Meet Rona, a physio therapist, business owner and a fiercely loyal and loving daughter, wife and friend. A hustler; she works hard, and knows how to play hard - both of which have slowed down tenfold in recent months as she welcomed baby Mila, 5 weeks, to the world. We talk about the transition into motherhood, her migration to NZ from The Middle East, cultural identity and how she hopes to raise her daughter.
Do you remember much about your time in The Middle East before you moved here?
Not a lot. I remember our house and small parts about my kindy/school. I have random memories of when we were leaving at the airport etc. I mostly remember the time we staying in Jordan after escaping out of Iraq we were there for about a year but I would have been about 7 then so memory of the house and the area we lived in is more clear.
Tell us about your move to NZ, what were those early days were like for you and your siblings?
The move was easy for us kids. We stayed with family friends when we first arrived and started school etc. I started at Wiri Primary school as an ESOL student that was before they had separate classes for ESOL students so I was in a class with everyone else but would have my own teacher. Mum and Dad worked on the farms because they couldn’t work in their qualifications as an engineer and teacher so we used to make our own way to school, and afterwards the eldery neighbours watch over us from their house to make sure we were okay. I remember mum would have a plate for each of us in the fridge for afterschool snacks- it was basically another school lunch but had fruit and yummy treats to enjoy till they got home for dinner. (As we grew older we stopped eating the fruit and only ate the treats)
They say it takes a village to raise a child, did your parents have any support here to help care for you and your siblings?
Mum and Dad didn’t have much support at all. Our caring neighbours were about it. Gradually more family and friends moved to NZ and then it was a little easier with my granddad being around he would take us to school and pick us up etc but that wasn’t until I was in late primary/early intermediate.
Share with us what it was like being an ESOL student?
I remember a lot of attention on me from the other students because I was always on my own in a corner in the classroom with my own teacher. I remember when my English started to progress I started to join mat time with my peers and always remember the first time I knew the answer to a question the teacher asked and I had the confidence to put my hand up and answer it everyone clapped and it was such a big deal for me but everyone else seemed so stoked for me from then on I didn’t shut up and they probably wish I hadn’t started speaking haha
NZ is home - How do you identify now? (e.g. Iranian kiwi, totally kiwi etc)
This is a tricky one I sometimes feel I identify differently depending who I am with or where I am. I am definitely a middle eastern kiwi ... I can still speak Aramaic and at home with family I will use Aramaic a lot in my dialogue mixed with English however when I’m with friends and my husband Hayden it is purely English so I feel I am perceived more as a kiwi than an Iraqi. I would say its even split - I take the good bits out of both and it’s pretty amazing.
Will you be making a deliberate effort to instil Chaldean culture in Mila? (Or is it casual with food, language and feeling connected to her grandparents etc)
Mila will definitely know she is Chaldean and Kiwi it wont be anything dramatic but certain customs we have, some language, her grandparents will help with this one I’m sure (otherwise they will struggle to keep up with her English haha) She will be introduced to the food early on as well so her palate will develop quickly for all the spices and herbs nana makes lol.. Even with all these casual parts of her life I think she will be more Kiwi than I am but that’s not a bad thing I will give her access and knowledge about both sides and she can choose to take what she wants from each part like my parents allowed me to do.
What does raising a mixed race baby in NZ mean to you?
I think it means I will need to work hard to make her feel she has a place in NZ even if she is not full kiwi and that her Chaldean side will add to her story but will never be a negative thing. I will make sure she knows she’s accepted in society and to never feel shamed of what she is. I think we are lucky we live in NZ were a Kiwi could mean a million things I think in other parts of the world mixed race kids may struggle but I have faith that in NZ she will blossom and bring so much joy to the people she meets in her life and be a awesome kind kiwi just as I feel my parents raised me. No anger no racial separation my parents I’m sure would see these things around them at times but they never let us experience any of it and never had any anger towards it. You know the saying think positively you will attract positive energy if they had sat there and moaned about not fitting in or not being able to speak the language or being mocked by peers etc then we would have grown up feeling the same but I have never really felt I was racial discriminated against and if there have been small mocks/remarks in the past I feel they were when we were younger and kids just doing what kids do as I have grown up I see less of that and I think that’s because I have made a life for myself and never let my background hold me back from doing things, meeting people and joining in on things that “kiwi” kids/people are doing 😊
In the wake of the attack on Christchurch, do you feel pressure as a parent to help forge a path for tomorrows generation?
I think it is so sad and scary what has happened. It reveals that there will always be a division in some peoples’ eyes. As a parent I will ensure Mila learns that a person’s heritage or religion does not determine them, each person has their own story to tell and our backgrounds, religion and cultural choices don’t make up everything that we are. I will teach her that she should always be kind to everyone regardless of these things. I want her to have a lot of friends and be loved by them like I feel I always was. Friends have a power to make us feel good and empower us and I want her to have that; the same way I did. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love, support and kindness my family, but mostly my friends have given me, and I hope they can say I have given them the same.
Talk to us about the past few weeks - Not just the birth of Mila, but the birth of a you as a mother. There is a great (under used) term Matrescene, coined by Anthropologist Dana Rafael - The process of becoming a mother, the identify shift and the physical and psychological changes that woman experience after childbirth. Do you think anyone could have prepared you for this?! (What has it been like, how you expected etc?)
OMG motherhood - what a crazy thing it is! I definitely don’t think I could have EVER prepared for this. I am so happy! I was never one of these girls that couldn’t wait to have kids; I always felt I had a lot more stuff to do before I got to the kid part. Even when Hayden and I decided we would start trying I was still thinking ‘if it takes a while at least I can go on this holiday and do this etc’ but now that she is here, I think ‘OMG you were so crazy putting it off’. It has been amazing! SHE IS AMAZING! I don’t think I have ever loved something as much as I love her. Sure, it’s hard but the stuff that is hard at the moment don’t seem important. Well maybe sleep is important but I’m sure I’ll get some sleep eventually. I have had weekend benders with no sleep before and trust me the feeling after 2-3 sleepless nights with Mila are far more rewarding than a horrible hangover!!
I thought I would care more about the physical changes, I did before having her. I had ideals of getting my body back ASAP after birth, but now that she’s here - who cares?! I still want to feel good and be strong again and I am sure my goals will change and she will be my greatest goal in life. I’m going to make sure I do my best to do good by her and make her my biggest achievement ever.
How have your thoughts about your own mama evolved?
I always knew my mum was amazing! Everyone can see it when they meet or get to know her. But now that I am a mum I realise she is beyond amazing. I didn’t always appreciate what others could see in her; I was always told that my mum is amazing ‘she’s so kind’, ‘she’s funny’, the list goes on but I just assumed everyones mum was like that. Now I realise that not all mums are like mine, she is special! She has committed all her life to being our mum and she’s made sure to do one good job of it! I couldn’t fault her in anything - She should get a prize for being the BEST MUM! Now that I can see that I want to be everything she was to me, to Mila. If I can add my own spin on that and do it in my own way then my world will be complete.
Tell us about your mum…
I could write forever but some words to describe my mum would be:
Selfless; She gave up a lot of things to bring us here and give us a future she could never have for herself and not once did she make us feel like we had taken something away from her.
Warm; Her smile, her laugh and her hug always makes things better.
Kind;She has time and energy for her family and friends always no matter,
Hardworking; She doesn’t sit still.
Funny; I know she thinks if she can make someone laugh or add laughter into their world she has done a good job in making that person a little happier for a few seconds.
What is your favourite part about her?
Her resilience. She has been through a lot and has come out the other end tougher than ever! I hope I have some of that.
What is the best thing she has handed down / passed on to you? (quality, lesson or attribute)
Definitely her humour and kindness.
Tell us about your daughter Mila
She is an adorable, delicious little newborn and I can’t believe Hayden and I made her!! She will be so loved by everyone around her! I know she will be great
And the vales you hope to instil in her
I will teach her to be kind. To smile, laugh & dance every day. I will teach that If you set your mind to do something and you will be able to achieve it. To think positive and good things will follow and most importantly I will teach her to never let anyone make you feel less than what you are.
INTRODUCING Anahed Asmaro, Rona's mum.
Packing up home in The Middle East almost twenty years ago, we chat with Anahed about the move and why it is so special to have a kiwi grandchild
What motivated your migration to NZ
After the Gulf War in Iraq, we decided to leave and move to a safer and more peaceful place. My husband’s siblings and their families moved to Sydney, so we followed them. However, Australia was starting to accept less immigrants, so we had to choose somewhere else. My husband found out about NZ, and actually went to the library to check out some books on NZ, and we thought it was perfect for raising our kids.
Arriving with a few weeks’ provisions, what happened next?
It was a struggle at first, due to the fact that our qualifications and experience were not ‘recognized’ here, and for us to practice engineering and teaching, it meant we had to go through university again, even after years of experience in Iraq. So, we had to quickly adapt and figure out other things to do for income. Language was also a huge barrier.
And what does life look like now?
Life is very good now, we have settled in and are proud to call NZ our home, we couldn’t have picked a better place to raise our kids, and they’ve now all grown up and become very successful.
Tell us a bit about bringing up your children in New Zealand and what that looked like to you.
Although NZ was perfect for our kids, it was initially hard adapting to the different culture here, we did our best to ensure we are there for them and provide them with everything they need to have a good childhood here, and encouraged them to really push themselves at school. My husband started teaching them maths and science after school as well, to ensure they don’t just rely on the teachers and curriculum at school, which wasn’t of the best “quality” when they were attending lower decile schools, due to our initial struggle with income when we first moved here.
Congratulations on becoming a grandmother! Mila is simply divine. What is it like watching Rona become a mother?
It fills me with joy watching Rona with Mila, and I know she is going to be an amazing mother. And I’m glad I’m there to be able to help her out and support her where I can.
What does having Chaldean-Kiwi grandchildren mean to you?
I think it’s beautiful, we really value different cultures, and it has been so special being able to get together with Hayden’s side of the family and share our different cultures and experiences together. It is a very rare mix indeed, Chaldeans stemmed from a very ancient civilization, that rarely ever mixes with other cultures in terms of intimate relationships; I think that is what makes it so special.
Rona wears Freddie baby bag in black and Anahed wears Big Sis Tilly in Navy. Shop the full Mother's Day Edit HERE
SHOP TAX FREE AS YOU DEPART AUCKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Going Places? Ensure you add Saben to your pre-flight itinerary. Our store is situated in departures, after security. Shop S275 past the escalators. Open every day 4.30am until midnight. Our full collection of handbags, wallets and accessories is on offer including carry-on suitcase to ensure you travel with stylish ease. If there is something on your wish-list now, but your flight isn’t for a while, we recommend you utilise our click and collect service via TheMall.co.nz to ensure you secure your favourite style. Simply purchase now and pick up on your way through. Ready to shop all your favourite Saben styles tax free? All you need now is a boarding pass.
For more info please call 09 533 9406 or email email@example.com
SHOP TAX FREE ONLINE via TheMall.co.nz
Take advantage of Auckland Airports online click and collect service. You can now shop Saben tax free online via Themall.co.nzbefore you depart and collect your new goodies as you travel. Pick up before you take off OR pick up as you return home – ideal if you don’t have space to take your new work handbag on holiday, or your new evening clutch backpacking through Nepal.
Picking up a new Saben to welcome you home? Sounds like the perfect cure to post-holiday-blues!
HOW TO SHOP TAX FREE ONLINE with Auckland Airport The Mall
Shop Online at themall.aucklandairport.co.nz
Pick your pieces and add them to your cart, select your pick up preference: arrivals or as you depart, apply your flight information and click through to check out. You will be asked for passport details as you proceed to payment.
Receive an order confirmation email
After placing your order, you will receive an order confirmation email for each flight you have purchased for. Please keep this email safe as you will need to be able to show it when you pick up your items at the Auckland Airport Collection Point.
If your flight details change please contact THE MALL directly so they can update your order or if you miss collecting your order, so we can notify our retailers to arrange a return and refund.
Bring your email to the Collection Point
Orders can be picked up at an Auckland Airport Collection Point. There is one in departures and one in arrivals at the International Terminal. Please bring your order confirmation email and your passport for identification purposes.
Where to collect when departing from Auckland Airport
If you choose to collect on departure, you'll find the Auckland Airport Collection Point once you have cleared immigration and security screening, just past The Loop and Aelia Duty Free stores. Departures Collection Point is open from 4:30am to 1:30am NZST.
Where to collect when arriving into Auckland Airport
If you choose to collect on arrival, you’ll find the Auckland Airport Collection Point after clearing immigration, in the baggage claim hall, opposite baggage belt 3. Arrivals Collection Point is open from 5:30am to 2:30am NZST.
Pick up your order and enjoy!
The Collection Point team will ask you to inspect your items and sign for them. If you are travelling on a flight departing AKL International Airport we request you allow at least 60 minutes prior to your departure time to pick up your order.
Collection Point locations
DEPARTURES: next door Partridge Jewellers in departures.
ARRIVALS: after you clear immigration, in the baggage claim hall, opposite baggage belt 3.
Orders can be picked up from your chosen Auckland Airport Collection Point during these standard hours:
Departures: +64 9 256 8845
Arrivals: +64 9 255 9457
Fax: +64 9 256 8819
All prices are shown in NZ dollars. Your shopping cart displays the goods you have purchased.Discount codes & any shipping costs are calculated during checkout, before payment. Tax Free orders may be subject to local taxes or duties depending on the Tax Free allowance of the country you are entering.
We accept Visa and Mastercard credit card payments via Shopify Payments and via Paypal. Shopify and Paypal are both secure and encrypted and your credit card number will not be stored. You do not need a PayPal account to pay by credit card using Paypal.
All orders are processed pending availability and credit verification.
For Tax-free purchases we deliver your purchase to Auckland Airport within 3 business days of receipt of payment and will phone you if there are any delays. Your confirmation email will have instructions on the pick up location at Auckland Airport.
We take no responsibility for charges or delays incurred at receiver’s end as this can vary depending on the rules of customs in each country.
We do not accept returns for items outside of New Zealand, we are unable to support exchanges through our online store
Zip allows us to offer you an 'Own it now, pay later' option for online and in store purchases through installment payments. Pay in 4. Interest free. No fees.
All Terms & Conditions relating to Zip are within the above links. To pay via Zip select Zip as the payment option instead of Paypal in the checkout process. Saben is not liable for any late payment fees collected by Zip. By using Zip you enter into an agreement with Zip New Zealand.
FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING ON ALL NZ ORDERS - Offer valid only for customers shipping to a New Zealand address.
Orders placed on weekdays before 10AM New Zealand Standard Time Monday - Friday will begin processing straight away and can be guaranteed delivery between 1 - 3 business days* unless otherwise stated, however those that fall after 10AM New Zealand Standard Time Monday - Friday will begin processing straight away but cannot be guaranteed for the overnight delivery.
Orders placed on Friday after 2 PM NZST will begin processing on the following Monday.
Saben will contact via email if the merchandise you have selected is not currently in stock or if we require additional information for credit verification. Please note that estimated delivery time does not include Sundays or Public Holidays.
You may be required to pay further shipping charges where a change in delivery date or delivery address is requested by you.
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Possible delays: Please note, that we are unable to deliver to PO boxes as we require a signature upon delivery.
AUSTRALIA - $30NZ
Australian deliveries will arrive 3 to 10 days working using NZ Post, International Air. Tracked Australian deliveries will arrive 2 to 7 working days using NZ Post, International Economy Courier.
REST OF WORLD- $45NZ
Deliveries to all other destinations will arrive 3 to 10 days working using NZ Post, International Air. Tracked deliveries will arrive 2 to 7 working days using NZ Post, International Economy Courier.
All international orders please note, that once your order has left New Zealand it may be subject to customs clearance procedures which can cause delays beyond original delivery estimates. Inside of New Zealand you will not incur any duties or taxes however for orders travelling outside of New Zealand, please note that Saben will not be responsible for any customs or duties taxes that occur once your item has left us.
Please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding a shipment
Immune your bag!
Using a protective spray should be the very first thing you do when you receive your bag: All bags, whether they are suede or leather, need to be protected with a water proofer before use (stay away from the oil based versions). Saben recommends Wrens Total Protector Spray, this is an invisible waterproofing spray for all smooth, suede and nubuck leathers. It can be purchased from your nearest Saben retailer, online or at any shoe repair store.
Reapply protector every 3-4 weeks to keep the leather soft and resilient.
NEVER overfill your handbag or evening bag, as this can put stress on seams, fastenings and straps and spoil the shape. Please try hard to keep the load reasonable.
Light leathers should be treated with extreme care – denim and dye can (and probably will) rub off on to the leather with no easy way of removing. Ensure your denim is colour fast.
White Handbags are extremely sensitive to light, and the leather will turn yellow if it is exposed for too long to spotlights, fluorescent lamps, etc.
Avoid handling your bag after applying foundation, perfume, body or hand creams, this will stain the leather.
Do not place your Saben bag on the floor, use a handbag hook. Any tough surfaces will possibly scratch the leather.
Wearing a bag often will inevitably result in rub marks, where the leather brushes against clothing etc. Saben recommends you swap your bags often to avoid constant rubbing and wear on one bag.
For stronger leathers (nappa or pull-up), moisturise your bag with a product like Wrens Delicate Gel. A mild yet effective cleaning gel, it cleans and nourishes all kinds of leather such as smooth, patent and metallic and gives a natural shine after buffing. Be sure to test any care products on a spot of the leather not easily visible e.g. Inside seam or pocket.
Always apply cleaning and protective product to a soft cloth, not directly on the bag.
If you find you have stains that need removing Wrens Ultimate Cleanser is tough on stains and gentle on leather and its fibres, perfect for removing dirt and water stains.
Suede leather handbags should be regularly brushed with a soft suede brush. Minor stains and marks may be removed with a suede eraser. The leather should retain its colour and appearance if it is regularly treated with a water proofer. These preparations make the leather water repellent, and in particular, impart grease and dust repellence.
Suede that has been rain-marked should be allowed to dry naturally and then brushed up with a suede brush. For serious stains, it is best to see a professional. When storing suede, wrap leather handles or straps in cloth so they do not rest against the suede and leave blotches.
Leather does not like water. Wipe off a wet leather handbag immediately and let air dry. Never use a blow dryer to dry a bag.
If your bag has a chain handle, dirt may accumulate in the chain links causing it to come off on your shoulder. You can avoid this by cleaning the chain with a small tooth brush or the corner of a soft cloth. Always store the chain inside the bag to avoid any scratching or indentations on the leather.
Brass or silverware cleaner will keep your fittings looking shiny. Take care not to get any on the bag!
Keep fasteners and zips running smoothly by running pencil lead over the open teeth.
Do not hang bags in storage; they are best kept in the packing bag supplied with, lying flat or standing upright and stuffed.
To help your bag keep its shape, it is best to stuff your bag with cloth or bubble wrap to keep it safe in storage. When not in use, store your bag out of direct sunlight and do not place light colours next to dark colours as this can cause colour migration, which is irreversible.
Take your bags out regularly and let them ‘breathe’ to prevent any dust and mildew forming.
We will repair your handbag at no charge for the first 90 days after purchase.
If you purchased a bag from us on-line that requires repair, please contact us on 09 376 1007 or send an email to email@example.com.
If you purchased your bag from a retailer, please first try to contact them regarding your repair.
If there is a fault or issue with a bag we must first assess the repair either by photos or in person. As each individual bag is made by hand, from time to time faults occur in the manufacturing process. Saben bags are built for longevity and in an effort to make sustainable fashion – we always opt to repair first.
Our repair process follows a 3-step procedure:
1. If we can REPAIR the fault/damage we reserve the right to first REPAIR the bag.
2. If we can’t repair, the bag and we believe it is fault of manufacture we will REPLACEwith the same or similar bag.
3. If we can’t replace the item, we will REFUND.Repairs are free for 90 days after the purchase date. Thereafter, we charge a repair fee which is based on the type of repair. To have a bag repaired you must first obtain a proof of purchase. Bags will not be accepted without a receipt.
We hope that you are completely satisfied with your order. If for any reason you wish to return your order or a portion of it, please notify us within 7 days of receiving your order.We are happy to refund the full purchase price minus the cost of shipping of any item returned in its original condition after such notification.
Sale items are not eligible for returns or exchanges for any reason.
Returns not sent in their original condition, without a proof of purchase, or past 7 days will be accepted at our discretion only.
We do not accept returns for items shipped outside of New Zealand, we are unable to support exchanges through our online store.
If a package does not arrive, or it arrives damaged, please contact us within fourteen days from confirmation of dispatch to claim insurance on the item. We will require your details, the details of the item that was lost, and the tracking number we sent you with confirmation of dispatch. If a damaged item has arrived we require it to be returned to the postal authority in your country as near as possible in the same condition as when it was delivered.
We will then replace your item free of charge.
• the item is seized by Customs or any other government agency.
• the item is sent to a country where no postal or courier service exists.
• the loss or damage is the result of an event beyond our reasonable control.
• the loss or damage occurs after delivery.
• the item was authorized to be sent without tracking or without insurance.
SECTION 1 - WHAT DO WE DO WITH YOUR INFORMATION?
When you purchase something from our store, as part of the buying and selling process, we collect the personal information you give us such as your name, address and email address.
When you browse our store, we also automatically receive your computer’s internet protocol (IP) address in order to provide us with information that helps us learn about your browser and operating system.
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SECTION 2 – CONSENT
When you provide us with personal information to complete a transaction, place an order, arrange for a delivery or return a purchase, we imply that you consent to our collecting it and using it for that specific reason only. If we ask for your personal information for a secondary reason, like marketing, we will either ask you directly for your expressed consent, or provide you with an opportunity to say no. We may disclose your personal information if we are required by law to do so or if you violate our Terms of Service.
SECTION 3 – SHOPIFY
Our store is hosted on Shopify Inc. They provide us with the online e-commerce platform and payment processing that allows us to sell our products and services to you. Your data is stored through Shopify’s data storage, databases and the general Shopify application. They store your data on a secure server behind a firewall. When you click on links on our store, they may direct you away from our site. We are not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites and encourage you to read their privacy statements.
SECTION 4 – PAYMENT
Shopify Payments and the other third-party provider used by us (Paypal) will only collect, use and disclose your information to the extent necessary to allow them to perform the payment services they provide to us. They do not store your credit card details unless you choose to do that.
You do not need an account with them to pay by credit card – you can pay as a guest.
SECTION 5 – SECURITY
To protect your personal information, we take reasonable precautions and follow industry best practices to make sure it is not inappropriately lost, misused, accessed, disclosed, altered or destroyed.
Shopify & Saben will not see your credit card details.
SECTION 6 – COOKIES
If you have any queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sabenettes xx