Here at Zenders, we're all about our values. They define all areas of our identity; who we are, what we do, how we operate and why we exist. One of these values is:
EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN STORY TO TELL We believe in celebrating the past, looking to the future, and enjoying today.
So what is the 'story' of Zenders? What is its history? And what is its future? It is well known that Zenders is owned by three Reymer sisters - Christina, Teresa & Monique - and the building is modeled on their great grandfather's farmhouse in the Netherlands. But we wanted to know more. So we asked Oma Reymer to share her memories of Schildheuvel, the original building, and why Zenders is important to her.
What was your connection with Schildheuvel?
My aunty (my mother’s sister – Anna Goris) was married to my husband John’s uncle, Arnold Reymer. So I used to go to Schildheuvel often for school holidays, when I was around 10 years old. I used to bike there, about 10 kms from my house in Pannerden. There were two other Reymer families on the same road, so there were plenty of cousins who came back to Schildheuvel to play, which was great fun. We used to play skipping and other games, like making rope swings from the rafters in the barn or from trees using horse reins. If it was wet, we played board games or cards inside. Many of the older girls had to stay home at home to help so there were always more boys than girls to play with, which meant the boys picked on us girls for fun. There used to be a plant with sticky seed pods which used to cling in our hair, and the boys threw them at us. The boys would lock the girls in the horse stable until we said sorry or were able to free ourselves somehow. We played hide and seek, but sometimes a neighbour’s boy would just go home and we’d keep looking until we figured out they’d gone! I have great memories of playing around Schildheuvel.
What makes it special for you?
Because Tante Anna lived there and we could go there for holidays, and there were always plenty of cousins to play with. But Tante Anna was quite fussy and things had to be kept nice. They had a housekeeper, Grietje, who was usually in the side kitchen (where the foyer is at Zenders). She would look after us until we were ready to go and say goodnight to Aunt & Uncle in the lounge. Grietje was really nice to us, and would feed us along with the farm labour. She also fed the small farm animals like the piglets, chooks, calves etc, who all lived in pens in the pig sty (what is now the Orange Room at Zenders). Schildheuvel felt like a second home to me.
What does it mean to have Schildheuvel replicated here in NZ?
It feels to me like Schildheuvel has been ‘sent’ to NZ especially because ‘Zenders’ translated from Dutch means ‘to be sent’. The term ‘Zenders’ was also often used to described missionaries who were sent overseas to work in the missions. In a way, I feel that Schildheuvel has been ‘sent’ to us, so the name ‘Zenders’ is very appropriate.
For me Zenders is really a bit of Dutch culture which will be a landmark for Dutch kiwis, as you can find Thai, Indian, Japanese etc places all through New Zealand, so this is a bit of the Netherlands culture planted in New Zealand for everyone to share and be a part of.
Even though John never saw Zenders built here, I am sure he would love to see a Dutch legacy in New Zealand, as he was always keen to see something in the Waikato as a legacy. We supported the Foxton Windmill when it was built, but now he’d be pleased to see Zenders set up. This is why seeing Zenders built means so much to me.
Do you have a story that you would like to share? Whether it is of your past, present, or future, we would love to hear it! Email us at email@example.com or phone us on 07 595 0640.