Our Corporate Gold Members:
New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
Getting to know Kiwis in Hong Kong!
We asked a selection of Kiwis living and working in Hong Kong to tell us:
- Where are they originally from in New Zealand and how long they’ve been in Hong Kong;
- A little about their work and any memorable projects or experiences they’ve encountered;
- Whether they have family in Hong Kong; and
- What they most like about life in Hong Kong.
If you want to contact any of the Kiwis listed below, please send an e-mail to email@example.com in the first instance. We’ll pass your message on.
Here’s what they shared with us …
Kiwis in Hong Kong S - Z
I grew up on a cattle farm near Matakana, north of Auckland, studied economics and finance at the University of Auckland before heading to China as a student on a NZ-China Exchange Program scholarship in 1992. After two years at Nanjing University, most of which I spent travelling to the far flung parts of China, I took up my first job with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise in Shanghai.
Those were fun times, as the enormity of China's economic miracle started to become apparent. Hong Kong wasn't really part of my plans but I'd always hankered to do stock market research and the opportunity came with Credit Lyonnais (CLSA) here in 1996.
Hong Kong wasn't my favourite place for the first five years I was here, partly because I didn't have any money when I arrived and partly because I felt I was missing out on all that was going on in mainland China. Once I realised that Hong Kong was one of the very few East-meets-West places on the planet, and got my finances in order, I've really enjoyed being a Hongkonger and haven't looked back. Until 2017, I worked as the head of China research at several international banks.
A stint as a fund manager followed and now I'm a partner at private equity firm Pasaca Capital. Our headquarters is in the United States and we mainly invest in healthcare and medical technologies. Most of my career has been in jobs relating to China and Hong Kong is a great place to do that. The city can be a tough place if you're not involved with China activities, but if you are, then the city really has no equal.
My wife, Vera, and I met when I was in Shanghai and our children were born and raised in Hong Kong. They are teenagers now and our thoughts are turning to whether Hong Kong is a suitable place for retirement. We haven't reached a conclusion but as long as there is a business reason to remain in Hong Kong then it is hard to beat. We've had friends say their farewells and return to Australia and New Zealand, only to show up back here for more action. If you leave, it's important to pick the right moment to do so, I guess.
Hong Kong during the pandemic has felt like a reverse Hotel California - you can leave, but it's not easy to check back in. Being "trapped" here throws into sharp relief what the city offers. Hiking the hills has always been my main escape, and once recharged, you get to step back into a city with first-class services, deep business networks and the finest dining from around the globe.
I was born in Dunedin and lived in Auckland for the decade before moving to Hong Kong, but still consider myself to be a Wellingtonian… and continue to support the Hurricanes no matter how high and low that is in any season.
I have also had time in Europe in childhood, becoming something of a third culture kid, and (much) later with a secondment to London.
I have the privilege to lead KPMG's People Services team across Mainland China and Hong Kong - working with superb teams dealing with various people-related matters spanning employer and expatriate tax issues, private clients, immigration, reward and executive recruitment.
The great thing about my role is that it brings me into contact with a broad range of people, issues and challenges… and is constantly changing. Over recent years, the number of expats moving around the world has dampened, but remote work has created some interesting discussions with employers.
The professional talent market in Hong Kong has been tight over recent years and is expected to get tighter - this is causing discussions about temporary remote work for talent retention, and offshore hiring to broaden access talent. If anything, Hong Kong is now leading the trend where ASPAC used to trail behind Europe and North America … but it's a classic case of necessity being the mother of invention (or at least change).
I have been in Hong Kong for eight years now with my wife, Sue, and son, Dominic. Pre-COVID we loved to travel and took advantage of the central location of Hong Kong, more recently we have explored hikes, and taken up kickboxing (quite the family activity!).
There's so much to choose from… but I have to start with food and the availability of everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to street food snacks, sometimes the choice is too much. I love stumbling across hidden gems by accident - local restaurants, wet markets, bars … The people, the buzz, the fact that the city is so safe.
COVID times aside, I appreciate being only one flight from most places in the world - great for business and holidays. The MTR is ridiculously efficient, and the tax rate is pretty good. Lots of things to enjoy about Hong Kong… except perhaps the weather in summer!
I am originally from Auckland, and grew up on the North Shore.
I enjoyed cooking when I was younger and got a job in a restaurant in Epsom after leaving school. Studied culinary arts and got qualified at AUT. Moved to Queenstown for 4-5 years in and out as a young chef working at Skyline at the top of the gondola and various other restaurants around Queenstown. Went on OE in 1997 working in tough underground kitchens in London, and was in London when Princess Diana died.
In 2007 had an opportunity to go to China for an Australian food promotion and fell in love with the place, so always wanted to go back and work fulltime should I get the opportunity. In 2010 after two years at Swissotel Sydney I was transferred to Swissotel Beijing as Executive chef.
Spent five years in China, two years in Beijing and three years in Shanghai. In 2015 moved to Hong Kong as Executive chef at Renaissance. Initial plan to stay in Hong Kong for two years and have now been here for over seven years!
I am the Director of Food & Beverage at Sheraton Tung Chung, gave up being a chef about four years ago as I wanted to continue to take on more responsibility and have more career opportunities.
I am responsible for all Food & Beverage operation in the hotel. We have two hotels, Sheraton which has 218 rooms and four restaurants and Four Points by Sheraton which has 1,000 rooms and two restaurants. Culinary, Service, Stewarding and Event Management all fall under F&B, so it is quite a large team that I need to manage.
My main job is managing people, and responsible for F&B direction, making decision about what to do, what not to do and coordinating everything. I have been fortunate enough to travel and working in many different kitchens, hotels & restaurants, which come with many memories.
Being involved in pre-opening of these two hotels I will never forget, but also while working in Shanghai we did the catering for China F1 and the Shanghai masters tennis tournament which were big operations. Outside catering at Great Wall of China and Summer Palace are other events I worked and was lucky to experience.
Met my beautiful wife in Shanghai and got married on the beach in Gold Coast (Australia), and we both now live in Hong Kong. We also have a seven-year-old daughter who attends AISHK.
Days off are mainly at home resting, if you ask my daughter she would say “Daddy watches football and drinks beer”. Anytime is family time and we enjoy just been around the home and dining out for dinner. Like everyone we love to travel so with Covid it made us a little crazy, but since ease of restriction we have been to Bali & Vietnam and we are heading back to New Zealand in March for a couple of weeks.
Convenience, everything is so accessible and easy to get to and the huge options of restaurants. We eat out often and we have our favourites but we also always want to try something new. Too many restaurants to try them all. I also love the opportunity I have to work in such an international city. I don’t plan to stay forever but to experience Hong Kong, work here and enjoy all it has to offer I think is a great experience.
Kevin Sew Hoy
I am from Dunedin, born and bred in the outskirts town of Mosgiel and raised in the country township of Outram. My family heritage stems from the gold rush days since 1869 when my great great grandfather Choie Sew Hoy arrived in Dunedin and set up his merchant and gold dredging business.
Our family roots stem from the upper Panyu district of Guangzhou, and as part of my overseas experience (OE) I’ve have traced both sides of my family roots in China, since landing in Hong Kong over 27 years ago. After completing my Otago university study, I worked three years in Dunedin obtaining my professional accounting qualifications, ensured Mum and Dad were happily settled in retirement and decided on Hong Kong for my OE as many kiwis did back then, although UK/London was not my "cup of tea" so to speak. Since arriving Hong Kong is home, but New Zealand is still where my heart is.
I've been involved in the Hong Kong financial services sector for over 20 years and was the CFO for 13 years for a publicly listed Hong Kong investment bank which was taken over by a mainland conglomerate in 2016. Thereafter I helped establish its debt capital markets operation before departing in 2018. I now manage my private investments and do volunteering and mentoring young accountants.
Being part of an investment bank, we were always inundated with many opportunities and clients, and during the past two decades with the opening of China, led to meeting, learning and developing many interesting people and forming many social and business relationships and seeing these businesses develop over time. The tracing of yesteryear history of my own family and heritage was a great path of enlightenment, as my forefathers having travelled to California, Victoria and finally ending up in Otago gave me inspiration to pursue my roots and establish a presence in the region where my family originated, somewhat of an ironic role reversal after 150 years. My early days of business travels into the mainland were exciting and intriguing, not having the communication skills equipped to express my sentiment fully. A challenge on one hand, but an exciting opportunity otherwise. Those experiences are only developed and couldn't be learned, something which I imagined my forefathers endured similarly 150 years ago.
I met my wife in Hong Kong, who like me is born and bred Kiwi from Auckland. Her roots stem from Zengcheng county in Guangzhou after her grandfather arrived in New Zealand in the early 1900's. Being both NZBCs (New Zealand born Chinese) we both wanted our children to embrace both sides of the culture and to ensure they knew their heritage and also New Zealand, where we made numerous trips to visit whanau. Our two boys were born and raised in Hong Kong and are now completing university in Melbourne. I enjoy following New Zealand rugby and dabbled in social rugby in my early days in Hong Kong, but after the battering have resorted to much less impact and enjoy trail running and hiking. Love exploring the obscure parts of Hong Kong which has a treasure trove of wonderful landscapes, adventure and history.
Convenience and accessibility is the essence of Hong Kong, in both the city and as an international base for us to travel and experience many cultures. Within Hong Kong, the food, the mountains, the harbours and seas and the villages are so accessible, hence my passion for trail running and hiking and generally keeping fit and healthy. The access to the Greater Bay Area by Macau bridge, and the high speed train has allowed me more opportunity to explore my roots now having more time on my hands.
Our family's from Hong Kong, and I was actually born here. Mum and Dad left for New Zealand when I was just a few months old, so I guess that makes me an Aucklander.
I returned to Hong Kong about 10 years ago and it wasn't long before I started missing home comforts like Vogel's bread and proper beef and lamb. Each holiday in Auckland would inevitably conclude with me packing a suitcase full of edible goodies to bring back to Hong Kong. After a while, it occurred to me I couldn't be the only one who'd appreciate a better selection of Kiwi-grown produce, so decided to start a business importing foodstuffs from New Zealand into Hong Kong. That's how 178 Degrees was created.
Kiwis are very lucky to have some of the best food in the world, grown right on our doorstep, and it's done so in an ecologically responsible manner. We have the best lamb, arguably the same can be said for our beef, and seafood, and the idea was wanted to share them with Hong Kong consumers. But the problem was Hong Kongers don't rate our primary products that highly. So the challenge was showcasing New Zealand food in a way that resonated with the Hong Kong public. One of the themes locals clearly associated with Aotearoa was the purity of the country's natural environment, which led us to distinguish ourselves from competitors through superior sustainability credentials.
Our approach is different from many online grocery stores that claim to follow sustainable practices. In contrast, all of our processes are designed with sustainability and traceability at the forefront, and we have the documentation to back this up. We only work with suppliers who care deeply about sustainability and caring for the environment. We know this because we personally visit the farms to talk to our producers and see all of that in action. Talk of sustainability is meaningless without traceability, so each of our products has a batch code, which allows us to track each individual item back to the supplier, and where and the exact time it was produced. One of the major projects we're working on is having all of our goods location- and temperature-tracked from the moment they leave the factory, during transit (either by sea or air), all the way to the customers' door. This information will be accessible to all of our customers at any time, so will be a huge step up in transparency compared to other retailers.
I love long-distance running, and have completed 15 marathons so far, including all six of the majors (Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Tokyo). Training is time-consuming, but luckily it's pretty easy to find good routes, even in the heart of the city. So if you've ever seen a shirtless runner seemingly chasing trams along Des Voeux Road, that was probably me.
Hello, I am Kimi. I was born in Hong Kong, when I was 10 years old my family moved to Auckland, where I did most of my studies. A few years after graduating, I decided to do my OE in the UK. I took the opportunity to travel across Europe and the Middle East. After my OE, I decided that I wanted to spend some time in Hong Kong and connect to my cultural roots since I had vague memories of my childhood in HK.
My field of work is Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crime Compliance. In Hong Kong, I initially worked as a Compliance Manager in a fintech payment company. Currently, I work for a Japanese bank, where I oversee any financial crime-related regulatory exams and audits in the APAC region. It's an interesting role, as it offers a good opportunity to build relationships with stakeholders in different countries in Asia.
One of the memorable pieces of work during my career was definitely identifying suspicious money laundering trends while conducting reviews on high-value transaction reports in numerous branches. It came to my attention that a number of different customers had purchased multiple high-value prepaid cards in an appliance store on consecutive days. These were filed as suspicious transaction reports and further investigated by New Zealand Police Financial Intelligence Unit. With the advance in technology, unusual activity and alerts can be generated and detected by an automated transaction monitoring system.
Most of my family members are in New Zealand, but fortunately, I have some relatives here too. I visit them regularly, particularly for Chinese festivals. My aunt's cooking skills never fail to amaze me, she can make traditional Chinese food, such as the sweet rice cake for Chinese New Year and sticky rice dumplings for Dragon Boat Festival. In my free time, I like to study Italian and hiking. Last but not least, I have a black poodle named Charco. I like spending time exploring with her when it is not too hot of course! Hong Kong is still fascinating to me, and nothing beats the night view of Victoria Harbour and the Peak.
I really like how international Hong Kong is and how easy you can meet new people here. But what I LOVE the most is the number of quality restaurants. It's incredible that you can easily find a nice Chinese restaurant as well as authentic European ones.
Krystina Te Kanawa
I hail from the King Country - little ole Te Kuiti, in the middle of the North Island. Most famous for the shearing capital of the world and Collin Meads, full stop :)
I work for my self as a Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist in Hong Kong, in a range of areas; events, makeup lessons, Weddings, corporate headshots and I have my own range of makeup brushes, which we will be expanding in the very near future, we are working with New Zealand scientists at the moment which is very exciting, so watch this space!
I used to work in TV in NZ - TVNZ and Maori TV, and CNN/CNBC in London, since coming to HK its more private work with ladies and I absolutely love it, I get to meet, chat and get to know my clients quite closely and for a day or evening make them feel and look amazing, and they really appreciate it.
Most memorable moment was working for two French TV stations at the 2012 London Olympics, I went to the opening and closing ceremonies and worked at the French TV House near Tower Bridge for 2.5 weeks, it was an incredible experience.
I live here with my husband Sheldon, two year old son Kaila and our new addition three week old baby girl Billie. We are also very lucky to have my twin sister Laree here, especially with Covid and only been home once to see family, it's nice to have her here, especially for the babies.
I love that I can see friends almost everyday without having to book well in advance, a lot of my close friends live 1-2 minutes within walking distance of where we live in Happy Valley, so it's pretty cool. Having the beaches so close to us. I play netball for Valley and then the balance of been able to go out to brunches and enjoy ourselves. Of course the travel around Asia as well.
Lastly pre-covid, our kapahaka roopu, Te Hokioi - we only meet once per month, but it grounds me and it's a really nice environment to be in, connect to home and enjoy our culture through singing. I really can't wait to get back into it, whenever that will be.
I was born in Hastings but as a child and as an adult I have moved all around Aotearoa (North & South Island), Sydney, London, Dublin and now Hong Kong.
I came to Hong Kong in 2013 when I was ready for a change in my life, and have been here for 8.5 years!
I am a teacher at Bradbury School, an international primary school which is part of the English Schools Foundation.
I currently teach a Year 2 class (6 year olds). I remember when I first got the position in 2013 I thought I misheard in the interview that there would be 30 children in my class of 5 year olds (the most I would have in my year 1 class in NZ would be 18)! That was certainly a shock to the system!
However, I adapted to my “new normal” and love teaching in Hong Kong. It has obviously been extra challenging during these times of COVID and online learning. Having to teach online or in classrooms with masks and plastic dividers between every child has forced me to adapt my style of teaching to another version of the “new normal”. I never thought I’d be asking kids not to come on zoom in their underwear!
I love being on the water, and one of the best things about Hong Kong is the easy access to beaches. I have competed in dragon boating for 25 years in NZ, UK and now Hong Kong. I belong to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club “Royal X” team and am also the coach and a paddler in the “Flying Kiwis” team - made up of kiwis and those that love NZ. I have also represented Hong Kong at the World Dragon Boat Club Championships in Hungary.
I also love the sport of waka ama (outrigger canoeing) and have paddled since 2002. I have coached and represented Hong Kong at the World Va’a Long Distance Championships in Australia in both an Open Womens team & individually. It's a way to see Hong Kong from a different perspective and certainly helps with my mental health having time on the water away from the craziness of the city. Waka ama is also a way to meet so many different people who all have a love of the ocean.
Hong Kong is such a mixture of a city - which is what I love about it so much! It has the Chinese culture but then a multitude of other cultures co-existing which contributes to the richness of life here in Hong Kong.
There is also the fantastic combination of nature and urban living. I had no idea there would be so much green in Hong Kong. The many opportunities to go for hikes and obviously paddling in beautiful and iconic locations is a major reason why I have stayed for so long. And don't get me started on the food!!
I left Hong Kong as a baby when my parents emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1960's. Our family was sponsored by the community of Dargaville, all of whom were so extremely generous and supportive helping us settle in. After around eight years we moved to Pakuranga, a suburb of Auckland which has become very popular with Asians.
In late 1985, myself and my partner headed to London for a year. What was to be a five month stay in Hong Kong to tide over UK's winter became pretty much a lifetime. We were offered contract work and based ourselves in Hong Kong ever since.
When I arrived in Hong Kong it was an extremely exciting time in the financial markets and particularly Hong Kong being a major centre for Asia. The financial services industry was an obvious choice.
My first role was in regional internal audit with a US banking group, a significant opportunity to involve and learn-on-the-job. This led to broader opportunities and diverse roles, managing capital markets, deal making, revenue ownership, audit risk and regulations, consultancy, all with international organizations.
My most memorable project was with CLSA Ltd where I built their new risk, audit and compliance department from grass roots, growing the department alongside CLSA's global expansion.
Each of my roles valued face-to-face relationships and required hands-on execution in each country. My most memorable locations were Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Bermuda and Karachi, each with their culture, risks and complexities extending past the work environment.
I don't have my own family in Hong Kong, rather a "Hong Kong family" of friends also living and working the same 30+ years as I've been here.
In my personal time I do sports, hike, cycle, gym, water sports, anything active, and enjoy the socializing and the travelling for which Hong Kong is such a great base.
I have many likes about living in Hong Kong .. it's international vibe, the real positive energy, its can-do spirit, the efficiency and that everything works, transport and ease of travel, its safe and clean environment, and of course the stunning geography.
Driving these is what seems a genuine ethic of "do things well, do things right and with respect" this ethic I would say is what I like most about living here.
I was born in Hastings, but family moved to Miramar, Wellington shortly after where I lived for the first ten years. When I was 11, my family moved to Hong Kong with my dad’s job and spent three formative years here before his company was sold and we moved back to New Zealand, choosing to settle in Auckland.
After finishing high school, I went to Auckland University and shortly after graduating moved back to Hong Kong. Perhaps it was the three years as a kid, but I always wanted to come back to Asia and I’ve been here for the last 10 ½ years. After six years of doing the inner city apartment living, I moved out to Shek O – where kids run around barefoot, the beach is on my doorstep, food is cheap and tasty, I know my neighbours and life feels like a Cantonese version of small town Coromandel.
I’ve had quite a variety of roles over my short time here, initially I worked for a charity called ICM. I was in charge of planning, and attending short term poverty exposure trips in slum communities in The Philippines. Then a brief stint in Chinese manufacturing was followed by six years in recruitment. Hitting a quarter life crisis, I decided to change trajectories and made a switch into Banking. I now work for HSBC Expat as a Business Development Manager. HSBC Expat is headquartered in Jersey (Channel Islands), with a representative office in Hong Kong. We provide offshore banking, wealth & mortgage products for individuals around the world with international financial needs. Alongside this, I also lead the Hong Kong subsidiary of a New Zealand Hospo-Tech company called Aria Experience. We build, manage and sell a full suite of digital ordering, operations, payments and supply integration solutions for hospitality outlets.
Despite our name, the HSBC ‘Expat’ proposition serves people who look far different to your conventional western expat. We serve any individual with a need for international / offshore personal banking services; and in fact a large proportion of our clients are Hong Kong residents. We help people who are looking to diversify where their wealth is stored, growing, or perhaps want to invest into UK Property and Share market.
I really enjoy the variety of customers, business partners, and colleagues I get to interact with on a daily basis. At the core, my role is educating, advising, and helping people understand whether the products and services we offer are in line with their personal financial needs. It’s fulfilling working in the intersection of customers unmet needs and a genuine ignorance of what options are available to them.
All my family are back in New Zealand, and whenever I go home I spread my time between the immediate family in Auckland and extended who are spread across Tauranga, Rotovegas, Welly, Christchurch and the West Coast. Makes for some epic road trips.
In my personal time I ride motorbikes, bodyboard, hike (currently trying to knock off Hong Kong’s 50 tallest peaks), go Coasteering or SUP, or spend time exploring new neighbourhoods and discovering little nuances around the city. I used to enjoy travelling but…well we all know how that story goes.
Proximity to the rest of Asia but within Hong Kong I love the access to outdoors at my doorstep, the proximity to a vibrant dining, entertainment scene filled with friendly and open people. Overall, the sense of security and personal safety is a big plus.
I was born and raised in Auckland (Mangere), and moved to Christchurch after graduating from Auckland University. I completed my teacher training in Christchurch and taught in a number of schools across New Zealand. Before moving to Hong Kong, I was principal at Middleton Grange School, Christchurch.
My wife Linda and I arrived in Hong Kong in March 2019, after being appointed to the role as Head of School at Christian Alliance International School.
I am Head of School at Christian Alliance International School (CAIS) which is in Butterfly Valley, Lai Chi Kok. CAIS is a Prep to Grade 12 International School with 1540 students. CAIS offers the Alberta (Canadian) curriculum leading to the Alberta Diploma. We also offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and a wide range of Advanced Placement courses. This offering of curriculum choice makes CAIS unique in Hong Kong. The school moved into new premises in 2017, and in 2022 will open the 'Amenities' Building with 7-a-side rooftop football pitch, 600-seat performance hall, fitness and sports centre, STEM (Centre for Innovation) and a SEN centre called 'The Oasis'.
I am working hard at bringing the kiwi culture into CAIS and in 2021 we appointed Jon Keelty, a Kiwi as Deputy Head of School. In 2022 we appointed three kiwi teachers!
I love to teach and am especially passionate about Christian education. At my previous school, we had a sister-school relationship with a school in Wuhan, China, and I would travel regularly to recruit Chinese students to our school in New Zealand. We also have a Chinese 'son' who came to board with us for two years. So shifting to Hong Kong did not feel entirely foreign and working internationally has been the highlight of my teaching career.
Linda and I have four children (two daughters and two sons), all adults and working/studying in New Zealand. They were very keen for Linda and I to live in Hong Kong as they all love travelling and loved the idea of a home based in Hong Kong. Fortunately, they all visited within six months of us arriving Hong Kong as since then, there has been no opportunity to come again.
My favourite pastime in Hong Kong is hiking! In New Zealand I did a lot of mountain biking but the opportunity for that is not so great here, hence the move to hiking. I have done all four major Hong Kong trails, and I have climbed Lion Rock over 40 times now! To be fair, it is very close to where we live. Linda and I have also enjoyed exploring Hong Kong, and given the pandemic we have seen a lot more than we might have otherwise! We love taking a boat to the many outer islands and have been impressed with the beautiful pristine beaches we have discovered and have even camped on!
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
It really is the people! Since arriving in Hong Kong, I have met so many amazing people, both locals and international. Having lived in New Zealand all my life, my 'circle of friends' made for great friendships, but since coming to Hong Kong, I now have a much richer, deeper level of friendships with school families, colleagues and church friends. We are looking forward to hosting many new friends when we return to New Zealand.
I have, to my detriment, enjoyed the delicious cuisine in Hong Kong. While chicken feet will never get on my menu order, I have loved the wide variety of local foods, especially Dim Sum. That is one of the key motivations to go hiking most weekends!
Other things I love about Hong Kong are the climate (no cold days!), the city lights/views/harbour, ease of getting around, and apartment living!
Ricki-Lee Van Het Wout
I grew up in Auckland and have been based in Hong Kong for the last six and a half years. My parents moved to Hong Kong around 12 years ago, so I had been visiting for a while before moving here myself. Following five years in Melbourne, both studying and working, I moved to Hong Kong in 2016 to complete my Master in Architecture at HKU and have been here ever since.
I work as an Architectural Designer for a studio called Linehouse. It's run by two female founders, one who happens to be a fellow kiwi, out of Hong Kong and Shanghai.
As I work for a small-ish company, my role is a little bit of everything which is what I enjoy about it the most, no two days are the same. We work on both Architecture and Interior projects of different scales and types, from F&B to workplace, residential, retail and hospitality. My days are mostly occupied with designing, drawing and coordinating projects. We are lucky to have a relaxed and friendly working environment in a big ex-factory space out in Wong Chuk Hang with great views.
There's been lots of memorable projects over my time in Hong Kong, but we are currently working on a Hotel Renovation in Wan Chai which I am really looking forward to seeing complete. It has been a crazy quick project but it's nice to see months of hard-work and coordination come together. We also have a large mixed-use project in Thailand which has a much longer timeline and due to the scale we get to work closely with the client to develop the narrative of the entire building. There are so many different programs, facets and elements of design to play with which is always fun
I count myself very lucky (particularly over the last few years) to have a large portion of my family in Hong Kong. My parents, two brothers and sister-in-law are all currently based here.
I have a great group of friends in Hong Kong, so my personal time is also usually full of catch ups over hikes, coffee or food. Bar a few weeks in summer when it is just too hot, you will find me out hiking most weekends. I also love baking and cooking and can spend hours in the kitchen if I have a craving and decide to dedicate myself to making it. But to be honest much of my personal time is spent relaxing after busy weeks; reading a good book, watching a good series, listening to a podcast. I do have an incredible book club, and they always leave me with a very long list of things to read, watch and listen to in my spare time.
I love living in a city where you can spend your weeks working on exciting, global projects, and your weekends in the mountains hiking, by the sea, adventuring somewhere or eating delicious food. I love how fast you learn working in Hong Kong and I love all the interesting people you meet. I love that Hong Kong is full of contradictions, fast/slow, high/low, energetic/peaceful, you just have to find the right spots and people. There's no place like it.
Aside from all of that, I love living near my family. It's been a long time since we were all in the same place at the same time and I really cherish all the time we spend together here.
I was born and raised in Palmerston North, and after university I moved to Wellington to work for Bank of New Zealand. A few years later I moved to London, then Dublin, where I met my husband-to-be. We moved back home to New Zealand to get married and have two children, and then to Hong Kong over eight years ago.
I’m currently on contract working for a large international bank as a senior communications advisor for private banking. When we first moved to Hong Kong, I took a career break for a couple of years before finding part-time work for a crypto currency firm in compliance. I loved the flexibility of choosing my own hours, working remotely anywhere in the world, and learning about the very intriguing and complex world of digital tokens and compliance. While I had never worked in compliance before, I was soon learning about money laundering, filing suspicious activity reports (SARs) and how to spot fraudulent passports and other documents.
Combined with our children getting older and the pandemic, I decided though it was time to transition back into corporate communications. So, on a whim, I applied for a job through LinkedIn - and got it. I absolutely love working in comms - every day is different, and I like the feeling I’m helping stakeholders and colleagues perform better in their jobs, by providing them with the information they need. I’m also lucky to be surrounded by a great team of colleagues working towards the same purpose.
Yes, I live here with my husband and two children. Both sets of our parents, plus other family and friends love to visit. My dad in particular loves horse-racing and rugby, and when we lived opposite Happy Valley racetrack, he was in heaven watching the races from our balcony.
There are so many things great things about Hong Kong… I love to hike and the fact that you can be hiking on a beautiful trail 10 minutes from your door, but still so close to the city, amazes me. I also love the people we have met here. Everyone is so open to meeting new people and we have a wonderful group of friends. From living in Hong Kong you end up with a wide range of friends, living all across the world.
It’s also such a great experience for our kids to live here, learning about different cultures and languages, travelling, and finding their way around a big city independently at a young age.
I grew up in Wellington where I went to school and university. I have now been out of New Zealand for a total of 17 years and counting, having been fortunate enough to be based in cities including London, New York, Mexico City and for the last four years calling Hong Kong home.
I spent the majority of my career in the finance sector, first with Credit Suisse and then more recently with Macquarie in the private funds division. In late 2019 I left the institutional world to join a tech start-up, at that time five individuals looking to secure funding for a data sector strategy in Asia (Digital Edge). In 2020 we secured funding from a US infrastructure fund, Stonepeak, and across the last two-and-a-half years have expanded team and assets to more than 300 people across five countries.
I am CFO of Digital Edge. Being employee number six within the company, my role across the first 12 months entailed everything setting up bank accounts, to managing payroll and ordering the office supplies! Thankfully, I've been able to move on from some of these as we've expanded though there's a never ending backlog of things to do.
In terms of memorable projects, I would have to say that signing on our first datacentre project (a greenfield 13MW build in Osaka) a full seven months into the company's life was a major milestone for both the company and the team we had built.
My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have two children while we have been living in Hong Kong - Isaac and Izy. There's never a dull moment at home, though doing quarantine hotel with the family for a week recently was a real test of family dynamics!
It's hard not to love the backdrop of Hong Kong - the mountains and hiking, the seasons (and odd T10) and getting out on the water to the islands - particularly the uninhabited ones. Over the past 24 months during travel restrictions we've done our best to see Hong Kong from nearly every vantage point, though yet to make it to Disneyland…
Grace Watson Howcroft
I am from Tauranga, however went to school in Auckland and university in Christchurch. So a little bit all over!
My parents moved to Hong Kong when I was 10 but I moved back to work full time in 2020.
I am a pilot - which has provided its challenges over the last few years, but am very excited about the borders opening and getting back to normal!
I am currently a long-haul pilot on the Airbus A350. My most memorable flight was my first take off from Hong Kong in 2020, after some really tough training it was incredibly rewarding and the best part of my career to date.
My family all relocated back to New Zealand in 2020 unfortunately, but they will be coming up to visit a lot more now that the borders are open hopefully!
In my spare time I like to hike as well as enjoying many of the beautiful beaches Hong Kong has to offer.
There is always somewhere new to eat and something new to experience. It is an extremely vibrant city with lots to do.
I am from North Shore, Auckland, and have been in Hong Kong for just over five and a half years now with no plans to leave.
I am currently a senior manager at AIA focussing on tax mergers and acquisition projects as well as the transformative OECD Base Erosion Profit Shifting 2.0 change and implementation. My team also supports our Asia Pac tax and finance teams. The vast array of uncertain tax issues or acquisition projects from different countries keeps my job interesting. Having dealt with the orderly New Zealand tax law and system when I first started my career as a Chartered Accountant, the nuances of how some other tax systems operate never cease to surprise me.
I came to Hong Kong with no family ties and no kiwi friends when I first arrived. With my extended family all based in Taiwan and my parents and sister in New Zealand, I originally came to Hong Kong with a #yolo mentality and wanted to maxismise my travels whilst I was here. Thankful for the kiwi community here either through work or through Chartered Accountant Australia New Zealand, I soon found a great community and whanau here in Hong Kong. During my time in Hong Kong, I have had the pleasure of travelling to seven new countries that I haven't been to before and the life experiences and memories were priceless.
Life in Hong Kong is always dynamic and apart from the ease of travelling abroad (which seems possible this year!) and the international culinary and bar scene, I love the diversity of friends I get to meet here. Having considered myself somewhat of a banana (yellow on the outside, a little white on the inside), Hong Kong seems to offer a huge range of bananas from all around the world! This is not to discount the great Kiwi friends that I have since made being in Hong Kong and nothing beats a good conversation with a fellow Kiwi without having to explain some of the slangs we use.
I was born in Wellington and raised on the beautiful Kapiti coast. I have been in Hong Kong for seven years so almost a permanent resident.
Like so many other people who came to Hong Kong, I found that a couple of years turns into a few more years and before you know it you find that you have been living here for a significant amount of time! I love Aotearoa though and enjoy returning back as much as possible.
I work at the New Zealand Consulate-General in Hong Kong as the Executive Assistant to the Consul-General and I am also involved in consular, events, security and public diplomacy work. Obviously the role can be quite varied which keeps it interesting. We have had numerous visits and events over the years.
Rt Hon Bill English, Prime Minister of New Zealand visited in 2017, government ministers, CEOs and officials transited and visited regularly in the past, and we have assisted in supporting numerous delegations, alumni events, poet laureates, artists, companies etc when they visit Hong Kong. Working for the Consulate keeps me in touch and up to date with what is going on in Aotearoa, and I never feel too far from home.
The Consulate promotes New Zealand's interests - this includes working to build New Zealand's economic and cultural links with Hong Kong, monitoring political developments and providing assistance to New Zealanders.
One of our most memorable visits/programmes was for the Rt Hon Bill English who was Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2017. As you can imagine, every detail and movement of the visit was meticulously planned.
My mum is from Hong Kong and met my father here before immigrating to New Zealand, so I have a couple of family members here and grew up visiting as a child - Hong Kong is not too unfamiliar.
My grandfather was of Hakka descent and born in Hong Kong. Hakka means 'guest people' which implies they moved around a lot. This appropriately describes my family members, most of whom immigrated from their place of birth - now I have family in Aotearoa, Singapore, United States and the United Kingdom.
There is always something to see and explore. I really enjoy the old heritage buildings and their history, and the art scene in Hong Kong is going from strength to strength.
It is an extremely convenient city to live in - just cannot wait until there is no quarantine!
I was born in Wellington and while I spent a lot of my early years overseas owing to my father being a Kiwi diplomat, the windy city was home base between postings. Following high school I went to Uni in Dunedin, before working in Auckland and then following the well-trodden path to London in 2016. A move to Hong Kong has always been part of the plan after having spent five years here as child between 92 and 97 (and further visits since to see family members who have called this city home at different times).
I loved growing up here, so much so that I cried when my parents told me we were moving back to New Zealand, so my brother and parents love to remind me. The plan finally became a reality earlier this year arriving in mid-March, catching the very last of the two week quarantine requirement.
All of my family has now left the capital so trips home consist of visiting them in Queenstown, Waiheke Island and Mount Maunganui, all of which makes for a pretty great summer holiday!
Having studied law and economics at uni and an early career in investment banking, I was looking for a change when I moved to London and fell into the world of insurance. While it wasn't a career I saw myself in when I first joined the working world, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time so far and it has also given me the opportunity to return to Hong Kong!
I work in a very niche part of the insurance world as an M&A insurance broker, arranging policies for companies/investment funds looking to acquire other companies. Through insurance, the buyer can effectively insure the risk that the company they acquire isn't a dud (or at least that it isn't what it was made out to be when they agreed to buy it). The role involves working closely with the buyer's legal, financial and tax advisors as every policy we arrange is bespoke, given every transaction is different. While a relatively new area of insurance, it has grown exponentially in Europe and the US over the last five years and the thinking is that it is not far off doing the same here in Asia.
The company I work for is called Howden and while it currently has a small presence in Hong Kong, it is one of the largest brokers in Europe and has plans to keep growing. Our offices are in Tin Hau on the edge of the water and Victoria Park which makes for fantastic views and lunchtime walk options, at least when it isn't raining!
Howden hasn't previously had an M&A insurance team in Hong Kong so I have been tasked with getting one off the ground. At the moment this involves plenty of coffees with and presentations to potential clients and their advisors as we look to educate those new to the product and build awareness of our brand and our 'value add'. Our competitors include the largest global brokers so breaking into a new market always takes time but I enjoy the hustle that comes with being the new market entrant and celebrating the wins we get, no matter how small they may be.
We have ambitious growth plans both in Hong Kong and across APAC, so a fair bit of time is currently going into planning and recruiting. We are currently a team of four across Hong Kong and Singapore and aim for this to double year-on-year and with new offices to open in the region (maybe even New Zealand one day!).
While not directly related to my day-to-day (which is unlikely to be exciting to most readers), in 2019 I was lucky to get to visit one of the Howden's charity partners, Street Child, in the primary country where they focus their efforts, Sierra Leone. The only catch was that while out there I had to run the Sierra Leone marathon to raise funds for their efforts, in climate not too dissimilar from Hong Kong.
I have moved to Hong Kong with my wife Elena (a fellow Kiwi) and son Rupert, who has just turned 10 months. Our first couple of months have been focused on getting settled (still a work in progress) but we're enjoying getting to know the best local spots around our apartment in Sai Ying Pun, of which there is no shortage.
Most weekends will involve visits to local coffee shops/bakeries, walks/hikes along the waterfront or trails, swims in the pool or at the beach and drinks/meals with friends at the never ending list of restaurants we would like to try… all of course based around Rupert's nap schedule! We're looking forward to doing more day trips to the islands and New Territories and we both have plans to get involved with sports teams, and maybe I will learn to sail too.
The city and the people in equal measure!
Like others, I love how easy it is to get around the city by MTR or quick taxi and how quickly you can go from couch to hiking trail (we're frequent climbers of the morning trail from our start point in SYP). I get a kick out of how many parts of the island feel like a battle between city and jungle, with buildings and footpaths being enveloped by banyan trees. The quality of local and international food never ceases to amaze me, nor does the beauty of the numerous bays and islands best explored from the water.
I find the people drawn to HK to be interesting and always open to expanding their networks both socially and professionally. While we're still very new to town, the number of people who have gone out of their way to welcome and involve us has been incredible.
Kiwis in Hong Kong S - Z