Image: Tina Tiller

Coming Home: Who’s returning to New Zealand, and what did they leave behind?

In part two of Coming Home, hosts Duncan Greive and Jane Yee meet more recently returned New Zealanders and learn what factors drew them abroad and what life looked like in their new home countries.

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In last week’s episode, we heard about the “brain drain” and how it’s suddenly reversed this year, with New Zealanders returning from overseas at an unprecedented rate. What we don’t know is a lot of information about who these returning New Zealanders are. This week Duncan and Jane want to look into that more – not just because it’s interesting, but because it’s important.

This week we’ll hear from more recent returnees about their motives for heading overseas and the kinds of career opportunities that were open to them there. For many, it enabled them to attain levels within their industries that would have been off limits to them had they stayed here. 

We hear from Julia Arnott-Neenee who, after an afternoon of applying for jobs around the world, ultimately found herself as global lead social strategist for HP based out of San Diego. We also talk to Polly Fryer, Netflix’s non-fiction production executive who is away from the company’s headquarters in Hollywood and instead working remotely from Auckland. 

Joel Kefali, acclaimed TV commercial and music video director, tells us about the decision to move his family to Los Angeles and the opportunities that opened up once they landed. Finally, we hear from Jarrod Kerr, an economist for Kiwibank who spent years trying to return home but struggled to find his place after more than a decade of working in global financial markets.

While their individual experiences vary, our returnees have gained a few things in common from their time working internationally. They’ve all had invaluable exposure to new networks of brilliant minds, operated in dynamic global workspaces, worked at a scale they hadn’t previously known and secured roles that simply don’t exist back home. 

These are the people who were frustrated by the lack of opportunities in New Zealand and quietly left our shores in order to make a big impact on the world. 

Coming Home is brought to you by The Spinoff and Kiwibank. Subscribe now on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you usually listen to podcasts.




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