A lifestyle change

by Ann van Engelen

After more than 30 years of living in the city of Christchurch, the Hira family made the decision to move to a lifestyle block in the Tai Tapu area after the earthquakes.

Peter had grown up in the country and the family decided to return to the country for his retirement years and provide a setting that the whole family could live in and be together on the one property.

The family are still involved in many community activities including the church Peter and his wife Vera started many years ago, now called Christchurch Worship Centre.

“Lots has happened since we moved and on this property we have the ability to provide more for the community,” says Steve. The property came with an established vegetable garden which they have enjoyed replanting and extending. 

Steve and his wife Sarah received advice from the previous owner and produced six paddocks of hay as extra feed for when they purchased their first lot of sheep.

“We eat our home grown produce now and our youngest son Kaci can’t believe he has grown strawberries, corn and peas. He is loving the experience and it has been a great lesson in life for our three children. Now they understand that things don’t actually come from ‘the shop’ and we can now give away fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat and firewood to help others in need.

“I had a lack of knowledge so I joined our local vet practice workshops to learn about animal care and how to correct issues we may be having such as worming sheep.”

Steve says as a family they enjoy learning together.

“The children just had a deck to play on in the city and they were restricted.

Now have more room to make things and turn branches into taiaha and get the help with the animals. There is a lot of freedom to do things without the hassles of town.

“Living in the country doesn’t limit us with sport and extra activities, we just drive a bit further and you are more organised and think twice before whipping out to the shops.”

Sarah says the local community have been very helpful with their move.

“We can call anyone for help with what to do when we are stuck. Even the lady we got the chickens from has guided me through the steps,” says Sarah.

“We have had to learn along the way.

Steve was filling the swimming pool and forgot to turn the tap off and it ran overnight and burnt out the pump. It was an expensive mistake.

“We had to reinforce our fencing for the sheep. For a place like this you need the right equipment to have things work in your favour.

“One of the biggest changes we have seen is the children sleep well at night as they are running around constantly.

The Hira children enjoy the lifestyle change moving to 
the country has given them

In the city they lived on their electronic devices and went to the movies. Now when we go to see what they are doing it is usually building a hut, climbing a tree or playing with the chickens and we have more quality time working on the property.”

Sarah’s mum Pam lives with them as well as Steve’s sister Angela and their dad Peter. They each have their own space and Pam has been tending to the rose garden and learning about trees.

“She is loving it. We have an orchard and are expanding it. The move from the city has been life changing. We are way less stressed, which you don’t realise until you change lifestyle.”

Peter says living back in the country is fantastic and it is great for the grandchildren.

“We have the a range of animals for them to interact with and of course they get to drive their buggy around and are able to be involved in farming activities they wouldn’t get to do otherwise.

“We would highly recommend others do the shift — it is a great option. We are all about whanau and it is one place we can all live together in a more natural and relaxed environment away from the hustle and bustle of town.”