I was born in 1956 to Danish parents, Else and Bent Bryder, who came to New Zealand around 1950, along with Else’s parents and her sister’s family. I have one sister, Janne. I met my father’s parents for the first time when they visited in 1967, and I went to Denmark for the first time in 1977. Since then I have visited Denmark many times.
My mother was very close to her sister and her mother, and all their friends were part of the Auckland Danish community. My father was secretary of the Danish Society throughout my childhood. I grew up in our family home in Onehunga, which my father built. This was a bungalow, brick and tile, and very Danish (hyggelig). We followed Danish customs and ate Danish food. My parents spoke Danish at home, though Janne and I answered in English. I taught myself to read and write Danish as a teenager, and spoke Danish when I visited Denmark. Being Danish was very much a part of my identity and I did feel different from my school friends. Not inferior or superior (well, maybe a little), just different, much like my close school friend, Hansha, who was Indian.