Dear Thomasin and Davida: Miranda Harcourt’s open letter to her daughters

It is 8.15am and I am writing this just after I have dropped Davida at school at Marsden.

Thomasin, we talked to you and Stuart on the phone in Prague on the car-trip from Houghton Valley to Karori. We are starting our day and you guys are off to sleep, because you are shooting a movie over there in the European winter.

This drive to Marsden reminds me how different the world is today from when I was a student there in the 1970s.

Now you girls have female role models ahead of you who remind you that you have the power to change the world. And, wow, does it need changing!

It is the start of your Year 8, Davy; you are nearly at high school. What will things look like for you when you are in Year 13?

And, Tom, you graduated from high school last year. I am so proud that you are using your platform as a young actress to promote ideas you are passionate about, animal rights and humanitarian initiatives.

Miranda and Stuart with their children, from left, Thomasin,
Peter, Davida and Sara.

When I look ahead into your futures and the kinds of adults Stuart and I would wish you to be, I think we would all agree that a great model already exists.

She is Sara Kupa, your half-sister.

Like you, Sara is smart, creative and talented. She has forged her own way in the world and made choices about what she wants and how she will create the best pathway to getting there.

For Sara this has been the rewards she gets from her job as a highly-trained English teacher, as well as the creation of a family with her partner James.

You girls may choose different paths. But I would wish for you that you bring the same clear-headed, smart, proactive approach to your life decisions. And also that, like Sara, you laugh often and make others laugh often!

Something I admire about you, Tom, is that you are outward-looking.

I see that aspect of you on your Instagram. The photos you post are rarely of yourself and often of your environment and the people around you.

You are a deep thinker and long may that last. Spending a lot of time away from your peer group and in new places, you need to be able to feed your own intellect and emotions.

I admire how much you read and how much time and effort you put into your research and preparation for each role. You have found yourself in a very privileged position – never take opportunities for granted; treasure and respect every single one.

Davida, something I admire about you is that you love to gather people around you and create friendships. This is a lifelong gift which lifts you up and also buoys others around you.

When I am acting-coaching I talk about "reversing the flow" and making it about the other person. You Harcourt McKenzie kids are really good at this, in life and in art.

Davy, you have a quirky take on life. You are observant and have a sense of the ridiculous. You absorb everything and transform it into your own unique take – and are not afraid to express it.

Your older brother Peter has a quality worth aiming for – fearlessness and the courage of his convictions.

Peter's passion is politics. He delves deep into his research, too, and he has a firm grasp of the facts. He is not afraid to speak out to promote or defend his opinions. I have learnt a lot about the world from Peter.

I think this is the way it should be, that pretty soon the parents learn more from the kids than the other way around.

This is already true of you Davida. You have emotional courage and clarity of communication. What a combo.

Communication comes down the line from all of your grandparents. Your grandfather Alan was an Anglican minister and grandmother Pamela was a teacher. Your grandfather Peter and grandmother Kate were actors.

They have all created a culture around the love of words and ideas as well as a strong culture of family connectedness. And you are lucky to have grown up living in the same house with a grandparent. I believe that this has gifted you all the qualities of generosity of spirit, patience and curiosity.

Right at this moment Sara is teaching a class at Avondale College. Peter is doing his 10-day annual training top-up for the Territorial Army at Waiouru, about to return to Law School. Thomasin and Stuart are at the wrap-party for a film in Prague and Davida is in a Social Sciences double-period at school.

You are all away beginning your lives! The future has already begun for all of you. And even though you are far away, you are all still at home.

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