by Jann-Marie Ross
Sandie Mackay can only describe her move to New Zealand in the seventies as acting on intuition. She was nineteen when she faced the decision to get engaged and emigrate, or say goodbye to her boyfriend forever. She had not seen a lot of the world, the day she flew out was the first time she had set foot in London.
New Zealand turned out to be a good deal more liberal than the United Kingdom. She was shocked to find that it was quite acceptable here to go flatting without a wedding ring on her finger. Throwing caution to the wind she did exactly that, the wedding came a few years later, followed by the birth of her first son.
She missed her Scottish Dad, English Mum, four brothers and two sisters terribly. Residency was not straightforward either for Sandie, she had to train as a secretary, and return to the UK for the wedding.
In those first years she felt very isolated so far away. The trip home was expensive, and she was a shy young lady who struggled to make friends initially. Kiwis seemed to be set in their own cliques. Sandie was envious of the immigrants that had cultural clubs to connect them to their countries of birth. Every ethnicity except the British seemed to have one. The New Zealand shops were not even open on the weekends!
When she did return home after a year, she was unprepared for the experience of meeting her family again. While away, she had grown and become independent. To her surprise, she struggled to adjust and find her place again. The wild beauty of the bush and beaches of New Zealand swayed her decision to return to New Zealand.
Her family lived in Yaxely, a low lying area of reclaimed land in Cambridgeshire. It has dykes, and flat brackish areas called fenlands, land that was formerly underwater. These days, she identifies more with Scotland, a place she also lived while growing up. Sandie loves to hear the bagpipes, it is in her blood.
The recipe she shares with us is Yorkshire pudding, a dish her Mother served every Sunday lunch with roast chicken or beef. Sandie reckons her Mum makes a much better version, but has no idea why hers isn’t as good. I think the same thing about my own Mother’s roast potatoes. Yorkshire pudding was served beside meat with gravy. It is not a dessert at all, and if it has a sausage in it, it transforms into toad in the hole.
Sandie remembers her Mother’s food was very simple. Always potatoes, meat and two boiled veg. It was years before she tasted rice or anything Oriental. An exception was a delicious golden steamed pudding for dessert. Even the takeaways were plain, fish and chips or a basket of fried chicken. Sandy tried a Chinese takeaway for the first time in New Zealand.
The UK family never had money to waste, and shared bath water once a week. She still finds showers luxurious and laughs at the memory of her Mum telling her off if the water level was any higher than her legs when sitting down.
After nine years Sandie’s marriage ended and life as a solo Mum in a foreign country was pretty tough. She decided to go on a date with a Kiwi friend she had known for a while. It was the only Kiwi she ever did date, but her intuition proved correct again and she is still married to Ray.
She had two more sons, although the births proved difficult as Sandie’s blood is Rhesus factor negative. Both boys had blood transfusions before and after birth. Auckland was the first place in the world to do so, it was ground breaking at the time. 
Sandie is adaptable and has grown in confidence over the years. The size of her New Zealand family has also increased to include a daughter in law, a girlfriend and grandchildren. The now grown boys still live in the family home, as do two host students from Asia. She doesn’t make roast and Yorkshire pudding as often as she used to as there simply isn’t enough room in the oven to cater to everyone.
Sandie has had a varied career over the years, moving from receptionist to bookwork. She has owned a cleaning business, home schooled two of her boys, been the Minister of a Spiritualist Church, and travelled around doing entertaining hypnosis shows. Both her and her husband are trained hypnotherapists.
When West Auckland was sprayed with an aerial pest eradication programme, her family suffered terribly with a range of symptoms including asthma, memory loss, mini strokes, nosebleeds and hyper digestion. They were forced to act quickly, the whole family went on the road doing karaoke shows until the spraying programme finished.
These days she teaches English as a second language, does the books for her sons, and during lockdown raised a few eyebrows shopping for a family of nine. Several people took her to task for hoarding food, but she was only doing the usual weekly shop.
When asked if she made the right decision to move to New Zealand Sandie does not stop to think twice. Absolutely this is her place in the world. However, she misses the history of the UK, the country pubs, and the cheap clothing prices of the UK. Sandie’s Mum is now an octogenarian, and Sandie lost a brother last year. Her family didn’t convey how sick he was, hoping to spare her the worry. Unfortunately it didn’t give her time to get back and see him. Covid 19 makes her wonder if she will ever set foot in the UK again.
But her life, home, friends and family are most definitely right here. When she watches the racial unrest in the UK it makes her sad. Things are not perfect here either, but she fundamentally believes everyone is equal. Kiwis have come together to fight Covid in a coordinated way rarely seen in the world.
Her hope for the future is that Kiwis acknowledge there have been terrible injustices between the UK and Maori. Similar things have happened all over the world. Sandie hopes Kiwis work together going forward to make New Zealand a place where everyone has the same opportunity for a great life.
1 cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 litre milk
Oven setting 200C cooking time approx 30 mins at top of oven.
Put oil in baking tray to heat while making mixture.
Sieve flour and add salt
Add egg and beat together. Add a little milk at a time. Stir until there are no lumps . Pour mixture into hot oil dish.
Can be baked in muffin tins also which require approximately 15 minutes to bake.