Proud grandchildren of Dutch immigrants

New Zealand has been a pot pourri of cultures after waves of immigrants have come here over the last two hundred years, mainly from Europe, the Pacific Islands and more recently in numbers, from all over Asia, most notably from India and China.

Dunedin was founded by Scottish people who were concerned that the country would be dominated by the English. That is part of the city’s heritage, and bag pipes and haggis still feature in ceremonies.

But the Chinese New Year is also celebrated, and there are a variety of cultures represented in other events.

The last mayor of Dunedin was born here but had distant Chinese heritage, and the mayor before that was born in India.

One culture that is barely noticed these days is that of the Dutch, but when I was young that was more evident. We had Dutch visitors (I don’t know what connection they had with our family), and in the seventies I worked with the son of Dutch immigrants. Another generation or two on it’s barely noticeable, but there will have been a definite impact in New Zealand from Dutch culture.

Martin van Beyen writes Dutch immigrants of the 50s fading away

I bought a new suit the other day. The suit got its first outing this week at my Uncle Theo’s funeral. He died, aged 90, surrounded by his family last Friday.

Uncle Theo came to New Zealand in 1953 and was followed three months later by his bride-to-be, Afra. His sister (my mother, who is still alive) arrived two years later with my father, who died about 10 years ago.

A pastry cook by trade, Uncle Theo went on to own a number of bakeries in Christchurch including a wholesale pie business.

Some would say Uncle Theo (we called him Ome Dick) was a typical Dutchman. He was hardworking, routine-driven, stubborn, socially conservative, a natural contrarian and knew the value of a dollar. He would have seen my new suit as a waste of money.

He was also one of the last of his generation of about 11,000 Dutch immigrants who came to New Zealand between 1951 and 1954. Well over 100,000 New Zealanders now have some Dutch heritage.

A small but significant minority, possible accentuated by the short surge in Dutch immigration.

I wonder how we will regard the legacy of that wave of Dutch immigrants who came to New Zealand in the 50s and who are now fading away. Mostly blue collar workers and tradespeople (my dad was a mechanic), they made a major economic contribution, already often acknowledged, and brought a not always welcome brand of Europeanism to the racing, rugby, beer-orientated New Zealand society. Although their skin was the right colour, locals often found their accent strange, their manner brusque and their thrift ungracious.

Although some immigrants tried to preserve their Dutchness, most knuckled down and assimilated aggressively.

Perhaps they took to heart the attitude of senior immigration official Dr Reuel Lochore: “We must make new Britishers: by procreation, and by assimilation; by making suitable aliens into vectors of the British way of life.”

But some things were hard to suppress. Uncle Theo worked as a storeman when he first arrived and was told off by his fellow workers for working too fast.

It was clear the Dutch work ethic came as a shock to the strongly unionised New Zealand workforce where British work to rule was more the custom. Maybe some of that Dutch work ethic did rub off and it was certainly instilled in their next generation. Well, mostly.

I learnt a strong work ethic when I grew up, but it was in a rural area with no sign of union locally.

However in Central Otago the work ethic wasn’t universal, as there were frequent references to the shovel sucklers of the ‘sunshine gangs’, Ministry of Works workers were not known fore their industriousness.

Making fun of them probably reinforced the work ethic I learned.

As I was growing up I didn’t get the impression being Dutch was highly regarded and at high school it was definitely nothing you would want to advertise.

After Uncle Theo’s funeral I was sitting with some of his grandsons having a beer and asked them what they thought about their Dutch heritage.

They seemed proud of it, to the extent they emphasised their Dutchness over the other backgrounds flowing through their veins. A very different attitude to my generation and one that Uncle Theo and Aunt Afra can take a lot of credit for.

You can talk a lot about material contributions but you know the Dutch have truly arrived when the legacy of people like Uncle Theo lives on in the pride his grandchildren have in their heritage.

In contrast, I have English heritage. One grandmother was a Great War bride (from Chelsea) who married my grandfather, son of an immigrant from Liverpool and a grandson of a family who arrived (ex rural Bedfordshire) as part of the  Canterbury settlement in 1852.

I have a bit of historical interest but little empathy for my English heritage. I don’t back any English sports team, and feel nothing for the English royal family – to me they are foreign not just in country but also in what they stand for.

On my other side my mother was born a couple of years after her parents and five siblings immigrated from northern Wales (from near Caernarvon). As far as I saw they almost entirely they left their culture behind,

My teidiau (I just looked that up online and don’t know if it’s correct) died before I was born, but I’ve been told he learnt to speak English when serving in World War 1. Twice, both times reluctantly on request, my nana (that’s what we called her) said just one Welsh word – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

That is the only reference to my Welsh heritage I can remember apart from my mother recalling being taunted with ‘Taffy was a Welshman’ as a child.

This may not have been just a family thing, I have seen little sign of Welsh culture in New Zealand. I think the Welsh wanted to distance themselves from being seen as second class to the English.

Perhaps as a result I don’t feel subservient, nor superior. I am a product of the Kiwi melting pot – much like those with Dutch ancestry. I’m a proud Kiwi – and part of that pride is due to a general acceptance of a range of co-existing and overlapping cultures in Aotearoa.

I’m interested in other cultures – it makes a welcome change for the narrow mono-culture I grew up in.

Hager response to Soper article

There has been a lot of discussion today about the Barry Soper article in the Herald – Another shadow over Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book (some things in the article may have changed through the day) – especially over the the photo from Hager’s book

1hit

Originally that was shown with the bottles mostly cropped, as i had taken a copy of the original picture here Cartridge challenge to ‘Hit & Run’ claims.

Update: See letter from Hager to the Herald below.

The article also now has a response from Hager:

Nicky Hager responds:

“The book does not claim that those weapon cartridges came from the SAS and indeed in another illustration (on page 49) the authors explain that they are Apache helicopter weapons.

The illustration in the book shows objects collected by the villagers after the raid and the caption refers only to two drink bottles pictured, which the villagers thought were left by snipers. There was no suggestion that the weapon cartridges were from the SAS.

But the photo caption implies by association that if the bottles were left by snipers the cartridges would also have been left by the same sniper/s. I think it is reasonable to assume the two went together.

Hager clarifies that the objects were gathered (are claimed to have been gathered) after the raid with no proof of them being associated with the raid, or any or all of them having been left by the attacking forces – “which the villagers thought were left” is all that is claimed.

I wonder why snipers would leave rubbish like that behind.

If we had been asked before the story was printed, we could have cleared up this misunderstanding.”

This is somewhat ironic given that Hager is renowned for publishing books having made no attempt to seek input from those he makes serious accusations about.

This is pointed out by journalist Martin van Beyen in Can we trust claims by Hager and Stephenson about SAS raid?

Another issue is that Hager’s method is not to seek comment or reaction from the people he is accusing before publishing. There are sometimes good reasons for that but if he worked for a newspaper his stories would not run without the allegations being put to the authorities.

Karl du Fresne also covers this in Let truth and falsehood grapple over the Hager-SAS stink

Hager doesn’t bother with balance. He and co-author Jon Stephenson didn’t approach the Defence Force for its side of the story before publishing Hit and Run.

This is consistent with Hager’s previous modus operandi. I don’t think he gave Cameron Slater a chance to respond to the claims made in Dirty Politics either, or Don Brash when he published The Hollow Men.

Cameron Slater has frequently complained about not being given a chance to put his side of the Dirty story.

Hager would probably argue that the reason he doesn’t approach the subjects of his books is that it would give them an opportunity to obstruct publication, possibly with legal action.

But newspapers take that risk every time they run a potentially damaging story about someone. It doesn’t stop them seeking comment from the people or organisation they’re about to take a whack at.

One thing certainly seems different to how Hager handled the aftermath of Dirty Politics – this time both he and Stephenson are getting involved with a lot of defending and trying to justify what they wrote.

Hager in particular seems sensitive to people making assumptions about debatable and less than solid evidence.


UPDATE: the letter from Hager to the Herald (not sure why Stephen price’s name is in it) that prompted the added response from Hager:

——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: complaint against Herald story
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2017 10:32:42 +1300
From: Nicky Hager
To: Steven Price

Hi Shayne,
I am writing to complain about a story and associated comment by Barry Soper relating to our book Hit and Run. The story says that we were wrong about a type of weapon cartridges pictured in a
photo in the book and that this casts a shadow over the accuracy of the the book.

However the basis for the criticism is something that the story says is suggested and inferred by the book when neither of these is what we actually said in the book. It was just someone jumping to conclusions on the basis of an illustration caption. We have been advised there are grounds for a complaint to the press council, however we would much rather sort this out by you adding a comment to the story there and then a follow up story that presents our position on these claims.

Can you please add the following words near the top of the current news story and Barry Soper may like to amend his opinion piece accordingly?

“The book does not claim that those weapon cartridges came from the SAS and indeed in another illustration (on page 49) the authors explain that they are Apache helicopter weapons. The illustration in the book shows objects collected by the villagers after the raid and the caption refers only to two drink bottles pictured, which the villagers thought were left by snipers. There was no suggestion that the weapon cartridges were from the SAS. If we had been asked before the story was printed, we could have cleared up this misunderstanding.”

Then a follow up story could present the same points.

The obvious thing to do was to check the story with us, which was after all based on assumption, not anything we wrote in the book. The story says that a reporter tried unsuccessfully to contact Jon Stephenson, but they could have contacted me. Also, the point I make here is obvious and so even without contacting us should have made a reporter wonder whether the story was correct.

We have no problem with critical comment about the book, of course, but it needs to be based on accurate information and be balanced and fair.

best wishes,

Nicky


I’m kind of gobsmacked by this from Hager. He is demanding a different standard regarding rights of reply than he gives people he writes about in his books – he gives them no chance of any fact checking or contesting prior to publishing, and arranges his launch PR to give him a considerable advantage over his targets.

And balance is absent – in his latest book as past books he has a fairly strong agenda against one side of the story.

Entrenched views on Bain case

The release of the Callinan report and the announcement that the Government would pay Bain nearly a million dollars to bring closure to legal actions is unlikely to change many if any minds about whodunnit.

It’s not unusual for pundits from the public to stick to what they believe regardless of evidence, but you would expect a journalist who has taken a close interest in the ongoing Bain cases and has written extensively about it would base his claims on known facts and law.

But Martin van Beyen appears to be determined to stick to his beliefs as much as anyone.

Stuff: Callinan report highlights issues in David Bain’s innocence appeal

Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN, who covered David Bain’s retrial in 2009, believes the Callinan report highlights the longstanding flaws and inconsistencies in David’s story that he is innocent of the deaths of his family and that his father Robin was the killer. 

In just 144 pages, former Australian Supreme Court judge Ian Callinan lays bare David Bain’s case for compensation and finds it wanting.

For ardent followers of the case, Callinan’s report released on Tuesday doesn’t say much new. He has perused mountains of material and highlighted the flaws evident in Bain’s case as early as his trial in 1995 at which he was found guilty.

The report raises justifiable and inevitable doubts when looking at Bain’s account of what happened on 20 June, 1994 and the evidence the police investigation has revealed.

Callinan’s job was not to say whether Bain was innocent or guilty, although clearly on one reading of the report he appears to have doubts about Bain’s innocence.

Of course he has doubts, nothing has been conclusively proven one way or the other.

His job was to say whether he was satisfied Bain had proved whether he was innocent on the balance of probabilities. In other words, he had to be happy Bain was more probably innocent than guilty. The evidence provided by Bain’s defence failed to reach that threshhold, in Callinan’s view. 

The conclusion from that alleged failure is inescapable. If he can’t show he probably didn’t do it, he probably did it.

That is a ridiculous statement and a journalist who has covered criminal trials should know better.

Van Beyen has written in the past that he is convinced that David is guilty of the murder of his parents and siblings. He has weighed up the evidence and made his judgement, as many people have.

But stating that a failure to prove you didn’t do something means you ‘probably did it’ it nonsense.

I can’t prove that I have done nearly everything I have done in my life. And it’s even harder to prove things that I haven’t done.

Most of us wouldn’t be able to prove now what we were doing on 20 June 1994, let alone what we were not doing. Or for parts of just about any day of our lives.

From what I know about the Bain case there is evidence that seems to suggest both possible guilt and possible innocence of both David Bain and his father Robin. To me it is inconclusive either way.

The quantity of implicative evidence and the lack of conclusive evidence makes it easy for those convinced one way or the other to cherry pick bits that fit their beliefs.

The only person left who probably knows is David, and he still insists he is innocent. Perhaps he is right, or perhaps he is caught in a story of denial, or whatever.

But I am still not sure if it was David, or if it was Robin, or if it was both David and Robin, or if it was someone else. Neither is the Callinan report. Neither apparently is the Minister of Justice or the Government.

Quite often things remain unproven forever.