19 August 2013

We are in New Zealand.

Deep breath. We are now living in New Zealand.

Imagine how unsatisfying it would have been if I had written earlier: We’re on to our next adventure, but aren’t exactly sure what that will be… We’re going to New Zealand at the end of July, but don’t quite know if Mark will be able to go to school… Or even lately: Just arrived. Got a bad flu. Slept overnight in the Auckland Airport. Slept for 24 hours upon arriving in Wellington. So tired. Signing the lease on a flat. No furniture. No salt. Have no idea yet how the busses work.

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for the insta-updates of Facebook.

As of May, we had a couple of interesting plans in the mix. Mark had been accepted to several different schools around the world (to study management or development with an aim to work in conflict resolution) so we knew that our time in Tonga would be coming to an end in July or August.
At the same time, I’d been working on the Ko e Hala Hangatonu and the Kainga exhibitions, which were opening at the New Zealand High Commission in early July. I was the NZ High Com lead in organizing the show, and also had the huge pleasure of working with Luisa Vea and Tanya Edwards in our own exhibition based on our family histories, titled Kainga.
Hanging the works: Robin, Ebonie, Ruha, Mona, Yvanne, Pablo, Fiona. A group effort! My pieces are on the left, a few of Robin and Ruha's on the right.

Huge crowds of secondary school students came to the exhibition. A film by Malani Wolfgramm on the whole tapa making, Ko e Hala Hangatonu project process was a particular hit.
When I got offered a job in July to continue working with the NZ Aid Programme to Tonga as a Development Officer based in Wellington, we started looking at ways Mark could start a school programme at the same time. It was an incredibly hectic couple of weeks, but ultimately ended with a win: Mark started a programme in public management at Victoria University, and several weeks later, I started my “new” job, very happily working with the same people and on the same projects I’d been involved in for the past two years.

This is a very important course Mark is taking called "conflict resolution through chocolate." (Actually this is at a "pop up chocolate factory" we stopped into in central Wellington)
Being able to continue working with the same people was particularly important to me. After four years in Tonga, leaving was much, much harder than I had expected. The only thing that made it easier was the thought that we’d still be very close to Tonga, on the world scale at least, and that I’d still be involved in Tonga projects on a day-to-day basis at work.

Now that we’ve settled in here, we’ve been enjoying the Wellington scene. I feel like a starry-eyed country girl when I marvel at the fact you can do all your banking, pay your bills, get an identification number, top up your phone credit, and send a package to your friends overseas all from the same place, all in about 30 minutes –and with a smile! I’ve never in my life seen this before! Or that on any given weekend, you can go get fresh veggies at one of the many markets in the city (I thought I’d have to give that up when we left Tonga)!
Our little closet of a kitchen. You will also note from the general state of the pictures in this post that there hasn't been much time so far to take many good shots!
We found a nice little flat at the back of a house, with all the basic necessities: it is within walking distance from an Indian spice shop, a Mediterranean market, a butcher, two good pubs, a local library, three second hand shops and the bus stop. I may have eaten muesli in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon for the first few days, but in our minds, we’re set.


  1. Congrats to both of you and good luck with this new stage in your lives! I can't wait to hear about life in NZ!

  2. Best wishes for settling into your new place, making local friends, and finding a new routine together. Thanks for keeping us updated along the way - always enjoy hearing what you are up to.

  3. Blessings Mark and Elaina,
    May you love the people well and continue to touch the lives of those around you. Sarah is headed to the South Island today and will be there for probably eighteen months.

    Pastor Gregg

  4. Auntie Rachael23 August, 2013 19:15

    Wow, you are in hobbit land and with no shoes. Are your feet bigger and hairy yet? I am so proud of you sweetie. Send me a care package list. I would love to send you something. I miss you so much. Love, Auntie Rachael


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