Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) was the name given to New Zealand when the first canoes were paddled "Down Under' and the first inhabitants, the Maori, discovered this country which was at that moment shrouded in a long white cloud. The Europeans, the Dutch to be exact called the land New Zealand.
I lived Down Under for 30 odd years, in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
But folks here in Nederland (The Netherlands) usually only connect Down Under with Australia.
Just as NZ-ers ( kiwis to those in the know) and Australians whom I have met - think Nederland
is actually called Holland and we just pop in to friends living in Norway because, " that's close isn't it?"
Nederland has 12 provinces - and only a few belong to the part most people call Holland. And just as in all countries, governments keep bringing about changes to provinces, borders and flags - so too are plans beng formulated to alter our provinces' structure. But no more on that - just to say, not only are Europeans not that well informed about Down Under issues - so too are the facts about Europe not that well know Down Under.
Why is that important to me? Because I am a dutch - kiwi. Half my life was spent in New Zealand and the other half here in the country of my birth, Nederland. And I am proud of my status I can tell you.
I actually feel myself a bit of an Australian too. My son, daughter in law and grandsons and other family members live in Australia. I visit there when I travel Down Under to hug, hold and be near my children and grandchildren.
And I have a dream - I dream that my children ALL are whisked away on a plane together and arrive on Schiphol Airport to share, love hug and hold me here. In my country of birth. My home, where my roots are deeply entrenched.
As it happens, my daughter, son-in-law and three of my grandchildren are making part of that dream come true. I realise that my dream is a wee bit of a ' too hard basket' type of dream and am totally thrilled with the prospect I now am rocketing towards.
Another 6 weeks to go and I will be able to bike, eat pancakes, croquettes, visit the windmills, got to the market, the Efteling, Open Lucht Museum in Arnhem, Safari Park Beeksebergen to name a few prospects.....!
Oma ( that's me) is going to be rushed of her feet, swell with pride and smile the biggest smile for the duration of their visit. By the time the sightseeing is complete- they will find it hard to leave - and I will find it hard to say goodbye!
But memories will have been made, times shared, tears spilt and laughter heard. Oh what an awesome prospect. I feel so enormously blessed.