The Dutch ambassador to New Zealand has paid a visit to Whangārei to open an exhibition celebrating ties between two distant but connected countries.
While in Northland, Mira Woldberg also met Whangārei District Council representatives to discuss potential cooperation and to visit a Dutch couple engaged in a Pacific-wide environmental project targeting plastic waste.
The exhibition, called Distant Kinship/Verre Verwanten, on at the Whangārei Art Museum, brings together prints by 18 Dutch and New Zealand artists.
The printmakers were asked to explore connections between the two countries, with the Kiwi artists focused on the Netherlands and the Dutch artists on New Zealand.
Woldberg was to have opened the show in August but the ceremony was delayed when Covid-19 re-emerged in Auckland.
After introducing herself in te reo, Woldberg said New Zealand was the fifth-biggest migration destination for the Netherlands, with 40,000 passport-holders and an estimated 150,000 New Zealanders of Dutch descent.
The show was a chance to further enhance those ties even though the countries were almost 20,000km apart.
The connection was strengthened in 2010 when the late Hekenukumai Busby, from Aurere in the Far North, built a waka for the Dutch national ethnology museum in Leiden.
It is the only waka taua, or fully carved Maori ceremonial canoe, in Europe and is paddled at important events around the continent.
A Dutch waka crew travels to Waitangi every year to further their training.
An estimated 150 people attended Wednesday evening's opening, with a cross-section of Northland's Dutch community including tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans, orca expert Ingrid Visser and New Zealand's first Dutch-born MP Marja Lubeck.
Also present were Mayor Sheryl Mai, Auckland-based Dutch honorary consul Sake Hitman and participating artists Jacqueline Aust and Mark Graver, both of Kerikeri.
Earlier in the day, Woldberg met Mai and council staff to discuss water management and cycling, areas in which the Netherlands could share expertise.
She also visited Dutch citizens based on a yacht in Whangārei while they sail the Pacific with the 4Green Foundation to raise awareness of plastic pollution. The vessel has solar- and hand-powered machines on board for small-scale recycling of plastic waste.
New Zealand's first Dutch-born Parliamentarian, Marja Lubeck, is a Labour list MP based at Te Arai, near Wellsford, and is contesting the new Kaipara ki Mahurangi seat.
Born in Zaandam and raised in Tiel, the former flight attendant and union leader moved to New Zealand in 1989 and has been an MP since 2017.
Her private member's bill seeking to outlaw so-called "gay conversion therapy" was adopted as Labour Party policy earlier this week.
Distant Kinship/Verre Verwanten is open until November 25. It will then tour New Zealand. The show has already toured the Netherlands.