From the President

E nga iwi o te ao katoa –  haere mai, haere mai, haere mai.

To the people of the whole world – welcome, welcome, welcome.

As the Associations’ inaugural President (elect), together with all the members of the Steering Committee, it is an honour and a privilege to welcome you to KAHA – the Association for partners and family members of the staff of New Zealand’s foreign service.

Our members are scattered all over the globe – supporting, enabling and standing proud alongside our MFAT spouses, partners, mums and dads, as they fulfill their roles as representatives of the New Zealand Government. Our lives are shaped and influenced by the many experiences and challenges associated with packing up our lives and relocating to new and different parts of the world, learning new languages, navigating new cultures; and then returning to the place we still call ‘home’. Our children – the 3rd culture kids of the 21st century – understand only too well what it means to leave behind friends and familiar surroundings with the expectation that they will resettle and pick up their lives in a far away place. Like us, they share the joys and the tribulations associated with being a ‘dip-spouse’ or a ‘dip-brat’ – the terms we affectionately use to describe ourselves.

It is out of these unique and shared experiences that KAHA has grown. For many years, the partners and family members of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have supported each other through informal networks alongside a partners group that advocated for and worked with the Ministry to advance issues of importance for partners and families. The Association owes its thanks to those partners who have worked tirelessly on our behalf and to those people who have filled the role of Family Liaison Coordinator at the Ministry.

In 2012, the Ministry embarked on a significant change to its operating model – changes that will have a major impact not only on Ministry staff, but also on partners and families. Seeking to have a voice in those changes, partners across the globe united using social media to share their thoughts, to voice their opinions and then to make public their concerns about the impacts of the changes.  The rest, as they say, is ‘history’ – the renewed interest and energy ignited by the changes has led to the establishment of KAHA – an independent association that aims to represent the interests of families and partners and to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in ensuring New Zealand continues to be represented at home and abroad by a diverse and vibrant foreign service.

To be effective, KAHA needs its members to actively engage with the Steering Committee to ensure we understand the issues that of are importance to you. If you are a partner or family member, I invite you to take a few minutes now to register with us. Registering will provide you with access to the member only sections of our website where you will be able to share posting experiences, participate in discussion forums and stay up to date with what the Association is working on. If you are a partner or family member of a previous MFATer – you too are welcome to register and become a member of the Association. We value your experience and recognise and appreciate the service you have provided to your country! Your Steering Committee looks forward to engaging with you all.

For others wanting more information about KAHA, or who wish to make contact with us, you can do so by sending an email to ‘president@kaha.org.nz’.

Ko tenei te mihi atu ki a koutou katoa o te ao
Ko tenei te mihi aroha ki a koutou.

Jo Mika-Thomas
October 2012