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New Zealand's First Refugees: Pahiatua's Polish Children

28 December 1943

To Count Wodzicki, Polish Consul to New Zealand

28 December 1943

My dear Count Wodzicki,

With reference to our discussion concerning the reception of the Polish refugee children in New Zealand and the meeting held in my office on Tuesday, 14 December, I have to inform you that the New Zealand Government would be very willing to afford hospitality in New Zealand to a total number of persons, including staff, of say 500 or 700, whichever number your government considered more convenient.

Our whole conception of the scheme is that it should cater for the largest number of children and would, therefore, wish that as many children as possible should be included within the total number who might come to New Zealand. We recognise, of course, that it is essential that sufficient staff should accompany the children, and we would be willing, if the Polish Government so desired, to receive, within the total number of 500 to 700, a number of mothers of the children.

The New Zealand Government would make all arrangements in connection with the establishment of the camp and would provide all necessary capital equipment, such as beds, bedding, furniture, kitchenware, etc. Responsibility for maintenance costs, such as food and clothing, would also be accepted by the New Zealand Government subject to discussion on questions of detail with whatever authority may be nominated by your government.

I understand that, in company with the government officers concerned, page 28you and the Countess Wodzicki visited the Internment Camp in Pahiatua on Wednesday, 15 December. If, after consideration of plans, it is decided that this camp would be suitable for the accommodation of the children, and, generally speaking, it does appear that it will meet all requirements, we would arrange for it to be vacated by its present occupants and made ready for the reception of the children.

I would suggest, on the assumption that the arrangements proposed for the reception of the Polish refugee children in New Zealand are acceptable to your government, that nearer the time when the children will leave, arrangements may be made for the camp commandant designate to travel to New Zealand in advance of the main party. He could, I feel sure, afford us valuable assistance in ensuring that, as far as possible, the layout and facilities of the camp will meet the requirements of the children and staff when they arrive.

P Fraser

Prime Minister