Rowena | Waiwera
“Oh, probably my children every day. They do kind things for me, yeah, probably my children and my grandchildren.
Last year for Christmas my children made a dining room table, and because I’m from South Africa, I haven’t seen my family in 15 years. So they made a dining room table, and on the dining room table they put all the photos of my family, my brothers and sisters and my parents, and my children when we were younger, so the whole dining room table is made up of photos of my family. That was amazing.
I of course grew up during the apartheid era; we weren’t brought up racist by our parents. Of course there was violence, but as a child growing up I wasn’t aware of that. Then of course, when I grew up and got married, Nelson Mandela came into power and schools became integrated, it was just the norm. You know? We became integrated, and all people, you know, could then go everywhere together.
My husband at the time, his family moved to New Zealand, and then of course the violence in South Africa was getting pretty bad. My son had been held at gunpoint at the age of 11, and my husband had been hijacked at the time. So, it was getting pretty close to home that we needed to consider what was the best future for our children.
So we then applied to immigrate to New Zealand. I think since being in New Zealand, what I value the most is the freedom, to be able to walk around at night, to be able to not have bars on my windows, not have to sleep with a gun under my bed. My children and grandchildren, have a fantastic future here. You know? Being able to walk to the beach, because where I lived in South Africa, it would take us seven to eight hours to drive to the beach. So, just the freedom of this country has been absolutely amazing, yeah.
I have three brothers and two sisters, so I haven’t seen any of them. My mum has come out twice. Unfortunately she passed away three years ago, unexpectedly, but it was lovely that I could see her. Of course, the sad thing is that you can’t be there to say goodbye. You know? You can’t be at the funeral, but with great technology we were able to be at my mum’s funeral through Skype. It is very hard, because we were, we are a very big family, so spent a lot of time together. So, it’s very hard for me not to spend time with my brothers and sisters, but as I say, technology is great, so I can Skype them. At the same time, I appreciate that my choice was for my children, and having them grow up in this country, with my grandchildren, has been worth the sacrifice.”