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40 Jahre Goethe-Institut Neuseeland
Herbert Beck

A true Goethe child

My life as a diplomat and father is inextricably linked to the Goethe Institut in Wellington. 

Max 1993 Our shared history can be traced back to a precise date: Friday, May 24, 1991. Remember that day? It was a windy, rainy, briefly terrible Friday when my wife Ulrike, our eight-month-old son Max and I arrived in Wellington, our first foreign post - and at least from a German perspective on the other side of the world. The Embassy’s Head of Administration had picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at Hill Street Apartments at around 2 pm, put 100 dollars in our hands, referred to the Embassy’s information folder and headed off wishing us a nice first weekend in New Zealand’s capital city. 
We had crossed 12 time zones within 40 hours, all sense of time had vanished into thin air. Ulrike and I were dead tired. Only little Max was wide awake and looked at us expectantly, as to what entertaining program would now follow. His sweet, bright little face ruled out only one option: sleep for mum and dad! I bit the bullet and Ulrike gratefully went to bed. I wrapped Max up warmly, put him into his carry- rucksack and looked helplessly at the city map enclosed in the information package by the embassy. Where should our first discovery walk lead us to? “Beehive", "Botanical Garden", "City Gallery" - no bell rang. Then the two words "GOETHE INSTITUT" caught my eyes! I had found our destination. Through rain showers, occasional sunrays and gusts of wind I fought my way with a curious looking Max to 150 Cuba Street. In the meantime it was almost 5 o'clock. I took the elevator up to the 6th floor, looked through the beautifully designed new glass windows into the interior of the institute. I pressed the front door. Closed. Obviously I was too late. But suddenly a young woman with an energetic step appeared, looked at me through her glasses with a mixture of curiosity and surprise, opened the door and asked me what she could do for me. I introduced myself as the just arrived Cultural Attaché of the German Embassy and Max as the youngest member of the Beck family. Judith Geare beamed at me, invited me in, showed me around the institute and we soon agreed to take it as a promising sign that the new Cultural Attaché had set foot on the Goethe Institut before his own workplace. Meanwhile, Max, freed from his rucksack, had begun to explore the premises of the Institute on all fours, cheering loudly. The office of the director, Knut Heuer, seemed particularly attractive and interesting to him. 
In the following years Max was a welcome guest at GI Wellington, Ulrike discovered her passion for teaching German as a foreign language with the active support of Judith, while Elke Diedrichs liked to keep an eye on Max, who visibly felt at home at Cuba Street. Max's friendship with Knut and Wiebke Heuer continues to this day. 
Since then the Goethe Institut has had a special place in my heart, in our hearts. And it all began on a miserable day at the end of May 1991...
Congratulations, dear GI Wellington, for the great commitment in the cultural and linguistic field, for the always very human approach and for all the successful work over the past 40 years. Keep up the good spirit!