Love conquers cultural differences

Andras Kovacs (Jnr), Andras Kovacs (Snr), Andras Kovacs (7), Burie Lilly, Marcell Kovacs (5), and Julia Kovacs.
Andras Kovacs (Jnr), Andras Kovacs (Snr), Andras Kovacs (7), Burie Lilly, Marcell Kovacs (5), and Julia Kovacs.

There's an unlikely mix of cultures, but for the Blenheim family of Andras Kovacs, his wife Burie Lilly and their two sons, life in Marlborough is sweet.

Originally from Hungary, Andras met Papa New Guinea-born Burie in Blenheim eight years ago while working in the vineyards. Neither were particularly fluent in English and of course could not understand the other's home language at all, but love proved that there are no barriers.

"Our cultures are very different, but it is no problem for us," Burie says.

She admits that communication was difficult and every day held new challenges but they persevered.

Nearly a decade later and they have two young sons Andras, 7, and Marcell Zsolt, 5, with whom they share their unique and rich cultures. They boys have been learning the languages of their parents' home countries, and last week were enjoying having Andras' parents visit from Hungary.

Burie and Andras have moved forward in their careers with Andras working in permaculture as a cellar hand at Drylands while Burie is pursuing a career in teaching or social services.

The Marlborough Migrant Centre has been a great source of support for them, both as a couple and as family, they say. "When you come from a different country and you leave all your family and friends behind it is very difficult.

"When I went to the Migrant Centre I got to meet other people who are going through the same as me," Andras says.

He and Burie are loving their new lives in New Zealand, with the natural beauty being a favourite part. The rich Maori culture is also something that they can relate to, having come from countries with similarly rich traditions.

"I love how the Moari and Kiwis have joined together and are working together for the future," Andras says.

The family regularly take part in the centre's Multicultural Festival, which will be held on March 2. They are looking forward to this year's event.

Having Andras' parents to visit has been a special time for the family, with it being young Marcell's first time meeting his grandparents. Even though they speak no English they too have been loving their time in New Zealand.

Red wine rooster

A traditional Hungarian dish

1 chicken cut in pieces

2 large onions

1 capsicum

2 tomatoes (or 1 tin)

2 tbls oil

2 tbls salt

1 tbls paprika powder

1 glass red wine - no more or it may make the dish sour

Chop and saute the onions then remove from the heat before adding the paprika.

Add the chicken pieces and put back on the heat, stirring ingredients together to coat the chicken.

Add the wine and top up with water but do not cover the chicken.

Cook on a medium heat for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Add the capsicum and tomatoes and cook through for a few minutes.

Serve with sour cream or with pasta and cottage cheese and sour cream.


The Marlborough Migrant Centre is looking for cultural performers as well as stallholders to sign up for the Multicultural Festival on March 2.

Contact Margaret Western on 03 579 6410 or email 

The Marlborough Express