After growing up in the glare of the media spotlight and having to farewell two significant men in her life, Millie Elder-Holmes has turned 30 and found her "happy place" in Greece.
In an interview with NEXT magazine, from her new home in picture-perfect Santorini, Millie has opened up about her new phase, finding love again and reflecting on her very public past.
"In Greece, no one knows who I am," she says. "I can go out and have a coffee, I can go for a swim at the beach. I just feel so free".
A place of special memories and family, Greece has always been somewhere Millie has romanticised – her biological father lives here in the village of Molyvos, and she would holiday here as a child with mother Hinemoa Elder and stepdad Paul Holmes. She believes it was always supposed to be part of her life.
"I've found a huge part of myself here, and I'm still discovering more. It was almost like a homecoming. I didn't know this part of myself, and I feel really at home here – whereas I remember growing up as a child in Remuera feeling quite… displaced."
Following the murder of boyfriend Connor Morris in 2014, Millie also surprised herself by finding love again with Greek boyfriend Kostas Saripapas.
"I was really sort of opposed to it," she admits. "I thought it would be something casual – short and fun, because I was really freaked out about relationship stuff. I thought I wasn't ready."
At 30, and having experienced more than most will in a lifetime, Millie says her biggest lesson from her new Greek life has come from her dad: take your time.
"I've come to understand that there is a completely different way of living, and it's not the fast-paced Auckland life that I was accustomed to. I've learnt to slow down, and take my time. Because everything that's meant for me is going to come, at some point."
Photographs: Aleksandr Chalcev. Hair and makeup: Elina Zakharova
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