New cafe in Newstead set to open in December with traditional Netherlands fare.
Anyone travelling along Ruakura Rd could be forgiven for thinking they were in a different country when they see an unusual building with an equally unusual tale behind taking shape on a road-side property.
The story of the Zenders Cafe and Venue is traced back to Dutch couple John and Betsy Reymer who were part of the wave of immigration to New Zealand following WWII.
The Reymers took up farming at Otorohanga, Pirongia and Ohaupo, and had a family of 10 children.
Seventy-odd years later, daughters Christina Reymer, Teresa Bowe and Monique Reymer came together to create Hamilton's latest cafe and function venue.
The Reymer family came from near the small dutch town of Zevenaar in the Netherlands, and Zenders is the local nickname for the settlement.
On a return visit in 2008, the sisters discovered that their grandparents' 100-year-old house Schildheuvel was for sale and likely demolition.
The plans for the old farm house were still on file at the local council offices. The sisters received a copy of the blueprints from relatives in Holland and decided to recreate the building in the Waikato, Christina Reymer said.
"We really landed on our feet. We saw an advertisement in the Waikato Times for a 2ha block of land for sale on Ruakura Rd, which was in an ideal spot, not far from one of the off-ramps for the new Waikato expressway, not far from the Newstead Park cemetery and the Tainui inland port development, and in an area which will see future development."
The Zenders Cafe and Venue, Our place, Your Place, owned by the Zin in New Zealand Partnership is scheduled to be open for business by early December.
The sisters combined their respective aptitudes to manage the more than $5 million project. Teresa brought her skills in market research and Monique her background in governance. Christina comes from working in international development for the Catholic aid organisation Caritas.
Rob Powell cleans up historic woodwork ahead of reinstallation in the Zenders cafe area.
Christina's partner Rob Powell was busy rehabilitating the antique wood-work in a nearby shed.
The concept plans for the old farmhouse were reworked to modern Kiwi standards by Te Awamutu's Gisler Architects with the finer detail work undertaken by Andrew Bydder Architect and construction by builders Steve Spijkerman of Hamilton.
The striking building is as close to the original Dutch form as possible with the structure made of imported Porotherm clay blocks, faced in red bricks and roofed in clay tiles.
The main building is 12 metres by 29m in the floor plan with the main Zaal, or what was the barn area, 9.5m high and big enough to handle 180 seated or 350 standing. The adjacent Orange Room accommodates 80 seated and 120 standing.
The main part will be used as a conference and reception centre for gatherings of all sorts including weddings, conferences, corporate events and family occasions.
The outdoors will be landscaped to provide a pleasant area with umbrellas and tables. The eastern end of the building will be used as a seven-day cafe for casual and passing customers, complete with a canal and drawbridge entry.
"Our aim is to provide the best local foods and beers," Christina Reymer said.
"The cafe will run independently from the venue. It will look a bit like grandma's front room and we hope it will become a destination and a place to celebrate the Waikato and all its migrant groups, a place for people to connect and celebrate."
To lend old-world charm to the otherwise modern cafe area, a 100-year-old staircase, architraves, skirting boards, cast-iron fireplace, its decorative surround, and native timber doors have been incorporated in the design.
These were salvaged from the demolition of St Mary's presbytery in Hamilton in 2016.