Hieke & Peter Wijnsma
Website – www.restaurantindonesia.co.nz
Restaurant Indonesia, an iconic landmark in Napier, is currently known as the only restaurant in New Zealand where you can enjoy ‘Rijsttafel’, the famous Indonesian banquet, where a multitude of dishes is directly served to your table and kept warm on small candle powered heaters.
Located on the Marine Parade, Hieke and Peter Wijnsma run this restaurant which they have taken over from the previous (fellow Dutch-born) owners Joss Lamers and Kees Peters.
When did you move to New Zealand?
(Hieke) We moved to New Zealand in 2002 from Kenya, where Peter was doing development work. Our contract in Kenya had been extended several times, but after 11 years we decided we wanted a change. We had been away from the Netherlands for such a long time that we thought moving to an English speaking country might be an easier adjustment. In 1998 we had done a trip to New Zealand, and absolutely loved the country. After that trip we started the emigration process and made the move in 2002. We moved here with our four children (7-15 years), and wanted to make the change for them.
When did you take over this restaurant?
We took it over in 2014. We were at a stage where we wanted to slow down a bit. We had done so many things already in our lives, from building our own house in Kenya, to running our fish and chips shop in Napier for 11 years and this business suits our current lifestyle. We still have to work very hard, but we love it here.
Does your Dutch background influence your business?
It’s very important to us that the restaurant is gezellig. It should feel like home and we try our very best to create that atmosphere here. We work very hard, which is probably another characteristic of our background, but we love the work we do. I believe it’s important to work with pleasure since it’s a big part of your life.
I think a lot of Dutch people who have moved to New Zealand, have the adventurous spirit. Sometimes I think that’s a disadvantage because there is an urge to keep doing different things, stay on the lookout for ‘more’, worried that you might miss out on opportunities. Sometimes that can give you a very unsettled feeling.