Evita immigrated to New Zealand from Germany with her parents when she was twelve. She married a Pakistani politician and spent twelve turbulent years in Pakistan, some of them working for a UN Peace Mission. Later, in 1997, she relocated to New Zealand with her two daughters. Evita teaches language, literacy and communication skills to people from diverse backgrounds. She’s now ready to write for herself, her children and whoever wants to read what she writes.
By the completion of my teenage years, I’d come full circle and found myself back in the country I’d started from when I was twelve. I was married, had a baby daughter and wondered how everything had happened so quickly.
My childhood had ended abruptly at twelve when my parents and I boarded a Lufthansa flight to New Zealand to start a new life as immigrants. We’d been told by my uncle in Germany that we were insane to immigrate to such a primitive backward country and that the inhabitants of New Zealand still lived in huts and wore grass skirts. I had conjured up fearful images of life in New Zealand on the long journey and was relieved upon our arrival that this, at least, was not true.
Still, it was challenging to the core for a young girl to find herself at an intermediate school in Otara. I’d left behind a childhood among snowcapped mountains, attending an exclusive private Catholic girl’s school where we learned ballet and gymnastics. I’d never encountered softball, nor had I encountered filled rolls with chips but I met a lifetime friend, Hake from Nuie. We were both outsiders. I was shy and timid and she protected me.
I had some English but not much and had to learn, quickly so I could help my parents with everything from shopping and banking to job applications, while adapting to a vastly different school system. There were boys and discrimination to contend with as well. ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘Kraut’ were daily greetings. I felt like the foreigner I was and the name I carried ‘Fromter’ derived from the German ‘Fremder’ foreigner or stranger. I retreated even further into the shyness and solitude that had plagued me for as long as I could remember.
Those teenage years in New Zealand were transformational. Towards the end of that time I’d met my husband at university and soon thereafter boarded another Lufthansa flight to an uncertain future. Married and pregnant at eighteen, my teenage years were drawing to a close. By then I felt at home here and knew deep in my heart and soul that one day I’d come home for good. New Zealand had become my spiritual home.
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