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The lives of immigrants can be hard as they navigate their new society, but for one of them life has been roses since she made the choice to move to North Otago.

The lives of immigrants can be hard as they navigate their new society, but for one of them life has been roses since she made the choice to move to North Otago.

While there have been some cultural differences, Hazel Gibbs does not regret her family’s decision to leave Somerset, in England, in 2006.

She, partner John and their children all became dual citizens five years ago.

What attracted her family to North Otago was the countryside and the lifestyle that generated: “The mountains, rather than concrete jungle.”

It took her about two years to feel at home in New Zealand, but she has not ruled out the possibility of moving back to England.

“I never say never because you just don’t know. I miss the diversity of wildlife – the badgers and foxes.

“I thoroughly enjoy New Zealand’s wildlife: the fantails; the bellbirds, and the tui.

“I do miss the countryside in England – the rolling hills.

“My mum is still alive. I miss seeing my mum and my in-laws.”

The internet made it easier to stay in contact with loved ones, and it also meant she could choose to just be involved with the positives of life back in her homeland and leave the negatives behind.

“Like the politics of family. Grandad has had 12 whiskies – you don’t have to deal with the politics.”

She said her family were enjoying their home in North Otago.

They first lived at Totara and then Kurow, where they took over Western House Bed & Breakfast, but they were looking for a new business opportunity somewhere else in North Otago.

Her advice to newcomers to New Zealand was to give themselves time to adjust and not be hard on themselves if they found it overwhelming.

“It’s like a grieving process. Sometimes it can take someone a few years.”

She said joining clubs was a good way to make contacts.

“In New Zealand, everyone has come from somewhere. New Zealand is a new country.”