Cultural and Trade Officer – Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
In what year did you move to NZ?
When I was 40 in 1991
What was the main reason for moving to NZ?
Wanting to get away from the Netherlands as far as possible – we were not overly happy there, wishing for more space, more privacy and living in a more beautiful country!
What do you enjoy most about living in NZ?
Exactly that: having more space, more privacy and living in a most beautiful country. Every day is a holiday, with work in between to make this possible.
What is the biggest ‘culture shock’ you encountered once in NZ?
In the beginning it was absolutely the coffee (shaving water), also the habit of ‘taking a plate’ ( a lovely gesture though) and ‘going Dutch’ as in paying your own meal, even when invited. We have seen Wellington grow from a capital without outdoor cafes into the cutest little capital of the world; a culinary and cultural hotspot. After 22 years we don’t know different anymore and the Netherlands can now learn from the New Zealand coffee culture.
Do you feel a strong bond with your Dutch heritage?
Strangely enough, the longer I live here, the stronger I feel this bond. Whether my work for the Embassy adds to this…. I think so.
If so, how does that express itself in every day life (ie do you speak Dutch at home, have Dutch social ties, etc)?
From 1991 on for years we celebrated Sinterklaas and read Dutch books. I insisted on speaking Dutch at home, which was not always easy for my youngest daughter. Being an adult now, she is grateful for my stubbornness.
I am a member of the Wellington Dutch club, more out of support, but attending some of their events. Mostly for my work I am in touch with many Dutch clubs in New Zealand, and I enjoy this contact. I enjoy working for the Netherlands Embassy with all its Dutch contacts.
I have some Dutch friends; am part of the “Malle Meiden”, a group of Dutch ‘girls’ that comes together so now and then to celebrate cultural subjects, often with a Dutch touch.