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

Wrong kind of dinner

Wrong kind of dinner

During the five years from the time we were deported from Poland to our arrival in New Zealand, we had no books to read, not even text-books. So we learnt poems and hundreds (true!) of Polish songs by heart, and could sing for hours on end. Now, with all those aids – song books, sheet music and photocopies of words – we tend to rely on them, watching even the la la la las, and not on our memories. Pity.

But back to dinner. Two Polish girls on a holiday with a New Zealand family (our first Christmas holiday, 1944) were sitting outside lustily singing a lively Polish Christmas carol where the chorus goes – "Oj dyna, oj dyna, oj dyna…" (pronounced: oi dinner, oi dinner, oi dinner).

Their hostess came out with a worried look on her face and tried very hard to make them understand that dinner was not ready yet. However, they thought that she did not want them to sing "oj dyna" and stopped singing.