Param Kaur - Fresh freedom and equality
Param Kaur came to New Zealand for the dairy industry, but stayed for the malt and coffee.
Param moved to New Zealand four years ago to study at Lincoln University hoping for a gateway into New Zealand’s largest exports. “The main reason for coming to study in New Zealand was the dairy industry. That was my main focus at the time.”
But after completing a Graduate Diploma in Science at the university in 2017, she discovered there was more to Selwyn than farming cows. Param found herself working in Selwyn at an exporter that produces not milk, but beer.
She received a phone call from Gladfield Malt in December 2017 about working as their lab technician.“It was like an early Christmas present, I can’t express in words.”
When she arrived in February 2016, she found it freezing compared to the 40 degrees Celsius she was used to. “February is not a cold month, but when you come from India you do feel cold. I had to wear an extra layer of clothing.” she laughs.
If she could describe living in Selwyn in three words, Param says she would use the words ‘freedom’, ‘equality’ and ‘fresh’. ‘Freedom’ because, “there is nothing to worry about here and you can be independent, and own your own life.” ‘Equality’ because, “straight away you find here everyone has equal rights. No one says you are a girl, you can’t do this. Girls and boys work shoulder to shoulder.” And ‘fresh’ because, “you can step out of your home and you see the mountains around you and your mood changes if you have anything going on in your mind.”
Since her first day of work, Param says her kiwi and migrant co-workers; three from Fiji and manager Gabi from Brazil have been welcoming and accepting of her nationality.
“I have seen no person discriminate on the basis of colour or anything, you don’t feel like you’re inferior to anyone.”
From her lab window at Gladfield, she can see the mountains. In winter they have snow on them; a sight she never saw in India. While she misses Indian food and her family, Param says her colleagues at Gladfield Malt are like family.
“It feels like an extended family for me now at Gladfield. Sometimes I get a text from Gabi saying, ‘Drive safely,’ and if they think you are feeling low, they ask if you are okay.”
She enjoys keeping alive the traditions of her culture, cooking her own Punjabi dishes, volunteering at Holi Festival and performing Punjabi dance at last year’s Diwali Festival in Christchurch.
But, these days she's settled in Lincoln and hoping to get residency to New Zealand. You will often find her taking an evening walk or in a cafe on a Saturday.“I love going for a coffee. I didn’t used to as much in India.”
She also hopes to get residency one day.
Param likes that everything in Lincoln is in walking distance and on her walks to and from Coffee Culture or Robert Harris she notices how welcoming everyone is. “When people pass by, they smile at you and say, ‘hi,’ and ask how you are. You don’t find that in many countries.”