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



In about 1952, the Sisters began to accept more and more young children of different nationalities and races – Irish, New Zealand, Italian, Yugoslav, Hungarian, Maori and a Russian girl. Most of them learnt some Polish. One little Italian boy was most entertaining in his patriotism and was very proud of being able to speak Italian. So someone asked: "What's 'frog' in Italian, Alvaro?" Without hesitation, he answered: "Froga!"

The numbers and ages of the children had decreased, but not the quality of care nor the character of the place. As the children were younger and from such varied cultures, more work was required in looking after their physical and educational needs. The Sisters needed at least one other person to help them. With permission from her Superior in Poland, Sister Alexandrowicz asked her own sister, Jadwiga Alexandrowicz, a qualified teacher who lived in Canada. She arrived in 1955 and left New Zealand with the other Sisters. Intelligent, capable and with a pleasing personality, she was of great help to her sister who by then was showing signs of exhaustion.