Harwinder Singh got more than he bargained for when he left his homeland of India to drive taxis in Queenstown.
Not only did he secure a job, he also met his future wife, Gurpreet Kaur, when she ordered a taxi just days after arriving in Queenstown to study.
It turned out the pair had to travel half way around the world before their paths would cross, despite coming from the same part of Punjab largest Indian state by area, which was home to 27.7million people, according to a 2011 census.
Mr Singh’s story was shared during the latest citizenship ceremony at the Central Otago District Council, where he officially became a New Zealander.
He initially moved to Auckland to study business in 2010, before going on to work for a power company and later a trucking firm.
In 2014 he went back to India, but returned to New Zealand in 2015 after he was told by a friend there was work for him in Queenstown as a taxi driver.
“I drove taxis for a couple of years and one lucky day I had a passenger who was a lovely girl from my home town in India,” he said.
“We started dating and fell in love.”
The pair married in India in 2016 and returned to Queenstown in 2017, only to discover the taxi company had suffered due to the arrival of Uber.
As a result, they moved to Cromwell, where they bought a house.
The following year they were “blessed” with their first son Gurshabad Malra (now 2) and their second son Gursaroop Malra (10 months) was born last year. Both boys were born in New Zealand.
Mrs Kaur, who looked on as Mr Singh was presented with his citizenship, recalled their chance meeting, remembering the relief she felt when she first met him in the taxi.
“I thought someone who can understand me’.”
The family was pleased to be able to call New Zealand their home.
“I love this country,” Mrs Kaur said.
“I love everything culture and the people are so nice and so generous.”