You see what I see?

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Porirua’s mas­sive po­ten­tial is un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated by many res­i­dents and busi­ness lead­ers, says a re­cent im­mi­grant who can’t stop singing our city’s praises.

Ja­maica-born en­gi­neer and for­mer top ath­lete Si­mon Bowen, 41, moved to Pa­pakowhai a year ago and says he is typ­i­cal of a new wave of pro­fes­sional, well­trav­elled im­mi­grants blown away by Porirua’s beauty and re­sources.

‘‘ This city could eas­ily make Welling­ton num­ber two,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s very easy to move around here. The peo­ple are warm and friendly. There’s so many things to do here in terms of en­trepreneurs.

‘‘I re­alised this city has tremen­dous po­ten­tial and I was won­der­ing if other peo­ple were see­ing what I was see­ing.’’

Eigh­teen months ago, fa­ther-oftwo Mr Bowen and his wife Ale­cia Cole-Bowen were high-fly­ing cor­po­rates at the top of their game in the United States.

‘‘We were kind of get­ting caught up in the cor­po­rate life­style in the US,’’ Mr Bowen says.

They Googled the best places in the world to live, and New Zealand was near the top of the list.

Ms Cole-Bowen found a job at the Re­serve Bank and the cou­ple, with sons Tyree, 11, and Con­nor, 1, in tow, moved to Pa­pakowhai.

Mr Bowen has thrown him­self into New Zealand life, start­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tally-con­scious land- scap­ing and cor­po­rate clean­ing com­pany, and vol­un­teer­ing with Te Rito Or­gan­ics to try and get a com­mer­cial com­post­ing op­er­a­tion go­ing.

‘‘For any­one mi­grat­ing to a new coun­try, at the top of your list you should try to in­te­grate with your community,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a great project for Porirua to be­come a green, live­able city.’’

Mr Bowen grew up poor in Kingston and ru­ral Span­ish Town in Ja­maica, and took up run­ning in high school on a whim.

His ath­letic tal­ent landed him a schol­ar­ship at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity in Vir­ginia, where he be­came one of Amer­ica’s top-10 ranked col­lege track and field sports­men.

He qual­i­fied for, but didn’t make, Ja­maica’s Olympic team in 1996, and spent two years on the US and Euro­pean ath­let­ics cir­cuit.

Mr Bowen hopes to use his sports ex­per­tise as well as his en­vi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing back­ground to serve Porirua.

‘‘I think this is a new city that’s grow­ing, and I feel my­self grow­ing with the city.’’

City cham­pion: Re­cent im­mi­grant to Porirua Si­mon Bowen hopes to help the city re­alise its po­ten­tial as the jewel in Welling­ton’s crown.

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