Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

My first holiday in New Zealand

My first holiday in New Zealand

I was simply terrified when I was sent for my first two weeks' holiday to some strange place called Pungarehu in Taranaki. I didn't want to go but I had no option. And my English was nil. I waited at the station for a long time with my nametag pinned to my dress, and strange women passing by looking at my card and moving on. "Dear God," I prayed, "let someone come soon" because I was close to tears. At last, a woman stopped, studied my card and said "come".

The next morning I was asked what I wanted for breakfast – porridge or an egg? As the word "egg" was much easier to pronounce, I said "egg". Well, I learnt my first word of English. The following day the neighbours came over page 207for cups of tea, and looked me over with interest and curiosity. The biggest shock I got was seeing Maori people for the first time – I had never seen a dark-skinned person before. As the days went by, I got somewhat used to seeing them around but was still afraid of them.

On the day of my departure, I said to my host Mrs D: "Thank you for a lovely holiday." I had learned this by heart because we were told to say this by our teacher at the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua. My host visibly paled and I could see that she was shocked. I presume she thought I could speak English and had made a fool of her by pretending all along not to understand. I didn't even get a hug and she never invited me over again. Sometimes I wonder what was said about me over those endless cups of tea with her friends and neighbours.