IT ALL MEANS THE SAME
Bonjour mon amour! Je pense a toi et j’espere que tout va bien. Je t’embrasse. Bonne journee.
‘Mon amour’, that’s French for “my little love” and the rest means, “I’m thinking of you, and hoping that everything is going well.” It has a similar version in Pilipino which for some, is a bit harder to translate into English because of its much deeper expression of feelings but means all the same for Filipino families whose immediate members are separated by long distances.
So why have some 45,000-odd Filipinos to-date dispersed to settle themselves in this new home called New Zealand? Why not the United States, Canada or Australia as hundreds of thousands of other kababayans (countrymen) have done already? And why Auckland, for that particular matter?
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
New Zealand is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, between latitude 34’S and 47’S and runs roughly north-south with mountain ranges down much of its length. There are two main islands, the North Island (where the population centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington are situated) and the South Island (where Christchurch sits), with a third smaller one called Stewart Island beyond its tip.
The country’s position atop the grinding plates of the Pacific Ring of Fire has resulted in a unique landscape with an unrivalled variety of landforms. A couple of day’s drive by car or train will allow you to see everything from snow-topped mountain ranges to sandy beaches, lush rainforests, glaciers and fiords, and active volcanoes.
It is an uncrowded country consisting of a diverse multi-cultural population of just over 4-million people each with a rich ethnic history. The Maori, a Poly-nesian sea-faring people, were New Zealand’s first settlers, arriving about 1,000 years ago. Then, the Europeans discovered it in 1642 but not until 1769 was it claimed and then gradually colonized by Britain. By 1840, after some armed conflicts between these two cultures, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, establishing the country as a nation which later on was popularized as ‘God’s Own Country’ by New Zealand’s longest-service prime minister, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906). It is has since become a phrase that has been used for more than 100-years by New Zealanders to describe their homeland.
ATTRACTIONS OF AUCKLAND
In these antipodean islands, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and most diverse population centre. It is literally a marine playground without peer in the country. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland has grown to become the most vibrant city in the South Pacific, encompassing world-class sightseeing, ad-venture, shopping and cultural activities. Auckland is packed with amazing restaurants, bars, cafes and parks. Dine al fresco at the Viaduct Harbour, take a leap of faith and bungee jump from the Skytower or shop ’til you drop in the High Street fashion district. It is also the gateway to the wonders of New Zealand’s far north.
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It is also one of the most diverse. Auckland’s blend of harbour, islands, Poly-nesian culture and modern city environment has created a lifestyle ranked amongst the best in the world. Nearly 67% of all Filipino-Kiwis reside in what is now called the ‘Super City’ of New Zealand.
Its natural assets have also made it an important destination for all kinds of travelers as well, from ‘doing-it-on-the-cheap’ backpackers to ‘cost-is-no-issue’ super-yacht owners. Being situated at the narrowest point of the North Island it literally stretches itself from one side of the country to the other – from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea and hiking to the top of Mt Eden for inspiring 360 degree views. This means that wherever you are in Auckland, you’re never really far away from water, from big wild rolling surf beaches to two beautiful gulfs with one of these scattered with tranquil holiday islands. It is the ideal starting point to explore the rest of the country that is also known as Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud.