POHOS chairpersons report 2006
Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust
TRUST POWER DUNEDIN COMMUNITY AWARD WINNER
Heritage & Environment Section 2001
Dear Members of the Polish Heritage Trust of Otago and Southland, it is my pleasure to present my third and final report as the chair of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland, position I have been holding for the last three years. It has been exciting and eventful three years. As promised at the last year’s Annual General Meeting of our board, to prevent ourselves from being burnt out irrevocably and as the result of the previous quite often hectically paced activities we decided to take more relaxed tempo this year and preserve our energy a little for the future. Despite this intention we still managed to participate in a number of local events and complete several undertakings, many of which have and will broaden our exposure still to wider communities in and outside New Zealand.
On 1st January our dancing troupe took part in the Music and Dance Festival at Whare Flat. It was a nice family event as the dancers, Ania and Piotr Pater stayed at Whare Flat for the New Years Eve with their family participating in the event promoting many local folk music and dancing groups.
On 12th February the dancing group was invited to perform at the Botanical Gardens in “Harks in the Park”, an event organised by the Lion’s Club.
On 19th March “Go Otago” at Wingatui saw us dancing again as part of their annual festivities. We also had a stall there selling cakes and other goodies.
On 3rd June an exhibition entitled “Our Southern Poles: Otago’s Polish Heritage 1872-2006” was opened up by the Polish Ambassador, Lech Mastalerz and the Dunedin Mayor, Peter Chin. This display traced the story of Otago’s Polish Settlers from those who came as first assisted immigrants in the 1870’s, through Second World War era orphans and displaced persons, and finally the political refugees and skilled migrants of more recent years. All three strands were described by the museum curator as “coalesced in 1998 to form the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Trust, stimulating a remarkable resurgence in Polish cultural life in the region”. The exhibition closed on Sunday, 19th November. On 17th November, two days before its closure, our Trust held an evening opened to the public at the OSM entitled “Poland, the country, the food, the people”. A large number of viewers could see the wonderful dancers again performing Mazur, Opoczno dances and dances from the Greater Poland area. It was a beautiful evening that attracted, according to the Museum staff, an unusually large crowd. The guests had a chance to watch a 15 minutes long promotional film on Poland’s most attractive and best known tourist destinations. Afterwards they were invited to sample a multitude of Polish cakes and sweets, paczki, honey and spice cake, piesniak, cheese cake, apple cake just to name a few, prepared by the members of the Trust.
It is perhaps appropriate to mention at this stage that “Our Southern Poles” exhibition is going to travel to Poland next year to be staged at the Muzeum Uchodzctwa Polskiego (Museum of Polish Migration) located in a prestigious historic Park Lazienki in Warsaw. Cecylia’s and my preliminary talks with both the director of the Museum, prof. Marek Kwiatkowski and glowny specjalista ds. kontaktow z zagranica oraz ds. kwerand archiwalnychj, Katarzyna Szrodt, (a specialist for international contacts and archival search queries), during our visit to Poland last July have incited the interest and communication between Muzeum Uchodzctwa Polskiego, the Otago Settlers Museum, New Zealand Embassy in Warsaw and Polish Embassy in Wellington, all willing to support the idea of showing “Our Southern Poles” in Poland. The project is currently under way to be completed in March next year. It is planned that later the display will also travel to the Gdansk National Muzeum and Starogard Muzeum, which this year donated generously a couple of Kociewian folklore costumes to our Trust. They were displayed at the Otago Settlers Museum as part of the “Our Southern Poles” exhibition.
On 24th June, Dance Polonia danced again at Namara Hall, N.E.V. as part of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
This year we have made a number of costume appearances on the local events, part of which unfortunately were the funerals of members of our Trust.
On Monday, 1st September, the Trust has lost not only their oldest member but also one of the remaining of pure Polish heritage descended from the Polish migrants of the late 19th century, a dear friend to may of us, Mona Todd. Some of us, including myself, still find it difficult to believe that Mona is not amongst us anymore, as it seems that she would appear at any time with her lively, cheeky comment, making us all chuckle. She seems to be ever present when we are together.
On 6th September, we attended another funeral of yet another long-standing member of our organisation, Jan Mielnik, who spent the WW2 years in German force labour camp. In 1950, classed as a displaced person by the International Refugee Organisation, he was accepted for settlement in New Zealand under its displaced persons quota and came to work as a handyman on the Waitaki Hydro construction project. He was my family’s good friend, always ready to assist Edward in his home renovation attempts, keen to help anyone with his builder and handy man’s expertise.
In September and October the Dunedin Railway Station commemorated hundred years of its existence and invited our members to be photographed in our folklore costumes for the Otago Daily Times as part of the celebrations. On 21st & 22nd October, we held a stall with information stand on our Trust and on the Polish 19th century migrants who had built railways in Allanton and Gore.
I would like to thank everyone on the board and all members of the trust for their support given to me so liberally during the years of my term. My special thanks to Russell who as always carried out unfailingly his duties as our secretary and who has continually been there when I needed his advice. Big thanks to Cecylia whose expertise in economic matters allowed the trust to retain its financially untarnished image. I would also like to thank for her consistent support, ready smile and positive attitude, which helped me to carry through my term when it seemed to be overwhelmingly busy. My deep gratitude goes also to Rena, efficient, reliable, always dependable and available at a short notice dressed up in the Polish national costume, representing the trust at occasions when everyone else seemed to be either at work or engaged for other reasons. She carries out reliably anything what is asked of her without the slightest whimper, always with grace and a lovely smile on her face.
My special thanks go this year again to Dance Polonia group, primarily to Ania and Poitr Pater, and their little ones, Asia and Pawelek who have participated with panache and unrivaled enthusiasm in many public performances. I think everyone would agree that they make us proud as a group when they dance. While some other children have out grown their costumes and their enthusiasm for Polish dance, Ania, Piotor and their children have been always keen to represent publicly our dance group ant any required occasion. Dance Polonia, although much changed in its makeup has been the most outstanding contribution to promoting our Trust and Polish culture throughout the last year.
I would like to thank again everybody on the board and all members of the Trust for their time given during the previous years, their commitment and work contributing to another successful year 2006. I would like to wish the oncoming committee all the best in their future endevours and many successes in the future.
25 November 2006
The Polish Heritage of Otago & Southland Charitable Trust
Chairperson ..... Ewa Rozecka-Pollard
Phone ......+64 3 477 5552
Secretary ..... Anna McCreath Munro
Phone ..... +64 3 464 0053
facebook ..... Poles Down South