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

A peaceful environment

A peaceful environment

As a young girl aged 16 years, living on Masterton Road, I recall the arrival of the Polish children to Pahiatua. I was very sad to see the convoy of trucks transporting the children to the Polish Children's Camp. Those dear little souls, so thin that their heads looked like pumpkins on top of their bodies. They were riding on the decks of big GMCs, which were heading for their page 300future home (which was the old Pahiatua Racecourse) south of Pahiatua on the main road to Masterton. They were a pathetic sight, but hopefully would soon be thriving with all the tender loving care the New Zealanders would offer them.

They could not speak English then, but the young ones were remarkably quick to learn our language. I think that to be safe and live their days in a peaceful environment was their salvation. As time passed, one could hear them singing and giving much pleasure to everyone.

The Voluntary Aid Division was a band of local women who were attached to the nursing side of the army. They had prepared the beds for the children with sheets on them, and were able to help out with driving vehicles and be of general help where needed. I have great admiration for that very gallant band of ladies who all "helped to win the war".