Lesley Mooney, Charge Nurse Manager

Lesley Mooney
Charge Nurse Manager of Emergency Psychiatric Services
Dunedin Hospital, Otago District Health Board
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Moved to New Zealand in 2003

Following marriage, my husband Richard (also a psychiatric nurse) and I began talking about moving from the UK. We both had good jobs in mental health services – I had an F-grade - senior nurse manager role. At the time, we lived on a very busy road and whilst we were not planning on children right then, we were thinking about the future and how awful it would be to raise a child on such a busy road with no back yard.

Richard’s cousin was already in NZ living in Wellington having married a kiwi girl and a colleague of ours had moved to Dunedin. They regularly kept in touch with photos and updates of their large house and water views…which was all very enticing.

We were able to come and spend a month in NZ on holiday to check out where we wanted to live, which was very beneficial as we probably would have just gone to one of the larger main cities based on what we knew at the time. When we got to Dunedin, we just loved the scenery and the people seemed much friendlier down south. 

We both got job offers from Otago DHB and were given the time to move over, settle in and find a house etc, before having to start work. They were really accommodating.

My role at Otago DHB was a registered nurse role, which meant a pay drop and a less senior role than I had before, but it was great for getting me up to speed with the NZ mental health system and to understand  the service links with the community. It also meant less pressure and responsibility when we were just new and finding our feet in a new country. There are some differences in mental health services in New Zealand, including medications available and the patients.

It’s much easier to work here in terms of violence and aggression – patients have more respect for nurses here. There are not as many drugs in the community here, so the behaviour of patients is not as aggressive as you’d deal with back home.
I am now the Charge Nurse Manager for Emergency Psychiatric Services, as well as holding several other co-ordination/manager responsibilities within mental health services.

Today we are very settled. We have a 2-year old kiwi boy and find the childcare here is great and cheap.
We live out on the Peninsula – we’ve got a huge 4-bedroom house on a big piece of land, with harbour views, 2 bathrooms, 2 lounges, 2 conservatories, a garage and big garden to play in. Beautiful beach walks are so close and it’s just a 15 minute drive into work.

Back in the UK, our weekends were mostly spent in the pub with our mates or shopping. Nowadays, we are out walking the dog at the beach, seeing wildlife on the peninsula and skiing in Wanaka or Queenstown which are just a couple of hours drive away.

In summer, after work, we’ll drive home, drop off the car and go for walks down by the harbour or go kayaking or for a stroll along the local beach.  There’s a great café culture here and the wine is amazing and a reasonable price.

We came here to enjoy our weekends, to enjoy our time off and to enjoy the lifestyle – we’ve achieved that.
It sounds corny, but you really can live the dream...people would say to us, oh you’re so brave moving all that way...but you can live the dream.

Lesley's Top Tips

►Get your family in the UK set up with a web camera, email and computer before you leave so you can connect together as soon as you are set up in NZ

►Get SKY TV installed in NZ for the football and UK programmes – football is just not the same here!

►Buy a house as soon as you are ready, so that you feel settled with all of your things around you

►Suggest you apply for residency straight away, as otherwise you have to repeat all of the paperwork all over again from NZ, which can make it more difficult to get your UK Police checks done etc

►Whilst we miss a nice country pub, English beer and sausages from back home, we love the Kiwi wine bars and cafes, we drink locally brewed Emersons beer here and the local New World supermarket is now stocking Vimto (and other UK favourites on request!).



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