Moving to NZ makes for happy family

By Simon Collins

When Leli Coluccio answered his cellphone on a stunning Monday morning last week, he was sitting on a boat off Tutukaka.

He wasn't catching a lot, as it turned out. But for this transplanted Sydneysider, just soaking up the Kiwi lifestyle is a luxury.

In Sydney he owned a construction company and lived in a $1 million home, but had to work six days a week, seldom saw his family, and never went fishing.

"It took you an hour to get to the beach in Sydney. You very rarely saw the ocean, and then you couldn't get a park, so you rarely went to the beach."

Here, he and his wife Cathy and children Jonathan and Bronte live in a more modest home in Bucklands Beach, but it is three minutes from the sea.

Jonathan, 15, is being coached by international soccer player Wynton Rufer and has had trips to Australia, Japan and Germany.

Bronte, 13, is training with the current world sports aerobics champion, Angela McMillan.

"They are some of the best coaches in the world and they are here in Auckland," Mrs Coluccio says. "In Australia we would never have got access to those sorts of people ..."

The family shows that the transtasman migration does not have to be all one-way. They came here in 1999 and Mr Coluccio finished Bible College training and took up a position in a church.

The church could not afford to pay him and he endured the "humbling experience" of going back to square one as a labourer, before getting his current job managing a new company, Flat Bush Construction, with orders worth $15 million to $20 million.

The couple feel that Kiwis "talk down" their own country.

"Personally, I think there's every opportunity here," Mr Coluccio says. "The economy is a lot more buoyant in construction than it is in Sydney."

Says Mrs Coluccio: "We have lost earnings through me being at home ... but we have had a family lifestyle and Leli has been able to be there and involved with our son and daughter."

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