GoAbroad Interview

Morgan Holyoake - Area Education Manager, Auckland

Morgan Holyoake - Area Education Manager, Auckland

Morgan joined the Au Pair Link team in June 2012. Born in Auckland, Morgan has traveled extensively and lived in a number of cities around the world, culminating in an au pair position in New York City. Morgan manages the Auckland Family and Program Manager team. When she's not working, Morgan enjoys playing sports, in particular soccer (she plays both indoor and outdoor). She also enjoys travel, trips to the beach, reading, and music.

You’re from Auckland, how did you originally get involved with Au Pair Link?

I am born and bred in Auckland and have been working in early childhood education (ECE) for around 14 years. I have worked in many different ECE services, private and public daycare, kindergarten, Kohanga reo (Maori Language center), and have been a nanny and an au pair in America. I was working in a daycare center when I bumped into an old friend at a wedding who had just started working for this “fantastic new company” and went on to tell me that I would be perfect as a family and program manager!

Next thing I knew, I received a call from them and was called in for an interview! It’s all history from there. As soon as I heard about the role, what I would be doing with children, families, and au pairs, and that there was an opportunity like this in New Zealand, I was sold! 

Indoor rock climbing in New Zealand

Indoor Rock Climbing with some au pairs

You work on the curriculum for the au pairs, and make sure they are comfortable in their placements. What is an average day like as area education manager for Auckland?

There is no average day in my role as area manager. My main role is to support my team of eight family and program managers in Auckland and help them provide a high quality curriculum and program for our families. I am on my phone a lot helping solve problems, answering emails, on the road going along to visits, playgroups, events, and orientation, and I deal with any serious issues that need higher level assistance.

A huge part of my role is managing people, and I am very passionate about building strong relationships with my team, children, families, and au pairs. I also aim to make any work environment as fun and full as energy as I can!

What advice would you give to au pairs preparing to head to New Zealand for the first time?

I have been an au pair myself in New York, so understand how exciting and scary it can be! My advice would be to not make too many plans and worry about what you will do, what it will be like, and where you will go when you get here. If you put too much pressure on yourself you overthink it and get yourself stressed out and nervous. New Zealand has everything you will need, and even though it might seem very far away it is still only a flight away from your home. I think you should be prepared for adventure, the unexpected, challenges, and lots of fun new experiences. Just remember to relax and “just go with the flow,” it’s the kiwi way!

Art volunteering in New Zealand with children

Morgan at playgroup exploring some messy play

What characteristics make an au pair successful?

I have worked with hundreds of au pairs, and to be honest it comes down to only a couple of very small things. You will be a successful au pair if you choose a family that is right for you, shares your same values, and has similar interests. You will need to be warm and affectionate toward children and know how to have fun with them. You will need to not be afraid to talk to your new host family about how you are feeling and about your role in their family. Communication and attitude are the two main ingredients for a successful placement. If you love their children, they will love you!

What kind of support can au pairs expect to receive while they are in Auckland?

Auckland has a very large network of families and au pairs, so there is always a lot happening. While here in the “City of Sails”, you will have access to many monthly organized Au Pair Link events. We do rock climbing, horse riding, ice skating, high tea, and much more. You will also have access to events and coffee groups organized by our au pair team leaders (current au pairs). We have professional development opportunities every month to support you while working with your children, and you will also have your own family and program manager that will visit you, be available via phone and email, and support you throughout your time here in New Zealand.

Woman holding a baby

Morgan enjoying some special cuddles

Where do most of Au Pair Link’s au pairs come from?

Most of our au pairs come from Western Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America.

We are very lucky to have lots of options for our host families here in New Zealand and they love being able to introduce so many different cultures into their family.

You enjoy playing sports, especially soccer. How do you make sure au pairs incorporate physical activities into their work with the children? What recommendations do you make?

Working with young children keeps you pretty active as it is. No day is the same, and you are running around a lot with them. Lots of our children already attend swimming classes, gymnastics, play ball sessions, and other sports groups. New Zealand is very big on sport and we love to give anything a go. We really try to encourage our au pairs to get out for some physical activities in their personal time as well. Going for a walk, run, or joining a local gym or sports team can really help with homesickness and it’s a great way to make new friends.

You’ve traveled the world, if you had to hop on a plane and go somewhere new, where would you want to be an au pair?

I have been to a couple of European countries, but I think the next place I would want to go and be an au pair would be Croatia. It looks so beautiful and would be a great location to access the rest of Europe.

What makes Auckland such great places for an au pair experience?

Auckland has so many different opportunities available. It is a very large city with ocean, mountains, forest, city, and farm areas, so basically everything you could need! It is also very culturally diverse.

Preparing to do tree climbing in New Zealand

Tree climbing adventure selfie with some au pairs

What can au pairs expect to take away from their time in New Zealand?

I would say after your time in New Zealand you will feel more relaxed, open minded, and ready to take on the next adventure and challenge in your life. After being an au pair, I feel you are less selfish and think about others more because you have put your children’s needs first during your time here. You will most definitely be more confident and know that no matter where in the world you are there are beautiful people and places to meet!

What has been your biggest achievement since joining the Au Pair Link team in 2012?

During my time at Au Pair Link I have achieved a lot. I am very confident with mentoring young adults now and supporting families throughout their placements with their au pairs. I don’t think I have one stand out achievement, but I did win teacher of the year at Au Pair Link last year, and have been very lucky to move up to area manager reasonably quickly during my time working here.

What is the most fulfilling part about working for Au Pair Link?

When I get to read all the learning stories the au pairs write about the children they are looking after, and the letters and nominations the families write about their awesome au pairs each month, I know why we do what we do!