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It’s was the summer of 1981, the Royal British family are in the throes of planning Charles and Dianna’s wedding and New Zealand’s recruiting to fill 52 vacancies at the dockyards in Devonport. Shipping out 52 English workers and their families was quite a process and the Browns Bay team caught up with Mrs Corinne Clegg, one of the wives of this group and indulged in a chance to learn of her transitional experience to New Zealand.
Mrs Clegg recalls some of the initial interview questions from the day… and during the interview they separated the wife to ask the wife if they were happy to go and that they were not under any duress? Many questions were asked to make sure that the families would mix well and survive their time in NZ such as …’How do you feel you will get on interacting with the Maoris?’ and “Do you have a good sense of humor?’ was amongst the many questions they were asked. At this time New Zealand’s only sure mark in England was Anchor Butter so they could only guess what type of land they were coming too.
She recalls at this time the salary was $12,000 per year and you were bound to a three year contract in New Zealand. Full travel costs and relocation was paid and if for any reason you wanted to return home and leave New Zealand you could providing that you paid back % of the relocation costs.
When they came to work in Devonport Dockyard they were initially put up at the Mairangi Bay hotel, until they were able to buy property of their own. A recent celebration was held in to celebrate the remaining families and their colonization into becoming kiwis.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 68 August 2016