ABOUT NEERLANDIA

The History of the Dutch Society Neerlandia of WA Inc.

The earlier Dutch migrants that arrived in the late 1940's had made several attempts to establish Dutch clubs in WA, such as the Dirck Hartogh Society and the Australian Dutch League, but these all folded after a short while. But during the early 1950's the Dutch migrants arrived in larger numbers and although many got on with starting a new life here, they all still hunkered for the Dutch culture and social life.

 

Early Dutch clubs

In order to enjoy some of those experiences, many clubs were formed. Some of these were the Windmills Soccer Club, several Klaverjas Clubs, two Ladies Choirs, Male Voice Choir, Repertory Club Elckerlijc, Hollandia Biljard Club, Dam Club King Damas, The King Street Dance Club, several Church Organisations and even a Credit Union. But these were all individual clubs and despite several discussions that were held to work or combine together, this never eventuated.

 

Even as late as 1965 some of the individual clubs once again held meetings and discussions in an attempt to pull most of the existing clubs together, but true to the strong-willed nature of the Dutch Character, this once again led nowhere.

 

Many clubs, one magazine

It was not until early 1969, when once again a series of meetings was called, initially to

publish a combined newsletter, or more to the point, to support the publication called

Contact’, that was produced by one of the Dutch Church Organisations in WA.

 

At this meetings there were some prominent Dutch people present.

Initially an agreement was reached that all the clubs present would give their support and publish articles in the existing Church magazine ‘Contact’. This was accepted with great enthusiasm, but the drawback was that there was little or no income generated to cover the printing cost of the magazine.

 

Federation of Dutch clubs WA

At a follow-up meeting held on the 20 of May 1969 it was disclosed that the ‘Contact’-magazine had accumulated a debt of over $800.00. There and then a proposal was raised to start a Federation of Dutch Clubs in WA.

The advantages of this federation would be many, because combined they could organize large functions to raise funds and clear the accumulated debt. Secondly, it could establish a large membership and thirdly, together they could eventually obtain a clubhouse.

 

Clubhouse

In the meantime, Nico Feddema and Pieter Leeflang of the powerful Klaverjasclub Neerlandia, thinking in 1968 that the Dutch Community would never get their act together, had decided that the Klaverjasclub would try to go alone to obtain a clubhouse.

 

In order to do that, they had drawn up and adopted a Constitution in October 1968, changed the name of the Klaverjasclub to the Dutch Society Neerlandia of WA and they applied for Incorporation, which was granted on the 4th of March 1969.

 

When at the aforementioned meeting they heard of the good news that a Federation of Dutch Clubs and Associations would be formed, they offered to hand over their Constitution, the Incorporated name ‘Dutch Society Neerlandia of WA Inc’, as well as their established Group Travel Scheme to this yet unnamed Federation.

 

This proposal, of course, was accepted with open arms by all the delegates as this would save the Federation a lot of time and money, which they did not have as yet.

But this proposal still had to be accepted by all the members of all the individual clubs. This was done and accepted with great enthusiasm, only the Windmills Sports Club were the exception as they voted against participating.

 

Neerlandia established

At the next meeting held on the 24th of June 1969 the proposal to proceed was officially

accepted and a steering committee elected, which was: President, Nico Feddema; Secretary, Pieter Leeflang and Treasurer Karel Nissen. Nico Feddema and Pieter Leeflang were at the time the president and secretary of the Klaverjas Club Neerlandia and Karel Nissen de president of the Checkers Club ‘King Damas’.

 

Nominations were soon sought for a neutral Executive as well as other Committee members and the following were elected as the first official Committee of the Dutch Society Neerlandia.

President, Teun Verboon; secretary, Iet van Lunteren; Treasurer, Karel Nissen; Committee Members, Karel Mijnsbergen, Taets van Amerongen, Henk Heesemans and Pieter Leeflang. So on the 24th of June 1969 Neerlandia was officially established.

 

Still alive and kicking

And now, all those years later, Dutch Society Neerlandia is still in existence. The core members are older whilst others have passed on. New Dutch immigrants are moving to Perth and although their reasons for moving to Australia may be different to those migrants of the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, the need to stay in touch with the Netherlands and with the Dutch culture is as prominent as ever.

 

The ways of communicating with ‘home’ are now so much easier. Family and friends in the Netherlands are now accessible through Skype, Facebook and other electronic communication media. Dutch products are easily obtainable through on-line stores. These may be some of the reasons that membership of the Dutch club has declined over the past few years.

 

Growth

However, in 2009 a small group of new generation Dutch realized the importance of Neerlandia and together they started to work on finding ways to attract new members. It was, and it still is, a slow process but after years of being almost dormant, Neerlandia is becoming a hub of activity yet again.

And although expectations, lifestyle and interests of migrants then and migrants now are dramatically different, the need to get together and to celebrate the Dutch Culture is as lively as ever.

Therefore, new Dutch migrants are now finding their way to the Club; the activities in the club have changed but we still enjoy to meet and greet and to introduce our Australian family and friends to this piece of ‘Holland’. Dutch Society ‘Neerlandia’ is very much alive again!

 

A new clubhouse

In February 2016 the Dutch Club moved in with the German speaking Rhein Donau Club with a view of selling its clubhouse at Cambridge Street. The latter eventuated in October 2016. Both Neerlandia and Rhein Donau are enjoying this new situation, which appeared to be a win win situation for all involved.

 

Visit us!

The best way to get to know us is by dropping in on any last Friday of the Month (except October December) when the Clubhouse is open from 5.30pm to everyone for a beer and a Dutch snack.

For more information, please contact Lianna Parker at: [email protected]