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,
This is great Tash cheering you guys on!
Thank you Fadz. It’s awesome to know we have such a great support crew here and on the island. Watch this space! x
Good luck to your all, go and live your dreams, though I write this with tears in my eyes we will miss you all. I am so happy for you 🥲 💐
Thank you Anne. It is something we talk about everytime we go back to the island, we keep waiting for the ‘right’ time, but I think there is never going to be that time. So we’ve just decided to do it. We believe it will be a challenging, enriching and unforgettable experience for us and the children. We will miss everyone here so much though x
This is an awesome decision, Tash. I am sure you guys will love it there and you’ll see everything will work out well for you all.
All the best!
Thank you Alois, this is great feedback coming from such a worldly traveller such as yourself. We cant wait to share more about our journey as it unfolds x
Once again, beautifully written. I’m just in awe of you and your family heading off. I’ll be living vicariously through you, Matt and your gorgeous family xx
Thank you Kim, a big and bold decision, we are now committed to pulling it off! Regardless of how it comes together, we know it will be an enriching experience for our family. Thank you for your support in making this happen x
As you say..live, love and laugh. Go for it Tash! Life is short and you don’t want any regrets – live it! As scary as it may be, just follow your heart. I chose to live in Perth ten years ago. Jesse was just two. Although, Cameron was from here and I visited many times- it was a scary and crazy journey for me. But we’ve created a blessed life here. Taking a road less travelled and living each day to its fullest! I look forward to reading about your journey 🙂 Many blessings to you!
Thanks Steph, its so reassuring to hear from another family of young children who have taken the leap! You are so settled and happy here in Perth, that much is clear. It’s awesome to think that the kids will be able to call Perth and Niue their home after the next few years. We will definitely keep sharing as the journey unfolds x
Gutsy and great. So many people think like you but never get to the point of action. And to know there is already family and support when you get there is no doubt aiding your chosen path. What a wonderful opportunity for you and your family. I will be following your journey. 💕
Thank you Gayle, you are so right. We certainly talked about it for a good few years before finally making the decision, but we decided we had nothing to lose and everything to gain from this experience. Hopefully through our journey we can inspire some other families to do it too, especially if its what their heart’s calling to them. Life is too short hey! Watch this space for our journey x
Congrats on the planned move Tash! Years ago I quit my job and moved across the world to a country where I knew no one, but which called to my heart. It took planning and letting go but I won’t ever regret it. The adventure will be amazing and the things you and your family learn are things you can never buy. They will be precious and worth having. You’ll eventually even laugh about the crappy bits. Most importantly, together you’ll create memories which will form a deep intrinsic part of who you are. That lasts forever and no one can take them away from you. Happy planning….
Ara! That’s an amazing share, we are certainly hoping that this will be beyond any experience they kids (and us) will have in school or Perth. There will be certainly be challenges, of that I am certain but we are ready to take it all in and learn and grow as a family. Thanks for the encouraging words x
Wowser! Go Tash! this will be a fantastic experience for you and your family.
You really are amazing!
Thank you James. We hope it will be one of those forever life altering and enriching experiences. That is our intention so I’m sure that will be what we achieve x
I’m your newest follower 😁 can’t wait to read about your journey. I look forward to seeing all the beauty I know you’ll share with us back in the hustle and bustle of Perth. Wishing you all the best xx
Ah welcome Katalina, I’m so glad we’ve connected. It’s beautiful that you’re sharing with your children the amazing Polynesian heritage you have. We will be back, but cant wait to share our experiences and journey on the island x