(March 7, 1937 – November 2, 2018)
Johannes (Hans) Van Duyn and his twin brother Jan were born in The Hague, Netherlands. Growing up in WWII-occupied Holland they endured hardship, missing out on a normal childhood and education, and started working on fishing boats when they were 13. Hans married the love of his life, Gerda, in 1957. They were to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary in late November.
Together Hans and Gerda Mum and Dad welcomed Diane, Hans Junior and Rene into the world. During this time Hans became the Netherlands judo middleweight champion. Keen to give his children the best childhood he could provide, Hans followed his friend John Houniet, whom he had met while doing his compulsory army service, and moved the family to New Zealand, arriving in November 1965. Hans often told his children that, after spending the first night in their new country at the Takapuna campground, he walked along Takapuna beach. The kids were paddling in the water and he looked across at Rangitoto Island said, “we’re in paradise.” That opinion of New Zealand never changed.
By working three jobs, in 1966, he purchased his first home in Takapuna. He then built an unpermitted top story on the house, where he set up a judo school. In 1966 he and Gerda added to the family by adopting 10-day-old Simon. In 1971 the family grew again to welcome Helen and in 1973 Lisa was adopted at age two, completing the family unit.
Hans continued to achieve in judo, becoming the NZ Heavyweight Champion and training others. One of his proudest moments was when he was the NZ flag bearer at the World Champs. Later he discovered there was money to be made in the construction industry and the judo school was closed to make way for the beginnings of Eurovision Housemovers, the family business that still runs today.
With Gerda by his side, Hans and his sons worked together and built up a thriving business. They eventually made the move to Helensville. Diane became the secretary and her husband Colin joined the company. Seeing a need for affordable housing in Helensville and Parakai, Hans defied the odds and the Council to move homes to the area, many of which are still there today. Hans became an energetic Helensville Borough Councillor in the early 1980s. He became well known in the Helensville community for his generous nature, donating the moving of the Helensville courthouse and museum buildings and donating the youth club building in Awaroa Rd to the community. He was honoured to be named a life member of the Helensville Historical Society. Through all of this, he remained dedicated to the family business, staying very involved well past retirement.
As immigrants, Gerda and Hans missed their families terribly, but soon their friends became like close family. After grandchildren started arriving from 1983 Hans became Poppa. After Gerda, his grandchildren and later his great grandchildren were the lights of his life. It was devastating when the family lost Simon in a car crash in 1984, but the tragedy brought everyone even closer together, as they are today.
At his funeral Hans was celebrated as a man who valued his family above all else and who instilled in them all a work ethic that has carried on through the generations. He was legendary in his generosity, helping people in their times of need and giving amazing opportunities to people who had never had any. A policeman once told a family member he was convinced Hans had saved his life by jumping into a violent attack and fighting off several men. He would fight passionately for his values and for others he believed weren’t getting a fair deal - councils, cops, lawyers - and was never afraid to keep pushing forward in his efforts, despite the odds. He loved everything about New Zealand and his homes always had a flagpole to proudly fly the flag he loved.
The family wish to thank Te Waru Hill, who organised a beautiful karanga and feathered cloak for Hans, those who sent their love, condolences and support and everyone who attended the funeral.