mr Villarroel Coca lost his job at the Stockton mine.

Daniel Villarroel Coca from Bolivia is welcomed as a West Coast citizen by Buller Mayor Garry Howard.

Daniel Villarroel Coca from Bolivia is welcomed as a West Coast citizen by Buller Mayor Garry Howard. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

He is now commuting to Blenheim where is doing a mechanical engineering apprenticeship, but hopes to be able to keep his family on the Coast, which he calls home.

"I've been in New Zealand for eight years. Back in Bolivia I was a civil engineer and youth camp volunteer which is where I met Karen. We came to Buller where I worked at Stockton, and I was there five years helping engineers, planners and geologists.

"At the moment I'm commuting to Blenheim, but I really like it in Westport."

Tafadzwa Nherera Mukoki from Zimbabwe and her husband Manuel Mukoki - another Stockton casualty - have moved from Westport to Hokitika where Manuel now works on a dairy farm.

Tafadzwa Nherera Mukoki takes the oath of allegiance in front of Buller Mayor Garry Howard.

Tafadzwa Nherera Mukoki takes the oath of allegiance in front of Buller Mayor Garry Howard. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mrs Nherera Mukoki said the Coast's diverse population and its curiosity in them, had helped them feel right at home.

"We've been here about four years. We were living in Westport but have now moved to Hokitika, after my husband lost his job at the mine.

"What we love about New Zealand - I think it's the diversity. You meet people from all walks of life. Everyone is so welcoming and curious about where we've come from."

Zikona Rosanowski from Durban in South Africa is now an affirmed New Zealander, not by any piece of paper but by the distinct Kiwi accent she acquired growing up in Reefton.

She arrived there with her mother, who took up a job at the local hospital.

Zikona Rosanowski with husband Scott and children Braedyn, 8, Cameron, 3, and Harper, 15 months.

Zikona Rosanowski with husband Scott and children Braedyn, 8, Cameron, 3, and Harper, 15 months. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mrs Rosanowski studied design in Christchurch, married a New Zealand helicopter pilot and returned to Reefton after the quakes.

"We came when we were young with my mother who is a nurse. We came straight to Reefton from Durban."

Mrs Rosanowski said while it had been for the most part, a great experience growing up in small-town New Zealand, adjusting to the climate here was the biggest culture shock.

She said they arrived at what was believed then to be the coldest winter on record, and she had never before seen an indoor fire.

Her husband, Scott Rosanowski has since quit flying and they now run an agricultural contracting business in Reefton. Despite the economic challenges the Coast faced, Mrs Rosanowski believed it had a good future.

"People are moving here for the lifestyle, and for the camaraderie.

"I've been back to Durban a couple of times, but it's not home anymore. My home is here."

Mayor Garry Howard said West Coast councils are actively exploring new economic opportunities.