‘They’re trying to tear down the country’, says US expat in NZ

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Capitol protester
One of the protesters prepares to storm the Capitol in Washington, DC. Image: RNZ/Getty Images

By Ella Stewart, RNZ News reporter

American expats are feeling grateful to be living in Aotearoa after watching the chaos and violence unfold at the Capitol building in Washington.

Madeline Nash, her husband, and her two children looked at moving to New Zealand after the 2016 presidential election.

Her eldest child was just about to start school and during the hour-long school tours they went on, 20 minutes were spent explaining the school’s shooter protocol.

They finally made the big move to Auckland from Austin, Texas, in 2018.

Although she is not surprised, she said what was happening in Washington, DC, was far worse than they had ever imagined.

“To actually see that people have taken it so far that they are willing basically, I would say to hop over the line to sedition and treason, they’re really just trying to tear down the country.”

Nash said partisan politics had become extremely polarising in the US but living in New Zealand was like being in an alternate reality.

“I’m glad that we have this ability to be here and our children are a bit sheltered from what’s going on, but as an adult it is very hard to be straddling both worlds right now.”

US President Donald Trump supporters protest in the Capitol
Supporters of President Donald Trump occupy the US Capitol building. Image: RNZ/AFP

US ‘in shambles’
Jade De La Paz is an American citizen who moved to Dunedin to complete her PhD at Otago University.

She has been feeling stressed and can’t take her eyes off the news.

“We just had this huge victory and now the whole country is falling apart, but there’s nothing I can do from here except for vote.

“You’re sitting here thinking my country is in shambles,” De La Paz said.

Katie Smith moved from Southern California to Auckland in 2017 with her New Zealand partner and is flabbergasted.

“I want to know what alternate reality these people live in.”

While Smith is a Democrat, much of her family are Republicans, but even they don’t agree with what is happening.

“It’s not about and it hasn’t been about politics for a very long time. it’s about being a decent human being.”

Smith said that everything that has been happening in the US has been affecting her mental health.

“I can’t see things getting better for the States any time soon.”

She said she is grateful to be living in Auckland here at the moment and wishes she could move her friends and family living in the US to New Zealand.

In the 2018 census more than 16,000 people living in New Zealand identified as American.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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