Kiwi-Japanese family enjoys best of both cultures
Queenstown woman Machiko Howick enjoys sharing her Japanese heritage with her family but is thrilled to call New Zealand home.
‘‘I just want to grab the good parts of each culture and try to teach them to the children,’’ she explained at her Frankton home.
Husband Ian, a New Zealander, agrees.
‘‘We can choose the best of both. It’s nice to have the variety.’’
Machiko grew up in Osaka but says she always wanted to be somewhere different.
She spent holidays in Okinawa, Canada, California and a month at a college in Australia before leaving school and working as an attendant on the bullet train saving money to go overseas to work.
She arrived in New Zealand on a volunteer’s Visa in 2002 and taught English in Wellington for two months before being sent to work at Dunstan High School to assist the Japanese teacher.
While there she met Ian – a maths teacher. With Machiko finding it difficult to get a job in Alexandra, the couple soon moved to Queenstown where they have stayed, returning to Japan to get married in 2005, and having their children: Emily, 11, Edward, 9, and Mei, 6.
They travel to Japan regularly to visit family, but Machiko says she has no desire to live there.
However, she does enjoy maintaining cultural links. At home the family have adopted the Japanese tradition of not wearing shoes inside, the children often speak in Japanese, conversing with their grandparents in Japan on Skype and they participate in the large Japanese community in Queenstown.
The family are active members of the 100-strong Japanese Family Society of Queenstown, which organises cultural and language activities for children, maintains a library of Japanese books and celebrates traditional Japanese events such as cherry blossom viewing.
During their most recent trip to Japan in May last year the two eldest children went to school.
Emily, 11, said the English classes were easy but struggled with the three written languages used in Japan. She also struggled with the change in routine. Their school provided lunch but there was no morning or afternoon tea.
‘‘I had to eat lots of breakfast,’’ she said.
Integrating into New Zealand society Machiko, who works in customer service at Ultimate Hikes, has found her ballet training a bonus.
She attends classes and is involved with her children’s classes also.
‘‘When I was doing that in Japan I never thought I would do it somewhere else but in the classes here we have people from Canada and Brazil.’’
The Howick family of Queenstown: Ian, Edward, 9, Machiko, Mei, 6, and Emily, 11.