Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

The camp's hairdresser

page 152

The camp's hairdresser

As the New Zealand soldiers whose job it was to cut the children's hair were due to leave the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua, and as there were more than 700 heads of hair to be kept tidy, the Polish Delegate Jan Śledzińki began searching for someone willing to be trained for the job.

Boleslawa Poleć was very keen and enjoyed hairdressing – her coiffure was always perfect. I never cared about my thick curly hair, but she asked me to join her and I agreed. We were enrolled at Joy's New Zealand College of Hairdressing and Beauty Culture in Palmerston North.

On Sunday evenings we travelled by bus to Palmerston North where we boarded with a lovely New Zealand family during the working week. Then on Friday nights we returned to the camp. All Saturday we helped the New Zealand soldiers cut the children's hair to acquire practice.

We graduated and then became fully employed at the camp. The pay was excellent – £5 a week. The boys were quite a handful but the girls gave us no trouble. For hygiene purposes, their hair was cut very short. But once the lice infestations became a thing of the past, many of them were allowed to let their hair grow long. When I moved to Auckland, my qualification in hairdressing helped me to find a good job in a hairdressing salon.

Maria Zielińska (left) and Bolesława Poleć (right) at the Polish Children's Camp in 1945

Maria Zielińska (left) and Bolesława Poleć (right) at the Polish Children's Camp in 1945