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It’s about safety for an English rose

Apr 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features, Student Features

rosemainWHEN English migrant Leontine Van Manen-Esdaile settled in Wellington six years ago, she thought she had found a safer place to call home.

She felt more relaxed living in New Zealand – until a recent burglary at her cottage, while she and her husband slept.

“It goes to show that New Zealand isn’t as safe as one thinks or it’s made out to be,” she says. 

“I’m sure it’s still better than England but I’ll be going back to being strict about security again now.”

A communications facilitator and executive assistant for ANZ National, Miss Van Manen-Esdaile has travelled the world and says nowhere is 100% home any more.

“You live in limbo. It’s like your own country has closed the door on you.”

Although she still refers to England as “home”, the increasing multiculturalism means it is not the same for her when she returns. She says it’s not the picture she has in her head.

It was only after becoming a citizen in 2005 that she felt loyal to New Zealand and more like a Kiwi than an Englishwoman, although Kiwis will always see her as a “Pom”.

She says a lot of her mannerisms are a bit upper-class and snobby, and don’t fit in here.

Married to fellow Brit Pete Soldini, Miss Van Manen-Esdaile says her children may absorb some of her English caution but it will be tempered with an easy-going Kiwi attitude.

She expects that she will be strict on old-fashioned manners – “probably too strict, but that is how I was brought up”.

The renovated cottage she and husband share has an English feel, complete with character decor, and has a country garden.

She finds newer New Zealand homes too square compared with the West Sussex converted farmhouse she grew up in. All her neighbours’ houses had thatched roofs.
Friends in England say she was lucky to get out and have a home elsewhere.

Miss Van Manen-Esdaile previously worked in investment banks in London and Germany and finds New Zealand workplaces more relaxed – to the point that people sometimes “miss the boat because they don’t take things seriously”.

She thinks our Parliament gets tied up in trivia. English MPs’ arguments aren’t as childish, she says.

But any criticisms Miss Van Manen-Esdaile may have will not be enough to tear her away from her adopted Kiwi home.

There is one thing she still can’t fathom: Kiwis’ addiction to Maggi dip.

“It’s not a dip – it’s just a bizarre creation,” she says. “You don’t make dips like that. All the Poms I know say, ‘What’s with the dip thing?'”

CAPTION: English rose Leontine Van Manen-Esdaile in her Wellington cottage.

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