I was born in Auckland in 1959 to Danish parents and have a younger brother (who is now a Danish/French citizen). Our life at home was very Danish – the food, furnishings and customs, especially at Christmas. We spoke Danish until I went to kindergarten – a family doctor at the time advised that it was best that English was spoken. However there continued to be much exposure to Danish language through regular socialising with other Danes and through the many magazines and books we had at home. Also I studied Swedish for two years (because of its similarity to Danish) at Auckland University, as part of doing a Bachelor of Arts degree. .
During my childhood there was a strong focus on keeping in contact with family in Denmark on a weekly basis through letters and the occasional phone call. My first visit to Denmark was at three years old, for a few months, to celebrate my Mormor’s birthday. In 1970, our whole family visited Denmark for three months. I finally met all of our relatives, spent time on the family farm and attended the local school with my cousins for a few days. Looking back at this time, I am very grateful that my parents made the huge effort to take this trip; it helped to strengthen my connection to my heritage and identity.
Since then, I have visited Denmark many more times, including several trips with each of my two children. As adults, they both now have a strong connection to their Danish heritage, are keen to continue with traditions learnt from their grandparents, have an interest in the language and know their extended Danish family well.