Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Memoir of World War II exile wins Adam Prize


12 December 2013

Memoir of World War II exile wins Adam Prize

Click for big version.

Adam Prize winner Helena Wiśniewska Brow (centre) with her family: (L-R) Jeremy Brow, Stefan Wiśniewski, Lucy, James and Anna Brow, and Olga Wiśniewska.

A memoir about the family of one of the Polish children offered refuge in New Zealand during World War II has won the prestigious Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing for 2013.

Give Us This Day: A memoir of family and exile was written by International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) graduate Helena Wiśniewska Brow. 

Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3,000 prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the Master of Creative Writing programme at the IIML. This is the first time the prize has been awarded for a memoir.

Polish refugee children are among the most well-known of New Zealand’s World War II exiles. They were expelled by the Soviets from Eastern Poland and endured forced labour and starvation in Siberia, then in refugee camps in Iran, where Helena’s grandmother died.

In 1944 Helena’s father, uncle and three aunts were among those offered refuge in New Zealand where they were cared for and educated, first in a camp in Pahiatua, and later in New Zealand secondary schools.

Chris Price, a Senior Lecturer at the IIML and co-convenor of this year’s Master’s programme, says she was struck by the richness and dexterity of Helena’s work.

“This book rolls up travel, memoir and history in an insightful and poignant journey of discovery into one family’s past, and its psychological legacy in the present. It’s a story that will resonate with a wide range of readers whose lives have been lived in the long shadow cast by the war,” she says.

In 2010 and 2011 Helena completed the Creative Non-Fiction and Short Fiction Workshops at the IIML. She says winning the Adam Foundation Prize is an honour. “I can’t imagine how I would have achieved the same result without the support and feedback from my classmates and the teaching staff at the Institute.”

“It has to be the best way to spend a year—writing the book you’ve always been meaning to write, with that level of encouragement.”

Auckland writer John Newton, an examiner for Helena’s thesis, says he found the memoir captivating and moving.

“No one has told this story with the finesse that Helena brings to her memoir. Its distinction, it seems to me, is in dramatising exile by exploring what it feels like to grow up as the child of an exile. I simply can’t think of a better book on World War II refugee experience in New Zealand,” he says.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include acclaimed authors Eleanor Catton, Catherine Chidgey, Paula Morris and Ashleigh Young.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Christchurch: Fixing Town Hall Means Performing Arts Precinct Rethink

Christchurch City Council’s decision to spend $127.5 million fixing the Town Hall means not all the land currently designated for the city’s Performing Arts Precinct is required, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>


With Hunters & Collectors: The Rolling Stones Announce New Auckland Date

It’s the news New Zealand has been waiting for. The Rolling Stones today confirmed the rescheduled dates and venues for both the Australian and New Zealand legs of their highly anticipated ’14 On Fire’ tour. Now, Frontier Touring is also delighted ... More>>


Flying Things: Conchords, Pretties Help BATS Fly Home

The launch of BATS theatre’s fundraising campaign has taken off – with a bit of help from their friends. And with friends like theirs… An event last night hosted by Te Radar at Wellington’s latest waterfront venue, Shed 6, featured Fly My Pretties and, in a dream-come-true scenario, Flight of the Conchords. More>>


Environment: Zoo’s Own Wētā Workshop Produces Rare Giants For Release

Following unprecedented breeding and rearing success, Auckland Zoo is today releasing 150 of New Zealand’s largest giant wētā, the wētā punga, onto pest-free Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf. A further 150 will be released onto Tiritiri Matangi next month. More>>

Girls On Film: Divergent Hits The Big Screen

n January, Catching Fire (the second film in the Hunger Games series) not only became the biggest US box office success of 2013 : it also became the first film starring a female actor (ie. Jennifer Lawrence) to top the annual domestic earnings chart since The Exorcist, 40 years ago. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: No Travel Sanctions For Russian Billionaire’s Superyacht

On the same day that New Zealand announced travel sanctions against selected Russians, a Russian billionaire’s superyacht berthed in Wellington Harbour. More>>


Mental Health: UC Researchers Believe Robots Can Persuade People To Conform

A team of University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and scientists believe robots can persuade people to conform through group pressure... ``Our results showed that robots can induce conformity but to a significantly lesser degree than humans." More>>

NZ On Air: Local Content Holds Steady At 32% Of Television Schedules

Since 1989 NZ On Air has measured local free-to-air television content. The report compares the schedules of the six national free-to-air channels, to observe trends and changes in the local content landscape. More>>

Arts Fest: 2014 New Zealand Festival A Spectacular Celebration

The New Zealand Festival welcomed the world to Wellington over 24 days (21 Feb – 16 Mar) of arts events across the city. “[current figures show] slight increase on the 110,000 tickets issued in 2012. It’s a great result.” More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news