Sun, lifestyle, outdoors - hey UK, it's no contest

By Kate Shuttleworth

Steven Devey. Photo / Natalie Slade
Steven Devey. Photo / Natalie Slade

Faced with a 90-minute commute, lousy weather and kids stuck inside on the computer, it's no wonder Steven Devey and his family want to shift to New Zealand.

They're among a batch of hopefuls flown around the world by a primetime British reality television show to see if they're keen to commit to life Down Under.

Two days into his first trip to Aotearoa and Mr Devey is like a walking billboard for the Kiwi lifestyle. "I'm going to refuse to get on the plane [back]," he said.

Mr Devey, his interior designer wife Sophie and children Eloise, 6, and Ruben, 5, are here to explore the employment market, schooling, social activities and housing to get a complete picture of what their new lives would be like.

The would-be migrants taking part in the BBC show Wanted DownUnder end their visit by deciding on the spot if the move is right for them - in front of the cameras, of course.

D-Day for the Deveys, from Kent, is next week but they may have made up their minds already.

"It's been fantastic, I've loved every minute of it," said Mr Devey.

"I thought there would be no one around and it would be very remote. I'm a city person and like the cosmopolitan feel of Auckland. Someone at work said there was nothing in New Zealand. They were wrong."

He liked Auckland's cleanliness and thought it offered a good balance for his children.

"The British kid is always on the computer, here it seems safe for them to get outside more often."

Mr Devey has worked in the building industry for 23 years and yesterday met Cook Brothers Construction to consider potential job offers. The family have even thought about where they would live - Gulf Harbour appealed because it was only a 45-minute commute - half his trip to work at home.

Three families are being shown homes by Bayleys real estate. Mike Bayley said with about two million viewers, the show was a dream opportunity to promote New Zealand.

"The publicity New Zealand gets when the show screens in the UK is worth tens of millions of dollars. It's the sort of coverage New Zealand's tourism bodies could normally never afford in their budgets."

Tourism Industry Association spokeswoman Ann-Marie Johnson said the exposure would be be good for the country. "It's got to be good if New Zealand is portrayed in a positive light. The UK is our second-largest market and their economy has prevented visitors coming here."

The number of people moving from Britain to New Zealand is falling. In 2009, 8641 Brits gained residency here, compared with 6549 last year.

An Immigration New Zealand spokesman said the Christchurch quakes and recession were likely factors. "UK people also had trouble trying to sell their homes," he said.

- APNZ

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