Home‎ > ‎

Emigrating to New Zealand


Peter first arrived in New Zealand as a 20 year old athlete representing England in the high jump at the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland. The only thing Peter knew about the 'colonies' was that once a year his schools had Empire Day, where they were told a little bit about the Empire. There had been a suggestion during the war years that all school children be evacuated, and Peter had wanted to go to Australia because it was furthest away.

Peter had completed his 2 years compulsory service in the army, had plans to follow his father's career as an Accountant, had secured a job as an Articles Clerk with a firm of London Accountants, and was part way through his Articles at the time of selection.

At the time England was still had severe food rationing. One of the big impressions New Zealand made on Peter was the magnificent food readily available - beautiful meat, cream, milk, ice cream and jugs of fruit juice.

After the Games, while waiting for the Tamaroa to arrive to take them back to England, the English team split and went on an athletics tour of New Zealand. The group Peter was with travelled by train from Auckland to Wellington stooping at Rotorua on the way where they were hosted and entertained by the local Maori. From Wellington, they caught the inter-island ferry to Lyttelton, the port town that services Christchurch. They competed in Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru, Christchurch, Nelson and Wellington. In Christchurch, Peter and Ron Pavitt stayed with Tick Langford, who was the public relations officer looking after the team. When the rest of the team got on the Tamaroa to head back to England, Peter had already decided that he wanted to stay, and caught the ferry back to Lyttelton instead.

The Langfords met Peter at Lyttelton and offered him a place to stay in Christchurch, and shortly after he got offered a clerical job with McKendrick Brothers, a sack and jute merchant. He sent a telegram to his parents asking for their permission to stay in New Zealand, and requested a release from his Articles of Association - both of which were duly received.

As well as the food, Peter was attracted to the kiwi way of life. He was very aware of the class consciousness back in England, the University/non-University divide, and the tremendous gap between the rich and the poor. He also didn't want to go back to environment he'd been in - an hour on the tube every morning to work, standing on the tube halfway home because it was so crowded. He liked the open spaces New Zealand had to offer, and found Kiwi's to be 'free and easy'.Peter realised that if he were to go back to the UK, it would take him years to save up enough money to get back to New Zealand.

Peter was not the only English athlete to eventually live in New Zealand. Dr Harold (HEA) Moody the shot putter, John Parlett (middle distance runner), Leslie Charles Lewis (220 and 440 yards), and Duncan (D.McD,D) Clark (Hammer Throw) also settled in New Zealand after the 1950 Empire Games.

Apart from a brief return to England in 1952, a year in Auckland (1954-55) and a year in Wellington (1974), Peter lived in Christchurch all his life.