Deelu Bhandari has made Nelson her home. Photo: Kate Russell.

A new way of life for Deelu


Deelu Bhandari had no idea what to expect when she arrived on New Zealand shores six years ago as a 19-year-old refugee.

The Bhutanese native and her family had fled from Nepal, searching for a better life.

“At first, it was really really hard, because everything was new. I was really scared, and I did not have any confidence,” she says.

Deelu came to Nelson with her mother Nar Maya, father Chandra, sister Rupa and brother Govin. She also has a sister in Christchurch and a brother in the US.

“We are originally from Bhutan, but we came to New Zealand from Nepal. There it was really hard as we didn’t have jobs, much food and had to depend on other people. My mum and dad struggled in Bhutan as farmers before that. Everything was totally different from here. It’s like a new life here.”

Deelu has now successfully completed study at NMIT, has her driver’s licence and is working as a caregiver in a rest home.

“I love to work with people,” she says.

Deelu says the biggest barrier to settling in New Zealand has been learning English – especially for her retired parents.

“It was very difficult with the language at first. But we had help. We could read and write some things, but it was really hard to speak with Kiwi people.

“But finding a home and everything was fine. I really enjoy living here than in Nepal because we did not have anything there. This country is really beautiful, and our life is much better here.”

This week is Refugee Week – which is a celebration of all refugees who have made a new home in New Zealand.

This Saturday, 22 June from 2pm there will be a celebration at the Nelson Intermediate School hall, which is open for the public to attend.

There will be performances by the Colombian, Chin, Nepali/Bhutanese and Zomi communities and food, art and culture items will be for sale. Entry is Koha/ donation, BYO containers/cutlery for food.