Au pairs find their niche on the farm

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Au pair Veronika Burger with Callum and mum Rachel Perks with Matilda, grateful for another pair of hands.
Au pair Veronika Burger with Callum and mum Rachel Perks with Matilda, grateful for another pair of hands.

New Zealand dairy farms are increasingly becoming home for au pairs from around the world, and Taranaki dairy farmers Rachel and Murray Perks couldn't be happier.

They had a struggle with early starts in the milking shed, but now that German au pair Veronika Burger has arrived their two young children don't need to leave the house.

"The best thing for me is that it doesn't knock the children's routine. Instead of getting them up early, they can stay in their own beds," Rachel said.

"It's also really flexible. We come home and see the children during the day, which is something we would not get with other childcare options."

Veronika arrived in August, during a "hectic" calving season, and quickly became accustomed to life in a busy rural household.

"She is part of the family and has formed a close relationship with the children. She keeps them entertained and ensures they are learning all the time," Rachel added.

The Perks family and dozens of other dairy farming families in the area found their au pair through Au Pair Link.

"It was a really smooth process. We were able to interview different au pairs over Skype, and Veronika really stood out. We are very happy with how it all worked," she said.

A love of children and opportunity to travel enticed Veronika to become an au pair, and has seen her make new friends and travel New Zealand.

"There's a good group of about 20 of us who catch up once a week for dinner, which is a fantastic support. We also plan trips around New Zealand together," she said.

More au pairs can now come to New Zealand thanks to a partnership between Au Pair Link and in-home childcare provider Porse.

The partnership means the number of licensed areas covered by Au Pair Link has increased, to cover regions including Whangarei.

Porse general manager Kerry Henderson said the partnership gave families in isolated areas flexible childcare options.

The partnership also had benefits for au pairs, including the opportunity to attend free playgroups, events and outings, and receive support through home visits, resources and professional development.

Au Pair Link general manager Casey Muraahi said she was excited about offering more families across the country wider access to au pairs.

"We can now reach out to families nationwide and in some of the more remote areas. We receive weekly inquiries from families outside our licensed areas, and it is exciting that we are now able to meet these demands.

Even better, as it's a time where hundreds of au pairs are looking for host families heading into summer, especially as rural families get busy on the farm."

- Northland Age

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