Alan talks up Bermuda on Radio New Zealand
Forty years ago Alan Duncan was given a choice: Leeds or Bermuda.
Aside from the bits of information he received from a colleague who had once worked here, he did not have any real knowledge to make a sound decision.
But, as the Kiwi explained last month on Calling Home, a regular Sunday show on Radio New Zealand, he stepped off the plane, looked around and was thrilled.
“I was met by, surprisingly, two or three other people that I knew from my home town in New Zealand,” he said. “They were also working here so I fitted in really, really easily and really quickly.”
Mr Duncan, who was born in Dunedin, had only recently qualified as a chartered accountant with the firm, Coopers & Lybrand.
“Like most New Zealanders, I wanted to do two years of overseas experience. So they sent me to London, England, where I did two years plus a stint in West Africa. At the end, I didn't want to go back to New Zealand so they gave me an offer of either moving north to Leeds or coming to Bermuda. As you can as you can imagine, it didn't take long to make a decision.
“I had a little bit of information but really was coming totally blind.”
Sports helped him integrate. Mr Duncan was one of “seven or eight” New Zealanders who played for the rugby club Mariners RFC in the 1980s.
“I was here for five years with Coopers & Lybrand and then moved to Fidelity Investments down at the Foot of the Lane, where they still are. Then they moved me around the world for a little bit.”
He worked in Australia, Luxembourg, Toronto and the UK before “an opportunity came up six years ago to return here”.
“Almost 30 years to the day since I left, I was able to come back and re-engage with gorgeous Bermuda,” said Mr Duncan.
The chance came when he was offered the role of CFO of Torxx Kinetic Pulverizer Limited.
“It's a new technology involved in size reducing and separating waste and recycling materials. Chippers and grinders and shredders all do it mechanically, basically by metal on metal with the stuff in between. We've developed aerodynamic technologies that basically create vortexes or tornadoes within a drum – you put the materials in and they bash against each other and are pulverised.
“It's creating a huge amount of interest. And we're just starting to really see how wide it can be deployed within the recycling industry and make a huge difference in a number of different areas.”
He has also been fascinated with all the change that has taken place here in his absence.
“There’s a lot more cars; the speed on the road was a big thing [I noticed along with] a lot of the developments of the buildings down on the waterfront down near Miles, that whole area was still old houses previously, when I'd been around.
“The other one is a lack of toads. You always used to see toads out on the roads; you don't seem to see them too much at all now.”
Mr Duncan shared his experiences in Bermuda with Coming Home listeners after a friend put his name forward, convinced he would be a good fit for it.
"They’d never had anybody on from Bermuda at all so were quite keen to progress and contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to go on and things progressed from there.
“[The host], Jim Mora, was very good and had done a lot of research. They tend to focus more on what it's like living in the place, what they country is all about rather than focusing on the person. So there were interesting questions about cahows and Bermuda slang and, if they came here, what would I do? Where would I take them? Commuting in traffic … just life in general in Bermuda.”
Mr Duncan gave tips on where people should visit in Bermuda, describing it to the hundreds of thousands of people listening to Radio New Zealand as “an amazing” place to live.
“For a small place it has so much to offer,” he said. “I suggested end to end starting with St George's as a World Heritage Site – the town down there taking in the church and the history, and then taking a ferry ride out to Dockyard and to the museum.
“As locals you discover all these little hideaways in museums and beaches around the place that a lot of the tourists don't get to see but it didn't quite come up in the conversation.”
Although he used to travel back home once a year, Covid-19 has kept him away.
“Basically New Zealand shut down and is just now returning to international travel,” Mr Duncan said.
“I would have been able to get in on my passport [but then] spending 14 days locked down in a hotel was not a great incentive to go, especially when you get four weeks of holiday a year.”
For Bermudians considering making the trip to the remote island country in the South Pacific, he suggests including Wanaka on their itinerary.
“The hot tourist spot is down as Queenstown, which is the adventure capital of the world and is very touristy. I would recommend they go one lake over to a place called Wanaka, which is a lot more laid-back, more sort of casual New Zealand, and then just do a drive. You can do an amazing drive through what's known as the Haast Pass. You go from desert through rainforest, through to ocean in about three-and-a-half hours. It's a really tremendous and amazing scenic drive to do.”
It was not until he left his homeland that he was able to truly appreciate it and all its beauty, Mr Duncan added.
“It’s one of the things I think that's true no matter where you [are from], you don't fully appreciate it until you see other places. I spent 24 years going on holiday to some of the most magnificent scenery in the world but because we always went you just don't recognise how special it is. It's the same in Bermuda, you don't recognise how gorgeous it is and how lucky we all are to be allowed to live here until you go somewhere else; until you actually live in those places and recognise all the benefits that you have here.
“I think as an expat, being allowed to live in somebody else's country and getting to appreciate and understand all that it has to offer is one of the great joys that you can have in travel.”
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