Facebook page

Our People in New Zealand

The definition “Our People” means not only our relatives or countrymen. In many ways we are kindred spirits.

Sargylana Gorokhova – a simple Yakutian name. When I first saw her in the social networks, there was no curiosity at all. If not for one fact - Zhan Garth Matene, mas-wrestler fr om New Zealand appeared in the list of common friends. This young man visited Russia three times this year and became well known amongst mas-wrestlers worldwide. But today’s article is not about him. Taking an interest I asked Sargylana for a quick interview, which actually turned out to be a very interesting story.

- Sargylana, where are you from? Where and what have you been studying?

- I am fr om Verkhoyansky Region. After 11th grade we moved to Yakutsk with my family, where I lived until we left Russia in 2003.

I have three higher educations and one supplementary education. I’ve graduated fr om Yakutsk State University with a degree in “German philology”, I’ve studied Law at the Academy of Labour and Social Relations in Moscow then graduated fr om New Zealand Institute of Studies with a degree in “Productivity and Business Development”. Also I have been studying Chinese at the Harbin Polytechnic Institute for 2,5 years.

- What made you change your life dramatically and move to this distant land?

- It wasn’t random, that I got here. First time I have visited New Zealand with my mother ten years ago. We came to see my sister and stayed for two months. She lives here for fifteen years already, married to New Zealander and a mother of two beautiful kids. Our mother also lives here for a long time. Before moving to New Zealand, I’ve been living in China, Taiwan and South Korea for eleven years in total, first for my studies and then working. While living in Asia, almost every year I travelled to New Zealand for holidays to see my family, since then I consider New Zealand my home. As they say, home is where your mother is. Seven years ago I came here to see my family and stayed here for six months, since then I decided to make every effort to settle in this country. It took several years for my dream to come true, and at last in 2014 I reunited with my family and started my own family.

- Is it difficult to adapt to different culture? Does the knowledge of foreign languages help? Which ones do you speak?

- My family was frequently moving fr om one location to another due to my father’s work. That’s why it was easy for me to adapt first in such different and specific Asia, then here, in Oceania. It doesn’t frighten me – I am attracted to everything new and unusual. Of course fluent knowledge of foreign languages plays an important role. Besides native Yakutian and Russian languages I fluently speak Chinese, English and German. Also I know Turkish and Korean on conversational level and recently I began studying Spanish.

- Are there any distinguishing features that help Yakutian people?

- I think, that thanks to extreme living conditions our people are more stable to tough challenges both mentally and physically – stress-tolerant and not very emotional. This actually helps a lot, because immigration is a great stress for most people. I would also mention that for a bilingual person (as most Sakha people) it is easier to learn the third and following languages. All of our friends living in New Zealand at the moment always had clear goals and have already reached many heights, which makes us very proud!

- Does staying in touch with your homeland help you to survive abroad?

- I would not call life in New Zealand a survival. Yes, immigration conditions are getting stricter every few months and it is getting real hard to obtain a citizenship. But the country itself, people and living conditions are so comfortable, that it makes you want to invite all of your close people from Yakutia to move here. My entire family lives here, in the same city. Every day I contact my relatives, friends, classmates and our New Zealand-Australia Sakha group via social networks, therefore I always stay in touch with Yakutia.

- What did you absorb from the cultures of different peoples?

- After eleven years of living in Asia my loud voice got even louder. I’ve noticed that during a conversation I am beginning to imitate my interlocutor copying his intonation and unconsciously copy his accent whether it is English, Chinese or any other language. Here I became more organized. Everything here is planned for a long time ahead, whether it’s a short vacation or a little party at your place. It is not polite to visit someone without invitation as we used to do some time ago in Yakutia. I have a large calendar, wh ere I plan my entire work schedule (which updates weekly), important things to do, meetings, events, trainings, birthdays etc. Kiwis (as New Zealanders call themselves) enjoy spending their spare time actively: camping trips, water sports, visiting various events, barbeques in the park/beach or just chill in the backyard with friends. Me and my husband also like to spend our time outside the house, like all the Kiwis.

- Would you please tell us a little about your personal life: who is your husband, wh ere does he come from, your dating story?

- My husband Oscar is a native Barcelonian, true Catalan. We’ve met three years ago during studies, when I was unexpectedly sent to pass two semesters with another group, wh ere he began studying. Oscar has four higher education diplomas in psychology, anthropology, IT and business. During studies we became good friends and always worked together on joint projects. Upon graduating we did not stop communicating, but became best friends. And gradually our friendship grew into love. We are so different, but similar at the same time. We are almost peers and we love the same music, which was popular when we were teenagers/students back home. We both love travelling, active leisure and movies. We enjoy cooking, writing and reading. Sometimes, not that often, we can just play the guitar and sing the entire evening. When we have some spare time we rent a car and go travelling to enjoy the beautiful nature of our beloved country. He used to climb the highest mountains alone and got me involved into this. Two years ago in December we walked twenty kilometers during eight hours through the Mount Tongariro (highest point 1978 meters), a location wh ere Frodo threw the ring in “Lord of the Rings” movie. If I had not gotten my knee injury, we might climb even higher mountains. All our friends and relatives were very surprised by the coincidence – my New Zealand brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) is also Oscar and now my mother has two sons-in-law named Oscar!

- Of course I can’t help but ask about the Yhyakh (National Yakut holiday) which were held few days ago in New Zealand. How long have you been organizing it? Who is the initiator and who were your guests this year? Was it the first time holding Mas-Wrestling competition?

- The Yhyakh at the land of Aotearoa (Maori name for New Zealand which literally means “The Land of Long White Cloud”) is held for the fourth year. First we were holding it Yakutian way - in June. But two years ago we started celebrating it during summer in New Zealand – in January. This is the time when a lot of guests, friends and relatives of our countrymen come to visit New Zealand. This year my friend Lana Kondakova came from Melbourne, Australia, specially to visit Yhyakh, as well as Marie and Igor Ambrosyevs from Brisbane – a Kiwi-Sakha family, which became very close friends to my family many years ago. Igor was the first Sakha who arrived to New Zealand more than twenty years ago. Before moving to Australia, they used to live on the South Island in Christchurch. Their 15-year old son Edik Ambrosyev flew to Oakland to represent Australia at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship. He is very proud of his origin and is the first professional Sakha rugby player.

My mother Elena Innokentyevna Gorokhova, my sister Maria Martin and me – we are the initiators and organizers of our holiday. Maria was the second person to move to New Zealand from Yakutia and the first Sakha woman on the North Island, so she is the main ideological mastermind. Living this far from homeland, we are always very happy to meet our countrymen and always stay in touch with each other. Now there are about thirty of us on two islands of New Zealand, including children who were born here. This year the event attracted more than 60 guests from Russia, Catalonia, Peru, England, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Ukraine, Samoa, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand – all united by Sakha National Holiday Yhyakh.

We hold mas-wrestling competitions every year, but this time it was especially spectacular thanks to our guests – Zhan Matene and his friends, professional mas-wrestlers. The guys were absolutely delighted and promised to participate next year. Just a month ago they didn’t even know, that people from Yakutia live in their country and they were very glad to be present at our summer holiday and expressed their gratitude for invitation. We presented them with Yakut national souvenirs, specially ordered and delivered from Yakutia just in time for Holiday. Our honored guest Zhan was awarded the Yakut choroon, a symbol of the hospitality of the Sakha people.

- Are you going to come and support the Yakut National Sport to Melbourne, wh ere Mas-Wrestling International Tournament will take place within the framework of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Festival?

- If I had a chance to take a vacation, which is only scheduled for next year, we would bring our whole family to Melbourne. But I’m sure that all of our countrymen living in Melbourne will definitely visit the tournament.

If you click on a link you can see a ten year old boy who was born in Oceania and have never visited Yakutia playing Khomus (jew’s harp). You must agree, it is very pleasant and joyful that our countrymen preserve the customs and traditions of their ancestors even being far away from their Motherland.

We remind you that this year Mas-Wrestling was approved as a new sport and included to the program of the continental version of the Arnold Sports Festival which will take place in Melbourne from March 15th to 18th.

This is truly a historic event for all the mas-wrestling fans all over the world. The competition will be held in two weight categories among men: up to 105 kg and above 105 kg and in two categories among women: up to 85 kg and above 85 kg.

You can see the statement of the competition here


Author: Lena Tomskaya
Photo: Photos provided by the heroine of the reportage
Number of shows: 432
Country:  New Zealand
Back to the list