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Big Dutch Day Out - Saturday 27 April, 2024

Colourful Art Competition and Plenty of Heritage
The Big Dutch Day Out is a prime event on the Dutch Community’s agenda of annual festivities. And not just for the yummie Gouda cheese, croquettes with Zaanse mustard and salty herring.

Foxton will be cheered up by the music from no less than two street organs – one built in 1880 and one from the 1960s. There’s Odd Old Dutch Games like ‘Clog Throwing’ and ‘Stilt Walking’, to entertain the kids for hours on end. And also this year, the whole family can join in a public Art
Competition – with heaps of prizes to win. The park around windmill De Molen will be bustling!

One of the two highlights of the day will be the opening of the ‘Origins’ Art Exhibition, in the Māpuna Kabinet art gallery. The other, is the official unveiling of a huge 2 metre by 2 metre colourful model of De Heemskerck – the ship that brought Abel Tasman to Aotearoa in 1642.

“This is an important event for our Oranjehof museum.” says Arjan van der Boon, co-chair of the Oranjehof Dutch Connection Centre. “So we asked Dutch Ambassador Ard van der Vorst to officially unveil our ‘Flying Dutchman’ on this big day.”

“We were gifted the ship last year. It was so big and stunning that we really, really wanted it – but didn’t quite know where to put it. The only spot with enough space, was to let it float above the spectators, in our Abel Tasman room. We found a local engineer, who was willing to take a punt
on the challenge. And after some weeks of figuring out how, and where to hang it… He created the construction that will now amaze our visitors, as they set foot in the room that tells the story of Europe’s first encounter with Tangata Whenua.”

The ship joins a smaller model of De Zeehaen, gifted a few years ago. Oranjehof will be the only museum in the country with each of the two boats that brought Tasman and his 110 sailors across the wild Southern Ocean – putting Aotearoa on the maps of the world for the first time.

“This replica of De Heemskerck was built with plans and help from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, one of our nation’s greatest cultural institutions” says Netherlands Ambassador Ard van der Vorst. “Eric Hill, from Cambridge, spent years on crafting the ship with native timbers. It
truly is a magnificent gift that talks about the links between the Netherlands and Aotearoa New Zealand, which have existed for almost four centuries. We are grateful and proud, that he has donated it to the Dutch Community and the Oranjehof museum.”

The other big event of the day, will be the opening of the ‘Origins’ art exhibition, with artists showing off their ethnic roots – reflected in Foxton’s flour-grinding windmill De Molen. Artists compete for three prizes in ‘Origins - The Directions of our Cultural Winds’, and one of the judges is ‘Dutch’ MP Ingrid Leary from Dunedin.

“Foxton, with its Dutch windmill and museum, holds a special place in my heart,” says Ingrid. “When my mother passed away a few months ago, I wanted to spend Waitangi weekend at Foxton Beach. And I reminisced on her arrival in our country – along with all those 10,000s of other immigrants who arrived by boat and plane.

“The story of the Dutch arrivals, is a story of ‘invisible immigrants’. There are lots of us, but people don’t realise that – or how challenging it was. They came all this way after WWII, to be ‘pepperpotted’ around the country to work in factories and on farms. The New Zealand Government of the time had a non-assimilation policy, which caused suffering and difficulties for
immigrant families as it separated adult siblings. The new arrivals would be employed far away from family and friends. Most did not speak the language, and had no money on arrival. These were not easy times.

“It’s great we have a town, where younger generations can learn about that history – while having a coffee and a taste of Dutch delicacies, in a space that celebrates colourful art and heritage.”

The art competition ‘Origins – The Directions of our Cultural Winds’ features artists from Dunedin to Auckland. It shows art works that combine imposing windmill De Molen – and its four sails – with the artist’s whakapapa, their ethnic origins.

“Over the centuries, the winds have brought waka, sailing ships and airplanes across wild oceans to Aotearoa New Zealand,” say Arjan. “They have accompanied our tupuna, on their long journey. So our question to the artists was… Which original wind direction, powers your cultural ‘sails’?
They will reflect that in their image of De Molen, and we will see a Dutch Stellingmolen windmill in ways we’ve never seen it before.”

There will be three Art Exhibition prizes for ‘Most original Molen – Combined with Culture of Origin’, handed out by the Ambassador.
The 1000’s of people coming to the Big Dutch Day Out, can also create an art work and win no less than 10 smaller prizes – sponsored by Higgins civil construction company.
For the first time in Foxton, bicycle enthusiasts will dress up in cheerful orange, to join the ‘Orange Bike Rides’, that are happening as part of Dutch Week in many towns and cities.

The official opening of the annual Dutch Week kicks off at the Big Dutch Day Out, on Saturday 27 April. From then on, Dutch community organisations, cafés and businesses across the country will celebrate ‘all things Dutch’, until Sunday 5 May. There is a speech competition for young students. There will be King’s Day parties, and landmarks across the nation will light up orange at night.

Dutch Week is open to anyone, keen to experience Dutch foods, culture and language. Dutch Week aims to enhance the visibility of local Dutch communities, and the contributions they make to a diverse Aotearoa. It lets people share in the strong connections between the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Support for the Big Dutch Day Out is provided by the Office for Ethnic Communities / Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands / Horowhenua District council, Creative Communities / local business.

The Big Dutch Day Out – From 10am to 3pm, Saturday 27 April
Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, next to De Molen, Foxton


For more information on Dutch Week, visit: 

Foxton Opens National ‘Dutch Week’ – Ambassador Unveils a Magnificent ‘Flying Dutchman’!

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