The first time I returned to the island I was born on in the South Pacific, I knew this was a spiritual and magical place for me and my future family. After 25 years, I had returned to Niue Island with my parents, siblings and then boyfriend (soon to be fiance and hubby). This little coral atoll, jutting out of the Pacific in the Polynesian islands was set to become a place we visited as often as possible, and would be the place we shared our vows, brought our babies and friends, and created many special memories.
Once we took our first child to the island, we could see what an amazing place it is to raise a family. The community surrounds you, the culture and language is so strong, the ocean is everywhere you look and the fresh food and simpler way of life beckons. With each child we returned, and each time, the pull became stronger. We knew that we needed to do more than just a simple 3-4 week holiday every three years to have a real impact on our family life. We needed to commit to a longer and more permanent stay.
We visited for Christmas in 2019, with our three children, the youngest being only four months old. Many of our friends told us we were crazy to be travelling so far with children so young, especially a new baby. However, we were determined to get there for the island Xmas, something I don’t remember having only experienced it myself as a baby. During this time, as it is cyclone season, the island has less tourists, there are more ‘locals’ home and the community comes together for one event after another. The cultural opportunities are greater, and the sense of togetherness is so apparent. Even the threat of cyclones bands everyone together. The radio and social media pages are alive with updates, everyone looks out for each other and ensures their neighbours get help to ‘board up’ the house, food and supplies are dropped off and shared and the community just looks out for another in general.
My hubby and I knew that we needed to experience more of this community way of living, and for our children to live this life, a far simpler and materially less demanding life. We knew that there weren’t many places left in the world to achieve this kind of simplicity in a safe and enjoyable environment. Not many people in the world are lucky enough to call a place like Niue home, with family and support structures that allow such a move. Who were we to deny our family this opportunity?
Yet, we still hedged our decision and put it off. We still rationalised that the kids were settled, they would miss their friends, it would be logistically challenging. In addition, there are many of the creature comforts we’ve become accustomed to that we will not have access to on the island. Movie cinemas, shopping centres, online shopping. One primary school, one high school, somewhat limited recreational and sporting opportunities. Instead, an abundance of outdoor activities; swimming, snorkelling, cave and trail walking. Instead; fresh food from the ocean, vegetables grown on the land and community gatherings. Instead a strong sense of culture, language and pride. We want our children to live this, we believe it will provide a more enriching and deeper cultural experience than we could ever hope to offer in Perth.
Then in the space of a few months, I got really sick and one of Matt’s closest friends experienced a life altering cardiac episode. Over a six month period, our life changed dramatically, and suddenly we were looking at each other across the table, wondering why we were delaying on these decisions when life is so precious and time is short. We realised that we were making decisions based on fear and the uncertainty of the unknown, rather than going for the things we’d really love. So we sat down and mapped out the things we wanted to do and made the promise to take steps towards bringing them to life.
Suddenly, the idea of moving to Niue was no longer a distant concept and a ‘maybe one day’ fanciful idea; it was a decision made. We just needed to decide how quickly we could go. So, we decided to give ourselves approximately 12 months to plan, save and sort our life in Perth before making the move. Part of the decision involved all the kids still being in primary school or not yet at school, with our eldest rapidly approaching high school, this was another prod to get ourselves sorted.
So we have spoken with the family and sought approval to use the family home on the island, and we are now all systems go! The Hanham family are moving to Niue in 2022! This year is proving to be a huge one for us. We need to manage all the logistics of moving such as immigration, visas, schooling, healthcare etc on the island. In addition, we have furniture, household items and everything that a family of five needs in a home that needs to be itemised and either sold, stored or given away. We need to organise what we’ll need to take with us, what we need to buy in NZ before we get to the island and what we can access that is already there.
We need to save money and also have the means to have an income whilst living on the island. There are so many questions still to be answered. Our middle son has life threatening food allergies (you can read more about this in my blog ‘I’m an Allergy Mum, Hear Me Roar’, we don’t know exactly how we will still manage his appointments and heaven forbid if he has an anaphylactic reaction whilst we are away. The thought terrifies me. In addition, I have my own health concerns with my autoimmune arthritis. Right now I am stable, but in May last year I was in a debilitating condition. If I were to relapse on the island, the health care is not of the standard I would need, I would have to go back to NZ to seek additional care. But all these fears are not enough. We can’t live life making decisions on the fear of a consequence that might happen, we just have to prepare and make the best decision with the data we have, and just go for it.
I plan to share more as we prepare for our move to Niue. I hope you will enjoy hearing about our journey. Maybe it’s something you have dreamed of doing with your family, and so far, have not been able to justify doing. Hopefully, it’s something you’d just like to hear more about. I can’t wait to share more with you, and I look forward to being able to write some of my blogs from the deck of our home, looking over the Pacific Ocean.
Live, Love and Laugh,