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


My postings took me all over the world. Stefania and I kept in touch by exchanging Christmas cards. Then one day in early 2002, when my latest appointment took me back to Wellington, I got a telephone call from Stefania to tell me that she and Józef were going to Iran. "I have a friend in the Tehran Embassy, Bronwen Williams," I said. "She will look after you." Then I promptly got in touch with her.

Bronwen joined them at the Dulab Cemetery in Tehran in a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Polish refugees' arrival in Iran.

"It was a sunny spring morning when we drove to south Tehran to the cemetery," wrote Bronwen. "Many people were there waiting for the plane to arrive from Warsaw carrying Polish soldiers, the Catholic bishop, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church and a representative of Warsaw's Jewish community. The religious dignitaries based in Tehran were also there. Just as the Mass began, so did the call to midday prayers at the nearby mosque."

Throughout the ceremonies, Bronwen sat next to Stefania and Józef, and later Stefania said to me: "It was as though the whole of New Zealand was with us offering support."