Being Anglo-Indian
in NZ - Blossom's story

When Blossom Greig arrived in Wellington from Karachi, Pakistan, the immigration officer said, “I wouldn’t tell anybody that you're Pakistani if I were you”. When Blossom asked why, the reply was, “Because right now your cricket team is beating the shit out of us at the Basin Reserve”.

Blossom was born in Karachi in 1961 and in 1994 she and Alistair, her New Zealand husband of two weeks, flew to New Zealand to settle.

She says initially she had not wanted to make the move to New Zealand. “It was hard, because it meant leaving everything that I was familiar with, my family, my job, just everything."

She says she made the move so that she and Alistair could be together, but adds that, “as a Christian growing up in a Muslim country, it was actually getting harder and harder”.

Blossom says she found New Zealand different to any other country in its acceptance of her, and she didn’t feel any real culture shock moving here. “The Anglo-Indians have their own culture, which is very similar to New Zealand culture. The only thing that we share with the locals in Pakistan is probably the food”. She said the only shock was the cold winters and Christchurch’s easterly wind.

woman standing against side board

Blossom when she lived in Karachi

Blossom is Anglo-Indian on her father’s side, although her father claimed to be an Anglo-Indian in the earlier sense of the word, that is, of purely British ancestry but born in India. Blossom is not convinced about that, mentioning his less than fair complexion.

When she grew up, the family home was Christian, English speaking, they dressed in Western clothes, and listened and danced to Western music.

Blossom went to a Catholic school, the Convent of Jesus and Mary, run by Irish Catholic nuns, and then worked for eleven years for Kuwait Airways, which gave her the opportunity to holiday in Europe, the U.S, the Middle East and Asia. She then joined Union Texas, a large American oil company, which is where she met Alistair.

She says things have changed in Karachi since she left in 1994, noting that when she lived there she could wear jeans or dresses in public, as long as they were modest, but now her sister-in-law and nieces, who still live there, have to wear traditional shalwar kameez. 

"They’ve lost their freedom to dress as they like," she says. “It’s great being here because I have my freedom, I can drive at night and not be followed; I can wear what I want.”

Blossom’s first job in New Zealand was temping for Radio New Zealand. Later, despite having no legal experience, she "randomly" applied for a job at a law firm, got it and worked for this firm and then another law firm as a secretary for the next ten years. She is currently acting as project manager overseeing the restoration of the family’s earthquake-damaged Christchurch home.  

Blossom says coming to New Zealand was one of the best decisions she’s made. She has met other Anglo-Indians in Christchurch and is keen to be part of an Anglo-Indian organisation.

"Especially if somebody new came to Christchurch, it would be so lovely to have something that you could go to and you could meet other people like yourself."

She says she would like New Zealanders to know more about Anglo-Indians.

"Kiwis, even now, they don’t really understand who Anglo-Indians are...Go to India, there’s not just the Hindu Indian there, there’s also the Goan, there’s the Anglo-Indian, there’s Buddhists, there’s other denominations.  It’s awareness…"

By Dr Robyn Andrews, senior lecturer Massey University

Views expressed in this article are personal to the author and are not to be taken as representing those of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.