All over the place, New Zealand
February 2006 – June 2006
The flight from Montreal to LA to Auckland was long, uneventful, and boring. We had arranged to stay with friends, Wencheng and Tim, in Auckland for a few days. There we set up a new bank account and Eric got his New Zealand driver’s licence. One of my brothers and his wife came to Auckland with a car for us! That was wonderful!
Incidentally, my mother’s funeral had been held. The four days of flight would end in a weekend followed by a series of national holidays which meant the delay of the funeral would go on and on. I said to go ahead without me. So that’s what was done.
Before we left Quebec we had organized a “farm stay”. In return for meals and accommodation one works on a farm. Margaret in Otane, Hawkes Bay, had a horse farm complete with pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens. We were to stay about three months (we had rooms in the stable) while we did some essential things on the side such as try to find work!
Getting Eric residency was a breeze. It took about an hour. Mainly what we needed to do was to show old bills that proved we had lived at the same address for several years. We had come prepared. Margaret let us leave the farm on the odd day to job hunt. At times she went away herself and left us to run the farm on our own. It was enjoyable enough, but after a time we realized that we were more and more being used. We feigned job hunt success, loaded the car, and with considerable pretended glee drove off to goodness knows where.
Eric worked in the textile field. The head of Sarah Lee in America (in fact back then the largest textile manufacturer in the world) had described Eric as one of the world’s leading industrial chemists. (He added: “If you want to employ Einstein you have to put up with the hair.” Eric had long hair!) We should find no problem in getting work for him. New Zealand being a farming economy meant there were textile plants from one end of the country to the other. Of course, unbeknown to us at the time, those textile manufacturers who hadn’t already moved to China were planning to do so.
We decided to stay in a single-roomed beach house at Paekakariki. Paekakariki was halfway between the two textile mills most likely to want employers. The one in Lower Hutt didn’t have a vacancy and went bankrupt and collapsed out of existence about a month after Eric visited. The one at Levin didn’t have a vacancy and has since packed up and gone to China.
We moved on, catching the interisland ferry which took us to Christchurch in the South Island.
We first stayed in a small motel in Armagh Street. The motel room flooded when the inhabitants above took a shower.
We found an apartment at 4/50 Champion Street, Christchurch. Yes! Christchurch would be our home, job or no job. We unloaded the car, bought some old furniture and resumed job hunting.
We had hardly put the table together before the phone went. It was a textile company in Auckland that made exclusive fabric for window blinds for the overseas market. You have the job you applied for weeks ago. You will be in charge of the night shift. We dismantled what furniture we could and packed the car to the gunnels. On the way we crossed the Southern Alps to visit a sister there.
Once again we caught the interisland ferry to Wellington.
We drove from Wellington and arrived safely in the City of Auckland; a town where we had started our job hunt four months earlier!