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Meet Primary School Teacher Jess Brocas

Jess Brocas and partner Rob chose Stratford two years ago when Rob secured a job with the Taranaki Regional Council. The move from Christchurch was on the cards pre-earthquake and they put down their roots in Stratford. "We got here, started exploring and couldn't bring ourselves to try anywhere else."

jess brocas

When asked what is the best part of the Stratford community Jess says, "What made it for me was the people. Within days of being here I could walk down the street and have a conversation with a friendly local. The community has been so incredibly welcoming and embracing. I never once felt lonely. I've only ever lived in big cities so the change to a small farming community was fresh, new and exciting. I'm still learning things about rural life. Now I have an amazing base of support, friends and colleagues who I absolutely cherish, and it just keeps building because that's the nature of this place. Of course, as well as the people, Stratford is a relaxed, beautiful part of the country, with so much outdoors to take in, the sight of Taranaki has become a treasured anchor for me. The walks and tracks on, around, and following the Patea River are laden with native flora and fauna (one of my passions). There also top notch sports facilities here that blow me away. Its easy to find yourself playing a number of sports both socially and competitively throughout all seasons. The beauty of a place like Stratford is you feel welcome the moment you arrive, and then, the longer you stay the more opportunities open themselves up to, its just a matter of taking the plunge."

Meet the Rohe-Robinson Family

Meet Dave Rohe and Sharon Robinson and their four children Hannah, Sarah, William, and Roselle. Roselle (20) is on a semester exchange from Waikato University to the University of California at Berkeley. Hannah (20) is at UCOL in Palmerston North. Sarah (18) and Will (15) both attend Stratford High School.

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When asked how they came to New Zealand and found Stratford, Dave says, "After a month long tour of New Zealand in July 2002, Sharon, who had qualified as a midwife in 2000 looked at many possibilities for places to practice as a midwife. The choices ranged from Whangerei to Queenstown and many, many, places in between. Stratford won out in the end because of the size of the town and friendliness of people we met here."

Sharon says, "We came to Stratford from the United States, via Cambodia. On the way we spent 2 1/2 years in Cambodia where we volunteered as physiotherapists. During that time Hannah and Sarah mostly learned Khmer language, and terrorized their nanny. We welcomed Sok Chan Vibol (William Paul Rohe) into the family just before we moved to New Zealand."

The couple say the best thing about being part of the Stratford community is that we have been wholeheartedly accepted into the community. We love the closeness we have felt from the people here, their generosity, welcoming our polyglot family amongst them. We enjoy the fact that we can participate in as much or little of Stratford life as we want, and being natural joiners, we have found that we often over-commit ourselves. There has never been a time when there was "nothing to do" since we moved here. Some of the main attractions for us have been the Stratford on Stage theatre society, the schools (Stratford has one of the best, if not the absolute best primary school in the country in Stratford Primary), sports activities for the whole family, and farm and urban activities. The kids have participated in live stage shows for schools, as well as for Stratford on Stage, sports activities, Pony Club, shown calves for farm friends at A&P shows, milked cows, helped us raise pigs and chickens, and gone to proms and balls. It's all here in Stratford, if you want it. We have never lived in a locale the size of Stratford with the opportunities for all our family that we have here. We love it as home.