Ineke and Berry Knuvers and I have just returned from the ANCM (Annual National Council Meeting) meeting in Wellington on 15th October. We celebrated 50 years of the Federation of New Zealand Netherlands Societies Inc. in New Zealand. Every club represented at the meeting had brought something to show the delegates about the last 50 years or longer of the activities and events of their club. We were able to show a slideshow produced by Jon Strong, which was very well received. We hope to be able to show it at a future Market Day. The Patron of the Federation, His Excellency Robert Zaagman, the Ambassador at the Dutch Embassy, invited all the delegates for dinner at his place on the Saturday evening after the meeting. We had drinks and a lovely meal and mixed and mingled to meet with some interesting people. There were some speeches before and during the meal about the past 50 years experiences and exchanges of gifts. We were also told that the Honorary Consul in Auckland, René van Rijn has retired from his duties as from the 1st of October, and a new Consul is to be appointed. His appointment will be announced in the near future.
The ANCM meeting started at 10 am and finished just after 4pm on the 15th of October. The new President, Joost de Bruin, opened the meeting by expressing a warm welcome to every delegate, observer and special guests. He gave some housekeeping and safety rules and then introduced The Ambassador Robert Zaagman, who gave an interesting and encouraging speech. He talked about a variety of Dutch Organisations existing in New Zealand and their functions. All these groups are struggling to exist or gain new memberships. He would like to see an umbrella organisation such as the Federation, to form links between these groups, to share information that would benefit and strengthen the Dutch community. We could work together in organising events such as celebrating 375 years ago Abel Tasman coming to New Zealand, in 2017. He gave us lots to think about and to discuss in the workshops that day.
We had four workshops throughout the day with a theme.
We discussed which events we would organise at local level, which were successful or which were unsuccessful and what we could do to improve. Most clubs had volunteers to organise a particular event and the committees gave their support in whatever way they could to make the event successful.
There were only three clubs that had an increase of membership of which Christchurch had the biggest increase. They have one person voluntary ringing as many people with Dutch names from the phone book telling them about the club and inviting them to become members of the club. This person signed up 23 new members in the past year. The Christchurch Club is growing as it gains more members than it is losing. I like to see a volunteer like that in Auckland. Please let me know if you are willing to be an membership coordinator.
Activities for older members
This workshop looked at the needs of the early immigrants who are getting on in age. This is an age group that wants to speak Dutch and like to be in company of likeminded people who talk much about the past and their present problems. They have a need of belonging to a group that do activities they still can do, such as card games, arts and crafts, eating and drinking, visiting places, watching films etc. There is a need to help people who are not mobile anymore and stay at home. Those who live alone feel often lonely and need to have company to speak Dutch. Many elderly people have family who cannot speak Dutch any more but need help with translation when they have to visit a doctor or a lawyer. We need volunteers to assist the elderly Dutch people in our community. The FSN needs volunteers to help with this.
Media strategies for clubs and trusts
Clubs are now getting involved in setting up websites for their clubs or working with social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Many different names are often used and this can be very confusing for the general public. It is recommended that the clubs use the words “Dutch Club” in the naming of their websites or social media addresses. The Federation is considering setting up links to all the Dutch Clubs and organisations in the near future if they can find someone to manage this. It was agreed that sharing information to learn from each other would benefit all of us.
The Financial situation of the Federation is still going backwards due to incomings being less than outgoings due to the cost associated with the ANCM each year. The reserves are depleting, yet the meeting has decided to keep the annual fee at $2.00 per club member and for the affiliated Trusts $100.00 each. The Federation is giving a donation of $200.00 towards the Federation Cup “Ring In” Klaverjas competition in the coming year.
The election of officers. We have a new South Island Vice President, Ron van Zanten and a new Secretary, Ellen Takanin. No other changes to the committee.
The Future of the Federation. The committee has been charged to formulate clear objectives in the coming year in order to assure a good future for the Federation.
The next ANCM will be on the 3rd of September 2017 in the Waikato.