A Kid’s Life: New Zealand

8 Oct

Time for another post in my A Kid’s Life series.  This series is a great way to learn about other countries and cultures by looking at families and their daily routines and traditions.  I love hearing about what people from a different country eat, how they spend their free time, what sort of activities the kids do and about the local school systems.

Today we are visiting with Hana from New Zealand.  Hana is a self proclaimed eternal optimist and dreamer.  She has the blog A Happy Adventure  where she writes about parenting and making her daughters lives as magical as possible.  I absolutely adore her Little World series!  I’ve never met Hana but I just know she’s one of those cheerful, positive,creative and witty people that we could all benefit from spending time with.

I’ve always been interested in New Zealand and I loved reading about Hana and her family’s daily life there.  She talks about Christmas in such a different way than I’m used to (camping and beach!) and now I’m curious about what pikelets and kumara are!

So let’s meet Hana and her family…

What country do you live in?

New Zealand

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yep – we are both kiwis – in fact we both grew up in the same part of NZ, meeting at High School.

Do you both work?  Or does someone stay at home?  

My husband, Barry, works outside the home, and I stay at home with our girls.

How many languages are spoken in your house?  What one(s)?

One – English.

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

We have three girls – Ava will be five next week, Lola is three and Belle is 21 months.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Children in New Zealand generally start school on their 5th birthday.  Although, oddly, it isn’t a legal requirement to be at school until they are 6.

During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?

Usually between 6.30 and 7am

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

The girls all have different breakfast tastes – so I try to rotate it a little to please everybody.  We often do fruit smoothies in the warmer months and hot chocolate in the cooler, and then cereal or porridge, scrambled or fried eggs, French toast, toast and jam  – it also depends on how much time I have to prepare breakfast.  On the weekends we have a sit down breakfast and Barry makes pikelets or pancakes with the girls.

What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule? 

School starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm, Monday through Friday.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Maori (NZ’s indigenous population) is included in the curriculum from early childhood (pre-school) onwards.  Most high schools offer a wide range of languages and most require that children choose at least one second language to study.  Languages offer include pacific languages like Maori or Samoan, European languages such as French and German, and Asian languages such as Japanese or Mandarin.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?

Ava eats lunch at school, and takes a packed lunch from home.  She officially starts school in a couple of weeks, but she has had a few visits, and I’m slowly learning the various intricacies of mealtimes at school.  She’s been going to kindy since she turned three, and I thought I’d become well versed at lunchbox packing – but school is a little different!

At around 10am each day the children take a break from learning for ‘Brain Food’, in which I have to pack a small container filled with fresh fruit and vegetables for her to munch on.  Then she has morning tea and lunch – I normally pack a sandwich, a piece of fruit and some carrots, tomatoes or celery, some home baking such as muffins, biscuits or scones, and then some yoghurt or a few slices of cheese and crackers.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

At the moment they don’t do anything after school – I think that Ava’s first term at big girl school will probably be quite exhausting as she gets used to all that time in the classroom, but she’s expressed an interest in taking ballet classes and I’m quite keen for her to try out Pippins (the babies of the Girl Guide family!) so we will probably look into that for the next school year.

Of course there are no limits to the amount of after-school and weekend activities a child can participate in!  As preschoolers the girls have participated in swimming, gymnastics and music.  We are a sports-mad nation and I hope that as they get older they will choose a sport to play, whether it be netball (like me!) or football (soccer), touch rugby, or athletics…

I guess like many parents in countries all over the world, it is finding that nice balance between an activity or two to pursue an interest or learn a new skill, and allowing enough unstructured time to let them play and just ‘be’.

 What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

In an ideal world we would eat dinner at 5.30, giving us enough time to have a bit of a play before bed… In the real world however, I usually get dinner on the table between 6 and 6.30.

We have a few meals that we have every week – sausages, grilled potatoes and salad… burritos, homemade pizza, and prawn wraps are meals that we enjoy on a regular basis… the rest of the time I experiment with different things, depending on what is seasonal and what I think the children will eat without to much protesting!

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis? 

The girls rarely have computer time – I guess that will change as they get older.  In terms of telly time, I generally let them watch a show when they get home and I am fixing snacks – so about half an hour a day.  On the weekends we sometimes watch sports or a movie together too.

What time do your kids go to bed?

Somewhere between 7 and 8pm.

 What are some typical family week-end activities?

Every Sunday morning we visit our local farmers market – it is one of the highlights of our week.

Having just come out of the winter, we have spent a lot of time indoors – visiting with family and friends, and working on creative projects – the girls love crafting and we spend a lot of time working side by side.

However we are definitely looking forward to much more time outdoors as our weather warms – Auckland really comes alive in the summer months and there is always something fun happening around the city – festivals and events… and if there is a quiet weekend, we can head to the beach, work in the garden or take the girls for a bike ride at the park.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

The school year begins at the end of January and is divided into four terms of around 10 weeks each.  Between each term is a two-week holiday, and then at the end of the school year in December, there is a six-week break before a new school year begins at the end of January.

 What do your kids do during the summer vacation?

Because we celebrate our Christmas and summer holidays at the same time it is generally pretty action packed – the first two weeks are filled with Christmas preparations and festivities.  Between Christmas and New Year’s, and into the first week of January we generally go camping with family and friends which is always super-fun!

January is spent largely outside – in the garden, at the beach, at the park… I think even though most people are back at work by mid-January, the holiday vibe just continues so we spend a lot of time catching up with friends, having barbecues and picnics and just enjoying the warm weather.

  What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

Rice cereal, apple or pear puree, mashed kumara or mashed pumpkin.

Many thanks to Hana for taking the time to answer my questions.  I really loved reading about their life!

Here are the previous interviews in A Kid’s Life: Italy, Japan, America, The Philippines, Tasmania, Canada and Belgium.

If you’d like to participate in the A Kid’s Life series please contact me at jillianinitaly@hotmail.com


16 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: New Zealand”

  1. grammao October 9, 2012 at 01:59 #

    Love the way the school year is set up. Makes a lot of sense. And what are prawn wraps?

  2. Hana October 11, 2012 at 12:18 #

    Jill, thanks so much for letting me share a little about our lives here in NZ! I always enjoy reading the new interviews in your ‘A Kid’s Life’ series – and so it was a lovely to be able to be participate!

    Grammao, sorry ‘prawn wraps’ are probably just a my family thing as opposed to a great NZ tradition – before my husband and I were even married we used to have ‘prawn wrap tuesdays’ – prawns, tortilla wraps, tomatoes, sprouts and sour cream – really yummy and luckily one of the pre-kid meals that the kids actually approve of!!

    H xo

  3. Shawn October 11, 2012 at 21:15 #

    I just love Hana so thank you for sharing this insight into her life. I recently interviewed her myself so it was great to learn even more. And, I love, love, love your Kids Life series. I can’t wait to tell some of these great facts to my twin girls. They are 6 and are now pretty fascinated with people’s lifestyles. I can’t wait to read all of these. I’ve gotten through three! : )

    • Jillian in Italy October 11, 2012 at 21:21 #

      Thanks for the nice words. So we both have sets of twin girls! It is fabulous, no? Mine are 10 and the best of friends. So wonderful to see their relationship evolve through the years. Thanks for the visit!

      • awakeshawn October 11, 2012 at 21:42 #

        And, I just read that in your About page. : ) Yes, it is fabulous. I feel so lucky every day to get this experience of raising twins. And girls! So lovely to meet you. I just read all of the Kids Life series. I can’t wait to check out everything else!

  4. Kate October 12, 2012 at 02:16 #

    This is a great series! I heard about your site from Hana’s site. I was thinking if you want to participate– we are in China with an international school for special needs! We have kids from many countries and with VERY different lives. Let us know–it might be fun for our families to do this! 🙂 Cheers! Kate

  5. Suzanne October 15, 2012 at 18:15 #

    New Zealand is on the top of my list of places to visit. Loved reading this and so excited to follow Hana’s blog now.


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