- #1743639vale019 February 24, 2020 at 4:28 pm
SG. Very interesting article – thanks for that. I truly appreciate your time & effort. Considering we are a ‘young’ nation – there is still a lot of history to be learned.
Hiya, Kai, lovely to hear from both you & SG. Thanks for keeping in touch, my wee bee!!!#1743642vale019 February 24, 2020 at 5:19 pm
Otago Peninsula Wildlife
1) Royal Spoonbills 2) Oyster Catchers 3) Welcome Swallows 4) Bar-tailed Godwits
1) NZ Falcon 2) Northern Royal Albatross 3) NZ Kingfisher 4) Harrier
1) Pied Stilt 2) Whitefaced Heron
Penguins – Yellow Eyed – Crested and Blue
On Left – Male Elephant Seal (a rare visitor) – Male Hooker Sea Lion –
On Right – Fur Seal pup – Suckling Pup – Seals and Sea Lions#1743814vale019 February 27, 2020 at 1:41 pm
Kiwi or Feijoa???
Kiwi-shaped feijoa found in Auckland
An Auckland family spotted one of New Zealand’s endangered birds in the form of a feijoa hanging in their backyard.
North Shore resident Evelyn Lukis, 33, was collecting fruit from her tree on Thursday when she spotted the small fruit, about the size of a grape.
She posted her discovery on Facebook, hoping to “share some kiwi loving”.#1743944vale019 February 28, 2020 at 5:50 pm
Dad’s New Zealand Mince Stew#1744138vale019 March 2, 2020 at 8:03 pm
Some of the Jews who arrived in New Zealand in the19th century were escaping persecution in Russia and Poland (part of which was then under Russian rule). HymanMarks, a Polish Jew who arrived in 1861, was a major benefactor of Christchurch Hospital. His bust still stands in the hospital’s foyer.#1744142vale019 March 2, 2020 at 8:26 pm
New Zealand’s First Refugees: Pahiatua’s Polish Children
The Polish Children’s Camp in Pahiatua
The piece of land on State Highway 2, some 3km south of Pahiatua where the rest area with the Polish Children’s Memorial is situated, was once part of the Pahiatua Racecourse, established in 1901.
Shortly after Japan entered World War II on 7 December 1941, the New Zealand Government rounded-up all foreign enemy nationals (Germans, Italians, Japanese and Samoans of German extraction) and interned them on Somes (Matiu) Island in Wellington Harbour. However, the fortification of Somes Island meant that the internees had to be shifted. In 1942, a prison camp was built at Pahiatua Racecourse for these “alien” civilian internees.
When on 9 June 1943 the US transport ship Hermitage, carrying a group of 706 Polish refugees from Iran to Mexico, anchored for a short time at Wellington, the wife of the Polish Consul, Countess Maria Wodzicka, visited them and conceived an idea of bringing some of the other Polish orphans from Iran to New Zealand. She shared her idea with Prime Minister Peter Fraser’s wife, and eventually that idea become a reality when Mr Fraser and his government offered hospitality to 733 Polish children and 102 staff who were to accompany them. So the journey from Isfahan to Pahiatua began.
On 1 November 1944, Mr Fraser, the Polish Consul Count Kazimierz Wodzicki and his wife Countess Maria Wodzicka welcomed the children to New Zealand on board the USS General Randall in Wellington. That same day, the last part of the long journey was completed by two special trains from Wellington to Pahiatua.
The Polish children were farewelled from Wellington Railway Station by hundreds of Wellington school children waving New Zealand and Polish flags. There were also big welcomes at Palmerston North and Pahiatua, and all along the way there were groups of children waving to the arrivals. In a gesture of further goodwill, some of those children were driven to other railway stations to cheer on the refugees again.
Thirty-three army trucks transported the arrivals from Pahiatua station to the old internment camp whose official name was now the Polish Children’s Camp in Pahiatua. At last they had a new home. The long journey was over.
Ladies from Pahiatua’s Polish Children’s Hospitality Committee prepared the beds, put flowers on tables and tidied up the camp for their arrival. The camp was administered by the New Zealand army. All army maintenance staff took orders from Camp Commandant Major Foxley. In addition, the Polish administration was headed by the Polish Delegate Jan Śledziński and the Polish staff received their orders from him.
It was intended that after the war all the children and staff would return to Poland. However, after the Russians had pushed the Germans back across Poland in 1945, the Russians installed a pro-Soviet communist government in Poland and retained, with some adjustments, the territories occupied in 1939. It was at this stage that the New Zealand Government assured the children and staff that they were welcome to remain in New Zealand.
The limited financial assistance from the Polish Government-in-Exile in London soon came to an end and the New Zealand Government took over the entire financing of the camp. The Polish authorities were aware of the huge costs of running the camp, and it was decided to try to lower them by cultivating a vegetable garden, and taking over the running of the laundry and kitchens.
The children performed their duties and chores outside of school hours by cleaning the campgrounds, working in the vegetable gardens, cutting the grass, washing dishes, and also tidying their dormitories, classrooms and washrooms. To help them get acquainted with the New Zealand way of life, the army and Catholic hierarchy collected 830 invitations from New Zealand families for the Polish children and adults to spend two weeks’ holiday with them in May 1945 and January 1946.
In early 1945, one of the first groups of girls left the camp to attend New Zealand schools, and at the beginning of the 1946 school year a second group left for Catholic secondary schools or to towns to learn various trades. Towards the end of 1946, the new Russian-installed Warsaw Government sent a special envoy to New Zealand, Mrs Zebrowska, to inspect the living conditions of the Polish children in the camp and New Zealand schools. After inspecting the camp, she returned to Poland completely satisfied with the conditions.
As the Polish army was demobilised, there arose the possibility of bringing some of the children’s relatives to New Zealand. Soon afterwards, Polish ex-servicemen and other relatives began arriving from Africa, India and Britain. In 1948, they formed the Polish Association in New Zealand, which was based in Wellington. Thus, the children formed the nucleus around which the Polish post-war community in New Zealand developed.
The exodus from the camp continued as each year those children who had finished Polish school up to Standard 6 left for New Zealand schools or apprenticeships. The last group of children left the camp on 15 April 1949. Thus, by the time the camp was closed in 1949, many of the children were already working or attending New Zealand day and boarding schools. The youngest girls were transferred to the Polish Girls’ Hostel “Ngaroma” in Queen’s Drive, Lyall Bay, Wellington, which closed in 1958. The older boys were accommodated at the Polish Boys’ Hostel, Clyde Street, Island Bay, Wellington, until 1952. A group of the youngest boys was cared for at the Polish Boys’ Hostel in Princess Street, Hawera, until 1954.
When the last of them left the camp, it was converted to accommodate “displaced persons” who migrated from forced-labour camps in Germany. They were also stateless because of the boundary changes in Europe after the war. By 1952, the last people left the camp and it was finally closed.
The buildings were sold for use as barns, halls and beach cottages. Some of the best-preserved camp buildings are still in use, such as at the Southern Cross Abbey in Takapau, Hawke’s Bay. The land then reverted to farmland. Thereafter, nothing remained of the original camp to remind anyone that a huge camp had existed, except for a small grotto shrine on its northern perimeter which the Polish children had helped to build from rocks from the local Mangatainoka River in 1945 for their religious devotions.
In 1971, the Jaycees of Pahiatua notified the Polish Association in Wellington that the grotto structure was rapidly deteriorating. The former children of the camp felt that they could not allow the only tangible reminder of their happy years at the camp to disappear. So the Polish Children’s Memorial Committee was convened to build a monument and establish a rest area.
The land and air-landing strip for top-dressing on which the former camp stood was now owned by Balfour Stud Farm Limited, and part of it was donated for the rest area through Mr P Williamson of Wellington. The rest area was established at the northern entrance to the old camp, and the stones and masonry from the grotto shrine were incorporated in the monument now standing there.
The monument, a white marble monolith, was unveiled on 22 February 1975. Based on Greek mythology, its shadow at midday represents a mother holding a child. A historical noticeboard, prepared by Józef Zawada under the auspices of the Historical Places Trust, was unveiled in the rest area by John Falloon, the Member of Parliament for Pahiatua, on 23 October 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Polish children.#1744153supergoldMemberMember since: May 9, 2009
Replies: 9176supergold March 3, 2020 at 8:08 am
Thank you so much for your contributions Val. They are always very interesting but I was particularly fascinated by the Polish people and the camp in Pahiatua. I learned about that camp in school in the 1940’s but your article gave so much more about how it all came about. What a lovely, heartwarming tale. I grew up in Miramar and spent a lot of time at all the beaches in the area including Island Bay so, of course, came across Polish children in the late 40’s/early 50’s.
Thank you so much.
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)#1744180gabyoneMemberMember since: November 13, 2008
Replies: 2833gabyone March 3, 2020 at 11:40 am
Lovely Thanks Val. Knew a little about the camp & had a classmate from there. Recently a member of our Probus club, who was one of the children gave us a great talk about & he has also produced a book on that subject.
Gabyone Auckland region#1744216vale019 March 3, 2020 at 5:27 pm
Thanks so much, SG & Gabyone – I didn’t know anything about that camp and when I came across an article about it I expected the worst. I thought there would be tales of neglect, cruel carers etc, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that those children were well cared for and were happy. We can’t even imagine what hell they must have been through before they were sent here.#1744470vale019 March 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm
WHAT HAPPENED ON WHAKAARI?
THE ERUPTION STARTED at 9.35pm, with big heaves inside the crater. At 10.03pm, it began pelting the walking track with projectiles, but withheld its final energy until 10.11pm when, with a whoomph, it sent the plume sky-high. A scalding current of steam and debris, coloured green by the hydrothermally altered rock it contained, rolled right over the walking track at 11 metres per second, and down to the south-eastern bays. This eruption took place on Whakaari/White Island on April 27, 2016.
GNS Science geologists reconstructed the pulses of the eruption from acoustic and seismic data, and three weeks later—when they could safely land on the island again—they began figuring out the reach of those pulses. It then took nearly three years before the resulting scientific paper was published, on April 1, 2019, and laid out the facts: more than a quarter of the walking track had been bombarded by rock fragments. The pyroclastic surge, though just five millimetres thick at its extremities, had nonetheless covered 95 per cent of the track. “These eruptions clearly pose a significant hazard to the tourists that visit the island,” the authors wrote.
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