Jude Dobson helps one Kiwi mum’s holiday dream come true

The TV presenter joins a lucky Kiwi family in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Raising young children can keep life busy and leave little wiggle room in the budget for extravagances.

Like many Kiwi families, Renee and Robert McDermott of Wellington dreamed of having a holiday away together, but it seemed like an indulgence until Jude Dobson (50) stepped in.

Through her TV show Raising Children, Jude offered her viewers the chance to travel to Southeast Asia for a 10-day trip – and to Renee’s delight, she won!

The mother of two young children, Hayden (7) and Kaia (5), Renee has worked in the mental health sector for 20 years, but still finds time to volunteer for Plunket to assist new mums, while training to be an early childhood teacher.

Winner Renee with Kaia and Hayden.

Jude discovered Renee was also great company, because Jude had booked herself, husband Graeme and their daughter Rosie (13) on the same trip!

“Renee’s such a cool person,” reveals Jude. “They are such a grateful family and hard-working New Zealanders.”

The trip was an eye-opener for everyone, tells Renee (40), with the children learning traditional Vietnamese kite-building and even taking a language lesson.

“We were really privileged to be able to take the kids and expose them to a whole different culture and way of life,” tells Renee.

Jude chills with her youngest daughter Rosie.

She’s a big fan of Raising Children and the assistance it gives parents.

“It’s all about supporting parents to make decisions that are going to work for their families in a positive way. There are so many conflicting messages about parenting out there, so it’s really nice to have something you can rely on.”

It’s been a labour of love for Jude who, many years ago, saw a need for an accessible resource for stressed young families.

The former nurse wanted to use her medical background along with her understanding of the television industry to provide assistance to growing families.

Renee, Hayden and Kaia enjoyed many activities, including pottery.

Jude, who used to work in the post-natal ward at an Auckland hospital, has stayed up-to-date with the field, and is working on a post-graduate degree in public health.

“What I really wanted to do was make that information I knew about accessible to parents,” explains Jude.

“There’s a lot of information out there, but I wanted to provide practical stuff, for example, how to breastfeed. And I figured the visual medium was the best thing.”

Making a splash at their resort in Da Nang, Vietnam.

With a team, Jude creates short video clips to go on the website and the mobile app.

She’s even included a new feature on the app that sends regular parenting tips from birth to age five. For her, nothing beats helping others in need.

“I’m not old enough to be a grandma and not young enough to have a new baby, so I like to think of myself as the reliable aunt!” she laughs.

The trip was made possible thanks to Air New Zealand, Naman Resort and Spa Vietnam and Novotel Singapore. For more information, visit

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