Takako’s tough year


Japanese Queenstowner Takako Milburn and her loved ones back home have had a tougher year than most. 

Her parents and extended family are based in Sendai. The city was rocked by an earthquake which triggered a devastating and deadly tsunami a year ago. The disaster also left nearby nuclear power plants ruptured and leaking. 

If that wasn’t enough, just three weeks ago she found out her parents’ home was burned to the ground in a house fire after an apparent electrical fault involving the neighbouring property. 

“I’ll be doing whatever I can to help this Saturday,” Takako says, ahead of a Queenstown fundraising event being held to mark one year since the natural disaster shook Japan. 

Queenstown’s Japanese Family Society is hosting entertainment at Earnslaw Park from 10am till 2pm – money raised will go to Japan’s Red Cross. 

Takako says back home her parents are relentlessly positive despite the setbacks of the past 12 months – and she is drawing strength from that. 

They’ve been sending money every month to children who lost parents in the tsunami – and even now that they’re struggling for enough money to rebuild their home, they still send contributions to orphaned kids, Takako says. 

“I think it used to be that I saw my parents as quite weak – I didn’t want to be like my parents but after the tsunami and the house fire, I’m so happy to be one of their kids. I want to be able to have that same positive thinking that they have if something like that ever happens to us,” she says. 

Before the house fire, Takako, her husband and local Queenstown tennis coach Mark Milburn and their three kids had already booked flights to go and stay with her parents in Sendai for several months from May. 

The family plans to carry on with the trip, and join extended family now all staying at the nearby home of Takako’s sister.