NEUMAN, Johanna Maria
(nee Dijkstra), much more commonly known as Yoka, Mum, or Oma, completed her life of 93 years on the 21st of November at Ross Home.
She did not go quietly – an Uppity Woman to the end.
Yoka was an important lesbian feminist activist and an inspiring role model to those around her. She was a founding member of the Dunedin Women’s Refuge, founded the Lesbian Mothers Defence Fund and lobbied for women’s reproductive rights and homosexual law reform. Why sit around and watch when you can act and change the world for the better?
Yoka was born in Dutch colonial Indonesia in 1928, the eldest child of Bertha and Abraham Jan Dijktra. She had three siblings: Adri (in the Netherlands), Marijke (sadly deceased, formerly of Wellington) and Bram (in California). Yoka spent the years of the second world war in occupied Holland and, despite experiencing many things that a teenager should not have to, became a cheerful young woman. Yoka was very happily married to Hans Neuman (died 1973), emigrated to New Zealand and had three children: Fieke, Eric, and John.
After years of feminist activism in the 1970s Yoka came out as lesbian in 1979 and had a long and loving relationship with Jill Dunwoodie (died 2008). They enjoyed travel together and adored their three grandchildren: Tarn, Mira and Elsa. Since 2019 Yoka has been in the care of Ross Home and the family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all the staff who cared for her.
Yoka is survived by her siblings Adri and Bram, her children and their partners David, Polly and Karen, her nieces and nephews in Wellington, Hamilton and The Netherlands, her grandchildren and their partners, all the other young people who called her ‘Oma’, her dear friends, and her sisters and brothers in the feminist movement and LGBTQ+ community.
Friends are welcomed to visit Yoka who is resting at Hope and Sons until Wednesday.
A private ceremony and cremation will be held. Next year, as soon as we can, we will have a proper celebration of Yoka’s life and legacy. Messages C/- 106 Rolla Street, Dunedin 9010 or leave a message on Yoka’s page above.