A Tanzanian in Broad Bay

A Tanzanian in Broad Bay

I am from Tanzania.  I met a New Zealand fisherman in Tanzania in 1999 and married him.  It was an African wedding with lots of dancing, but Neil was not very good at that!  He returned to New Zealand on his fishing boat, but not me; I hate boats, you woudn’t see me doing that!  No, I came by plane as I cannot swim.  It was my first time on a plane.  Neil met me in Auckland and brought me down to Dunedin.

As we were flying into Dunedin, looking down, all I could see was white fields – sheep – and I was shocked, there were no shepherds looking after them!  Driving down the winding harbour road I was terrified that I would end up in the water (remember, I cannot swim!).

We started off living in Macandrew Bay with Neil’s sister.  More shocks – New Zealand food!  I had never eaten cheese before, or chocolate.  My first trip to a supermarket was a totally new experience.  We had outside markets back home.  I wanted to buy dried sardines, but could only find them in the pet food section! 

I arrived in the middle of May.  I was so cold.  I thought people were living in a freezer.  I wanted to go back to Africa!   Life was a bit difficult to start with, but water came out of a tap, and firewood was delivered.

My sister-in-law looked after me – especially as Neil went out to sea fishing.  My English was not very good, so I went to the Polytechnic to learn English, and met Sharron, who became a good friend and also helped to look after me. 

We moved to Portobello, where our son Hamish was born, and then when he was about five we moved to Broad Bay – 61 Grieg Street – which had belonged to Neil’s father (another fisherman).  This was the first house of our own. A few years ago the Broad Bay Methodist Church building came up for sale, just up the road, and we moved there.  One of the colourful characters painted on the wall was based on me!

When Hamish started school I began doing home support work.  I really enjoyed this as it is what we do naturally back in Africa.  Talking to these elderly people, I found out about life in Broad Bay.  I started painting after looking after Jack Squires who showed me how to mix colours.  He encouraged me to have a go and my first painting sold straight away!  Now I paint pictures of life back in my African village. 

Running is part of my life.  Back home I had to run to school.  Here I have a choice – I can run for pleasure, though when the bus fare was $6 from town, I saved a lot of money!  I meet a lot of people through my running (everyone beeps and waves at me).  I’m training for my 16th marathon.

I am someone who makes the most of every opportunity.  I recently went to Womad in Taranaki and realised that everyone there was interested in African clothes, so now I have taught myself how to sew ready for next year! 

I love African music and dancing, and have taught dancing classes and Zumba.

We regularly have trips to Central Otago in the summer to pick fruit which we sell and make into jams and fresh fruit ice cream.  I naturally cook African food and many people in Broad Bay really like it!

I’ve been helping my old school in Tanzania and have a container filled with goods for them which I hope will be shipped overseas soon.  I am planning to take a tour to Tanzania which will help to fund the container.  I’m also writing and illustrating a children’s book about my journey from Tanzania to New Zealand.

I love everything I do and love living in Broad Bay. 

When I came to live here I did feel like an outsider, but no longer.  I feel at home. I do miss the warmth of Africa though, and my goal is to have six months in New Zealand and six months in Africa to escape the cold winter!

There is another African woman now living in Portobello.  She is also a runner.  When I met her she told me how surprised she is that people are so friendly and beep and wave at her … should I disappoint her and tell her they think they are waving at me???

By Shukuru Munro

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