Born a war baby under curfew on the 4th of June 1940 in Bloemendaal, a little town near Haarlem on the north- west coast of Holland, growing up with the sound of sirens, bombs and uniformed “Gerries”. My family managed to survive the trials and tribulations of the hunger winter of 1944 making us resilient and innovative, which stood us in good stead when we as a family emigrated to New Zealand in 1952.
It was nevertheless daunting as a young 12 year old to adopt a totally new culture, which involved not only a new language but also a new monetary and measuring system, not forgetting different customs and a back to front climate. In spite of all these obstacles my love of writing and music, I was an accomplished violinist, was enhanced by playing in our family quartet and the regular letter exchange to my Dutch family and friends in my native language. The latter meant that I kept a bi-cultural status which was totally clinched when I married my Dutch immigrant husband. He had arrived here in 1951 as a 14 year old. Together we started our tertiary education. His diploma in horticulture and my Teacher’s certificate set us up to start on a very ambitious venture that resulted in establishing a garden of national and international significance. This was on one of the oldest surveyed properties in West Auckland. It hosted a 153 year old Sunnydale homestead, now surrounded by our collection of useful and endangered plants, including an extinct native palm gathered from the wild interior of South America.
Our writing skills were employed for numerous articles published in national and international publications for informational and promotional purposes. This included a recipe book using a totally unknown fruit, the Babaco, a sterile relative of the pawpaw family.
Our interest in history led us both to record the many anecdotes and adventures we experienced, most importantly because we were a generation like the earlier pioneers before us who have lived both cultures and our descendants will be dependent on our writings in the future.