British family finds a haven in the “beautiful new planet” of Fofoa Island, Vava’u

    An island in Vava’u has been described by a British family who moved there eight years ago as a “haven” and a “beautiful new planet”.

    British architect and television presenter Kevin McCloud told the story of Boris and Karyn von Engelbrechten who moved to the island of Fofoa in Vava’u in the first episode of Escape to the Wild, which started screening recently in New Zealand on TV3.

    The family and their three sons fulfilled their dreams of quitting city life in the UK to build a new life on the other side of the world.

    They moved to Tonga in 2007 and built a home on the beach before operating a guesthouse business.

    Karyn started the preschool, Utu Ha Loto Poto in the village of Hunga in 2009. The family donates two percent of their income from the guest house to support the teachers and children.

    Fofoa three
    The von Engelbrechtens  want to leave the Western World. They want their children to feel free in nature. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    McCloud travelled for five days from the UK before he arrived on Fofoa Island to investigate why the family chose to live in an area that was prone to cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

    After arriving in Neiafu, the main island of Vava’u, he was picked up by Boris and Karyn and their sons in their dinghy.

    As the boat approached the beach of Fofoa, McCloud noticed the colour of the water change as it became shallower.

    “Oh my Lord, the water changed colour,” a surprised McCloud said.

    “That’s not real. It’s like looking at stained glass.”

    Fofoa four
    Boris and Karyn von Engelbrechten. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    He was greeted at the beach with a kahoa kakala (Tongan necklace of fragrance flowers) in which Karyn said “Welcome to Fofoa.”

    McCloud described the family’s beach house as “phenomenal.”

    He was clearly impressed by the magnificence of what he saw and asked whether or not the building materials were imported from Europe.

    “This is impressive this is beautiful. This one and the floor you made – where did you get these from, Germany? Denmark?” McCloud asked.

    In response, Boris laughed and said they were made from the core wood of coconut trees in their garden.

    Fofoa eight
    It is an isolated life they choose to live. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    McCloud then commented on the materials he saw in the home which were made from the natural resources available to the family on the island.

    “You made it from the stuff out there. You know what I mean – the wilderness,” McCloud said.

    “Every timber post, every bit of floorboard, every screen, every bit of joinery, every bit of wall every detail and fish and fishing had to be made from stuff which is processed and refined from trees and rock,” he said.

    “Very beautiful.”

    Fofoa five

    Isolation

    McCloud said Karyn and Boris lived such an isolated life that their emotional resolve had to be unshakable.

    “There is a lot of pressure on a marriage I think out here.” Karyn said.

    “We rely on each other. Boris has to be my best friend, my husband. You know if you have an argument you have to deal with it.”

    The family’s way of life depends on being able to meet the basic necessities.

    “One of the interesting things in living on an island like this is to discover how people manage off grid. How easy is it?” McCloud asked.

    Fofoa two
    The von Engelbrechten having an evening picnic at the beach with Kevin McCloud. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    The family’s electricity comes from solar panels that power lighting appliances and the VHF radio they use for contact with other islanders.

    Most vital of all is the clean drinking water, which on an island like Fofoa is a precious resource.

    The family house is supplied by a gravity-fed system that draws water from rain tanks through home made pipes.

    Safety/Protection

    Life in paradise comes at a price, however.

    The family has also built a bunker where they can shelter from hurricanes and tsunamis.

    Fofoa ten
    Karyn says she does not follow a certain curriculum when teaching their kids but she makes sure they achieve the level of skills they suppose to study according to their various ages. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    During the making of the documentary, McCloud was persuaded to help erect a wind turbine to back up the solar panels as an electricity generator.

    The children are home schooled, something Karyn said she found difficult.

    Although they are part of the local network of fishermen and islanders, loneliness is a factor they have to cope with.

    Karyn admitted she missed her family and also friends in the UK.

    “I miss those special occasions, birthdays, those events that are really important and Christmas day is not really a good day out here, but it is the choices you make,” she said.

    Fofoa 21
    The von Engelbrechten having dinner with Kevin McCloud. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    Other members of the family have also found it difficult.

    The von Engelbrechten’s oldest son Jack has found the isolation too much.

    Karyn said Jack was not finding enough stimulation on the island and there were things he wanted to do that simply weren’t available in Tonga.

    Regretfully, the family decided to enrol him in a boarding school in New Zealand.

    You can watch this episode on the TV3 website on the site listed below.

    Fofoa 20
    The beautiful beach house was built by Boris who has no formal building training and entirely selftaught. Photo/Escape to the Wild Documentary

    The main points

    • An island in Vava’u has been described by a British family who moved there eight years ago as a “haven” and a “beautiful new planet.”
    • British architect and television presenter Kevin McCloud told the story of Boris and Karyn von Engelbrechten who moved to the island of Fofoa in Vava’u in the first episode of Escape to the Wild, which started screening recently on TV3 after premiering on Channel 4 in the UK.
    • The family and their three sons fulfilled their dreams of quitting city life in the UK to build a new life on the other side of the world.
    • They moved to Tonga in 2007 and built a home on the beach before operating a guesthouse business.

    For more information

    Watch Kevin McCloud’s Escape to the Wild (TV3)

    Fancy quitting the rat race to live on a remote island? (The Telegraph)

    Escape to the Wild episode guide (Channel 4)

    1 COMMENT

    1. Ma’u ‘e ha fāmili Pilitānia ha hēvani ʻi he palanite fakaʻofoʻofa foʻou ʻo e motu ko ia ko Fofoa ʻi Vavaʻu.

      Kuo fakamatalaʻi ʻe ha fāmili Pilitānia ne nau hiki atu ʻi ha taʻuʻaki ʻe valu ha motu ʻi Vavaʻu ko e hēvani mo ha palanite fakafoʻou fakaʻofoʻofa.

      Ne talanoaʻi ʻe he tangata fakamafola televīsone mo ʻakiteki Pilitānia ko ia ko Kevin McCloud ʻa e talanoa ki he fāmili ʻo Boris mo Kyryn von Engelbrecthen ʻi he ʻuluaki ʻepisouti ʻo ʻene polokalama televīsone ko e Escape to the Wild ʻa ia ne toki kamata leleʻi ki muí ni mai ʻi he TV3 ʻa Nuʻu Silá ni.

      Kuo aʻusia e misi ʻa e fāmilí ni mo hona ngaahi foha ʻe toko tolu ʻa ia ko hono siʻaki ʻa e moʻui ʻi he sití kae hiki ʻo faʻu ha moʻui foʻou ʻi he tafaʻaki ʻe taha ʻo e māmaní.

      Ne hiki atu ʻa e fāmilí ni ʻi he 2007 ki Tonga ʻo langa ai honau ʻapi ʻi ha matātahi ki muʻa pea fakalele ʻenau pisinisi fale taliʻanga kakai.

      Ne kamataʻi ai ʻe Karyn ʻa e ako tokamuʻa Utu Ha Loto Potó ʻi Hunga ʻi he 2009. ʻOku fakamoleki ʻe he fāmilí ni ʻa e pēseti ʻe 2 ʻo e paʻanga ʻoku maʻu mei heʻenau pisinisi fale tali kakaí ke tokoniʻi e kau faiako mo e fānau ako he akoʻangá ni.

      Ne feʻunga mo e ʻaho ʻe nima e fononga ʻa McCloud mei Pilitānia Lahi pea ne toki tūʻuta hake ki Fofoa ke fakatotoloʻi angé ko e hā e ʻuhinga kuo fili ai ʻa e fāmilí ni ke nofo ʻi he feituʻu ʻoku tuʻu laveangofua ki he saikolone, sunami, mofuike pehē ki he puna ʻa e moʻunga afí.

      Hili ʻene tūʻuta ki Neiafú ne fakaheka ia mei ai ʻe Boris mo Karyn mo hona ngaahi fohá ʻi hanau vaka.
      Ne fakaofi atu e vaká ki he matātahi ʻo Fofoá kuo kilofi ʻe McCloud ʻa e liliu ʻa e lanu ʻo e tahi koeʻuhī ko ʻene ʻalu ke mamaha angé.

      Ne fakaofoofo ai ʻa e tangatá ni mo ne kaila kuo sioʻata petepete ʻatā e lanu ʻo e vaí.

      ʻI heʻemau tūʻutá ne talitali māfana ia ʻe Karyn ʻaki ha kahoa kakala mei he ngaahi kakala talā ʻo e motú mo ne fakalea ange kia McCloud – Talitali fiefia koe ki Fofoa!

      Ne hanga ʻe McCloud ʻo fakamatalaʻi ʻa e fale tuʻu matātahi ʻo e fāmilí ni ʻo pehē ʻoku – kehe atu pe hono fakaʻofoʻofá.

      Ne mahino ʻaupito ʻene ofoofo ʻi he manumanumelia ʻo e meʻa ne ne sio tonu aí mo ne ʻeke ange pe ko ha ʻomi mei ʻIulope ʻa e koloa ne fai ʻaki ʻenau langá.

      Ka ʻi he tali ʻa Boris ne ne kata pe mo ne pehē ange ko e ngaohi kotoa pe ia mei he niu ʻo e vaó.

      Ne fakatumutumu ʻa McCloud he lava ke faʻu ha ngaahi meʻa fakaʻofoʻofa pehē mei he ngaahi koloa fakanatula ʻoku maʻu he vao ʻo e motú.

      Ne ne fakalau ai ʻa e ngaahi tufunga ʻa Boris ne fatu mei he ngaahi ʻakau vaó ni ʻo hangē ko e pou, faliki papa ʻo e falé, ko e puipui, ngaahi meʻa fakamaʻu ki he matapā hange ko e kau, ko e holisi, meʻa toutai, ngaahi meʻa ni kotoa fakatatau kia McCloud ko e foʻu pe ia mei he ʻakau mo e maka ʻo e motú.

      Fakaʻofoʻofa ʻaupito, ko ʻene laú ia.

      Ko e tuʻunga e moʻui ʻa Boris mo Karyn ʻi he lau ʻa McCloud ko e nofo motu moʻoni ʻo motu mānoa ia mei he kakaí.

      Ko ha faingataʻa leva ʻe ala hoko ʻi hona vaá ʻe pau ke matuʻaki vete fakaekinaua ʻi he femahinoʻaki mo e fefalalaʻaki.

      Pehē foki ʻe Karyn ʻoku lahi pe ngaahi faingataʻa ʻi he nofo malí he motú.

      ʻOkú ma fefalalaʻaki pe. Ko Boris ʻa hoku kaumeʻa lelei tahá, hoku husepānití. Ke ʻilo pe kapau ʻe hoko ha fakafekiki kuopau ke ma fakaleleiʻi, ko e lau ia ʻa Karyn.

      Ko e moʻui ʻa e fāmilí ʻoku fakafalala ʻi he ngaahi fiemaʻu angamahení.

      Ko e taha e meʻa mālie taha ʻi he nofo ʻi ha motu ko hono ʻilo ai e anga e moʻui ʻikai fakafalala ʻi he ngaahi maʻuʻanga ivi tefito ʻa ha kakai hangē ko e vai, ʻuhila mo e telefoni.

      Ka ko e meʻa mahuʻinga taha ʻeni ʻi he motu ko ia ko Fofoa ko e ʻi ai pē maʻuʻanga vai tonu ʻa e fāmilí mo e ʻuhila mei he iviʻi laʻaá pehē ki he letiō VHF ʻoku nau fakaʻaongaʻi ke fetuʻutaki ai mo e kakai mei he ngaahi motu kehé.

      Ko e vaí ʻoku maʻu ia hili hano pamuʻaki ʻo ha sisitemi fakakalāvite ki he ngaahi tangikē pea toki fakapaipa ai ʻo tufaki ke ngāueʻaki.

      Ka ʻoku ʻi ai pe hono faingataʻa foki ʻo e nofo palataisí.

      Kuo langa ai ʻe he fāmilí ha fale toitoiʻanga ke nau hao ki ai ʻo ka tō ha faingataʻa hangē ko e afā mo e peau kulá.

      Lolotonga hono faitaaʻi ʻo e tokiumeniteli ko ʻení ne kole ai ʻe Boris kia McCloud ke ne tokoni ange ke na fokotuʻu ki ʻolunga ʻa e tuʻunga tapili ki hono pamu ʻo e maʻuʻanga iviʻi ʻuhila ki heʻenau senoleitá.

      Ko ʻena fānaú ʻoku nau ako pe ʻi ʻapi ʻo faiako pe ʻa Karyn.

      Ka neongo foki ʻoku ʻi ai pe ʻenau fengāueʻaki mo e kau toutai ʻo e motú ka ʻoku hoko pe ʻa e ongoʻi taʻelatá ko ha meʻa ke feingaʻi ke mataʻofia.
      Ne pehē ʻe Karyn kuo mole meiate ia hono fāmilí mo hono ngaahi kaungāmeʻa ʻi Pilitāniá.

      ʻA e ngaahi meʻa angamaheni ʻoku hoko hangē ko e faiʻaho pea oku hoko ʻa e ʻAho Kilisimasí ko e ʻaho kovi heni ka ko e meʻa foki pe te kuo fili ki ai, ko ʻene fakamatalá ia.

      ʻOku faingataʻaʻia tatau pe ʻoku huki he toenga ʻo e fāmilí.

      Ko e foha lahi ʻo e ongo von Engelbrechten ʻa Siaki ʻoku mahino ʻene ongoʻi lieʻkiná.

      Pehē foki ʻe Karyn ʻoku mahino pe ʻa e ʻikai ha toe meʻa fakaʻaiʻai ange ki he moʻui ʻa Siakí ʻi he motú pea ne ʻi ai e ngaahi meʻa ne totonu ke ne fai ka ʻoku ʻikai maʻu ia ʻi Tonga.

      Pea meʻapango ia kae fefē ne pau ai ke na fakahū ʻa Siaki ke ako nofomaʻu ʻi Nuʻu Sila.
      Te ke lava ʻo mamataʻi ʻa e talanoa ko ʻení ʻi he uepi ʻa e TV3

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