Message from Ambassador Mira Woldberg
At the time of writing this message we celebrated Kingsday 2020 and are looking ahead to other important Dutch national days.
The Dutch National King’s Day is the day in which we celebrate the birthday of His Majesty King-Willem Alexander. A day which unites everyone. This year however, it was a national day in a world where nothing seems to be the same. Although our national day could not be celebrated by orange parties, eating bitterballen and playing games, as it was done for so many years, we still celebrated from home. As celebrating unity is more important than ever. Uniting against COVID-19 and showing solidarity with people around us; elderly, medical staff, people working in supermarkets, farmers who provide our food and other people worldwide facing even greater challenges.
New Zealand showed how to unite against COVID-19. While abiding with lockdown Level 4 measures, the country was not only able to flatten the curve but it actually squashed it, as The Washington Post so rightfully stated! An impressive result of a team of 5 million as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. But the work is not yet completed. It will take more time and more persistence worldwide.
At the Dutch Embassy in Wellington we just completed the repatriation of 1700 stranded Dutch and EU nationals. We worked around the clock to assist seven special flights to help people leave New Zealand. There were thousands of stranded Dutch travelers including students who participated in exchange programmes, young people working in tourism on Working Holiday Visas and many visiting family and friends in NZ. All were overwhelmed by the rapid pace of developments in March with lockdown measures and borders closing. Many were desperate and worried about the lack of prospect to return home, or having a suitable self-contained place to stay in New Zealand.
During this period while many of you experienced anxiety and worries about your own health, the health of relatives here and abroad and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and maybe your jobs, it was great that so many Dutch New Zealanders helped out by offering a place to stay. I would like to thank everyone for the solidarity that you have shown so generously to the stranded Dutch travelers and those in need!
I would like to also pay attention to a very important event next week. An event where the Netherlands and the Dutch worldwide commemorate 75 years of Freedom. On 5 May 1945, the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation. An event was planned to commemorate our liberation and the people we lost with NZ Minister of Defence Hon. Ron Mark, MP Marja Lubeck, Dutch school children, the Dutch Club Auckland and Lucy Powell and myself at the Dutch war monument in the Parnell Rose Garden in Auckland. In light of COVID-19, this is no longer possible. However, we will commemorate virtually and I would like to call on all of you to observe one minute of silence on 4 May to remember the people we lost in WW II, and on 5 May to celebrate from your homes Liberation Day and 75 years of Freedom. To honour those who fought for our freedom and to realize freedom is fragile and a responsibility of all of us. Freedom can never be taken for granted.
Please take good care of yourself and remember to call and check upon people around you.
Be Kind, Stay Safe and Healthy!