Call for special day to celebrate Dutch links

PAT VELTKAMP-SMITH
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2013
Dutch Day
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
DOUBLE DUTCH: Dutch ambassador Arie van der Wiel, left, and president of the Invercargill Dutch Club Peter Grandiek share a joke at the NZ Rabobank conference at Ascot Park.

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Southland's 2014 calendar might have a special D-Date marked if plans for celebrating a one-off Dutch Day come to fruition.

The idea, the brainchild of Dutch ambassador Arie van der Wiel, surfaced when he met Invercargill Dutch Club president Pieter Grandiek JP at the annual meeting of the New Zealand board of Holland-based financial institution Rabobank in Invercargill this week.

Attended by people from the Netherlands and throughout Australasia, the gathering included talk of change, succession planning and the changing landscape of dairy farming.

The keynote speaker was Deputy Prime Minister and Clutha Southland MP Bill English.

Mr van der Wiel, in the third year of his four-year term in New Zealand, met many Dutch dairying families who have settled in Southland over the past 15 years, as well as a clutch of older folk who arrived here more than 50 years ago.

Among them, Pieter Grandiek JP, Rimu deer farmer and president of the Invercargill Dutch Club.

The club, in its 65th year next year, will sell its home base and become part of the Invercargill Workingmen's Club, as the Invercargill RSA did some years ago.

The ageing and dwindling membership that brought this about was familiar enough to the ambassador, who is based in Wellington, headquarters for the NZ Federation of Netherland societies.

The problems faced here were the problems everywhere, he said.

"But the families of those early settlers will in time value their heritage as do children of Irish, Scots and other nationalities.

"We too need a day to allow them to celebrate that heritage."

Mr van der Wiel said he hoped a day would be set aside in February or March next year as a Dutch day for Southland.

He hoped Rabobank would come to the party, along with all those who loved coffee and cake and other treats.

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- The Southland Times

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