Ok, so we’re doing this?! I looked at my hubby and his face mirrored my emotions. Equal parts terrified and thrilled. We’d talked about this decision on and off for years. Never quite being able to commit, always finding an excuse. The timing wasn’t right. The kids weren’t the right age. We needed to save up some more. What would we do without our close network of family and friends? So many questions without answers, yet we couldn’t ignore the call any longer.
Let me take you back a few steps. I was born on a tiny island in the South Pacific called Niue Island, population of roughly 1600. Niue forms one of the Polynesian islands, its better known neighbours include Fiji and Samoa. My mum is Niuean, my dad is Aussie. Niue is a well kept secret marketed by travel agents in NZ as a boutique destination. It also attracts fishermen, scuba divers and nature enthusiasts. Being a coral atoll, deep sea fish can be caught merely a few hundred metres offshore, it boasts unrivalled underwater visibility and it’s on the Humpback whale migration route, females come into the bay to calf. It’s common to see dolphins and whales playing in the bay from the main resort on the island and when snorkeling.
I was born on the island but raised in Australia. I returned after 25 years, with my then-boyfriend and immediate family in tow.
I can still vividly recall the feeling as we stepped off the plane onto the island at 2 in the morning. The first thing I noticed was the humidity, it engulfed me and wrapped itself around me. Then the next thing I noticed was the smell of the ocean and the jungle. The airport is nestled in amongst the jungle, with the ocean only 5 mins away. I also remember a sense of calm and familiarity. As soon as my feet connected with the runway, I felt the words appear in my head ‘I am home’.
We spent a whirlwind three weeks on the island that first time, it was also when my then-boyfriend proposed and would become the place we said our vows before friends and family who had travelled with us from Perth or joined us from New Zealand and Niue. Each time we visited, we would vow to return again soon. Back in Australia, we would save hard and book our annual leave so that we could get another precious few weeks in Niue.
Then we had our first child, a beautiful little girl. We took her to the island for the first time when she was 13 months old. We loved watching her chase the chickens in the dirt, drink a fresh coconut and swim daily in the ocean. We looked at the other children living on the island. They lived in a more traditional style of families, with the grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins often living under the same roof with the immediate family.
We had our second child, our gorgeous boy. We took him to the island as a baby too. Then we had a third, another boy! This time our family from all over the world came together to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Our third was only 4 months old the first time he went to Niue.
It was in Dec 2019 that we started to talk seriously about moving to the island for an extended period. My hubby and I are passionate about the children learning about the other aspects of their culture, including the language and local customs. They will connect with the land, the people and the lifestyle. However after our visit to the island in 2019, we returned to Australia and found ourselves caught in the busyness of life, with no firm plan in place to get to the island.
Then something happened that altered our whole perspective. I got sick. Really sick. An autoimmune condition took full control of my body. I was overcome with pain and inflammation, barely able to function. I was losing weight rapidly and my hair was falling out. I was sent for blood tests, CT scans, nuclear scans and more. The doctors admitted to me later, they were looking for cancer.
It was during this time that we really started to evaluate what we wanted to do with our lives, and what we valued for our family. The rush, the stress, the high volume of extracurricular commitments, even the diet and lifestyle of our westernised, developed world was clearly not serving me and it wasn’t serving our family.
It was during this time that I started writing my personal blog. I wanted to document my journey for my own reflection, however after some time I start sharing them, initially just with friends and later through my Tash Diaries webpage.
It was also the catalyst for our decision to move to Niue. I knew our parents would be sad to have their grandchildren on the other side of the world and I knew we would miss our close family and friends. We will miss the modern comforts of overnight deliveries, Netflix, shopping centres, theatres and beauty salons. Still, we knew, this was the right decision.
Niue is still considered a developing nation and its isolation makes it difficult to access some of the things we have come to take for granted living in Australia. Food and supplies arrive by boat or plane. The ship comes approximately every six weeks, but if it’s late, it’s not unheard of for the island to run out of toilet paper! The plane brings in items on its twice weekly flight from New Zealand. But the instant gratification way of life we have become accustomed to, will not be an option. We will learn patience!
What we will gain is no traffic, pollution, clear open skies and pristine water. Nothing compares to Niue when looking up at the stars on a clear, cloudless night. We will welcome the clean air, the freshly caught fish and the locally grown produce. We will embrace all the beautiful cultural celebrations and customs.
I think most importantly, Niue will teach us to slow down. We are so accustomed to living life in a frenetic, flight or fight state. I can’t wait for this to be a reality. Despite our best intentions, life in Australia is so busy. Birthday parties, sport, school, events. It’s virtually impossible to slow down, without actually stepping off the grid. So this is what we are doing!
We will live in the family home based just out of the main village. This will also become the base for our online businesses. We have a vision of living a more intentional life that is not governed by the traditional 9-5 rules. Through the growth of my blog and the expansion of my hubby’s business, we’re hoping that when we do return to Australia, we can continue to live life on our own terms.
Our flights are booked and our application to live on the island is in progress. We plan to depart Perth in Jan 2022. In so many ways, we are not ready, but in reality, it’s all logistics. We just can’t wait to get there and start our new way of life. If you want to follow our journey, I’ll be sharing regularly through my blog.
Has the current global situation got you thinking about different ways you could live your life? Have you already made changes to live a life that suits your family lifestyle first? We’d love to hear your shares below.