Chinese woman business professional

A letter to NZ immigrants

By Anna Campbell

Dear immigrants to New Zealand,

Those of us from the ‘deep south’ (this is how we are referred to in Dunedin) have been watching with interest the havoc being created in Auckland – as immigrants, investors, and local property developers fight it out for what we see as some pretty average property.

Before you decide to settle in Auckland, or even if you have settled in Auckland and it’s not what you thought it would be, we would like you to consider our beautiful southern city as an option for your family.

Let me describe to you why such a shift might be just the right thing for you in terms of business and education opportunities, and work-life balance.

Our city’s most important asset is our people.

I have been told that the further south you travel in our country, the friendlier the people. I am not sure why that is, but I would like to think that we remember what it is to connect with people at an individual level, are open minded and egalitarian, and we celebrate diversity in every way we can.

As an example, the company I part-own, AbacusBio, has employees from nine nationalities; this means we are always challenged to look at problems and develop solutions from international perspectives; a real asset for a company that thrives on practical innovation.

Large local employers, such as the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic, are similarly diverse and alongside their high quality academic roots, they are working to support the wealth of young entrepreneurs – building a hub of young innovators in the city.

If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand and have a young family, you are very welcome. I assure you that Dunedin is a wonderful place to bring up your children.

Our schools have recently been cited as the best in the country for academic achievement. I can speak from experience, as my own school-aged children have been given a solid academic grounding in local Dunedin schools, and are being taught to be global citizens.

They have done projects on topics ranging from China to global food chains, dairy farming, molluscs, water quality, and Sachin Tendulkar! In each of these they learn research techniques and presentation techniques, and develop independent thinking.

They have also produced their own inventions… who could forget my son’s bike-ski, a bike adapted with skis, instead of wheels, which he proudly trialled on the first snow day of winter!

Children in Dunedin suburbs are able to walk down the street (without Mum or Dad) and play with their friends: backyard cricket, scooter-ing, or even spot-light during our long summer evenings.

Add to all that Dunedin’s fabulous physical environment of heritage buildings, stunning peninsula beaches, natural wildlife, walks, and bike tracks – this place is truly a mecca for work-life family balance.

Over the past decade, Dunedin has suffered a lack of growth, which is why I personally want to welcome new businesspeople to be part of our community.

Many of our businesses find that they are able to compete on a global stage despite being based in a small city. Giga-internet speed will certainly help Dunedin companies reach global markets.

What I would love to see more of in Dunedin, is businesses aiming high, much like many of the city’s ancestors must have when they first left Scotland to come to Dunedin looking for a better life.

I promise you, that for far less than the average price of an Auckland home, you can buy a pretty special piece of Dunedin real estate, you can breathe crystal clean air – every single day – and you can have a fabulous work-life balance.

Quite frankly, I don’t care if your surname is Wang, Singh, or Smith.

If you are a person of integrity, strong community values, and ambition for life and work, then you are very welcome to our city.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and meeting you in person!