Dutch Influence After 1960

Although Dutch migration rapidly declined as the Dutch economy picked up in the early 1960s, the migration structure remained intact. The flow of immigrants from the Netherlands was around 500 per year. These new groups of Dutch migrants to New Zealand were quite different from the first wave, in terms of motivations and aspirations. They arrived as skilled migrants or transnational migrants, mainly for ecological and lifestyle reasons, from a prospering middle-class.

Until the influx from Asian countries in the early 2000s, the Dutch were by far the biggest group of non-British immigrants to New Zealand. The descendants of the first Dutch arrivals, the second and third generation Dutch in New Zealand, are often called invisible Dutch. Many first wave parents sacrificed Dutch language (and culture) for the sake of their children’s future in New Zealand, intending them to be Kiwis rather than Dutch.

The great majority of the first wave male migrants married non-Dutch women and didn’t speak their language at home. First generation migrants wanted their children to fit in, however children from the second generation Dutch wanted what their parents missed out on: learning Dutch language and culture. Speaking Dutch is increasingly seen as the key to keeping the culture alive. Since the 1990s there have been efforts to establish Dutch language schools. Broadcasts from Echo Radio and satellite radio from the Netherlands, also played a role.

Today’s Dutch migrants often come with their families for a few years of adventure in New Zealand’s open spaces. They often maintain close links with the Netherlands and speak Dutch at home. Whereas return migration under the first wave of migrants was low, under the new migrants it’s significantly higher. The total number of people of Dutch descent in New Zealand is currently almost 120.000 – about one third of whom still have Dutch or dual nationality.

In the last sixty years there has been a steady influx of Dutch migrants into New Zealand. The descendants of the first wave migrants more often lost their Dutchness whereas the more recent arrivals are still closely linked to the Netherlands. Throughout this period a number of Dutch made their mark in New Zealand.

In 1961, Dutch migrant Eelco Bowsijk opened Chez Eelco in Nelson, the oldest typical Dutch café of New Zealand. In Wellington, Suzy van der Kwast followed soon with her Dutch-style coffeehouse Suzy’s Coffee Lounge. Henk den Hartog, who arrived in 1960, is seen as the father of New Zealand bulb growers. Hank Schouten, born in the Netherlands, is editor for the Dominion Post. He wrote the book Tasman’s Legacy on the History of Dutch immigrants in New Zealand.

Karikaas and Meyer Vintage Gouda are two famous New Zealand cheese brands, founded by Dutch migrants. Henry van Asch co-founded the company A. J. Hackett Bungy that created the world’s first commercial bungy site in the mid-1980s. Former Minister for Transport Safety, Harry Duynhoven and Henry van der Heyden, former chairman of Forterra, are sons of Dutch migrants.

On the sports scene former All Blacks player Kees Meeuws, netball coach Yvonne Willering, cyclist Tino Tabak and runner Dick Quax, who won a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics, are all of Dutch descent.


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