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

Born in exile

Born in exile

I don't remember Poland because I was born in 1941 during my mother's deportation to the forced-labour camps in Siberia. I was only four years old upon my arrival in New Zealand. My mother found a long-term job as a housekeeper with Ben Vogel, in what is now Vogel House in Upper Hutt.

It was a lonely time for us and I missed all my Polish friends from the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua. We declined a transfer to Picton because my mother didn't want to be isolated from the Polish community. I was fortunate to have led an ordinary life – I got married, saved, bought a house and we raised two children who can speak both English and Polish.