Oriana in Sydney 1960s
In the first and second parts of Coral’s memories, we found out about some of the issues related to emigration and why a large number of British people were attracted to life in Australia and New Zealand and some of the highlights of the journey. In part three, after a short stay in Sydney, she finally arrives in New Zealand. Things do not get off to a great start but slowly she begins to enjoy her new home and begins to build a new life but still remembering her roots.
Bondi Beach 2017
After visiting Perth and Melbourne, we arrived in Sydney where the majority of passengers had chosen to settle. We had a 3 day layover there and it was, and still is, a bustling city and resembles London for the crowded streets. We visited famous Bondi Beach and was surprised to see how small an area it is but is very popular with the surfers.We just took a look around the area and were looking forward to sailing to NZ and getting excited to know we were nearly there.
The crossing took 3 days and we started getting excited but wondering if moving to NZ would go well and that we would like what we were about to see. It was smooth sailing and we arrived in Auckland Saturday late morning.
The sun was shining with blue sky as water skiers passed us waving and smiling, lots of small sailing craft accompanied the ship as we headed to port. What a wonderful welcome, looking around we passed small to large islands in the harbour looking green and we were so happy to be there and easily the best port we visited on our long journey. Friends were waiting on the quayside to meet us, John had met Dave who is a Londoner who was on a working holiday in London at the time we were considering emigration and we stayed with them while we waited for our car to be unloaded from the ship.
They took us to their home as we were to spend the weekend with them. As I got out of the car I remarked how quiet it is, it’s so peaceful, it seems like a Sunday. They said it’s like this all the time and they were right. In the suburbs where we live it is very quiet with plenty of bird life.
On Monday morning, John cleared the car through customs and the next day we drove to Wellington some 300 miles away to take up his job. Once there we visited the glazing company that had sponsored John and later took us to the accommodation they had waiting for us. What a disappointment that was. The house was a big old villa and made into 2 flats. Holes in the walls, no doors on cupboards. We couldn’t live there and the kind man who showed us around was embarrassed. We didn’t expect a palace but did want somewhere clean and tidy. John said we wouldn’t live there and wished to be released from the job contract. John visited the Immigration Dept and they agreed we could return to Auckland provided John worked as a glazier for 2 years, which of course he did. As we left the ship John was handed an envelope from Immigration Dept stating that if John did not complete 2 years working at his trade he would have an amount of around 400 pounds to pay for the passage out to NZ.
Back in Auckland John was given a job by the company who had sponsored him at their branch here in Auckland. Driving back and finding a place to live on a Friday afternoon was difficult and we ended up in a caravan park but at least we had somewhere to sleep and keep our young lad comfortable. Later in the afternoon we found a shop nearby to buy some food and groceries. The shopkeeper was whistling and said what a lovely day it is, John said” you might think so.” “Why isn’t it” he said, John explained we had been searching for somewhere to live and ended up in a caravan. The whistling man said “well there are 2 empty flats next door”, what a chance meeting that solved our problem. We rented the caravan for a week and during that time we had to buy beds and furniture, kitchen table and chairs for the flat. We had less than 1500 pounds to buy all that and leave us some money to survive on until John started working.
Meanwhile all our tea chests and large crate with all our belongings in them had gone down to Wellington and we had to wait about 3 weeks for them to be sent back to us. Meanwhile the landlord of the flat we were renting lent us bedding, crockery, cooking ware until our goods came back to us.
We found that most Kiwi’s (NZ’ers) are very friendly and obliging people and we have been grateful for their acceptance of us, a great many of them come from English, Scottish and Irish heritage. The NZ family who lived next door were middle aged and had 3 sons around our age. They made themselves known to us and made us so welcome we settled very quickly, and in time they became our NZ Mum and Dadand each morning fresh vegetables were left on our verandah as they were keen gardeners.
Another thing that surprised me was that when I walked along the street, a complete stranger on the opposite side of the street would call out “hello or hi”. I used to look behind to see who they were calling out to but it was to me. Kiwi’s are so friendly, they will say Good Morning if passing and I have had lengthy conversations with complete strangers.
We started to enjoy life here in Auckland and made friends mainly through the “Londoners Club”. This club held a dance and social night once a month, there was a great band and we always ended up doing a “Knees Up Mother Brown” as well as dancing to all the 60″s songs. Here we would learn from others about Auckland and that was invaluable. At that time public houses closed at 6p.m., it was called the 6 o’clock swill as guys would drink as much as they could before 6 p.m. closing time.
Coral’s Home in Auckland
I put our now 3yr old son in a day nursery as there were no young children to play with in the area where we were living. I went out to work and we saved for a plot of land and to build a house on it. Within 9 months we had bought a “section” or piece of land and had a boomerang shaped 3 bed roomed house built on it.
We moved in on Boxing Day 1964, only 9 months after we arrived in NZ. We have never regretted our decision to leave the UK though part of me is still back there even though I have never been back to pay a visit.
When we arrived in NZ the population was around two and a half million, it is now 5 million. Our son went back on his own aged 11 years to stay with his grandparents who both lived in the same street and meet the families he had not remembered because he was so young when we left, he went to school for a term before returning back home to us. He was looked after by airline staff on both the outward and return journey.
Ten years after arriving here we applied for naturalisation and to obtain dual citizenship. We were accepted, and it cost John and I just 2 pounds each. We didn’t need to pay for Steve. We were each sent a large piece of printed cardboard certificate.
We did not have a passport for years until we decided to visit Australia. In the early days we did not need a passport when visiting there as our two countries were “open”to each other. Then Australia insisted on a passport and so we now need one to visit there.
Coral and John in the USA
We did several trips to the USA on motorcycle tours and we used our NZ passport. We decided to obtain an English one and we only used it once on a trip to the USA on the outward flight. Upon our arrival back in NZ the immigration officer said where’s your Kiwi passport? We did have it with us and passed it over and he said it’s so much easier with your Kiwi one. So the British one was never used again and if travelling with it, one needed to obtain a re-entry permit to allow one back into the country.
Migration has been a popular theme in the last few years and we tend to not think of the human stories behind the statistics, Coral made her dreams come true by creating a new life in a new country but these things are generally not straightforward and involve lots of determination and sacrifices.
I was fortunate to meet Coral a few years ago in Auckland and could she how well she felt at home in New Zealand but she still has fond memories of her family and living in Poplar and enjoys keeping up to date with latest developments on the Island and Poplar. People on the Island have come from all over the world and many Islanders have found a life in distant lands. When I started the website many years ago, I assumed it would only appeal to those who lived on the Island, I quickly found out that the attraction of this small part of London was more global with many people wanting to share their memories of the time they spent in the area, be it those who were born here, worked here or just visited here.