Meet Tash, wife, mother, daughter, sister and photographer. This girl is a doer. For a regular hit of (attainable) home and style inspo with a refreshing dose of real-chat (the unfiltered kind) and lol-worthy memes; ensure you follow Tash Stokes. She loves fiercely and fearlessly, crushing on her hubby Arie and beautiful babes Ruby, 2.5 years, and George, 12 months. Tash moved here from Zimbabwe when she was eight years old. Here she talks about the shift and her viewpoints on motherhood, accompanied by her gorgeous mother Jacquie.
That’s no small relocation! Tell us about the move from Zimbabwe to NZ
I was 8 at the time and knew nothing about the country I was moving to. My parents watched the country they grew up in and called home politically fall apart around them. Attacks, and riots were becoming commonplace. Land, possessions and lives were being taken. Our safety was in jeopardy and it wasn’t a future my parents wanted for us. They wanted us to be successful and happy and most importantly safe. So they left. It took 3 plane trips to get here. We arrived in Auckland with a suitcase each, very little money, no home set out, no jobs or schools. Just a whole lot of hope and optimism.
It must be funny to look back at the move, and how you remember it being vs how you understand it now as an adult.
As a child it all just felt like an adventure, I had no idea the kind of stress my parents were under. As a parent now I can’t imagine the worry they must have had never mind the doubt. Coming to a country where they were alone must have been terrifying. Now I can appreciate the sacrifices they made for us. The beautiful life I live now is all because they took that leap of faith. I probably will never be able to thank them enough.
What was settling in at school like?
It was tough! My sister and I dressed differently to everyone else (Africa is a little behind in the fashion world!) and we had funny accents and for kids that’s enough to alienate you. It took a while for us to make friends. I’ll never forget the day mum bought us some clothes from Kmart and I finally began to fit in.
With that in mind, is there a deliberate part of your parenting that you are striving to shape your kids understanding of cultural diversity? (or do you think their generation will be more accepting by osmosis?)
Incredibly so. I just want them to grow up being good people. If nothing else then that will be enough. 2019 is a weird time to be raising the next generation. They are on the cusp of equality and seamless diversity but we still need to be teaching them this if we want to see that put into practice. I hope their generation is the pioneers for a new, kinder way of life.
What effect, if any, do you think your migration has on your journey of motherhood
I know how lucky I am to be raising children in this beautiful country. I have firsthand experience of a life so radically different and when I pause and think about that it brings so much perspective.
Do you still identify with your Zimbabwean heritage or is kiwi all day everyday / if yes, how do you pass this part of you on to your kids?
I’ve lived here in Hamilton for almost 20 years so this is very much my home. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to understand and I can explain to them where I was born. For now Arie and I like to tell Ruby I used to have a pet lion and ride a giraffe to school. (I didn’t)
Tell us a bit about Ruby and George and what it’s like to be their mum
Ruby is a world changer. She’s so full of life and fights for what she wants. which at the moment is anything rainbow or pink or horse related but I can see it being really important things one day. George is a sinic just like his papa and he is quite happy to do his own thing. He’ll move mountains one day too but just slowly and quietly. Being their mum is the single best thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m always tired, never bored, always on the go, full of coffee & I’ve never been happier.
Since having Ruby how has your relationship with your mum changed
I don't think you ever properly appreciate the work your mum put in until you do it yourself and you are like - well crap. Mum supports me but also knows the value of me finding my own parenting path. She’s great.
What is your favourite thing you have learnt from her?
She always said that Ru would be my karma. I was a delightfully difficult teenager and when I tell her about the sass Ruby has she flashes me one of those ‘oh really?’ looks. She also taught me to have a backbone. She raised me to speak up, make changes and to be relentless if you are chasing something you know will change your life.
Talk to us about Black Robin Photography and doing all facets of life with your husband Arie.
We created our own photography business almost five years ago after working for other photographers and wanting to pave our own way in this creative industry. We spend the better part of our work life capturing couples tying the knot, as well as newborn babies, births, families, events and even some commercial work too. Arie and I live a very unique situation where we own a business together, work together every day as well as live our day to day lives together. It took a lot of adjusting in the beginning but we are best friends and honestly, I’ve never had a better co-worker. We share every single role in our home, especially parenting. I am so very lucky that Arie is so passionate about being an active and very present parent. Nothing is specific to a person. We are hoping our kids will learn by example that parenting, keeping a home running and work life isn't limited to a gender.
What is it like to capture such intimate moments of people’s lives?
Really special, we don’t take it for granted that we are invited into such special situations. It’s a part of the job that will never get old. Births and newborn shoots pluck my heartstrings the most as I relate to them so much. It’s a nice way to revisit that time of life.
Tash and Arie will be in store Saturday 11 May with a pop up photobooth so you too can join our Mother’s Day image project. Book a ten-minute session between 10am - 4.30pm and take home a beautiful picture to treasure. Bring your children, your mother or both, as we celebrate woman who love and nurture.
Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your comlimentary sesseion spots are limited, so be quick.
Jacquie (Tash’s mum)
Packing up home in Zimbabwe almost twenty years ago, we chat with Jacquie about the move and her kiwi (lovingly coined “Halfrican”) grandchildren
What motivated your migration to NZ
The political situation was unpredictable and we wanted a better life for our daughters. We knew they wouldn’t have much of a future if we stayed.
Arriving with one month’s provisions, what happened next?
We began the job hunt. We made do with what we had and for a little while we just managed to scrape by. Our girls were young enough that it didn’t matter that they didn’t have much. They were happy regardless. And hey, it was easy to clean up when you only had two chairs in the house!
And what does life look like now?
We are business owners, I have a fulfilling career, a beautiful home and a safe happy family around us. I am very very lucky.
Tell us a bit about bringing up your children in New Zealand and what that meant to you.
We wanted our daughters to be able to be anything they wanted to be. The options here are almost limitless and we watched them make the most of those as the grew up. Tash is now a mother and a photographer and our younger daughter Sarah is very close to gaining her Law degree. We couldn’t have asked for more.
What is it like watching Tash as a mother?
I’m very proud of what a great mother she is. She takes it all in her stride and is raising beautiful children. I do find it funny that she deals with the same sass I once did!
What did you least expect about becoming a grandmother?
Most grandparents are happy to give the children back after babysitting but we just want to keep them!
What does having kiwi grandchildren mean to you?
I know that their futures are bright and that they have every opportunity they could want.
Jacquie wears Saben classic, Matilda handbag updated with the chain feature strap. Tash wears season favourite Odile handbag in black. Shop the full Mother's Day edit HERE