You’re at the airport. You want a cab so you head for the long line of taxis sitting on the rank. You take the first. Chances are the driver will be a first generation migrant – the taxi industry in New Zealand has become a microcosm of multiculturalism. Adrienne Jansen and Liz Grant
Migrant Journeys is about driving taxis in New Zealand cities – and it is about much more than that.
Here fourteen migrant taxi drivers talk about their lives – where they came from and why they came here, what it was like to settle in New Zealand, how they got into the taxi business, and how they see this country and its people.
Some of the drivers came as refugees, others in the hope of making a better life for their families. They came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Croatia, Fiji, India, Iraq, Samoa, Serbia and Somalia, and many have professional or skilled backgrounds, with qualifications and experience in their home countries. Although some speak of disillusionment and disappointment, others talk of new opportunities, or flexibility of being ‘your own boss’ as a taxi driver. And at the heart of these ‘migrant journeys’ lies the future of their family and children.
So six of us talked about how to set up a taxi business.... A lot of people said, ‘Hey, you guys are Iraqis, so why did you choose the name Kiwi Cabs?’ Well, wherever we live, we want to be part of it. I am living here, and I want to serve this place as well as I can. That’s how we were thinking when we established this company. Muneer Oraha
Photo: Helmi Al Khattat at the Migrant Journeys book launch, November 2015. Credit: Settlement Unit, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
For a country of migrants, this is a ‘must read’. As a first-generation migrant and new dad, I read the stories and recognised so many of the experiences. I felt the pain and rejoiced at the successes in these profoundly honest stories.
Liz Grant on the OARsome Morning Show, Otago Access Radio, 1 June 2016
'The Monday excerpt: The taxi driver who survived the Khmer Rouge', The Spinoff, 30 May 2016
Adrienne Jansen on FreeFM89, Free Breakfast - at 8.10am, 21 April 2016
Immigration New Zealand on the launch of Migrant Journeys, 22 December 2015
Liz Grant on Bookenz, Plains FM, 8 December 2015
Adrienne Jansen and Helmi Al Khattat with Wallace Chapman, Sunday Morning, Radio New Zealand, 29 November 2015
'Taxi drivers tell of abuse, racism and building a new life in a strange land', Nikki MacDonald, Sunday Star Times, 31 October 2015
'This book, you might say, is about the journey not the destination. It’s an intriguing concept – to tell the story of how migrants fare on arriving in New Zealand, and who better to ask than people for whom the monologue is part of their job description? For many of us, the idea of willingly submitting to uninterrupted narratives from 14 taxi drivers is hell, but Jansen and Grant’s subjects are – in the main – a likeable and engaging bunch and they have a lot to tell us if we will just listen.' Paul Little, North & South, August 2016
'The writing is direct and lucid, leaving the taxi drivers to tell their stories in their own words ... The reader will be informed, moved and challenged.' Elizabeth Mackie, Tui Motu InterIslands magazine, Issue 206, July 2016
'The drivers come alive as individuals, and readers gain an overview of the main issues involved in refugee and migrant settlement as perceived by the interviewees.' Ann Beaglehole, New Zealand Books, Autumn 2016
'A couple made me laugh out loud, others were compellingly dramatic and some have some very quotable soundbites. Every narrative gave me the impression that follows a good conversation with a new person: That person seems cool. I am glad I heard their story. I learned something. The authors’ stated aim in publishing this book is to "contribute to a wider understanding of what it is like to leave your home country and work hard to settle in a new land". These stories remind us why it is so important to listen to each other.' Rebecca Gray, Booksellers NZ, 28 January 2016