Long-term New Zealand resident, Clifford Owler, arrived in New Zealand from Glasgow in 1956 on the HMS Captain Cook to work as a baker. Clifford had taken advantage of the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ scheme – an opportunity to start a new and exciting life in Auckland, on the other side of the world.
Finding his place in Auckland took quite a while, with many challenges and setbacks along the way. However, at 87 years old, Clifford can now look back with dignity and pleasure at having established a home in what he calls “our New Zealand”.
A passion to help other migrants led Clifford to recently publish a memoir: The Ordinary Life of a Ten Pound Pom. In the book, Clifford shares his struggles and triumphs in finding work, family and, eventually, home in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Clifford hopes that sharing his story will encourage new migrants to recognise the opportunities and beauty of their new country. Despite any initial setbacks they face, he hopes they can be as lucky and happy as he has been in his adopted country.
He has now lived in East Auckland for sixty years – having raised his children there and been involved in many local community initiatives.
Clifford has worked for the last 20 years with many new migrants to New Zealand – as a volunteer for English Language Partners. He’s really enjoyed helping new migrants settle into their new home.
“Some learners persisted with my ‘tuition’ for a considerable spell, and we became friends.
“One of my friends was a Polish Civil Engineer who was working as a labourer, making artificial marble table tops. I eventually helped him phone through for an engineer’s job in Australia. He could read English fairly well, but got nervous when using the phone or speaking to people who became impatient. However, he did well in the interview.”
Other learners included a Russian tax inspector, a Greek university student, a German architect and Clifford’s favourite – Barry Hung, a Chinese interpreter who is now a valued friend.
“I encouraged my learners to watch the TV news and read the newspaper. I also suggested they take up a sport. During lessons, I didn’t stick to a predetermined script, but found that treating my ‘students’ as the intelligent people they were, meant that branching out when questions occurred could enrich both our learnings.
“We got to know each other, and I believe I was able to convince them that their English was better than they thought. Which it usually was!”
If you would like a copy of Clifford’s book please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Books are $20.00 (including P&P).
Inspired by Clifford’s story? Volunteer for English Language Partners too – help new Kiwis settle in! Find out more here.
Clifford is pictured with three of his grandchildren.