Belonging is about feeling comfortable and relaxed in a situation. Children raised outside of their home country can struggle to find this sense of belonging. Never truly comfortable in their host country and a little bit of a stranger in their home country. Connecting kids to their homeland is not easy. Not knowing your origins can be confusing for kids and hard for parents.
The feeling that parents might have taken this sense of belonging away from their children can nag away in the background of expat life. We all want our children to be connected to their culture. It is important for many of us that our children’s identity is wrapped up with our own at both a familial and a cultural level.
Knowing your origins
One Kiwi father began to ask these questions when he was living in London.  How could he make sure his kids felt like Kiwis when they didn’t live in New Zealand? Where would they learn how important rugby was, about pavlova’s, backyard cricket, that shoes are optional, she’ll be right, and Christmas in the summer? Everything that makes them unique and distinctly Kiwi?
pohutukawa tree
Pohutukawa trees are native to NZ. They are covered in red flowers at Christmastime and so are referred to as the Kiwi Christmas tree.

Introducing proud Kiwi dad and 2012 UK New Zealander of the year Kent Gardener, founder of Kiwi Kids Abroad.

“My wife and I have grown up feeling a bone-deep connection with what it means to be a Kiwi. After our three boys were born in London, we fervently strived to instill and nurture an affinity with their New Zealand roots. Turns out a whole lot of our friends were in the same expat-boat.”

Gardner wanted to ensure all young New Zealanders living abroad have a lifelong connection to their whakapapa (heritage), culture and homeland and to all the things that make them Kiwi. So, he set about building a global community of parents and their children. His aim was to create a safe space for Kiwi kids living abroad to learn, engage and feel that sense of connection to their homeland. 

Kiwi Kids
Hairy Maclary is a kiwi staple found in homes of New Zealanders around the world.

Kiwi Kids Abroad is launched

Kiwi Kids Abroad offers many online resources on a dedicated website that connects parents to all sorts of free fun content for their tamariki (children). Activities range from learning te reo Māori to local customs and downloadable activity packs, puzzles, and challenges.

Everything is curated from local sources to help Kiwi kids learn about their Kiwi culture in a fun and interactive way. Their e-newsletter keeps their online whānau up to date with what they are up to, the latest on new resources, and child-friendly articles.  

They are currently working on the 12th issue of their free quarterly publication – Tamariki Times. There’s something pretty special for children to receive snail mail and nothing beats a postage stamp from ‘home.’ Kiwi Kids Abroad write, print and post Tamariki Times from their office in Christchurch, New Zealand and is delivered to young Kiwis around the globe. It’s filled with recipes from home, activities, competitions, native wildlife, and articles written by Kiwi kids – locally and abroad!

Creating a community

They are growing a Facebook group for parents where you can find stories from New Zealand and updates on what the Kiwi Kids Abroad team has been up to. It has been key to them to connect with Kiwi families from around the globe. They have been doing a lot of online outreach to spread the word through smaller local expat Facebook pages. After all, there is no one better at helping expats than expats themselves!

Kiwi Kids
Connecting kiwi kids to New Zealand is what Kiwi Kids Abroad is all about.

The team has a YouTube channel. It has just launched and is a channel by Kiwi kids for Kiwi kids, filled with content from kids living around the world. The aim is for it to offer a variety of stories from kids talking about their life abroad, their visits to New Zealand, and trying local food (mince and cheese pies and cheese rolls, anyone?).

Global growth

Here at YAY FOR TODAY, we love this initiative. It made us wonder how long before this kind of community pops up for kids from other countries and communities. As the general expat population grows, it would be great to see this idea developed around the world.

Kiwi Kids Abroad is always keen to connect and grow their global whānau. Keep in touch with them through their website, where you can subscribe to their magazine. You can also find them on Facebook. For all you Kiwi’s out there, it’s a great resource to help children understand and celebrate what it means to be a New Zealander.  For those who are interested in doing something similar in their own community, reach out for some guidance. 

Kiwi Kids Abroad is the brainchild of ex-expat and father Kent Gardner, who lived, worked, and raised Kiwi kids in London before returning to New Zealand.