Ask weatherman Dan Corbett what his favourite thing about living in New Zealand is and you’d be best to go put the kettle on – it’s a list he finds difficult to keep brief!
“I just love the open spaces, the friendliness, the safety – especially seeing these horrible, horrible things happening in other countries currently – the scenery, my goodness, the Southern Alps, Taupo, it’s all right there in our backyard,” he reels off excitedly.
But there’s a different spring in Dan’s step as he makes his list, particularly as he proudly draws out the word “our”. Because, as of last month, the much-loved TV One weather presenter has truly made New Zealand his home and can officially call himself a Kiwi.
In late June, UK-born Dan (49) and his wife Helen (42) attended a ceremony in Orewa, near their home north of Auckland, where they officially became New Zealanders. They joined around 300 new citizens from 29 different nations, all excited by the promise of being able to call this their country.
“It’s really hard to describe how it felt – it was just so nice, my wife and I couldn’t stop grinning at each other, actually,” shares Dan. “There was one part where they played a video and the politicians speaking said, ‘This has been your home, but now it’s your country’ and my goodness, that just really resonated with my wife and I.
"We emigrated here from the UK looking for a change in lifestyle and we wanted this to be our country, and now it feels complete. It’s like putting that last brick on the top of the chimney.”
It’s been a big change for the pair, who just over five years ago were living hectic lives in London.
Feeling like they’d become trapped in the rat-race, which saw them enduring gruelling work schedules and long commutes, there was barely any time left to see each other.
So, it was decided a change was necessary, and after a lovely holiday to our shores, they knew exactly where they wanted to be. They were granted residency here, first settling in Wellington where Dan found a job with MetService.“I’m sure other Kiwis would be able to relate to our situation with so many people here leaving to do their OE, but you just can’t walk into another country,” says Dan. “We were really looking for a change of lifestyle and New Zealand was it.
“There are always so many forms to fill out and a long procedure, but going through that process has made us feel so much more a part of this place and it’s a real piece of us. Being now able to say, ‘I’m a Kiwi,’ well, it’s just so cool!”
Nearly two years ago, they made the move from the capital to Auckland, for Dan to take up his position at TVNZ, where he’s certainly made his mark and become a much-loved member of the team.
His raised profile means he’s stopped on the street and has become a familiar face in Warkworth, 40 minutes north of Auckland, where he and Helen have settled.
But being stopped by friendly passers-by to be asked about the likelihood of rain has become a part of the job Dan also enjoys.
“We do, of course, inevitably end up talking about the weather, but I’m always looking at it so I’m happy to talk about it!” he laughs.
And it didn’t take long at the citizenship ceremony for someone to recognise his face.
“I had to take the evening off work, so the night before I let the viewers know I wasn’t going to be there the next day because I was becoming a New Zealand citizen,” tells Dan.
“It was very funny because after you do your oath and you’re invited up onto the stage to receive your certificate in groups, straight away the first woman said, ‘Ah, I knew you were going to be here because you told us last night!’ That was a lovely start.”
After sharing a cup of tea and cake with their fellow new citizens, Helen and Dan had their own celebration the following Saturday.
They spent time doing one of their favourite hobbies together – cooking – and made a celebratory dinner.
The pair, who often whip up picnic lunches together and then set off exploring, say they’ll continue to make their way around the country, taking in its beauty.
“We tend to just try new places in our local area, but when there’s a long weekend, we like to get on a plane and explore it further,” tells Dan. “We had a longer trip around the South Island a couple of months back and visited Doubtful Sound, Queenstown and the Otago Peninsula. We were honestly just amazed. It really is such an incredibly beautiful country.”
And now they’re hoping they can entice more of their family members over for a holiday.
Dan says his mother has been over and there are rumblings that a few cousins might like to visit. Now he just has to make sure he can get the weather right to show them our country.
“I may just put a nicely worded email in to Mother Nature about that one,” he says with a grin.
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