Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let's take a moment

New Zealanders live farther away from the world than almost anyone, except Falkland Islanders.

To experience what the world has to offer, Kiwis leave home.

Most go to Australia, and live fabulous lives there, and a great many stay there. More and more Kiwis, now as always, keep moving – to London, Europe, Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Russia, the United States.

Unlike a lot of expats, who typically stick together in supportive communities, Kiwis assimilate easily. They make friends with the locals. Identify with the new place. Become part of the new environment. Sometimes, they stay connected with fellow Kiwi expats, but just as often slip away to build new, independent lives.

People say there could be a million Kiwis or more spread out around the globe.

However they live their new lives and whatever they do in the world, a big piece of every New Zealander’s heart and soul stays fixed in Aotearoa. What doesn’t stay there is spliced to a cable that’s firmly anchored in the island nation and pays out as they travel around the planet. Nothing can break that connection.

This week, a much loved Kiwi will be taken home to New Zealand from Valencia.

Paul Wallbank (NZL), formerly team trainer for BMW Oracle, died suddenly last Sunday. He was an energetic, enthusiastic professional who loved his business and made a multitude of connections among his teammates, associates and clients – from heavyweight Kiwi boxer David Tua to Auckland business executives who trusted him to keep them in shape and who dedicated themselves to his regimes, as well as Valencians he got to know in Spain, and who got to know him.

After his BMWOracle career, Paul Wallbank was planning to build a training studio in Valencia.

Now his friends from BMW Oracle will be taking him home. Russell Coutts (NZL), BMW Oracle CEO, will be there with them.

This is as important for his teammates as it will be for Paul Wallbank’s family, and our heart goes out to all of them. But we know what they also know.

Paul Wallbank is already home.