Dutch courage: The little Kiwi cheese taking on the world

Since 1981, a pioneering Dutch immigrant has been developing a distinctive New Zealand style of cheese, and now the world is starting to sit up and take notice. But for Albert Alferink, he’s just doing what he’s good at: working.

Waikato: home of the Tron, the mighty river, Hobbiton, Waikato Draught and Jacinda Ardern.

The region is also home, of course, to acre upon acre of lush green grass that’s munched by cows who produce milk that is, or so we’re told, the backbone of the nation.

Yes, dairying. But put Fonterra and Big Dairy out of your mind for a minute. Instead, meet a 67-year-old Dutchman named Albert, who for 37 years has been turning small amounts of Waikato milk into world-class cheese. From the humble factory he built himself at his home in Onewhero, south of Tuakau, Albert Alferink makes Dutch-style cheese with milk from the cows at the neighbouring farm. He and his wife Ineke sell that cheese at their shop in Mercer, which gives the business its name, Mercer Cheese.