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

Valued heritage

Valued heritage

I left the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua in 1947. Apart from some English, I had learned sewing there which benefited me later when making clothing for myself and my daughter. I moved to Masterton as a waitress in the Midland Hotel. In Dannevirke, I became a women's clothing machinist and met my future husband Eric Fahey, who was a plasterer/bricklayer. We had a happy marriage lasting 45 years before he passed away.

We settled in Palmerston North, raised a daughter and have four grandchildren. Because I married a Kiwi and there were few Poles about, I seldom spoke Polish but never lost the accent. I enjoyed the weekends when I could converse in Polish with my sister and two brothers. I taught my daughter Susan a few words and sentences, which she put to good use on her visit to my brother in Poland. Though I never returned to Poland and accepted New Zealand as my country, I will never forget my homeland. I felt very proud when my granddaughter wrote my biography as part of an assignment at high school. This is now a valued heritage document in the family.