We have been back in New Zealand for just over one week. Now that we are here, I’m on to worrying about whether or not we’ll be able to stay. Our fate now rests with Immigration New Zealand. If we’re not approved for a Skilled Migrant Residence Visa, this will be a short stay.
I imagine that pressure on the New Zealand immigration system is mounting. They are dealing with the immediate challenge of closed borders due to Covid-19. There will likely be a tidal wave of visa applications for people wanting to come to what appears to be one of the safest places in the world. I hope we are far enough ahead of that wave to surf to not get swept up in its tumult.
We talked to an airport security officer last week who said there were already 10,000 people looking to return to New Zealand, many of them residents and citizens who have been living overseas. What will this do to the job market and housing costs? How will the country cope with these increased pressures?
I know we haven’t been back long, but this feels right. This is where I want to be. Everything just feels lighter here. There are many challenges ahead for this to truly be home for us, but I am excited to face them right now.
Overall we are enjoying our time in Managed Isolation. They are feeding us too well with not enough opportunity to burn it off. I hear we drew a good straw. Many of the other facilities are in downtown Auckland where opportunities to be outside are much more limited and have to be supervised closely. Though we can’t access it, we are surrounded by natural beauty. We can watch the tide fill and empty the basin in front of the hotel and see the light change during the day on the slopes of a nearby extinct volcano.
Parents play with their children in the yard as runners and walkers do multitudes of laps up and down its gentle slope. Many of the “guests” here have visitors who come to see them from behind the safe distance of the double row of fences surrounding us. Now I know what zoo animals must feel like as they pace back and forth in their cages while people beyond the bars gawk at them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. It’s so good to be here, even with our extremely limited freedom. What I remembered about being here still feels true: the societal mood here is more relaxed, friendly, and open. There is less tension in the air, even in a place where people are being held more or less against their will for two weeks. Even in this, people seem happy.
Perhaps we’re all just happy to be in New Zealand, glad to be away from wherever it is we were before. Name just about any place in the world and New Zealand is probably a saner place to be right now.
People have been saying “welcome home” to us and for now, it feels true. We are home. Home so far away from home.