A house with neighbours just metres away on all sides is a stark contrast to a villa surrounded by trees and set amidst lush green fields, but the latter is a dream home for the Webb family, and just one of the many factors that make their new life in South Taranaki so amazing.

The family - mum and dad Erin and Myles, and kids Izzy (7) and Alex (8) – knew they wanted more than a cheap house in the suburbs of Hamilton, and neighbours watching every move. An experienced teacher, Myles was looking for a deputy principal position anywhere around the country, and the family bravely agreed to go wherever the job was.

When a suitable job came up at Auroa School in South Taranaki, a rural school with around 200 pupils, the Webbs leapt at the opportunity, despite neither Erin or Myles ever having been to South Taranaki before.

“It was a risk,” Myles says, “but both the school and the community have been an amazing fit.”

The family moved into the school house, a fantastic way to meet the community, Erin says.

“It’s such a contrast to our former lives. I’d take baking over the fence for the staff, and the kids would just climb over the fence after school. It’s completely private with tons of room to live and play”

All this space has given Izzy and Alex some new past times they would never have discovered in Hamilton. 
“Things like feeding eels, watching the maize harvest. It really is the all little things that make the difference,” says Erin.

“Here we can to lead a life that’s in touch with nature. We’ve discovered that we really love living in a rural community.”

When they first arrived in 2014, Erin and the children joined the local playcentre to meet local families, and the kids have since gone on to attend Auroa School, where both children made more new friends.

“We’ve ended up with an amazing network – neighbours who will just drop off a load of firewood and stack it up for winter or have given us the location of secret swimming spots around the area.”

“If spending quality time as a family is part of your parenting philosophy, then living in the country is a great option,” says Myles. “You do need to travel for certain things, but the time you have with family more than makes up for it.” 

The community spirit has been incredibly supportive when it comes to overcoming one of the reservations the family had to moving to the country. Alex has the neuro-muscular condition Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, which requires specialist medical and physical therapy support, necessitating regular trips to New Plymouth.

“This does require a little more planning than we had to in Hamilton, but everything Alex needs is right here in Taranaki. Just down the road in Hawera is a branch of Riding for the Disabled, and the municipal swimming pool offers great swimming therapy sessions.”

The family’s journey understanding Alex’s condition prompted Erin to write a book explaining it to those afflicted by it. A copy of which has been crowd-funded for everyone in New Zealand with the condition.