Hi, I’m Christina, the eldest of the three sisters who started the Zenders venture, and number three of the Reymer family of ten children.
We are first generation Dutch-Kiwis, i.e. born in New Zealand to our parents John and Betsy, who came as young new migrants in the early 1950s and married in New Zealand. We grew up in the small rural community of Tihiroa, in South Waikato, on a dairy farm, and blended in with the local culture; after all we were Pakeha and we spoke English.
But once I reached adulthood I needed to know where those thin blue aerogram letters came from, and made Holland the focus of my OE (Overseas Experience). I met heaps of relatives, learnt heaps of our family history, and visited Schildheuvel, and Great-grandfather’s homestead. All well and good, until a generation later, visiting Holland with my teenage daughter, that we learnt that Schildheuvel was sold and to be demolished.
When we discovered that we could still get the original blueprints, the idea was seeded to replicate Zenders in New Zealand as a stake in the ground for our Dutch heritage. So, now I feel that we are no longer the invisible migrants, we have claimed this space in the New Zealand landscape. And I can be confident that my granddaughter Zoe will know more of her Dutch heritage than just the fact that she calls me Oma!