Foxton's iconic windmill will glow red, white and blue this week as the town is hand-picked to kick off the inaugural Big Dutch Day Out.
The windmill was in good company. Sky Tower and Spark Arena in Auckland, Michael Fowler Centre and the Oriental Bay Fountain, the Christchurch Art Gallery and Canterbury Museum, and the Palmerston North clock tower will be alight, too.
The New Zealand landmarks will light up to mark Dutch Week celebrations. It would also act as an expression of support for the Netherlands, which is suffering heavy casualties due to another Covid-19 wave.
The Dutch Embassy arranged the unique gesture, as part of the first-ever national Dutch Week, and a major celebration was being planned tomorrow in Foxton.
A new mural would be unveiled at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom by Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister of Ethnic Communities, Dutch Ambassador Mira Woldberg and Mayor of Horowhenua Bernie Wanden.
The unveiling of the mural will act as the official start of Dutch Week and Big Dutch Day Out.
Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park marketing manager Arjan van de Boon said it was a chance for people of Dutch heritage to celebrate their culture. He said at one stage, one in 20 New Zealanders was of Dutch heritage. Now the number of one in 40.
"Foxton is the right place to kick off all the festivities," he said.
The aim of a week of activities is to highlight and celebrate the culture, language, arts, food and heritage of the Dutch immigrant, now an integral part of the diverse fabric of Aotearoa New Zealand.
"Everybody knows a Dutchman," he said.
"We were known as the invisible immigrants. We just got on with it and we were told to integrate, so we did, apart from our funny accents," he said.
Boon said Dutch Week was a chance to celebrate their culture.
"We have St Patrick's Day, Chinese New Year, Polyfest, Diwali ... this is the first ever Dutch celebration in New Zealand," he said.
The grey side wall of the community centre on Wharf St has been painted with a 40m mural this week.
It was the work of Amsterdam artist Jan van der Ploeg, who had done more than 500 similar works around the world, although the Foxton mural was his largest.
But as van der Ploeg was unable to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions, Tauranga artist Dan du Bern was on the brush and taking instruction from van der Ploeg by telephone.
They called each other daily.
Boon said the $15,000 mural was "stunning" and the design called on input from tangata whenua and the Dutch community, with six months of discussion, and the mural was symbolic as it told the story of Dutch immigrants
"It has a striking design that incorporates Dutch and Māori colours, as well as Kiwi black. The wave elements point to the local awa and the river landscape loved by Māori and Dutch alike, in the direction of the Tasman Sea – behind the sand dunes, only a few kilometres away," he said.
Kite flying and ice skating were among other activities planned."One high-flying feature of the day will be a nine-metre monkey kite, wearing a Dutch Week T-shirt, that will go up in the air as part of a kite-vlieger workshop for kids, who will create their own kites," he said.
"We also have the Oranjehof museum here, that tells the story of the Dutch immigrants in New Zealand – right next to a 30m high icon of Dutchness, the flour-grinding windmill De Molen. There will be modern art on display, an 1880 Amsterdam street organ pumping its tunes, and lots of traditional games – plus an ice skating rink.
"Things don't get much more Dutch than that."
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mira Woldberg, said the celebrations would act as a show of support for the Covid-stricken Netherlands.
"This year, the national King's Day celebrations on April 27 have been cancelled back home, due to the serious impact of Covid 19," she said.
"The Netherlands Embassy will therefore not host an official King's Day reception for its network in Aotearoa NZ.
"Instead, the embassy wants to express our sympathy and strong connection to all those affected by the global pandemic. Together with all Dutch organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand we will signal our sympathy from this side of the Earth by lighting up in orange several prominent and iconic buildings across Aotearoa during Dutch Week."
President of Dutch Communities NZ, Dr Joost de Bruin, said Dutch people love to share their culture.
"The aim of Dutch Week is to create an interactive and joint celebration of heritage, art, food, language and community with everybody else in Aotearoa New Zealand," he said.
Meanwhile, the contribution to the New Zealand art scene by Dutch artist Leon van den Eijkel will be celebrated in the Māpuna - Kabinet gallery inside Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.
"Colourful Nation – Kleur Bekennen" is a retrospective that includes some major works from the collection of Te Papa. The art exhibition will be opened by Dutch born MP Marja Lubeck.