Porirua taxi driver tells a mi­grant’s story


An au­thor and a taxi com­pany man­ager who live in Porirua are chal­leng­ing what they be­lieve is a New Zealand myth of racial equal­ity.

Au­thor and teacher Adri­enne Jansen’s fifth non-fic­tion book de­tails sto­ries of mi­grant taxi driv­ers and the chal­lenges they’ve faced.

Mi­grant Jour­neys tells 14 sto­ries of taxi driv­ers in Auck­land, Welling­ton and Christchurch, in­clud­ing the story of Porirua man Ra­jesh Gor­don.

‘‘I’ve heard a lot of sto­ries from peo­ple com­ing to New Zealand, and it’s al­ways in­ter­ested me,’’ Jansen said.

‘‘I had this idea of do­ing a col­lec­tion of sto­ries on taxi driv­ers for a long time.

‘‘A lot of them have had dif­fer­ent sorts of lives in their own coun­try and some even have pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but aren’t given the same job op­por­tu­ni­ties here.’’

Jansen, who has lived in Porirua for 35 years, teaches cre­ative writ­ing at Whi­tireia Polytech­nic.

She said New Zealand did not al­ways do a good job help­ing mi­grants find the right kinds of jobs. Gor­don’s is one such case. The man­ager of Porirua Taxis moved from In­dia in 2000 with a masters de­gree in com­merce, and dreamed of work­ing as an ac­coun­tant for a ma­jor cor­po­rate.

In­stead, he was turned down fre­quently. los­ing out to what he was told was ‘‘a more qual­i­fied ap­pli­cant’’.

‘‘When I ar­rived in New Zealand, I was very im­pressed by the clean­li­ness of the coun­try and how beau­ti­ful it was,’’ Gor­don said.

He lived in Auck­land with his wife and two chil­dren be­fore mov­ing south in 2005, so his wife could com­plete nurs­ing train­ing.

In Welling­ton, Gor­don con­sid­ered do­ing an MBA at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity. How­ever, the de­gree cost $40,000 and there was no guar­an­tee of em­ploy­ment once cer­ti­fied, so he turned to the taxi busi­ness.

‘‘There was no other op­tion. I was ap­proached by a lo­cal taxi com­pany that was tak­ing my autis­tic son to and from a spe­cial school, so I joined them.

‘‘I was driv­ing for three years be­fore I was of­fered the man­ager’s po­si­tion.’’

Ra­jesh Gor­don moved from In­dia to New Zealand in 2000 and is now the man­ager of Porirua Taxis.

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