Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Three wonderful boys

page 287

Three wonderful boys

While I was at St Joseph's School in Palmerston North in 1944, our class was sent to Palmerston North Railway Station to hand out cartons of ice cream to the children passing through on their way to the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua. I have never forgotten the little girl who insisted on packing her carton in her bag.

Later on, the parish priest of St Patrick's in Palmerston North appealed for people to billet the children who were to be educated at the local schools. My mother, who was the proprietor of Princess Hotel, undertook to take a child. But before he could arrive, the priest asked if she could possibly take two as he felt that it could be very lonely for one child who didn't speak any English. Of course she agreed and eventually two little boys arrived – Leszek Powierza and Mikołaj Woźniak.

They were delightful kids who answered "yes" to everything because it was the only English they knew. As their vocabulary increased, it was one of the house rules that they could speak Polish only when doing the dishes. Naturally, they were eager volunteers for that job.

It wasn't long before the priest was again asking a favour. One of the other boys was not happy in his billet. Could we possibly have him too? And so it was that Mikołaj Gliński arrived. It didn't take long for them to become part of the family, and I believe we had the two Mikołajs for something like three years and Leszek for about five.

Leszek eventually went to Australia where he lives in Noosa. His mother and brothers lived in New Zealand so we have seen him several times over the years – the last time at a school reunion in Palmerston North where we also met up with Mikołaj Gliński who lives in London. I never met up with Mikołaj Woźniak and he didn't come to the reunion. I understand he was ill at the time but I believe he lives in Wellington.

They were great years with three wonderful boys.

page 288