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London, Moscow, Paris, Mangawhai


Anita We’ve all seen the T-shirts inviting us to ‘pick the odd city out’ but in the case of Mangawhai’s globetrotting governess there is no odd one out. All of these exotic destinations and more feature prominently in the life of Anita Nowell who, post-school, passed nanny and early childhood education training that later led her on a whirlwind 13 year expedition among the rich and royal that most could only dream about.

However, behind it all we find a quintessential Kiwi girl, happy to be in Mangawhai with husband Jason Archibald and 7-month-old daughter Jessica, representing Mangawhai at Friday night netball in Wellsford, and treasurer of Mangawhai Toy Library.

Anita’s OE in 2000 took her to London working for investment bankers for three years before landing a short term position as governess to the children of the King and Queen of Jordan. This led to 10 years in Europe, the Middle East and Asia in similar positions for the Prime Minister of Qatar, the King and Queen of Malaysia, the ruling families of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and a royal family residing in France. Then finally one year in Russia employed by an oligarch.

The grand total is 53 different countries visited, working and living in 13 and often accompanying royal parents visiting several countries in one week depending on where children were being schooled. Employed largely in the Middle East, Anita is fluent in Arabic, Malay, and French, “and now I am learning Maori” she says with a laugh admitting that learning Arabic was her biggest test.

Experience means Anita is adamant that children are children the world over.

“Regardless of the status of their parents – and some will play on this – royal children, like any others, don’t want to eat their dinner, don’t want to take a bath and don’t want to go to bed when they are told,” says Anita, displaying some of the psychology needed to play the parent/child game. “You need to become au fait with their language and customs fairly quickly to counter their little quirks and to make life fun for them and you.”

Husband Jason Archibald had their Mangawhai home built eight years ago and the couple moved permanently from Auckland last year prior to the birth of their daughter. Now, with Jessica out of the little baby stage, Anita keeps herself busy as treasurer of the Mangawhai Toy Library (MTL) along with colleagues Cara Shields (president) and Kirsty Wild (secretary).

“We would like to thank the previous committee members of MTL for their years of dedication,” says Anita. “Staff changes are a natural progression as children advance to school age.”

The toy library is a charity operating from Rose Madsen Cottage at the Domain in Moir St. It is entirely independent of Plunket but for convenience to parents will trial opening on a Monday at the same time as Plunket nurse Cynthia Keay’s clinics.

A fundraising Jason and Jessica Archibald golf tournament is being hosted at Mangawhai Golf Club on Sunday May 4 with all proceeds going to MTL. Sponsors are ANZ Whangarei, Jason Archibald and family, and Harvest Café. Other local businesses are invited to donate to the prize table.

“And we're always on the lookout for good quality, pre-loved, toys, learning activities and puzzles for the under five-year population of Mangawhai,” adds Anita.

For more information please follow Mangawhai Toy Library on Facebook or contact Anita on 021 078 5191 or anita@royalgoverness.com

GLOBETROTTER: Anita Nowell, pictured with 7-month-old daughter Jessica, has settled back into community life in Mangawhai after a decade as governess to children of the rich and royal. around the world.

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