Bonjour mon amour! Je pense a toi et j’espere que tout va bien. Je t’embrasse. Bonne journee.


Mon amour’, that’s French for “my little love” and the rest means, “I’m thinking of you, and hoping that everything is going well.” It has a similar version in Pilipino which for some, is a bit harder to translate into English because of its much deeper expression of feelings but means all the same for Filipino families whose immediate members are separated by long distances.


So why have some 45,000-odd Filipinos to-date dispersed to settle themselves in this new home called New Zealand? Why not the United States, Canada or Australia as hundreds of thousands of other kababayans (countrymen) have done already? And why Hamilton, for that particular matter?




New Zealand is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, between latitude 34’S and 47’S and runs roughly north-south with mountain ranges down much of its length. There are two main islands, the North Island (where the population centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington are situated) and the South Is-land (where Christchurch sits), with a third smaller one called Stewart Island beyond its tip.


The country’s position atop the grinding plates of the Pacific Ring of Fire has resulted in a unique landscape with an unrivalled variety of landforms. A couple of day’s drive by car or train will allow you to see everything from snow-topped mountain ranges to sandy beaches, lush rainforests, glaciers and fiords, and active volcanoes.


It is an uncrowded country consisting of a diverse multi-cultural population of just over 4-million people each with a rich ethnic history. The Maori, a Poly-nesian sea-faring people, were New Zealand’s first settlers, arriving about 1,000 years ago. Then, the Europeans discovered it in 1642 but not until 1769 was it claimed and then gradually colonized by Britain. By 1840, after some armed conflicts between these two cultures, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, estab-lishing the country as a nation which later on was popularized as ‘God’s Own Country’ by New Zealand’s longest-service prime minister, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906). It is has since become a phrase that has been used for more than 100-years by New Zealanders to describe their homeland.




New Zealand has a rich and fascinating history. Maori historic sites and taonga (treasures) are a contrast to many beautiful British-inspired colonial buildings that dot this land. But a walk around any major New Zealand city these days shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country it has become. None so more exemplifies that fact than Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city.


Drive an hour south of Auckland and you enter the Waikato, a land of lush ver-dant pasture where the fertile soils and reliable rainfall have made this the centre of the dairy industry. It is also a region of the country where the Maori Land Wars were fought and the Kingitanga (Maori King) movement was formed.


Situated on the banks of the Waikato River – the country’s longest river, Hamil-ton boasts of a rich tradition, a welcoming spirit, and a diverse population that becomes particularly evident when you look through the great range of active clubs and organisations operating in the city. A visit to this fast-growing city in the North Island reveals stunning parks, gardens and river walks and heading out towards its surrounding areas provides many attractions for all tastes that have made it a tourism must-see.


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If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, heading east in the lush Matamata farmland brings you to Hobbiton, a village created for that Academy Award winning cine-matic trilogy. For a different experience, driving south finds you at the Waitomo Caves where the natural beauty of stalactites and stalagmites lit by the blue light of glow worms takes your breath away.


Charming townships are located throughout the rich, green Hamilton and the Waikato countryside. Cambridge, for example, is a town of ‘trees and champ-ions’ memorable for its heritage buildings, antique shops and world-class tho-oughbred horse studs. Tirau is known for its boutique gift shops, cafes, antique and curiosity shops and visiting Otorohanga – the town of ‘kiwiana’, is the place where many of the nation’s kiwi icons are found and where you can view the national bird in its nocturnal surroundings at the Kiwi House. There is also the Wairere Falls (at 153 metres) in the Kaimai-Mamaku ranges which allows you to literally walk under the highest falls in the North Island. Then, visit Ngarua-wahia – home to the Maori King. Each year a splendid Regatta Day is held in mid-March, which includes a public parade of brightly-festooned traditional war canoes on the Waikato River which wends its way through the city.


Accessibility is one of the prime factors that makes Hamilton such a wonderful city to live in and its river and lake walkways are a perfect example.



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