AMERICAN influencer and doctor Danielle Jones has been overwhelmed with the support and kindness she has received from Kiwis.
The YouTuber, known as Mama Doctor Jones, has 2.5 million followers across her platforms and she has gained popularity on social media for her videos discussing taboo health topics.
Last month, she moved to Invercargill to start a job as a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Southland Hospital.
Settled in and appreciating the laid-back lifestyle of her new home, Dr Jones believed the move was the right one for her career and family.
However, prior to that, she felt a bit worried after hearing some negative comments about the city.
“I wasn’t worried about anything until people on the internet sort of started to tell us that [Invercargill] was horrible.
“But then we got here and, honestly, we felt the opposite – this is beautiful! People are wonderful and overwhelmingly kind.”
Dr Jones’ connection with New Zealand started a decade ago when she and her American husband Donnie Jones decided to spend their holidays in the North Island.
“We just fell in love.
“My husband is a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings and he made me read and watch every movie before moving here,” she said.
Years later the couple returned to Aotearoa with their children to explore the South Island in a campervan.
At the time, Dr Jones felt one day she and her family would live in New Zealand and the desire became a reality when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world.
After not be able to carry on with her planned sabbatical year, she decided to apply for jobs in New Zealand.
She was also excited her children Amelia and Reese (8), Milo (5) and Pax (2) – would start school next month and learn more about Maori culture after being home-schooled since March 2019.
“I just feel [Maori] really value family, community and caring for each other.
“I love the fact that my kids will have the opportunity to spend some time around a culture that values, so much, other people.”
Dr Jones could not quantify if she had gained more followers since moving to New Zealand, but she had noticed more Kiwis approaching her through social media.
“Whether they found me from the articles, or whether they already were following me, I don’t know. But it has been very nice to have this interaction with them.”
Her aim was to continue exploring the beauties of the country while helping make medical subjects more approachable through her social media channels.
However, it was still too early to make any future plans, she said.
“I have a license to practise here for a year… I don’t know if we will stay forever because it is really hard to have my children away from their grandparents.
“But we are really enjoying ourselves here. We are loving it.”