Toby Manhire is a Wellington-bred, Auckland-based journalist.

Toby Manhire: Welcome, Brexpats, to our COOL country

Come on in: We’re looking for everything from chefs to Bachelor contestants and Opposition leaders.
Haere mai, cuzzies. Life operates at a slower pace down here. Try to leave a decent pause between each word.
Haere mai, cuzzies. Life operates at a slower pace down here. Try to leave a decent pause between each word.

The friendly citizenry of the Commonwealth shire New Zealand< awoke to bright news on Monday.

Festooned upon the front page of Her Majesty's New Zealand Herald were not one, nor two, but three Union Jacks - a pair of them draped over the shoulders of Olympians celebrating triumphs for their country and empire, the other illustrating a report headlined "BRITISH INVASION", bringing news that the number of Britons exploring a brexodus to our Pacific paradise has brexploded since the vote to quit the European Union.

To borrow a phrase from senior Government strategist Mike Hosking: Happy days! Come on in.

You'll need to meet the usual criteria about job vacancies: we're currently looking for everything from ethnic chefs to builders, Bachelor contestants to Opposition party leaders. And you'd be advised to get a wriggle-on. Despite your well-known affection for queues, the crowds are expected to get crazy if Donald Trump is elected president.

Mind you, that's a laughable long shot, much like the fanciful notion that Britain might voluntarily decide to ejection-seat out of the European Union. Never happen.

What should you expect to find in your new faraway home? Is New Zealand really just a glorified Pacific agrihub? Do the streets truly teem with All Blacks, hobbits and moa hunters? Are there jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash? Well, yes, there are all these things.

All these things and more. Come closer. In the spirit of friendship, allow me to extend the traditional Maori greetings of a hongi (three-way handshake) to youse Brexpatriates. You are welcome, all of you, with the obvious exception of Chelsea fans.

Probably you have heard the refrain that New Zealand is like the Britain of the 1950s, which I can only assume is a reference to our bursts of awfulness on gender, domestic violence and alcohol dependency, but on the whole the nation today is vibrant and modern, boasting all the mod cons, a range of television channels and some of the finest ponytails in the southern hemisphere. We are a cheerful mix of peoples, too, from the South African favelas of the North Shore to the Irish settlement of Christchurch.

Where Britain is rightly proud of its vast collection of antiquities, here in New Zealand ("Little Australia") we are equally proud of our natural wonders, forged as they are through the ages.

Consider, for example, our rivers and streams, the shimmering, pulsing arteries of Aotearoa. Much like antiquities, however, for public health reasons they are best just looked at if you don't mind, rather than actually touched.

Then there's our pioneering, progressive ethos - evidenced again this week, with news the Government is planning to transform schooling, so everyone can do it at home on the internet. You might think that sounds a bit daft, but get this - the digital future of education will take the form of a "Community of Online Learning", which abbreviates to COOL.

I mean. Who can argue with that? This isn't so much home schooling as home-page schooling. Less Minecraft, more mind-craft, yeah? If you're still sceptical, try to think about it the way the education minister, Hekia Parata, might. This is about aspirational provision for best-practice pathways predicated on learnings from paradigmatic platform resource transitioning going forwards. COOL.

The COOL model, to be overseen by the Federation of Online Learning, has great potential for a roll-out into other sectors, too. Such as health. Britain's National Health Service is by all accounts falling apart at the seams. In New Zealand, you can soon expect to complete most of your doctory needs at home, simply by logging on to the Community for Online Clinical Health. You'd be amazed what can you can fix with the internet, whisky and a cutlery drawer.

What else?

In your early encounters with New Zealanders, there are a few easy ice-breakers. The whole "just like Britain in the 50s" is a good one. We're still keen to hear your thoughts on whether or not Richie McCaw breached the law at the breakdown. Asking us to say "fish and chips" for your amusement is a surefire winner. As you know, life operates at a slower pace down here. Try to leave a decent pause between each word.

New Zealand is a paradise for young and old, but mostly old. Once you gain residency, you'll be entitled to the Winston Peters Gold Card, which entitles you to free transport, complimentary Chinese takeaways the length of Dominion Rd, a daily Buck's fizz and a decent chance of becoming Auckland mayor.

We know you're coming from a wealthy country, but don't expect to be able to leap to the top of the housing market, especially if you settle on Auckland, a city built across an active volcanic field (just kidding, obviously; what kind of lunatics would build a city on a volcanic field).

The best way to get your foot on the property ladder is to start with something modest like a stationwagon, or some corrugated iron.

I am painting a rosy picture, and it's accurate, but it behoves me all the same to note that not everything is perfect. It is difficult to admit, perhaps unpatriotic even, but the truth is there are pockets of discrimination, and life is not always easy for minority groups such as real estate agents.

We, too, have our share of carpers and moaners, haters and vegetarians, even if those on their high horses about child poverty and what-have-you conveniently overlook the legislative efforts of Government MPs in the airport authority lost luggage notification bylaw space, not to mention the issues around asking shareholders if they want hard copies of annual reports.

You'll know you've become a true New Zealander, by the way, when you completely misunderstand how lanes work on motorways, experience a moment's panic before attempting to pronounce "Taupo", and start to receive regular personal texts from All Black captain and leading cultural commentator John Key.

It's going to be amazing. Haere mai, me old muckers. I'll be waiting at arrivals with a fresh flagon of Hawke's Bay water.

- NZ Herald

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