For five years Vivian Stirk dreamt about moving to New Zealand, but the future she wanted presented the toughest choice of her life. So where are the family now?
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For five years, Vivian Stirk dreamt about moving down under...
When you see the lifestyle that you can have out there,
why can't we have the same?
..but the future she wanted
-presented the toughest choice of her life.
-I can't leave her!
And after a week dealing with high prices...
It's not going to happen, is it?
..and high emotions, the Stirks had to decide if New Zealand was a dream
they could afford and share.
There's always going to be somebody in this triangle that is going
-to be upset.
-But where will we find the Stirk family living now -
in the UK or New Zealand?
FUNKY MUSIC PLAYS
Every year, thousands of us move to New Zealand for a new start.
The more relaxed pace of life, beautiful scenery and population of
only 4.6 million are a powerful draw.
However, the reality of taking on such a huge challenge doesn't work
out for everyone, and many return home, missing their old lives.
The Stirk family wanted to find out if emigration could offer them a
They had one week to experience life in New Zealand before they faced a
huge decision -
whether to stay in the UK or to make the move down under for good.
Their journey took them across three continents and 12 time zones,
spending an eye-watering 24 hours in the air.
It's the first time any of the Stirks have set foot in
New Zealand, and the marathon
journey left them with mixed feelings.
-We've had about two hours' sleep, so we're a bit tired.
A bit strange to start with, but I'm sure we'll
-all settle down soon.
-I'm really excited.
A little bit nervous as well,
but looking forward to seeing the houses and the area itself.
Ahead was a week that would challenge them all,
half a world away from their home in Yorkshire.
In 2012, the Stirks lived in the town of Cleckheaton.
They were Viv, a school administrator, Darren,
a telecommunications engineer, and their three children.
Daniella was a student midwife, Emma was 16 years old, and Ben was 12.
The family were born and bred Yorkshire folk and the couple had
lived in Cleckheaton all their married life.
-We are happy here, aren't we?
I think we've got everything we need round here.
So we're going to move to the other side of the world instead?
-Viv's reasons for emigrating started out as a simple desire for
-I think the dream materialised
originally because I got very, very fed up of our English climate.
We do get some nice warm weather in our country,
but it's just not consistent.
The Stirks were an active, outdoor family, so the Kiwi lifestyle Viv
dreamed of seemed perfect.
The lifestyle that you can have out there, you just think,
"Well, why can't we have the same?"
Not that I'm not happy being here, but you just think,
"Well, could we possibly have that?"
While Viv's hopes grew over the years,
Darren took longer to come round to the idea of emigrating.
As the main breadwinner, he knew how big the risk was.
From my point of view, giving up the best job I've ever had is something
that I really need to be sure of.
I don't want to just walk away from that and find I made the biggest
mistake I could ever make.
Despite the risks, they had hopes New Zealand would give their
children a better life and a better tomorrow.
It's all right encouraging your children to do well at school,
go to university, but if there aren't the jobs there, then
where's the future?
And I'm hoping that I'm not wrong in saying that
they might have a better chance of that over in New Zealand.
Both Emma and Ben were happy to give New Zealand a try.
I am excited about it all, but I'm really scared as well. Cos, like,
if I don't like it but everyone else does, and how much it means to my
-mum as well.
-If it's good, then, you know, I might want to go,
but if it's not...
-But for the eldest sister, Daniella,
it was a far tougher decision to face.
Daniella's got a boyfriend of 3.5 years.
-That's not going to be easy to deal with, for her or for you.
That is a massive concern now.
Daniella wanted to train as a midwife, and saw her career and
future in the UK.
I'm hopefully off to uni in October, so that's my career.
To move and start totally again, it's just...
It's like you're tied down here, really.
She had been with Danny since she was 16.
I do see myself being with Daniella in years to come and, er...
I don't think we would still be together after this amount of time
if I didn't at least think that.
I think people always frown upon us saying that sort of thing
-because we're so young.
-Both Daniella and Viv had a difficult
choice, and Viv knew just how much was at stake.
The bottom line is I am asking
her to finish things with Danny if
it meant that we could all be together.
But there's never going to be a happy ending, is there?
There's always going to be somebody in this triangle that is going to be
-Breaking family ties was another concern.
Viv's parents had passed away,
but the children were very close to Darren's mum and dad.
We are taking their grandchildren away from them,
but I also think that, deep down,
they will understand the reasons for doing it,
that we want to try and see whether there is a better future for us.
But the prospect of the Stirks not
being together put this future at risk.
If Daniella can't go, we'll just have to give it up.
-I can't leave her!
You all right?
I just can't leave her.
I want us all to go, because I can't leave one of my children,
no matter how old she is.
If it's what she really wanted to do, then she should do it,
But she won't if I won't go.
At this moment in time, it's all of us or nothing, it really is.
For their trial week,
the Stirks visited Auckland on New Zealand's North Island.
Home for the week was this three-bedroom apartment in the
Mission Bay area, complete with its own shared sports facilities.
Oh, this is absolutely awesome.
It's amazing. It's just a world away from anything we've ever really
-Yeah, it is, yeah.
Oh, we'd never get anything like this round, erm,
-I think that's a definite yes,
but thoughts do turn to the week ahead and the huge decision facing
My hopes for this week are to get more of an answer as to
whether we could make this work.
We've still got to be realistic, but, yeah, it's looking good.
I'm feeling nervous and excited.
-So am I.
-Cos it's something new.
I'm looking forward to all the different experiences that I've got
-So I'm hoping at the end of this week we can say,
one way or another, "Yeah, we could definitely live here."
Back in 2012,
the Stirks shared this three-bedroom family home in Cleckheaton.
They believed it was worth £140,000,
and with a total budget of £200,000,
they were being realistic over what they were looking for.
The house doesn't need to be any bigger.
Maybe an extra bathroom.
It's a struggle having three females in the house and one bathroom.
To find out what kind of house they could actually have in New Zealand,
we showed them three properties -
two on budget and a dream home to aspire to.
First stop was Gulf Harbour,
a peaceful suburb just an hour's drive from Auckland city centre.
This semi-detached property had great sea views,
but what did the Stirks think of it?
Don't like it. It's not much of an area for sitting out as a family.
It doesn't compare to the space that we have at home.
That wasn't a good start.
But did the indoors lift the mood?
Kitchen straight into a living room.
-We'd be giving up a lot of room.
-If you're making a Sunday roast,
-then you'd have a smell all in this room.
It looked like open-plan was not to the family's taste, and the decking
-It doesn't blow me away.
-No, it doesn't at all.
-It almost feels like you're living in a caravan.
Whilst the three bedrooms were spacious,
convincing Daniella to emigrate was made much harder by having to share
a bedroom as she currently did.
-It's a lot smaller than the one at home.
One option was to convert the garage.
-I think you'd spoil the house if you turned this into a bedroom.
It looked as if the house was simply too small for the Stirks'
needs, but with their £200,000 budget, was it affordable?
I'm a little bit stunned, actually, to how much that is.
In spite of it being just within reach, the price tag was a real
shock, especially for Viv.
-It's not going to happen, is it?
-It's not looking like it is, no.
-Not from what I've seen so far.
Seeing the reality of living in New Zealand's most expensive city cast a
dark cloud over the day.
But did the next house help to raise everyone's spirits?
It was a three-bedroom detached property in the Swanson area of west
-What do you think, initially?
-It looks nice, actually. Yeah, it does, it looks nice.
That was much more encouraging, and the outdoor space ticked Darren's
wish list for a large garden.
-Wow, that's amazing!
-Yeah, I like...
The surroundings are excellent.
I like this. There's plenty of room there for sitting out on.
The inside didn't disappoint either.
Nice size. See what we've got in here.
-Nice-size bedroom, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's fine.
This bedroom is OK for Ben, but that other bedroom's not...
-Big enough for the girls?
-..not very big.
-So they could be struggling with the space.
Despite the good start,
the lack of a fourth bedroom was an all-too-familiar problem.
-So, what we've got...
-We would have
to do the same thing that we've done at home and put...
-Yeah, two beds in.
-..Emma and Daniella in here...
-They'd have to share one.
-..then we'd have to
-go in there...
-..with the double bed.
And the children didn't need to go too far to see what was missing.
But if the price tag was right,
were the Stirks willing to squeeze in?
That's a shock. 192,000?
Yeah. I think the prices are
definitely going up because of the area.
I personally think that you are getting better value for money with
our house then you are with this.
But I thought this was definitely doable.
The property's price tag notwithstanding,
this was a definite improvement for the family.
Their final stop was further away from the city centre in leafy
-I like this. Idyllic.
-That looks absolutely gorgeous.
On paper, this house had everything the Stirks were looking for,
with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and plenty of living space,
even for a family of five.
-Oh, goodness me!
-Open-plan lounge again, kitchen.
-But just look at that.
-Even the views were bigger.
-It is perfection.
-Oh, that is huge!
-You can't hear the M62 from here, can you?
-That was Darren sold, and Viv?
-I think this is probably the
nicest house I have ever, ever seen in my life.
-That I've ever been in.
-If I could afford this, I would be
-signing on the dotted line right now.
It feels good, doesn't it? It does, it feels right.
The Stirks had seemed to have
found exactly what they were looking for.
There was enough bedrooms for everyone, and two bathrooms,
putting an end to the morning rush hour. And with a huge garden
there was something for the whole family to enjoy.
-It's just everything we've wanted in a house..
..when we've talked about emigrating.
It's like it's been made to our specifications, don't you think?
-And put in the right place.
-Put in the right place.
Yeah. It's just perfect in every way.
-Can't fault it at all.
-I don't want to see the price, do you?
This house seemed to have rekindled Viv's hopes,
but after seeing the hard facts of Auckland's property prices,
was the dream house just that?
Ready? I don't really want to look.
I'm not shocked and I'm not upset.
I'm really glad that we have had the chance to look at this house.
If this is £319,000, there could be something within our budget,
-We're going to have to get a mortgage, but then...
-It was Emma's turn to be disappointed,
but Viv had taken the positives from this house and it gave Darren an
-If all three of us were working full-time, then...
-We could just about pay the mortgage.
-Am I living here as well?
-I could never leave.
-But it's nice to dream.
It's nice to dream, yeah.
It was quite a day for the Stirks.
The first property was just about affordable,
but it didn't have the space they wanted, inside or out.
The second property was an improvement,
but still missing that all-important fourth bedroom.
And the final house offered everything they wanted,
but at a very high price.
So after a bumpy landing in New Zealand,
did the Stirks believe that there could be a home for them down under?
Based on the properties we've seen today, our vote goes to...
-Why am I not surprised?
-I'm not surprised.
-If you're going to move all this way,
-you want to be blown away by your house.
-Or at least like it a little bit.
House prices in Auckland were a stony wake-up call for Viv's hopes
of emigrating. If her dream was to become a reality,
it was vital for Darren to find good work opportunities.
Back in the UK, Darren was a telecoms engineer,
earning around £25,000 a year.
He knew the risks of leaving a secure job all too well.
To give this up, I would have to be sure that what I'm walking into is
either the same or better.
With finances already tight, finding the right job was vital,
so we sent Darren to a large telecoms company in Auckland,
where general manager Ross Lockwood was on hand to meet him.
-Come on through and we'll have a chat.
A good result here promised a big lift for Viv, but with so much at
stake, it was just one piece of the puzzle.
If the job news is good news, we've got a lot of talking to do,
because we've still got other things to think about.
It's definitely a step in the right direction,
but there's not just myself and Darren to consider about this.
We've got three children who also need to be a part of it,
so we'll just have to see.
How similar do you think the role of my job would be to the UK?
I think what you do, we have people that do exactly the same thing here,
remembering, of course, that, originally, a long time ago,
the whole network here and all the telephone exchanges
were all modelled on the British Telecom system.
Whilst Darren talked shop,
Viv and Daniella visited the Auckland University of Technology.
Daniella wanted to become a midwife, and if training in Auckland was an
Viv's hopes of keeping the family together would get a real boost.
Dr Judith McColl was a course lecturer, and Daniella was keen to
see if studying there was right for her.
How competitive is it to be given a place?
Probably a rule of thumb is we take about 100 to 110 first-year
students, and probably for every one
of those places we have four applicants for
-every one of those places.
-You'll recognise the qualifications, then,
from the UK, that Daniella possesses?
Yeah, what would get you entrance to university there,
-entrance to university here.
-Whilst the process of becoming
a midwife was similar to home,
-did Darren get equally good news on the job front?
-It's subject to a
whole lot of things that we'll run through in a minute.
I'd be prepared to consider you for a position here now.
We don't have a huge amount of business in Auckland at the moment,
but we certainly have work and vacancies, you know,
scattered throughout the country.
That also sounded promising, but as the family breadwinner,
what were his salary prospects?
What would I be expected to earn with my skills?
I've looked at the people that work in my organisation that have the
same skills as you, and the minimum wage is £22,000 minimum,
and the maximum person gets paid about £30,000 a year.
-It looked like Darren could at least match his UK salary,
but emigrating without a pay rise might not work if Daniella's
university fees increased.
It's about 7,000 a year for what we call domestic students.
For international students, it's of course a lot more expensive -
over 20,000 a year.
Without a resident visa for Daniella, the course fees were much,
much more. However, she did keep an open mind.
It does sound very promising to come here and reassuring to have that
option, but to already have the place in England,
it puts another obstacle in my way.
And after getting hands-on with Kiwi telecoms,
Darren also had a lot to consider.
So had he seen enough that day to vote for New Zealand?
Based on my experience today at work, my vote goes to...
I was a little bit apprehensive about what I would find, but it's...
I'm looking at virtually the same thing as what I'm used to.
Darren's vote for Auckland was a huge boost for Viv,
but for a sport-loving family like the Stirks,
it's the lifestyle that could be key to whether they move or not.
At home, life for the Stirks was all about getting up,
getting out and getting active.
So we sent the family off to see what Auckland's great outdoors could
As long as Dad could get into his life jacket! LAUGHTER
And Ben looked happy, even if Emma was like a fish out of water.
Put your legs out. Are you ready?
I'm going to fall in!
But for Viv, this was what she came here to find.
I've noticed a difference in the children as the week's gone on.
They've all seemed like they're starting to really
get used to being here.
-I mean, I'm already getting used to it.
-It's going to be a shock when we go home.
But there was no reason to get unduly concerned yet,
as the day had only begun.
The family all had their favourite sports, and Emma's was gymnastics.
Once back on dry land,
she went with Daniella to see what facilities Auckland had to offer.
Finding a connection to Kiwi life was an important element for the
Stirks, one that might have helped cushion the blow of emigrating,
making life easier to bear.
Now, seeing the gymnastics,
I feel like there's a lot more out here for me.
Like, before I didn't really feel like I'd connected with anything,
cos I hadn't really done much,
apart from going and seeing the houses and that, but now I'm feeling
a bit more confident and excited about it all.
But if we moved over here...
We couldn't really afford, and it all goes wrong,
when our life at home is quite comfortable at the moment, so...
It's a lot to put on the line.
The girls knew just how much was at stake if they were to emigrate,
but did the benefits make the risks worthwhile?
The icing on the cake for a family who love rugby league most of all
was a chance to see New Zealand take on Australia.
ENERGETIC DANCE MUSIC PLAYS
So, having sampled the lifestyle, did they vote home or away?
Based on the lifestyle of New Zealand compared to the UK,
our vote goes to...
Everyone's voted New Zealand.
It's been a really good game of rugby,
and with the added bonus of being able to be nice and warm.
It's nice not to wear five jumpers, isn't it?
A unanimous vote for New Zealand was one step closer to Viv's dream,
but a lifestyle has to be paid for.
Getting the right price for their UK home in Cleckheaton was vital if
emigrating was to be affordable.
The Stirks believed it was worth £140,000,
but did two local estate agents agree?
A nice living room.
You know, a good focal point for the house, really.
Modern kitchen, very light, very airy, opening up onto the garden,
which is excellent. It's a nice room, is this.
Very good-sized garden, but they've landscaped it. It's very nice.
They obviously spend a lot of time out here.
Again, it's very well decorated.
Two sharing - I presume it's a teenagers' bedroom.
The space isn't massive, but they've got the best use out of it,
-and I think that's it.
So what will be the second original bedroom they're using as the master
bedroom, utilising the space of the room there,
with the fitted wardrobes.
Just exactly what you need.
So what I'd expect from a third bedroom is this.
I don't think anybody would want any more from a third bedroom.
It's not a box room, by any means.
Overall, excellent family house.
Been extended, so you've got a lot of space downstairs.
Within half a mile of the M62, which is great for commuters.
So a good residential family area, yeah.
My valuation today as an asking price would be 125,000,
to probably achieve around about 120.
In my opinion, in the current market, this house is worth 125,000.
For a quick sale, you'd probably be looking at about 115.
-That's even... That's a long way under what I...
-A lot less.
-Not good, is it?
With the work that's gone into the house, and the extension,
-I'm actually quite shocked.
-Mmm. Me too.
It's amazing how your feelings can just dumb down so much, isn't it?
-You want to move to New Zealand to better your life,
but the way things are going, you'd be making it harder.
The house evaluations were far less than Viv and Darren had hoped for,
and once again, finances became key for this emigration dream.
So we provided a comparison of the family's costs of living at home and
abroad. First was the weekly shop.
Milk's quite expensive, isn't it?
-Yeah, milk's expensive, yeah.
-We do go through a lot of milk.
-A joint of meat's about the same.
So in the UK...
101 a week.
That wasn't the best start,
but it was the family's mortgage payments that were crucial.
They based them on a £200,000 mortgage.
-And the repayments would be £804...
-£804 a month.
-..a month, yeah.
Right, but ours is 210.
Yeah, that's what we're paying now, what our house is costing us now.
-Their monthly mortgage had just gone through the roof,
and that was without the cost of relocating.
Looking at these figures now, then,
we would actually be about £634 worse off, living in New Zealand,
so... Do you think this move's affordable?
With the figures presenting a serious risk to the family's
finances, Viv's dream was once again looking unreachable.
So, based on the numbers, how did they vote?
I'd love to live here, there's no doubt about that.
It's a beautiful place, and you can see that the weather and the
-lifestyle is fantastic.
But you've got to be able to afford it as well.
Yeah, just not rich enough, are we?
No, we're not rich enough.
The messages from friends and family were always going to be difficult,
but all the Stirks wanted to watch,
no matter how emotional it might have been.
Well, hi, everybody. I hope you're having a great time out there.
-Hiya from Mum's house.
-Hope you're having a great time.
Darren, Viv. Out of the three of them, I would say Daniella will be
the one that could cause a problem. She'll want to please her mum and
dad, but she'll also want to please her boyfriend
who she's been going out with for three years, which is a long time.
I mean, I was married at 19, so, you know,
which is the same age as what Daniella is now.
I love my family beyond measure.
If they do go, I would miss them so much.
Well, I know I'm not going to be happy, but
I've just got to accept it and hope that they have a nice life
and everything turns out nice, you know, and well for them.
Their going would leave a void that would be impossible to fill.
I think we'd be bereft, wouldn't we?
It's a prospect that I don't really want to contemplate.
Hello, everyone. Hope you're all having a good time.
I hope you're enjoying it, and I'm missing you a lot, Daniella.
I don't want you to go, really, but...
..that's completely up to you. Obviously I can't stop you, but
I'd really, really miss you if you went,
and I'd like you to stay, but...
..decision's yours. Don't come to any hasty decisions.
And, erm, just enjoy it while you're out there.
Yeah, you can understand where they're coming from.
-And their views and opinions are... They're natural, aren't they?
You don't want to sound selfish by saying you've got to live your
-life for yourself. But you have, haven't you?
-Do you think any of them will lend us any money?
I really don't know!
Seeing the people they love was a reminder for the Stirks that the
real cost of emigrating is not counted in dollars.
But having fallen for the lifestyle, and their week all but over,
was their final vote made with their hearts or with their heads?
The week has been absolutely fantastic.
There's been a couple of emotional times, but generally, for me,
it's been very fulfilling.
It's a lovely place.
It's just a perfect place to live...
..if you could afford it.
We've come here ten years too late.
There's a lot of obstacles that wouldn't have been there ten years
ago that are there now - financial and personal.
I did really hope that Daniella would come round
to our way of thinking.
I honestly do believe that she's
shut her feelings off since we've been here,
purely because Danny's in her life.
I came with an open mind, but deep, deep down,
I am more pointed to the UK because of everything that you have got to
-If they were, you know, nine,
six and two, that would be different,
but they're teenagers and they've got their own plans now, to a point.
I know there's no way I could ever leave Danny. Like,
I'm happy where I am.
I can't see myself with anybody else.
So it does change things,
It was an eye-opening week for the Stirks,
but did emotional and financial costs end this dream? Or did the
taste of life down under convince them that the biggest gamble
of their lives was worth it?
Based on our week in New Zealand, our vote goes to...
-Three to two, we're outvoted.
So why did you choose UK, then?
This is a beautiful country, but I just miss family too much.
I can see myself living here, cos it is a very nice place,
but I'm still a bit undecided, and like you said, "Go with your heart,"
and my heart says UK.
Why have you chosen New Zealand?
In my heart, I do feel that if we really wanted to give it a go,
we could find the perfect property for us.
And I have enjoyed this experience so much that it's going to be really
-hard, I think, for me, just to walk away...
-To get back into, er...
..I really do.
There are no easy answers for a family divided on whether to
emigrate or not. But with Viv well and truly won over by what this
country had to offer, it's clear
they had a lot to talk about when they got home.
So, five years later,
it's time to find out if the family are living at home or away.
It's April 2017, and the Stirks are living in...
Cleckheaton in the UK!
When the trial week was over, the divided family spent a little
more time down under before returning home.
So, after the trial week, we decided to stay on another week.
-We hired a car...
-And we travelled round the Bay of Islands, went
-camping, saw loads of sites.
-We stayed there for five nights.
There was a river, as well, running by, wasn't there?
-Beautiful, yeah, really...
-That was really lovely.
Looking off the top of the house and being able to, like, see the sea
and the nice view.
Which was lovely, but I think my mum knew...
I think she knew whilst we were
there that it was never going to happen.
Viv's dream was partly scuppered by the harsh financial realities of
living in New Zealand.
The cost of living over there was quite high, and our budget just...
Supermarket shopping was expensive, though.
-We did go to a few, and they were pricey.
Our budget didn't stretch that far, so, you know,
before you've even started, you can't afford, can you?
My gut instinct, even quite early on in that week, was,
"This isn't going to work."
-Especially when we saw that first house!
And I did cry at that first house,
cos I knew that it didn't look good.
The financial restraints would have been like going back to being 25
again. And that, I didn't fancy that.
But the final votes were not all founded on affordability alone.
There were obviously good points about being in New Zealand as well,
but it just kind of...
A bit scary when it becomes a bit more of a reality,
which, I guess, for me,
that was what my vote was based on, a little bit.
I voted New Zealand with my, er, heart,
but probably still, deep down...
..was more likely to stay at home.
You know, like, the people I know, I've known them for...
..since I was about five years old,
so I wouldn't want to be put into a situation where I don't know anyone.
It...I think I'd have struggled with it a bit.
Everybody gave it their best shot,
and they all had to have their own opinion as well.
I couldn't sway their decisions one way or another.
On the way back, me and my mum sat together on the flight and we had a
good old laugh, like we always do.
And I just... I think she knew,
but she's never held it against me for not wanting to go.
Daniella's boyfriend Danny was a huge consideration for her.
But for Viv, this was just one piece of the puzzle.
I don't want people thinking that we didn't go because of Daniella.
Because she did say to me that people are going to think it was
all her fault that we didn't go, and that is just not true.
That is not true. People don't have to blame Daniella.
If we'd have wanted it enough,
then there could have been a trial period of going and leaving Daniella
-We did talk about that, but...
I could not have done that.
For me, there was no trial period.
We're all together as a family, and I did stipulate that.
Family is everything to Viv,
and while she was reconciled with the fact that her New Zealand dream
was over, it took its toll when they returned.
She doesn't really like talking about it,
to the point where we just don't talk about it.
The first rule about New Zealand is not to talk about New Zealand.
I think, erm...
it was the only chance I was going to get to see whether it would work
for our family, because the children were getting older,
and more complications.
If we didn't do it then, we never would do it.
It probably took me a good month, I'd say, to shake that feel of,
feeling of, erm...
It wasn't depression - that's too strong a word - but I just felt
deflated, because I knew that it was all over.
With a heavy heart, Viv gradually immersed herself back into UK life,
which came as a huge relief to Darren's family.
My father said that he would have been bereft in that interview,
if we'd have gone. So, yeah, it would have upset them a lot more
than you appreciate.
We're really close to our grandparents, uncles, aunties.
We don't see them as often as what we probably should, but everyone...
We're all so busy, we all work full-time hours,
but you know that they're always on the end of a phone if you want a
chat or you want to call round for a coffee,
you know that they're always on the end of a phone and you can just
-nip round. You don't have to plan your flights!
And, over time, the family settled and began to thrive.
Darren's mum was there to see them.
They all seem happy and...
..they do a lot as a family.
They all join in with activities together,
go out together, and, you know, they still go on holiday together.
Danielle has moved out now, so we don't see as much of her, but
obviously we do still see her as much as we possibly can.
Yeah, we're still very close as a family.
And, like I said, we always will be!
For me, family is...
It really is a strong part of my life, and it's the best job I've
ever had, being a mum.
Viv was born to be a mother, there's no doubt about that.
I absolutely love the three children I've got,
and if I could go through it all again, I would do it.
-I wouldn't. No, I'm only joking.
Yeah, it really is important, and if it wasn't important,
then I wouldn't have cared about what my children thought.
I'd have been selfish, but I'm not selfish, so...
I'm just glad we're all together, still as a unit.
As well as Darren's telecom job,
this unit now includes a fully qualified midwife...
I love being a midwife,
working with women in...
Sometimes in vulnerable positions. It's heart-warming, knowing that
you're with them during a time in their life that... Not a lot of
people get to experience that,
and I feel privileged to say that I'm a midwife.
An apprentice engineer-cum-drummer...
I started playing the drums about three years ago.
But are you wanting to make music your career?
I think it's a possibility, me making a career out of music.
-..a personal trainer...
I've nearly qualified for my personal training,
so that's what I want to do, really, with my future.
It's just a case of building that up and building my own business,
-..and a contemporary romance novelist.
Yes, Viv is now a writer!
Though how she does it with drums in the background is anybody's guess!
At the time, when I thought about the idea of writing a novel,
the children were too young for me to put enough time into it,
so I put it on the back burner for a while,
and as the children have got older, I'd been thinking about writing,
and a character's name popped into my head, so that was it -
I just put my iron away, I wrote down that character's name,
and that was the first steps to me writing my first novel.
So, it's contemporary romance, so it's all about everyday people.
I try and keep it as lifelike as I possibly can.
The energy Viv had put into her New Zealand dream is now clearly evident
in her writing. Not only is she prolific,
but she self-publishes online and has customers all over the world.
I wrote the seventh novel, and I actually self-published that one,
that was the first one that I ever did.
I've now got 14.
I'm an unknown author, nobody at all knows me,
but I'm doing really well in America - a lot of Americans buy my
work. I've sold in Canada, Brazil, even France and India.
And even Darren has a role to play in Viv's writing.
Well, Viv sits doing her writing, and I walk the dogs and make the
Makes it easy for me when Darren's off, because he does walk the dogs,
so I've got that extra hour that I would have been walking the dogs to
do a bit more writing or housework.
I get my jobs done first and then my writing comes after that.
Life for the Stirks is on the up and up,
and with Daniella and Danny still going strong after nine years
together, the future looks positive.
We're currently saving up to buy a house.
Hopefully have children shortly.
We're not in any rush to get married,
because we want to do the other things before,
and I'll just say we're as good as married.
I'd love to be a grandparent, but again, there's no pressure.
You know, it is another chapter in our book,
but there's... You can't put any pressure on them, can you?
And as for the New Zealand dream,
is anyone in the family still staring at far-distant shores?
I don't have any regrets about staying here.
It's one of them things, you never knew what opportunities you're going
to get, and you never know where your life's going to be, so I can't
say, "No, I wouldn't think about it,"
but I can't say I would, at the same time.
You just...just live each day, really, and just see what happens.
I don't think that I will ever emigrate.
Me and Danny have spoke about when we're much older, possibly,
more retirement sort of age,
we'd maybe like to buy a small house or a villa in Spain or something,
France, somewhere like that, but when we are much older.
But what about Viv's dream?
I think she was disappointed at the beginning, but she's got her writing
now, and she seems to have got into...deeply into that.
So I think she realised that it
wasn't logical or sensible.
I do like my life. I've got a decent job, I've got my passion for
writing, I've got three children
that are doing really well in their lives.
You know, I've got Darren, who's very supportive.
I've got a lovely home,
lovely garden that we can all go out when it's lovely.
I can't fault the life that I've got.
If I say I don't regret not going, erm...
I think regret's too strong a word, really.
I'm sorry that it didn't work out for us as a family,
but I don't regret not going, because everybody's still together,
and we're all happy in our own lives.
Despite the original crushing blow to Viv's dream of living a life
down under, she and her family have
created a small piece of paradise there in
the West Yorkshire town of Cleckheaton.
We wish the Stirks the very best for the future.
FUNKY MUSIC PLAYS
The Stirk family wanted to find out if emigration could offer them a better future.
In 2012 Viv and Darren Stirk lived with their three children in Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire. Darren was a telecommunications engineer, Viv a school administrator, Daniella a student midwife, Emma a keen gymnast at 16 and Ben 12.
The family were born and bred Yorkshire folk and were very happy living there. But Viv was looking for better. At first it was simply a quest for better weather, but the Stirks were such an active outdoor family - the Kiwi lifestyle Viv dreamt of seemed perfect for them.
While Viv's hopes grew over the years, husband Darren took longer to come round to the idea of emigrating. But Viv knew that despite the risks, New Zealand would give her children a better life and better tomorrow. The two youngest were willing to give it a go, but eldest daughter Daniella had a much more difficult decision to face. She would be leaving her boyfriend of three and a half years.
There was a lot at stake for the Stirks. Ahead was a week that would challenge them all half a world away from their home in Yorkshire, so five years later, it's time to find out where the family call home.