Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sam and Nummy go to New Zealand

I am loathe to revisit the story of NZ's most highly paid twelve year old, especially while he is still in the naughty corner. However, out of bullshit springs daisies. I have been enjoying the thread of this post of Russell Brown's over the affair, which has morphed into an exposition on what it means to be One of Us in the forum. It all brings to mind a couple of tales; the story of Sam and the story of Nummy.

I bumped into both characters in my chequered restaurant career. Sam was the best cold larder chef I ever met. Hailing from Indonesia, he was a demon at appetisers and desserts, part of an award winning team of gastronomes. One of this team still works Courtenay Place, but not Sam. Sam is now offshore.

Sam had been in NZ ten years and had working himself into a respectable position in the Wellington culinary scene. Worked hard, paid his taxes. He had been at Restaurant X for well over two years when he was locked up and deported in short summary.

Sam had done two things wrong. Firstly, he had overstayed his workers permit by some years, and had never faced the outlaw status before it was forced upon him. The immigration service was informed of his whereabouts by his then-NZ girlfriend, who had feigned contraception during their relationship in order to go on the DPB. One day they locked him up in Wellington police station. Within three days he was deported to Indonesia.

Nummy escaped from Mugabe's Zimbabwe, selling up his middle class assets as the currency devalued by the minute. Gone was the land, the boat, the job at the supermarket. His cashed up savings a tenth of what it was worth before Mugabe lost the plot in the late Nineties and the family emigrated to NZ.

I met Nummy in Auckland in the early 2000's. He was managing a central city restaurant near Sky City. He ended up not long afterwards, like me, scrounging a living at that temple of Mammon itself. We didn't have much chance to talk on the floor there, but he confided in me that his NZ residency was merely a means to ends, the endgame being Oz. Sure enough, that's where he is now.

NZ is not an easy place to live. I reckon that if anyone makes it 10 years in this place and wants to stay, good on them. And their kids.