The picturesque and small population of Henderson Valley in Auckland is a stark contrast from California, where Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye and her family are originally from.
Melissa, husband Joseph and their four children moved to New Zealand almost four years ago.
The busy mum is a professor in Asian studies at Auckland University and a firm believer in education, completing her Ph.D. at Harvard College on the history of the True Jesus Church, a Chinese Pentecostal church, and the history of charismatic Christian modes in China in the twentieth century.
She has also taught Chinese history and Asian history at California State University Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University, and American religious history at the University of Hong Kong.
When she was at high school, Melissa wanted to be a scientist but said she was “excited” at the opportunity to study language.
Although Melissa’s father Is Japanese and mum is Chinese, Melissa didn’t grow up speaking Chinese.
Her great grandparents immigrated to Utah, America from China in the early twentieth century.
She studied Chinese at Harvard University then went on a mission in Taichung, Taiwan where she became even more fluent in the language.
“Learning mandarin has completely changed my life,” she said.
“It has opened this entire new world into a new career path, a new place for my family to live, a new language that we can speak with my kids.
“In Taiwan as a missionary I was able to connect with my Chinese heritage. The language also allows me to help other people. It completely changed my understanding of the gospel.”
To find out more on about Melissa’s journey, click here.