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.

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