1st generation New Zealander
Born 31 January 1878, died 22 September 1971
An inspiring woman who founded the Save the Children Fund in New Zealand.
Wilhemina Gregorine HAVELAAR was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 31 January 1878, according to the records in "Nederlands Patriciaat" [the genealogical record of all Dutch patrician families], 1925, vol. 15, p. 163. This date is also on her UK naturalisation certificate 3622, issued 5 February 1919 [see UK Archive Nationality & Naturalisation HO144/1479/342639] when she lived at Sidmouth, but is incorrectly noted in the NZ naturalisation records [held at the National Library] as 31 March 1878, with her name as Willimine Gregory HAVELAAR. She naturalised in NZ on 12 October 1922, file no. 20/3/64, Cert. Reg. 69, page 164, [see records at Archives NZ] and lived then at Hanmer Springs. This is confirmed in the NZ Gazette, 1922, p. 2883, dated 24-10-1922; her occupation is shown as 'nurse'. In NZ, she was known as Minnie Gregory HAVELAAR. She was the second Dutch woman to naturalise in NZ.
Wilhemina HAVELAAR had 5 sisters but 2 of them died very young; she had no brothers.
According to "Nederlands Patriciaat", her father was Louis Willem HAVELAAR, born 6 April 1850 in the homestead Bernhalden, Rheden, but it is not clear whether this is near Arnhem, the Netherlands, or Rheden in Baden-Württemberg, Germany; he married in Rotterdam on 14 October 1875 Jane Henriette Anny HERKLOTS, born in Doesburg 28 Feb 1851. Her father died in Haarlem on 16 June 1922; her mother died also in Haarlem on 4 June 1919. Wilhelmina and her sisters were reputed to have been driven by their father to learn the major languages of Europe and fan out into the world. However, Wilhelmina appears to be the only sister who settled in faraway NZ.
Louis Willem HAVELAAR was initially a member of the firm HAVELAAR & Busché which became HAVELAAR & Drost. Then he became the director of the Water Supply at Namen [Namur, Belgium] from 1889-1897; then from 1897 director of the City Water Supply and of the City Laboratory for Pathological Bacteriology at Haarlem, and a member of the Central Commission on Public Water Supply in 1913.
The parents of Jane Henriette Anny HERKLOTS were John Enslie HERKLOTS and Anna MOL, who had 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls. Jane was the oldest [Jeremy Herklots, Oxford, UK, pers. comm.].
On a Herklots family website it seems the family actually comes from the village Herkendorf, near Dippoldiswalde, south of Dresden in Saxony. The first Herklots to come to the Netherlands was Gregorius Herklots (1700-1760). This matches Minnie's second name.
The Herklots family were asked whether there is an English or Scottish connection which could explain Minnie's Anglophilia. Mr Jeremy Herklots of its English branch responded that the branch goes back to the end of the 18th century; moreover many were 'colonials' involved in India and Indonesia "where there was great interplay between England and the Netherlands". Perhaps Minnie stay with her English Herklots cousins in her early twenties?
Dorothy Page writes on p. 93 that "Minnie Havelaar was born in 1878 in Holland, but brought up in England. Her education included five languages and a social awareness reinforced by her parents who were always willing to share their home with the less privileged". Margaret Sweet describes her [p. 7] as a "remarkable English woman of Dutch descent, who emigrated to New Zealand after the First World War". On p. 11, she writes: "Minnie Gregory Havelaar was born in Holland, but raised and educated in England. She looked upon herself as English. She spoke several languages, and this enabled her to translate many of the letters of thanks received by the Save the Children Fund in New Zealand". On p. 32, she writes: "Miss Havelaar had spent some years in Swiss schools and spoke several languages, translated the Italian, French and German ones [children's letters] when necessary". There are a few inaccuracies in some of these quotations as shown below.
Minnie moved to London when she was probably in her twenties, and worked as a teacher of languages, living at "Sunnycote", Sidmouth, Devon, at the time of her UK naturalisation on 6 February 1919 [see records at Archives NZ]. Minnie Havelaar looked upon herself as being English [see 'Christchurch Star', 23 September 1971, page 15]. In fact, there is an interview made at her 90th birthday where she is even described as being English-born [The Christchurch Star, 31 January 1968].
In the "NZ Biography" at the National Library there are various newspaper cuttings which show that she first came to NZ in 1907 with Miss L M[abel] Grigg, but that was only a brief visit. They must have become very close friends because when she came b
On 4 July 1947 [in her 70th year], she founded the New Zealand Branch of "Save the Children Fund" in Christchurch. Its aim was to find foster homes and/or sponsors who would care for war-orphaned children, mainly from the U.K. but also from the rest of Europe. Two years later, she formed a second branch in Timaru and more sponsors volunteered. Margaret Sweet describes her [p. 11] as "a most remarkable woman. Of tiny stature, she was gracious and lady-like in manner. But she had an indomitable spirit. One person who worked with her described her as 'a lady, and very autocratic. You don't want to cross her!'".
When interviewed for her 90th birthday, she said: "Please don't tell them about me. Make it the Save the Children Fund. They are tired of hearing about me". She held the position as Dominion and local president of the Save the Children Fund until her ack to NZ in 1921, they eventually lived together in Christchurch. During WW I, Minnie had returned to the UK and worked with the Red Cross as liaison officer between the NZ High Commissioner in London and the NZ wounded soldiers in hospital.
When she returned to NZ in 1921 permanently, she worked for 4 [?] years as an occupational therapist with invalided soldiers at Queen Mary Hospital, Hanmer Springs [see 'Christchurch Star', 31 January 1968]. In February 1923, she wrote to Mr W M Downie-Stewart, Minister of Customs, about importing some "old family things" from her late father. In 1924, she was at Kelburn College Hostel, 14 Fairview Crescent, Kelburn, but had been asked by Archbishop Julius to become matron of the new Bishop Julius Hostel in Christchurch [see correspondence at Archives NZ]. Minnie was the Principal from 1924-1927 when Bishop Julius Hostel moved to 10 Cranmer Square, Christchurch. Later she became a full-time voluntary worker for the North Canterbury Centre of the NZ Red Cross Society.
In 1917, she became editor of "Women's Viewpoint", the National Council of Women's monthly magazine, and only relinquished this position in 1961 [see 'Christchurch Star', 29 September 1971, page 15]. During WW II, she was put in charge of the Red Cross POW records and "is fondly remembered by many next of kin whom she comforted with warmth and sympathy during their anxious waiting for news of husbands, sons and fathers" [see 'Wanganui Chronicle' 18 October 1971].
Minnie was awarded the MBE in 1946 [see Supplement to the London Gazette, 1 January 1946, p. 162]; Coronation Medal in 1953; was a JP [see "NZ Roll of Honour 1845-1995", p. 489, Ed. Alister Taylor 1998]. And she was also awarded the Order of Merit of the International Union of Child Welfare in Geneva in 1967 [see 'Timaru Herald', 24 September 1971]. She lived and breathed the Save the Children Fund.
death [see 'Christchurch Star', 23 September 1971]. She died on 22 September 1971 in Christchurch, and is interred in the Waimairi Cemetery. Even in her funeral notice, it states "donations to the Save the Children Fund would be appreciated".
She was for many years also on the Christchurch Executive of the UN Association. In her tribute to Minnie HAVELAAR, Mrs G M Samson, president of the Christchurch branch of the National Council of Women, says that Minnie was a life member of the NCW, a past national president, and a president of the Christchurch branch. In the Pan Pacific and South-east Asia Association, she was one of the founder members, its patron, a life member and one-time president. Mrs Samson recalls how "In her ninety-first year, I asked her to a Christmas function, offering transport to an 'old lady', but she regretfully declined as she had a speaking engagement in Ashburton on that day". Mrs Samson said "It was a privilege to know such a 'giant' in our land. Would that there were many more like her." Minnie never married.
She must have been a most persuasive speaker because she convinced her neighbour in Christchurch, Mrs Jean Warren [the mother of Sir Miles Warren], to also become a founding member of Save the Children Fund; she died about 21 June 1987 [see "The Press", 22 June 1987].
All the HAVELAARs, presently in NZ, live in the Christchurch area. Did any of Minnie's relatives come out later? If so, which branch of the large Dutch HAVELAAR family are they?
For more information on Minnie Havelaar, see:
Baylyn, Olive [compiler]; Pickles, Katie [editor] 1998: "Hall of Fame - Life Stories of New Zealand Women", pages 24-25. ISBN 0958370621.
Page, Dorothy, 1996: "The National Council of Women: a centennial history", pages 89, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 100, 111, and 114. ISBN 1869401549.
Sweet, Margaret, 1997: "A Canterbury Tale: the history of the first fifty years of the North Canterbury Branch of the Save the Children Fund, 1947-1997". ISBN 0473041847.
Many references to, and photos of Minnie Havelaar; see text on pages 7, 9, 11, 13, 28-30, 32, 37, 56, 59, 60, 65, 77-79, 177; photos on pages 12, 18, 20, 62, 63, 66. Excellent photo on p. 175.
Dr Nick Lambrechtsen - Trustee
E-mail: Nick@crypt.co.nz See "Register of persons naturalised in New Zealand before 1948", page 167. Copy of typed records provided by NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, held at the National Library of NZ: 'FHC-NZ-list'.