He came to New Zealand for a holiday 20 years ago and felt so at home he simply never left.
Now, as Gore District Council’s Newcomers Network co-ordinator, it is Mark McCann’s turn to welcome others.
“It was a positive experience for me and I want others to have that experience,” Mr McCann said.
His previous career as a special needs teaching manager had taken him to China, Japan and Kuwait, the Welshman said.
The international aspect of the role, previously filled by Mihaela Erdelyi, appealed to him.
“The highlight’s been meeting so many awesome people from all around the world.”
His previous career had similarities to what he now did, including advocating for people and supporting them to find work.
“It resonated with me.”
He has been on the job for three months, working to deliver the Welcoming Communities programme, a collaboration between the council and immigration New Zealand which is part of a global network.
He also works with the New Zealand Newcomers Network.
Listening to newcomers to the district to learn their needs was an important part of the job, he said.
He then provided support and connected them to relevant organisations, such as schools and businesses.
Newcomers from overseas often needed help with immigration procedures or language learning.
He would also look for ways to improve life for new arrivals.
“It would be very cool to have [English] classes here in Gore.”
Making newcomers at home would have social and economic benefits, he said.
It was important people who were new to the area felt accepted.
“The aim for the Gore District Council and receiving communities to welcome newcomers, to create an inclusive environment for all people.”
Festivities were a part of the job which he looked forward to.
On Sunday, a Christmas party was held for newcomers.
The Santa parade would also be a chance for the international community to fly their flags.
The international connect group would have a float in the parade and he encouraged people to get involved.