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

A grain of salt

page 188

A grain of salt

In May 1945, six months after our arrival in New Zealand, we spent our school holiday with New Zealand families to experience everyday life and improve our English.

My journey began at Pahiatua Railway Station and ended in Masterton, while others continued their journey to New Zealand families in different parts of the country. I well remember how shy and awkward I felt standing on the platform, awaiting some kind family to take me to their home. It was quite unnerving.

But soon some of my apprehension was dispelled. I noticed a lovely lady with a big smile holding a card with my name on it and walking towards me. She took me by the arm and said "Welcome to Masterton", and led me to her car. We travelled for about half an hour before reaching the family home. The house was large with a very pretty garden and a neat green lawn. There was also a sizeable vegetable garden. They were sheep farmers.

The family consisted of a mother, father, two daughters and one son. They greeted me warmly on arrival and were very kind throughout my two-week stay. We had a lot of laughs trying to understand one another. I have very fond memories of my first holiday in New Zealand.

The evening meal was a special time, as they changed to more formal dress. Dinners were very tasty and for the first time in my life I had roast lamb, roast pumpkin and mint sauce. The desserts were delicious.

One evening, something embarrassing happened at the dinner table. One of the girls at the table asked: "Romualda, pass the salt please." My answer was: "No thank you." I thought she had offered me salt, which I did not need. What a blunder I had committed.

I sometimes think of that particular evening and hope that they took my comment with "a grain of salt".