Polish Children Going Back to Pahiatua to Thank Locals
Polish Children Going Back to Pahiatua to Thank the Locals 73 Years After Their Arrival
On Friday, 3 November 2017 a strong group of Polish Community who arrived in New Zealand in 1944, known as Pahiatua Polish Children and their families will meet in Pahiatua to unveil the commemorative plaque in memory of New Zealand government and local citizens who helped the children feel at home.
Of attendance will be the Polish Ambassador to New Zealand Zbigniew Gniatkowski, Polish Consul Agnieszka Kacperska, Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis, Wendy Hinton, MFAT - former New Zealand Ambassador to Poland as well as over 50 original Children and members of their families.
The plaque also commemorates the Polish people connected with the events leading to bringing the children to New Zealand, such as General Władysław Anders, who in 1941 formed and led the Polish Armed Forces in the East. They helped Polish civilians, including children, many of them orphans, leave the Soviet Union, upon the signing of the Sikorski-Majski agreement and a one-time amnesty for Polish citizens in Russia.
Listed on the plaque are also then Polish Consul General in Wellington Kazimierz Wodzicki and his wife Maria. New Zealand’s war Cabinet – as one of few governments of the time – responded positively to the appeal of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London to provide a temporary shelter to Polish orphans. As we know, Kazimierz Wodzicki and his wife Maria, and their special relationship with the New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser and his wife Janet, played a key role in inviting Polish Children to New Zealand – says Polish Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski.
Finally, the plaque will commemorate the personnel and caregivers who worked at the Pahiatua Camp, where children spent nearly five years as well as friendly and hospitable local community of Pahiatua town.
The plaque will be placed in Main Street, Pahiatua, opposite District Council Building.
Following the unveiling, the group will visit a recently refurbished Pahiatua Museum which holds a separate room dedicated to Pahiatua Polish Children and lay flowers at the memorial at the site of the former camp. Tararua College’s Kapa Haka Group will welcome the arrivals to town.
Today the Polish Communities in New Zealand work passionately to promote long-lived traditions and culture of the old homeland. They embody the character of the Polish nation while being valuable New Zealanders – added Ambassador Gniatkowski.
The event has been organised jointly by the Polish Embassy in Wellington, the Polish Children Facilitating Committee (70th Reunion Committee) and Pahiatua on Track led by Louise Powick.