16 Dec 2019

Episode 3: Argumentative is an English Concept - Conversations With My Immigrant Parents

From Conversations With My Immigrant Parents, 6:00 am on 16 December 2019
(L-R) Nina, Francisco Blaha, Felix Blaha, Kika Blaha, Vibeke Brethouwer in their home on Waiheke Island.

(L-R) Nina, Francisco Blaha, Felix Blaha, Kika Blaha, Vibeke Brethouwer in their home on Waiheke Island. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

Argumentative is an English Concept

Felix Blaha showing his Father's Argentinian passport.

Felix Blaha showing his Father's Argentinian passport. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

The Blaha/Brethouwer whānau live on Waiheke Island and have roots in three different countries; Argentina, Holland, and right here in Aotearoa.  Dad Francisco migrated here as an adult, mum Vibeke was born in Aotearoa but grew up in Holland, and both their teenage children Kika (14) and Felix (17) were born in Auckland.

Francisco left Argentina because he saw no place for himself in a system that he saw as rigged with a corrupt military government.  He hopped on a boat with little clue of what he was going to do and spent the next few years working on boats in the Pacific, eventually finding Aotearoa through a serendipitous weekend.

Vibeke Brethouwer at home on Waiheke Island.

Vibeke Brethouwer at home on Waiheke Island. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

“I was in Tonga and they asked me to bring a boat down to New Zealand to do survey which is like a Warrant of Fitness.  So I arrived here and I had a very good weekend and I decided to jump off the boat and never [look back].”

Vibeke on the other hand feels like she’s left a large part of herself in Holland.

Kika Blaha at home on Waiheke Island.

Kika Blaha at home on Waiheke Island. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

“I left New Zealand when I was 3 years old so I had no real memories… I’ll always feel like I’m going to be almost split in half.  When I’m in New Zealand, I miss things about Holland and when I’m in Holland I really miss things about New Zealand.  I’ve now literally lived half my life here so I’m completely torn forever.”

Many threads in this episode explore the cultural differences between Dutch and Argentinian people, the difficulties for kids of immigrants raised in multiple cultures, and the privilege of the family being perceived as being more ‘ex-pat’ than ‘immigrant’.

Kika points out how often she doesn’t get recognised as being from an immigrant background, “Until I say, ‘Oh my dad’s from Argentina’ or until they see a photo of him, because you’re tall and big and dark… people don’t think about the culture or the history or oh what if this chick has some super cool… what if she can speak Spanish or speak Dutch.”

“I feel like I have to try and present that culture a lot more, and I really want to because it’s something I want to have presented and I want to have a part of me.”

Series Classification: G (General Programmes)

[click here for more episodes]

(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

Conversations With My Immigrant Parents is a podcast and video series hosted, produced, and directed by Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

Saraid de Silva is a Sri Lankan/Pākehā actor and writer.  Her work deals with contemporary feminism and the realities of being a first generation South Asian New Zealander.

Born in China, Julie Zhu is a filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller focused on championing the stories and voices of marginalised identities.

| Twitter: @saraiddesilva@juliezhuu | Instagram: @convoswithmy | Facebook: whereareyoufromreally |

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