Co-chairman of the Dutch Connection Museum Trust, Arjan van der Boon, was awarded a Dutch Royal decoration at the Big Dutch Day Out in Foxton on Saturday, April 28.
The decoration, Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, is the Dutch equivalent of a knighthood. It was presented to Mr van der Boon by Rob Zaagman, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in recognition of his work for the Dutch community, particularly as the co-chairman of the Dutch Connection Museum Trust.
Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen said the honour was a well-deserved acknowledgement of Mr van der Boon's energy and commitment in the development of Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, which houses New Zealand's national Dutch museum, Oranjehof Dutch Connection Centre.
"Dutch New Zealanders now have a place they can go to share and celebrate their stories, heritage and culture, and Mr van der Boon's dedication has played a key role in that," he said.
Mr van der Boon, who has chaired the Dutch Connection Museum Trust since its inception, began working to establish a national Dutch museum in New Zealand more than 12 years ago.
Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton said the museum would not have come to fruition without Mr van der Boon's commitment of volunteer time and belief in the project.
He credited Mr van der Boon as instrumental in working with Dutch partners, Te Taitoa Maori o Te Awahou Trust and Horowhenua District Council to develop and establish Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom as a multi-purpose facility that would be home to Oranjehof Dutch Connection Centre, Piriharakeke Generation Inspiration Centre, the Maori museum,
an arts and learning centre, the Foxton Library, council service centre and a community hub.
"Mr van der Boon has enthusiastically encouraged Dutch New Zealanders to actively participate in the development of the museum, obtaining sponsorship and donations of artefacts, as well as leading the members of the trust board to develop a world-class museum experience at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom," Mr Clapperton said.
"His commitment of time and energy to support the development of a world-class facility in a very small community is a testament to his determination to ensure Dutch New Zealanders and the other partner groups in Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom have a place they can call home."