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POHOS chairpersons report 2007

Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust
Heritage & Environment Section 2001 & 2007
Chairperson’s Report 2007

On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to present the Annual Report on the activities of the Trust.

Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust, was formed in 1998 at the time when Otago was celebrating 150 years of existence and when little was known, in New Zealand, of the early Polish pioneers. It was with the coming together, at that time, of recent immigrants and the descendants of those early settlers of 1872 that brought about the beginnings of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust. Our aims then, as they are today, were to bring to the people of Dunedin and New Zealand an awareness of our heritage and in the longer term to extend that awareness to the peoples of Poland. We are pleased and gratified that these aims are being achieved. The events, that have taken place during last year are evidence of a tremendous effort of voluntary work, very efficient cooperation and determination to achieve, genuine interest, goodwill and wonderful support of all parties involved.

November 2006

“Peninsula Heritage” exhibition was held in conjunction with an exhibition by Caselberg Trust in the Community Art Gallery from 20th November to 29th November 2006. During this period Otago artworks were viewed with great interest and pleasure by 643 visitors.

December 2006

We took part in a Christmas Carol Service in Broad Bay Church after which we met with Broad Bay community with traditional New Zealand and Polish Christmas cookies, cakes and treats served.

March 2007

We participated in Dunedin Heritage Festival. Dance Polonia, was performing at Otago Museum on Saturday 24th March 2007. We attended St Joseph’s Cathedral Heritage Service wearing our Polish National or Victorian/Early Settler costumes on Sunday 26th March 2007. On the same day we took part in Antiques and Collectibles Street Market. There, antique dealers and collectors plied their trade at outdoor stalls along Princess Street to recreate the 1880’s commercial heart of Dunedin. Food stalls and continuous musical entertainment provided every incentive for this afternoon picnic in the Exchange area. We had a small stall selling Easter sweets in boxes and presenting our Polish heritage.

April 2007

On the 3rd of April 2007 in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, in Lazienki Krolewskie , one of Poland’s most prestigious museums, Mr Philip Griffiths, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Poland, opened the exhibition “At World’s End — Polish Emigration to New Zealand”.

This exhibition was running until the end of July 2007. The exhibition consisted of two parts, “Our Southern Poles” and ” From Poland to Pahiatua”. Both were developed by the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin and the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust during last two years.. The successful staging of the exhibition in Poland was the direct result of hard, dedicated and very determined work by members of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust. As the Director of Public Art Gallery and Otago Settlers Museum, Ms Priscilla Pitts stated in her letter: “None of this would have happened without the generous contributions that members of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland made to the two exhibitions we have staged at the Otago Settlers Museum — sharing their individual stories, lending key items and making available treasured photographs…………………………. We are delighted that what started out as a small, locally focused exhibitions are
being seen on a wider stage and hope they will help your compatriots in Poland understand what it has meant for “Our” Southern Poles to move to, live and work in New Zealand. Our warmest thanks go to Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland and to all those of its members who have contributed to this venture”

We were all delighted that the opening of the exhibition “At world’s end – Polish emigration to New Zealand” was a very successful event which was well attended and received by representatives of Polish Government, Parliament and Senate, Ambassadors of other countries, members of New Zealand community living in Warsaw and Pahiatua Children. As the Ambassador of New Zealand, Philip Griffiths wrote in his letter:

“We can be well satisfied that the exhibition has got off to a successful start and that the key messages – paying tribute to the lives and contributions of Polish immigrants to New Zealand from the earliest times and building on their legacy for the future in both New Zealand and Poland -received appropriate emphasis at the opening and should continue to register here in the course of the exhibition’s showings.”

Here in Dunedin we were having celebratory drinks at the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin at the very same time as the opening of the exhibition in Poland on 3′ April 2007.

On Anzac Day 25th April 2007, we took part in the dawn parade at Queens Gardens and lay a wreath of white and red flowers to honor the memory of all those who fought and fell in wars and to honour returned servicemen and women.

May 2007

We celebrated National Polish Day on 3′ of May 2007. The Polish National Flag was flown from the Dunedin Civic centre and the Polish community enjoyed a picnic at Allanton Hall.

A special Mass was held at Broad Bay Church on Sunday 13th of May 2007. The Mass was celebrated by Father Matthew Devereux L.C. from Krakow, Poland. Father Matthew was born in Dunedin and was part way through a commerce degree at Otago University when he decided to test his vocation to the priesthood. He entered the novitiate of the Legion of Christ and was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in November 2004. Father Matthew currently resides in Krakow, Poland. After the Mass Father Matthew planted a rhododendron beside the bell tower and we all enjoyed morning tea.

August 2007

We were sharing our Polish heritage with Dunedin Multi Ethnic Council in Otaru Room at the Civic Centre on 8th August 2007. During a very enjoyable and moving evening Polish customs, music and samples of traditional food were tasted. Czesia Panek talked about her war experiences as a Pahiatua Child. All gathered were listening in silence and were very deeply moved.

On 17th August 2007 at the Kociewie Region Museum in Starogard Gdanski, Poland, Mr Philip Griffiths, the New Zealand Ambassador to Poland opened the exhibition “At World’s End — Polish Emigration to New Zealand” which was running there until the end of September 2007. The Mayor of Dunedin, Peter Chin, sent a framed letter of greetings to Mr Edmund Stachowicz, the President of Starogard Gdanski. In his letter he stated that:

” The Polish migrants to our city came almost exclusively from the Kociewie region of Pomerania and it is for this reason that our city feels friendly links should be established and maintained between our regions”

We sent a letter of greetings and gifts to the Kociewie Region Museum, framed photographs depicting the historic Polish church and a group of descendants of the original Polish settlers from Kociewie. The letters and gifts were presented at the exhibition opening.

As the Ambassador of New Zealand, Philip Griffiths wrote in his letter:

“I think you would have been very happy with the exhibition’s opening at the Ziemi Kociewskiej Muzeum on Friday 17 August. It was a moving occasion. Some 60-80 people were assembled in the courtyard outside the museum to hear the opening speeches which were filmed by local television. The weather was good and the atmosphere very friendly and welcoming. A small Kociewie folk music group performed in traditional costume. The opening was attended by the Mayor of Starogard Gdanski Mr Edmund Stachowicz, the County Sub-Prefect Mr Slawomir Neuman and Museum Director Mr Andrzej Blazynski, all of whom gave short speeches. Thanks were extended to New Zealand for providing a new home for Kociewie emigrants at different times……. Afterwards Mayor Stachowicz and I gave a TV interview which I hope will help to raise the
profile of New Zealand and Dunedin in that part of Poland, as well as the work of your Trust. Until the next instalment!

With congratulations and best wishes Philip Griffiths

We were very happy to hear about successful exhibition opening in Kociewie Region Museum in Starogard Gdanski. To mark this occasion we held a function with members of the Otago Settlers Museum, Public Art Gallery, Dunedin City Council and our Polish Community at the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin. To our delight Peter Hayden, who just returned from Europe, spoke about Warsaw exhibition opening in April 2007. We expressed our sincere thanks to him for representing us in Poland at that time. Mr Richard Walls from Dunedin City Council sent greeting from Peter Chin, the Mayor of Dunedin. In appreciation of their work gifts from Mr Lech Mastalerz, the Polish Ambassador in Wellingtom, were given to Ms Priscilla Pitts, The Director of Otago Settlers Museum, Mr Sean Brosnahan, the Curator of the exhibitions “Our Southern Poles” and “From Poland to Pahiatua” and Mr Tim Cornelius, the designer of the exhibitions. Finally the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust presented beautifully framed “Panorama of Gdansk” to the Otago Settlers Museum. Live music with Wieniawski’s Mazurka, New Zealand wine and delicious New Zealand and Polish cakes contributed to the enjoyable atmosphere of the evening.

A special service was held in Broad Bay Church to commemorate 750th Anniversary of the death of a Polish Dominican Brother St Hyacinth, Sw Jacka z Odrowaza, after whom the early Polish Settlers in New Zealand named the Church at the end of XIX century on Sunday 19th August 2007.

September 2007

Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust won a very prestigious Heritage and Environment Award at the Trust Power Dunedin Community Awards evening which was held at Glenroy Auditorium in on Monday, 3rd September 2007. The Award was presented by Mayor of Dunedin, Peter Chin. The Trust’s project ” Crossing the Pacific Waves – Homecoming of Polish Heritage from Otago and Southland to Poland” has been nominated for and won the award which recognizes the contribution voluntary groups and organizations make to the community. The competition for this year’s Trust Power Dunedin Community Awards was tough with 77 groups nominated for the Awards. This is a second time the Trust won the award. The first time the Trust was nominated and won the Trust Power Heritage and Environment Award was in 2001. This is a great achievement and evidence of a tremendous and wonderful effort of voluntary work of members of the Trust’s Board and Otago Polish community On that occasion We received congratulations from the New Zealand Ambassador Philip Griffiths who stated in his letter:

“…congratulations to the Trust on this well-deserved award. It has been a pleasure to work with you and I’m glad we’ve been able to be a part of this successful team.”

16′ September 2007 we participated in spring celebration. Daffodil Day in Craigmore near Timaru. October 2007:

12th October 2007 the exhibition was opened in the beautiful heritage buildings of University of Technology in Gdansk. After months of negotiations we have been able to secure this wonderful venue thanks to Prof, Janusz Rachon, the Chancellor of the Gdansk University of Technology, Prof. Jozef Wozniak, the Director of the Department of Information Systems of the Gdansk University of Technology, Mr Pawel Adamowicz, the President of City of Gdansk and Ms Anna Czekanowicz, the Director of Culture and Promotion Department of the Gdansk City Council.

The atmosphere of the opening ceremony was best described in an e-mail received from the New Zealand Ambassador in Poland, Philip Griffiths:

“The opening was well-attended and had a warm familiar atmosphere. The Vice-Rector for Research, Prof Ryszard Katulski, officiated on behalf of Rector Prof Janusz Rachon (who is running for the Senate). I was very pleased that following his recent visit to New Zealand Senate Speaker Mr Bogdan Borusewicz accepted the invitation to attend despite being in the midst of the election campaign. Gdansk Deputy Mayor Maciej Lisicki also spoke….. You can be justifiably proud of the exhibition’s success (in stimulating interest and bringing Poland and New Zealand closer together) as it continues its journey around Poland. I am honoured to be associated with it.”

On Saturday 20th October 2007 we participated in the Portobello Plant Fair.

November 2007

All Souls Day was celebrated on 1′ November 2007 at Allanton Cemetery with prayers and candles to remember those who passed away. It was followed by a cup of tea at Allanton Hall and a very interesting and moving video in which Mona Todd was talking about her childhood with her grandparents who emigrated from Poland to New Zealand in 1870s.

Jagiellonian University in Krakow, the oldest and most prestigious University in Poland will take over the exhibition later in November 2007 and KUL University in Lublin is negotiating to stage the exhibition in early 2008.

To conclude, staging “Our Southern Poles” in 2006 and ” From Poland to Pahiatua” in 2004 exhibitions at the Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, allowed the local community to discover, appreciate and learn more about their own, mostly unknown past, which was part of a long and colorful heritage. It also allowed them to recognize the contribution that Polish settlers have made to the development of the Otago region and New Zealand over many years. I would like to thank

Mrs Ludmila Sakowski, Chairperson of the Trust at that time for her leadership and vision.

Taking the exhibition to Poland in 2007, was a return to the Polish settler’s homeland, reaching out to their roots and empowering their Mana Whenua as being New Zealanders with Polish Ancestry .

“At World’s End — Polish Immigration to New Zealand” allowed people in Poland to find out about an unknown part of their history of Polish immigration to New Zealand and to admire beauty of Aotearoa. Organizing and participating in this event gave us the feeling of belonging as well as being thoroughly enjoyable. The exhibition benefited the community, made worthy intellectual contribution to society and enriched New Zealand and Polish cultures.

Year 2007 was a year of crossing the Pacific waves — homecoming of Polish heritage from Otago and Southland to Poland, first time in history of both, the New Zealand and Polish nations and We all are very proud of this wonderful achievement. As the New Zealand Ambassador in Poland, Philip Griffiths said during the opening ceremony in Kociewie Region Museum:

A Maori saying captures the essence of the experiences depicted in this exhibition: “He aha to mea nui i tenei Ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” – “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people”.

On behalf of the trust I would like to thank:

  • Philip Griffiths, the New Zealand Ambassador in Poland for being the Honorary Patron of the exhibition in Poland and for all work he and New Zealand Embassy staff have done to ensure the Warsaw, Starogard Gdanski, Gdansk and Krakow openings were all outstanding successes.
  • Lech Mastalerz, the Polish Ambassador in New Zealand and John Roy-Wojciechowski Honorary Polish Consul for their financial assistance in taking the exhibition to Poland.
  • Professor Marek Kwiatkowski, the Director of the Lazienki Museum and Ms Katarzyna Szrodt, the curator of the exhibition for staging the exhibition in Lazienki Krolewskie Museum in Warsaw. 
  • Andrzej Blazynski, the curator of the exhibition in Kociewie Region Museum and Mr Edmund Stachowicz, the President of Starogard Gdanski for staging the exhibition in Starogard Gdanski.
  • Professor Janusz Rachon, the Chancellor of the Gdansk University of Technology,
  • Professor Jozef Wozniak,
  • Mr Pawel Adamowicz, the President of City of Gdansk and Ms Anna Czekanowicz, the Director of Culture and Promotion Department of the Gdansk City Council for staging the exhibition in Gdansk.
  • Ms Priscilla Pitts, the Director of the Otago Settlers Museum,
  • Mr Sean Brosnahan the curator of the exhibition in New Zealand and
  • Mr Peter Chin, the Mayor of Dunedin for their support and cooperation in sending the exhibition to Poland.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank members and friends of Polish Heritage Trust of Otago and Southland for their help, goodwill and willingness to participate in our community events. In particular Mrs Czesia Panek, Mr & Mrs Piotr & Anna Pater, Mrs Shirley Holmes and her family and Mrs Patricia Clark.

I would like to express my special gratitude to Mrs Rena Maclntyre for her continuous help and dance workshops which allowed members of Polish and wider Dunedin community to come and enjoy time when learning how to dance traditional Polish dances.

Mr Marek Tomaszkiewicz will be retiring from the Board. On behalf of the Trust I would like to thank him for his work and wish him all the best for the future.

My final vote of thanks goes to my fellow trustees: Russell Chiles, Ewa Rozecka-Pollard, Rena Maclntyre, Ludmila Sakowski, Paul Klemick, Mariusz Novostawski and John Roy-Wojciechowski . It is indeed an honour and privilege to be part of the Board of people dedicated to the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland.

We look forward with confidence and enthusiasm to the year 2008. Thank you

Cecylia Klobukowska Chairperson

lrh November 2007


Chairperson .....  Ewa Rożecka Pollard
Phone ......+64 3 477 5552
Secretary ..... Anna McCreath Munro
Phone ..... +64 3 464 0053

Facebook ..... Poles Down South 

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Poles in New Zealand   We would like to hear from Poles or people with any Polish connection, who visited New Zealand and particularly those of you who paid a visit or lived anywhere in Otago or Southland.

Polski  “Poles Down South” jest stroną internetową organizacji polonijnej w Nowej Zelandii działającej w rejonie Otago i Southland na Wyspie Południowej. Siedzibą organizacji jest Dunedin.