Back in the Netherlands, they just didn’t fit in anymore

by Ron

Also available in: Nederlands

Today we take a peek into the life of Eveline and her family who moved to New Zealand last January. Enjoy her story and who knows you might want to emigrate yourself after reading this.


Who are you?

Kia ora, my name is Eveline Holtrop-Brak, married to Rob and together with our three children, Robbert, Eliena and Carmen we moved to New Zealand last January. 

they immigrated to new zealand 

Before you moved to New Zealand, you used to call Kenia your home. How did you end up in New Zealand?

Eleven years ago we turned our lives around and moved to Nairobi, Kenya with our children. We wanted to do something totally different. My husband found a job as manager on a flower farm. After one year the company came up for sale, and we bought it, together with a partner. We had nine fantastic years over there. Our children attended the international school and became real world citizens. I found a job as a toddler teacher at the Dutch school in Nairobi; it was a wonderful time. Unfortunately, after nine years the company had to move to a location far outside of town, so we decided to sell and return to the Netherlands.

Back in the Netherlands, we had problems adjusting to society. The children had difficulties with the language, school culture, the climate, and everybody seemed to be in a rush all the time. We just didn’t fit in anymore. 

they immigrated to new zealand

So the search started for a job in an English-speaking country, preferably with warmer weather and less stress among society. We finally found that in New Zealand. I always said I would never move there, too far away from the Netherlands. However, after all the terrorist attacks in Kenya and Europe, we decided that New Zealand was the perfect country for us. Safe, clean, beautiful, great climate, English speaking, spacious and friendly people. 


What kind of work do you do now? And could you just start working?

Rob found a job as a manager at a Dutch Lily bulb company situated in Hastings, Hawkes Bay on the northern island. The process of moving was fast, in November he accepted the job and halfway January we boarded the airplane. The thing I found most stressful was the period of applying for a work permit. The company that hired Rob hired an immigration expert in New Zealand, and they did an excellent job for us. You need to prove everything, that you are married, that your marriage is good, that you are healthy, that you have enough money in your account, prove that you are qualified for the job, diploma’s, prove of good behavior, etc etc. 

they immigrated to new zealand

Because we lived in Kenya for nine years some papers had to come from Kenya, and that can take up to three months, we didn’t have the time for that. Thankfully everything worked out, and we could get on the plane with a work permit for 23 months. At first, I didn’t understand why the permit was valid for just 23 months instead of 24. We found out in New Zealand that the reason for that is health care. If you have a work permit for 24 months, you are automatically insured. So we had to get an expensive expat insurance in the Netherlands until we were able to apply for a different permit. Luckily the papers of good conduct arrived within three months from Kenya, and we were able to apply. Now we have a visa for five years. 


What was difficult in New Zealand?

they immigrated to new zealand

The problem we had in New Zealand was finding a house. Every rental home that becomes available has about 200 people applying for it. Most of the times everybody needs to hand over their details and financial situation, if you are lucky, you and sixteen other people get invited to look around the house. The landlord then assesses what family he prefers to rent the house too. After three months we found ourselves a beautiful home. However, it’s a half hour ride from school. So I drive the kids to school and pick them up again. For myself, there isn’t a job opportunity in the nearby future. We wanted to live in the village, but it was so hard to get a home there. So we decided to take our current house for at least one year. After that, we will see. The view from the house and it’s beautiful location makes everything great.


what is the most beautiful experience you have had?

Our most beautiful experience until now is the climate and nature here. Hawkes Bay is known for mild weather, fruit and wine fields.  The scenery here is great; they also recorded the Bachelor New Zealand in this area. Everywhere you look you see wine and apple fields, kiwi plantations, peaches and of course lots of sheep and cows. Besides all those beautiful things there is a great beach, Ocean Beach. We also attended the Napier Art Deco Festival a returning event every February. You get the feeling you traveled back in time, at this festival. Everywhere old cars and everybody is dressed up in clothes of that time. Plenty of great food and music.

I try to hike up the Te Mata Peak once a week. There are five different hiking routes, and from the top, you have a fantastic view over Hawkes Bay, Tuki Tuki River, the ocean, the village Havelock North and Hastings town. Now it’s fall, and you can see snow on the mountains in the distance! Another fun activity is Cape Kidnappers; You can hike there or sit on the back of a cart with a tractor in front that drives over the beach passed the high cliffs, and at the end, there is a Gannet (Jan van Gent) colony. Smelly, but a real unique experience to see so many birds together. Especially when you come in the right period and see their young.


Did you experience any bad things?

Fortunately, we didn’t experience any unfortunate things. However, we did notice that burglary and theft happens a lot. Also, we think there are too many serious car accidents. There are not many highways with two lanes each way, and you can drive 100 kilometers an hour everywhere accept villages of course. The roads can be narrow, loads of curves and hills with lots of side roads. Personally, we think that 100 kilometers an hour, is too fast in certain situations.  Kids start driving at the age of sixteen and don’t need to learn it with an instructor; the parents can teach them. I think that doesn’t help with traffic safety and might even cause more accidents. 


What things do you miss from the Netherlands and what things don’t you miss?

Of course, we miss family and friends in the Netherlands. I also miss fun shops and cozy shopping streets. Mostly, family and Dutch treats. we don’t miss much else since we have been living abroad for so long now. In Kenya, I miss working at the kindergarten, the country, wild parks, wonderful trips and the diversity of cultures and people.

The things we don’t miss from the Netherlands are the climate, the fast paste culture, and traffic. From Kenya, I am happy I don’t have to endure the traffic jams, exhaust gases, and unsafety anymore.



What are the differences between the New Zealanders and the Dutch?

People in New Zealand respect each other a lot. People are friendlier; they always take the time to talk to you, even at the supermarket. Very polite to everybody as well, always address you with love or darling. Something I noticed is that at the pedestrian crossing the people crossing always wave to thank the driver. It’s the small things over here that makes life more fun. In the Netherlands you almost get run over by bikes, they might even get angry because you walked in there way. That is something I don’t see happening here. The students have respect at school, the teachers are called by their surname, the kids stand up if the rector or a guest speaker walks in. Kids don’t call people names that much, and there is less bullying at school. Life is just slower here than back in the Netherlands. You feel it in traffic. People patiently wait at the roundabouts and crossings before they drive off. So different from Kenya, people sometimes drove aggressively, in Holland as well. 


What places do you need to visit in New Zealand?

We just arrived here, so we didn’t visit many things yet in New Zealand, but there is much to see and do. You have to love nature, and for backpackers, it’s a fantastic place. Especially, on the southern island, there is a lot to do. I heard that in the northern part of the northern island you have beautiful bays and beaches. New Zealand is the place to be if you like; going to the beach, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, sailing, see waterfalls, gardens en visit homesteads. To sum it all up; for all nature lovers. 


After Kenya and now New Zealand you have any new plans?

We will be staying here until our kids finished school, what the future will hold, only time knows. We love seeing the world this way and let our children experience the world. We hope that they will develop a broad view of life and the world. 


Is there anything else you want to share with us?

A fun fact is that children in New Zealand walk bare feet a lot. They go to school wearing shoes and come home, bare feet. They do gym without shoes even if it’s 10 degrees celsius outside. They wear uniforms at school; boys wear shorts the whole year bad weather or not. They can pull up their knee socks a bit more but always shorts. Children go to school walking or by bus, hardly anybody bikes, maybe because of the dangers of the road. You do see many of them use a step or skateboard. Walking 3 to 4 kilometers to school is normal.




Before I forget, what is your favorite New Zealandic dish?

My favorite dish, Pavlova, people eat it a lot here in New Zealand. The Australians say that they invented it and we say we did. Both countries love it, and it gets eaten by many. Delicious!


Thank you so much!

I enjoyed your story so much, dear Eveline. I am glad that you wanted to share your story with us. The recipe for Pavlova is certainly no punishment. As promised I made Pavlova I loved it.

Pavlova, the favorite recipe of Eveline from New Zealand



Hopefully, you enjoyed Eveline her story. Leave a comment below and/or share her story with your friends.


Like to read more stories of people who immigrated?

Six weeks after her visit to Iceland, Karin emigrated! 

He left the Netherlands for a new adventure in Zambia.


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