Shigeko Kurihara and her husband, Shigeo, first came to New Zealand on their honeymoon in 1983.

The newly-wed couple had friends who had been living in New Zealand, heard great things and booked a three-week holiday.

They fell in love with the country and the couple moved to Christchurch with their children in 1989 after becoming disillusioned with the number of nuclear power plants in Japan and the country's intense education system. "We decided our family was against nuclear power stations after the 1986 [Chernobyl] nuclear disaster. We were very worried. There are now 54 nuclear power plants [in Japan]," she said.

She remains concerned about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which occurred after a nuclear power plant was struck by a tsunami on March 11, 2011, and how the government in her homeland continued to tell the population it was safe to live near the plant.


The move to New Zealand represented a huge break in tradition for Mrs Kurihara whose family history dates back more than 500 years in Shimonoseki, a city located in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Shimonoseki, known as the "fugu capital", is the largest harvester of pufferfish in Japan.

Mrs Kurihara said Shimonoseki was a port-city similar to Tauranga but had three times the population.

Mrs Kurihara said she was a Christian but her parents were Buddhist and Shinto.

It was common in Japan for families to follow more than one religion or to mix and change religions. "Almost all Japanese families could be both. Funerals could be Shinto but weddings would be Buddhist," Mrs Kurihara said.

The family has lived on a lifestyle block on the border of Papamoa and Te Puke for the past 10 years. She and her husband have three children, two living overseas and one in the Bay.

Mrs Kurihara said she loves living in the Bay because it has a similar climate to that back home in Japan. She has 20 chickens and collects eggs every morning.