Two years ago Londoner Dave Pope arrived in Taranaki on New Year’s Eve, following love. Now the girl, and the region, are firmly ensconced in his heart.
“I met Dee in 1981 in England,” Dave recounts. “We were each other’s first loves, and went out for a couple of years before splitting up. Dee moved to New Zealand in1998.”
“31 years after the breakup, her name came up in conversation with my family and soon after I received an email from her – they had been in touch with her over the years without my knowledge.”
“Romance rekindled from there, which led me to make the move to New Zealand for love – it was later that I realised I had to find work if I wanted to stay here!”
Dave has been able to transfer his skills as graphic designer to enhance the local portfolio, contracting part-time with top design agency TGM Creative, as well as undertaking his own design work.
To help with the shift, Dave called upon the services of Immigration New Zealand in London, which made the process very smooth, though he admits to experiencing a bit of culture shock on arrival.
“My knowledge of New Zealand was pretty much limited to the nation’s performance on the sports field, and in music,” he says.
“I’d recommend doing a bit more research first, coming over for a visit and looking into the business and job side of things.”
Beyond that he has no regrets. The couple married on New Plymouth’s Ngamotu Beach in January 2015 and have since bought a house on the edge the city’s CBD.
“It takes me five minutes to walk to work - it’s very nice thank you very much!” he enthuses.
“In East London it took me at least an hour to get anywhere. I used to take different routes to work just to add variety because traveling was so monotonous. I really don’t miss commuting in London,” Dave says.
Beyond work Dave has thrown himself into renovating his new home – primarily improving the heating to cope with Taranaki’s “four seasons in a day” and the city’s acclaimed Singer Songwriter and Pop-Up Gig community – the couple’s home hosts regular impromptu jam sessions, another benefit of Taranaki’s close-knit community.
While Dave concedes to missing friends, family, British TV and the East London 'specialty' pie and mash, he has never been happier.
“I totally feel like I fit in and I have been made to feel welcome,” he says.
“I love this place, it was the right decision for me to move here, I’m very happy and think Taranaki is great!”