From Mauritius to NZ – yes, it’s cold

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If there are other Mauritians living in Mid Canterbury, Sophie-Claire Violette would like to know.
She thinks not, and she, as Ashburton’s new Newcomers Network co-ordinator, is in the right place to know.
Sophie-Claire has been in the role for just a few weeks and came to New Zealand to study at the University of Canterbury.
With a degree in political science anthropology under her belt, she came to Ashburton with her partner to help set up a skydiving business at Ashburton airport.
And yes, she is still getting used to Ashburton winters, with Mauritius a small tropical island state off Madagascar with 1.3 million people.
Now she is building on the structural base set up by the former Newcomers coordinator, Louise Glennon, who has moved on to a role with the district council.
So there is a newsletter, and a Facebook page (on which newcomers can register with the Newcomers Network).
Sophie-Claire said more skilled migrants were coming to the district (physios and lawyers) and the Newcomers Network was helping them to achieve their goals, helping them with basic information, such as finding their way around town – and even helping newcomers deal with the mysteries of Kiwi slang.
There were also more younger newcomers with different needs than those, say, of a decade ago.
Sophie-Claire said there was, perhaps, a greater diversity of migrants in Mid Canterbury than she saw in Christchurch.
That diversity was highlighted in an outdoor art exhibition, Crossing the Bridge, she organised with Belgian photographer Petra Mingneau. It featured the photographs and biographies of 22 migrants in Ashburton and was shown in Baring Square East in May.
People can contact the Newcomers Network through Facebook, or in person at Community House in Cass Street, Ashburton (the Newcomers Network office is open 9-4 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday).