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For us at Zenders it means the real thing, being genuine. That idea permeates everything we do, beginning with the original plans we passed on to our architect to ensure the design and dimensions of this replica boerderij (Dutch farmhouse) were right, to the bricks and tiles which were imported from Europe, the exact same tiles our cousin used to reroof the original farmhouse in Zevenaar, our Dad’s home town. And indeed, the letters on the building, SCHILDHEUVEL, are in fact the original letters which were on our Great-Grandfather’s farmhouse, which was built in 1911, and gifted to us by cousins after the building was demolished in recent years. (The name Schildheuvel actually best translates as Hillcrest, which is somewhat uncanny as we are adjacent to Hillcrest in Hamilton!).

But this is a Dutch farmhouse built in the heart of the Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand, and we are Dutch Kiwis, so we wanted to honour our New Zealand heritage as well as our Dutch. We were able to do this by integrating within the building a significant amount of recycled materials from the old St Mary’s Presbytery which was on Grey St, Hamilton. This building had been built in 1912, a similar time to when the

original Schildheuvel was built, so this enabled us to create some authenticity to the fact that this is a one hundred-year-plus building we were replicating, and allowed us to weave our New Zealand heritage in with our Dutch. Hence, the moment you step into our café, you will be struck by this amazing rimu staircase and balustrading, the gorgeous cast iron, tile and rimu fireplace, the rimu sideboard, as well as the details such as the deep window sills, the architraves and wide skirting boards. It just screams authenticity!

But step outside again, and come with me on a virtual walk around the building. You will notice the bike stands made from old railways sleepers, cast aside years ago from the railway line that runs alongside the property, and now in their third life after having been reused to make cattle yards on the property some decades ago. And the old bike chained to the bike stand, at its last stop forever, once the property of one of the three sisters who rode it every day to school on her first teaching year in the late 1970s.

And the old wheelbarrow, once the property of the grandmother of a Newstead resident; and the old plough under the poplars, belonging to our eldest brother Willy, at its last resting place after a lifetime of working the fields in Pirongia. The mossy covered farmyard fence rails also came from Willy, now refashioned as moveable barriers in our courtyard area. One of the fence rails has been recreated as the centrepiece for a beautiful piece of floral artwork, created by the daughter of one of the sisters, hung in the Orange Room.

You might notice the old concrete wash tubs, now planted up with succulents, and the water trough, to be planted in tulips in season; the milk cans, now serving as planters to our umbrella cherry trees; all of this reflecting our vision of creating some authenticity to the fact that this is a simple farmhouse, reflecting who we are as Dutch Kiwis living in Waikato, New Zealand.

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