London-based Stuart Heighway didn’t even know Taranaki existed before he stopped at the Taranaki stand at last year’s London Opportunities New Zealand expo. Now, the aerospace engineer is passionate advocate of region’s business and lifestyle opportunities.
Having grown up in the Middle East and worked in Canada and China, Stuart is no stranger to working around the world. What grew into an hour-long conversation with New Plymouth’s Kim Gilkison, director of engineering design and build company ITL, planted the seed for his next global adventure.
“I was looking for a change, and New Zealand was loosely on the list,” says Stuart.
Despite a brief visit to New Zealand years ago, which bypassed Taranaki, Stuart is relishing his decision.
“The outdoors, the coast, the central location and the rural feel tick all the boxes. The lifestyle here is really good - I’ve already got myself a snowboard and a mountain bike, and there’s so much else to do, from hiking, fishing, rugby and so much more.”
“I’ve got so much time here – living in London and working on the South Coast I was commuting an
hour each way, but here it’s 10 minutes along the coastal walkway.”
Stuart loves his work with ITL, and looks set to stay in the region, with plans to go for residency and his girlfriend recently joining him here.
“There’s a really positive community around ITL, and that has made it so easy to get settled in. The company is growing fast and I’m working on some really interesting projects,” Stuart says.
“There’s also a professional group around project management accreditation, which is really accessible. It’s harder to get involved in this sort of thing in the UK.”
Even finding a place to live was easier than expected, taking just three days to find a fully furnished home close to work.
“I really can’t think of any negatives – my friends and family have all booked their holidays to Taranaki, so I haven’t had a chance to miss them yet.”
Stuart’s advice for anyone else contemplating the move is to go for it. “Really, what’s the worst that could happen, and Taranaki has everything you could want.”