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145 years of Polish Settlement in Canterbury & NZ

145 years of Polish Settlement in Canterbury & NZ

“Between the Waters” programme of events celebrates 145 years of Polish Settlement in Canterbury and New Zealand.

Presented this week in Christchurch there will be Polish chapter in NZ history, framed in the chronicles of four families that disembarked from ‘Friedeburg’ in Lyttelton in August 1872. All the way from Europe.

The Kotlowskis, Gierszewskis, Szymanskis and Watembach were, among others, part of wave of immigration which saw New Zealand’s settler population double to about 500,000 during the 1870s. More Poles came later. Some convinced family members to join them. Others came independently.
Many of them will be personally represented this Saturday, December 9th at the opening of the Exhibition “Between The Waters” at Canterbury Museum. The exhibition will be opened by Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to New Zealand Mr Zbigniew Gniatkowski.

Later on that afternoon, commemorative plaque will be officially dedicated at Polish Settlers Place - street named (courtesy of CCC and Ngai Tahu), after the early settlers at Marshland subdivision in Christchurch - just meters away from their original farms. Additionally, a historic street light, donated by Pomeranian City of Gdansk, will stand next to the plaque.

The commemorations were launched on 30 August 2017, exactly 145 years after the very first Polish settlers set foot on New Zealand soil, with a few of descendantsand their friends, who gathered to celebrate in the Polish Consulate in Lyttelton.

‘Between the Waters’ tells the story of a journey of Polish families from Baltic region of Prussia that in 1872 made Canterbury, New Zealand, their home away fromhome.

The Star reported: ‘The ‘Friedeburg’ ship dropped anchor at 4pm at Godley Head, outside Christchurch’s Lyttelton harbour on 30 August 1872. It carried 241 “statute adults,” including nearly 100 Poles. The 53 families, 33 single men and 61 single women totaled 297 people on board, 200 older than 12 years, 82 children and, in the end, 15 infants. There were six births during the voyage. All the passengers were vaccinated. After 102 days atsea there is no doubt the ‘Friedeburg’ passengers appreciated their first few nights on land. Trains took them to Addington immigration barracks.’ So the life in NZ has begun…
What: ‘Between the Waters’ – Canterbury’s First Polish Settlers – Exhibition Opening.
When: Saturday, 9th December, 2017 at 3pm
Where: Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue

What: ‘Between the Waters’ – Commemorative Plaque Dedication
When: Saturday, 9th December, 2017 at 5pm
Where: Polish Settlers Place, street in Marshland – at the east entry to Kahu Kiwi Park


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