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150 Anniversary Celebration of Polish Settlement in Otago and Southland


31 March 1999

John Roy-Wojciechowski
51 Granger Road
Howick
Auckland

Dear John

Congratulations again on your appointment as the Honorary Polish Consul in Auckland.

Thank you for your letter updating us on the progress with establishing our New Zealand Polish Heritage Group.

As you know it, we are very supportive of all actions taken to establish the awareness of cultural and historical presence of Polish Heritage in New Zealand.

I strongly believe that in order to achieve best results, we should work in harmony and support each other. It would be good if the person who is in charge of historical research could one time visit us and share it with us.

I attached a summary of our participation in the 150 Anniversary (Otago) celebration. You can use this material for your net page, if you wish.

All the best for Easter for Valerie and you.

Swava Pociecha
Chairperson, Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland


9 January 1999

Report on the 150 year celebration of Otago and Southland - Polish Week (Obchody Rocznicy Polskigo Osiedlenia)

The Polish community of Dunedin was privileged to take part in celebrating 150 years of the Province. It was a very uplifting and invigorating experience for our community to be part of this wonderful celebration. It gave us an opportunity to research history of Polish immigration to this area, from early pioneers to post 1980 years, through the post WW2 immigration. Especially, expanding our knowledge about hard life of the early pioneers, who arrived here from the Kaszuby region in Poland, made us proud of our forebears. They took such a long journey, incorporated themselves in N Z society well, and contributed to the creation of a new country.

It was an opportunity for all three groups of Polish immigrants to unite, share and experience historical knowledge about life of our forebears in the early New Zealand. Sharing the culture of their country of origin, which some of the descendants did not have a chance to experience, was also unforgettable. We manage to connect Polish communities in the whole of New Zealand and had a great response in form of help, good wishes and personal participation. By organising Euro-Fest, participating in the Nga Hau e Wha parade we had a chance to work together, and share our culture with other ethnic groups and the indigenous people of New Zealand. It was a great privilege for the Polish community. We were also able to paint a historic church, built by Polish pioneers and tidied up cemeteries in Allanton and Waihola.

It also was an opportunity for us to present historical knowledge about Polish immigration to New Zealand and share this cultural experience with the whole of Dunedin community. An exhibition, titled "Polish Perceptions", by four Polish artists was staged from 28 September to 26 October 1 998 in The Early Settlers Museum. The exhibition was visited by approximately 1 850 visitors (based on the number of visitors in museum during the exhibition). Ludmila Sakowski, one of the artists and organisers of the exhibition said in "Star", a community newspaper: "The works are intimate perceptions of our new homeland, in which we have to find out afresh who and what we are".

On 29 of September some 60 visitors participated in a whole day trip to East Taieri and Waihola - a historical trip organised by Patricia Clark and Paul Klimeck. The group visited the East Taieri Museum, sites of Polish settlements on the Taieri plain and cemeteries in Waihola and Allanton The participants then met and shared lunch and afternoon tea with some descendants of early Polish pioneers (Bungards Family).

On 1 October 1 998, a historical exhibition titled "Past and Present of Polish Heritage" was opened in the Community Art Gallery. This exhibition included early photographs, documents, heritage clothing, genealogical items and also current economical, cultural and tourism information about Poland. Approximately 100 guests attended the opening ceremony conducted by the Mayor of Dunedin and Polish Charge d'Affairs. The exhibition was continuously visited by people of Dunedin during next 3 days.

On the same day, a classical concert was staged in the Public Art Gallery, attended by more than 120 people. The concert was performed by Jan Tawroszewicz, a violinist and Terence Dennis, a pianist. The guest speaker was Maria Van Der Linden, a writer who gave an extremely interesting overview of the history of Polish emigration during \\'W2 and told the story of her personal journey from Siberia to New Zealand.

On 2 October 1998, during the celebration dinner attended by some 160 guests, Roy Watembach, a genealogist gave a historical overview of immigration of Polish people to New Zealand in 1887. We also were entertained by Gladys Hope, a well known and delightful voice and she managed to sing in Polish too !

On the following day in the Octagon, from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., the Polish community combined with other ethnic groups and with help from the Event Shop tun Euro-Fest. This event included food stalls and cultural performing groups, as well as several local music bands. The guest speaker, councilor Ann Turvey gave an overview of Polish immigration to Otago and despite temperamental weather the event was very well attended and provided several hours of entertainment for the Dunedin community. The same day, a Polish Performing Group from Wellington gave a two hour concert in Glenroy Auditorium attended by some 250 people. In addition, Hills AM Radio station run 1/2 hr production of Polish music and history. It was aired on the 30th of September.

Two church masses were celebrated during the week long event. One was at the beginning of the week in Broad Bay. The mass was celebrated by Bishop Boyle and was attended by some 150 people. The second mass was at the end of the week in a church in Allanton and was celebrated in Polish by a Polish priest from Wellington. The mass was attended by locals and the Polish community, also with some 150 participants.

During the celebration week we were honoured by a number of distinguished guests, such as Sukhi Turner - Mayor of Dunedin, Andrzej Soltisinski - Polish Attaché, Ann Turvey -DCC councilor, Alan MacDonald - Secretary of National Multi-Ethnic Council, to name a few.

We wouldn't be able to create this celebration without financial support from DCC, Creative New Zealand, Community Trust of Otago and Lottery Grants. Also, assistance from Cooke-Howlison Toyota in form of a free community van and special rates charged by Citybus for bus hire were of a great help and enabled us to meet our financial commitments.

Help from the management of Art Gallery and Settlers Museum was extremely generous and enabled us to stage an art exhibition, a historical display and a classical concert. Performers, such as Jan Tawroszewicz, Gladys Hope, Terence Dennis, the Polish Performing Group from Wellington "Lublin" performed free of charge.

"Star" magazine, ODT, and Channel 9 coverage were wonderful and very much appreciated. Of course, we cannot forget friendly staff from DCC: Jennifer Lapham, Jo Register, Lloyd Edwards and Marilyn Anderson from the Event Shop.

Writing this summary of the Polish week Celebration to mark 1 50 years of the Province, we would like to say a big 'thank you' Dunedin, for giving our community this wonderful opportunity to create the event and sharing with us this unforgettable journey in our lives.

Brief financial account for all events is as follows:

total expenditure $14,169.50
donation/grants $6,000.00
fund rising, participants fees $8,169.58
total income $14,169.58

This account does not include hundreds of hours of unpaid work provided by the organisers.

Faithfully yours

Swava Pociecha
Chairperson
Polish Heritage Of Otago and Southland -
Charitable Trust

Event number - 698