The Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust (POHOS)
Established 16th November 1998
NZ Companies Office Certificate of Incorporation No 915548
Charitable Commission Registration No CC31359
Chairperson’s Report for the Period Ending 31st of March 2022
On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to present my Annual Report on the activities of the Trust which took place during the last 12 months. These activities benefited the local and wider New Zealand communities in many ways, while we were working steadily, towards focusing on our Trust’s objectives, specifically:
- Enriching New Zealand society by promoting cultural and spiritual awareness of Polish heritage in New Zealand
- Supporting the maintenance of historical properties of Polish heritage in New Zealand
- Co-operation with other historical trusts and organizations
- Supporting and encouraging cultural, educational and economic links and exchanges between Poland and New Zealand
Through the most of the reporting year – April 2021 to March 2022 New Zealand was continuing to live under the Covid-19 restrictions. New Zealand’s borders remained closed and the very limited number of MIQ beds available affected everybody worldwide and our special thoughts are with all our Polish Communities members separated from their families and suffering exceptional, unforeseen hardships.
Throughout the reporting year April 2021 to March 2022, the whole Board of POHOS, in the various sub-committees, have been working on several major projects including:
- Improving, updating, widening the scope of the information on the Trust’s own website polesdownsouth.org.nz;
- Working with other Polish Societies in New Zealand, with the financial help from the Polish Senate via Wspolnota Polska, POHOS continued to be leading force behind the preparation of the Celebration for the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish settlers in New Zealand in 1872; 150yearspolesdownsouth.nz;
For example we have added a new page called “Polish Location”, It was designed as an interactive map of New Zealand, where one can find more than 200 places of significance, history, interest to Polish people living in or visiting in New Zealand. The whole data has been compiled and entered by our Board Member – Paul Klemick
- Preparations for our own festivities that are going to take a place at the end of this year involved 3 major projects:
- Formulation of scope, time table & schedule of the celebrations
We are planning 2 weeks of celebrations from 25th of November to 8thof December 2022:
- 25th November to 8th December 2022 – Exhibition in the Community Art Gallery
- 26th November 2022 Lecture at the auditorium at Toitu Early Settlers Museum
- 26th November 2022 Celebratory Dinner at Dunedin Club
- 27th November 2022 Mass at Mary Queen of Peace Church and bus tour around the places of interest for attending VIPs
- Contents & design of celebratory “150 years” exhibition
We are planning 6 free standing panels showcasing the history of Polish presence in Otago and the South Island over the last 150 years. On the walls of the gallery we are going to display portraits and information about the first arrivals on the “Palmerston” on the 6th of December 1872.
- Mary Queen of Peace Church in Broad Bay, Otago Peninsula
Maintenance and repainting work on the Polish Church was and is not an easy task as well as being very expensive. Our last year’s art exhibition (March 2021) was a very successful fund raiser and with the help of a grants from the DCC, the Bendigo Trust and the Office of the Bishop of Dunedin work on the Church is now in full flow. Thanks to Cecylia Klobukowska, who was and is overseeing engagement of the builders and supervising the progress of the work, the Church is going to be ready, fully restored for our celebratory mass conducted by the Most Reverent Bishop Michael Dooley during the 150th Anniversary Celebrations.
Cecylia Klobukowska, Treasurer & Ewa Rozecka-Pollard, Chairperson represented POHOS at the Breakfast organised by the recently appointed Polish Ambassador to NZ. The function was held in the Parliament Building ‘Beehive’ in Wellington, and we rubbed shoulders with members of other Polish communities as well as other international diplomats
It was an honour and pleasure, as the Chairperson of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust, to welcome the Ambassador of Poland to New Zealand, Mr Grzegorz Kowal, on his first visit to Dunedin on The South Island, on behalf of POHOS, the local Polonia and members of the wider Dunedin community.
This is Mr Kowal’s first foray that far south. On this short whirlwind tour of the city, he had a chance to visit the historic Polish Church, Mary Queen of Peace, originally named St Hyacinth, which was built by the first Polish pioneers to Otago. He stood by the street sign Pomerania in Mosgiel which recalls the origins of the first settlers to Otago from Pomorze. Further, he enjoyed the street art scene in Dunedin. We are lucky to have many murals and some were executed by contemporary known Polish street artists. No visit to Dunedin would be complete without the stop at the Allanton Cemetery where many of the ancestors of the present day 4th, 5th and even 6th generation of Polonia are buried. Additionally, Prince Lubecki’s grave can be found at the Southern Cemetery. Mr Kowal paid respects at the recently refurbished grave of a Polish Prince who was buried in Dunedin in 1864. Prince Konstantin Lubecki, Książe Konstantyn Drucki-Lubecki in Polish, had to flee Poland following his participation in the unsuccessful uprising against the Russian oppressors. His dream of seeing Poland liberated did not happen during his lifetime but his son visited Poland once the country regained its freedom. Next, short stop at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum to view the plaque dedicated to Joseph Conrad, also known by his Polish surname, Korzeniowski. Unknown to many, he was also a sea captain on the ship named Otago, a vessel commissioned here in Dunedin but built back in The UK. Sean Brosnahan, the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator and honorary life member of POHOS was in attendance to guide the Ambassador through the displays.
But it was not all fun for the visiting Ambassador, Grzegosz Kowal.
- He had a ‘working tea’ meeting with acting Vice-Chancellor Prof. Helen Nicholson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof.Robin Gauld, as well as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof.Tony Ballantyne & Prof.Richard Barker. SGH Warsaw School of Economics and Otago University are part of the ERASMUS student exchange programme.
- At the invitation of the Politics Department at Otago University Mr Kowal gave a lecture covering long standing historical ties between the two countries and extended into the present day economic and trade ties, which are growing annually, even under the difficult circumstances of the Covid pandemic. The lecture was well attended and well received by Professors, lecturers & students alike at the Otago University.
- Meeting at the Dunedin City Council with the Deputy Mayor, Christine Garey and Nicky Page of UNESCO City of Literature confirmed friendly contacts and sowed the seeds of a possible twinning Dunedin with Gdansk or Starogard Gdanski, the area in Poland from where the first Polish settlers arrived 150 years ago. Honorary Polish Consul for the South Island, Mrs Winsome Dormer took part in some of the meetings and activities.
On the 6th of December, Cecylia Klobukowska & Ewa Rozecka-Pollard on behalf of POHOS attended the annual pre-Christmas lunch in Wellington of the representatives of Polish Communities in New Zealand, hosted by the Polish Ambassador, Grzegorz Kowal and the Polish Consul, Maksymilian Zych. All Polish Societies in NZ had a chance to listen to each others reports of our activities and proposals for the way forward for our organisations. Mr Marian Ceregra, after his presentation, was singled out for special thanks for his many, many years of hard work for the Polish Communities, Pahiatua Children & Polish War Veterans organisations. We also addressed issues facing us regarding the preparations for the 150th Anniversary Celebrations and a new dedicated website. Vigorous discussion ensued. The lunch was very informative, discussions were very productive and it was also a great pleasure to meet the Ambassador, Consul and our peers in the relaxed surroundings.
On the 18th of December we had the pleasure of hosting the long anticipated first working consular visit from the Polish Consul, Mr Maksymilian Zych. He had a very busy day, dealing with passports, visas, documents & enquiries of more than a dozen families, with some of the requests being extremely urgent due to delays brought on by Covid-19 lockdown. The following day the Consul was invited to a well-deserved BBQ hosted by one of our Board Members, Cecylia Klobukowska & Alaster McLaren and then we introduced him, as much as time allowed, to our Dunedin
Unfortunately, planned for the 7th of December 2021 our Christmas Carol evening in the Mary, Queen of Peace Church at Broad Bay was cancelled at short notice, due to the emergency Covid-19 restrictions. This is normally a joyful affair and we are hoping that we will be able to proceed, as we had for many years by now, to attract a multinational crowd from the Broad Bay community, the Polish and wider Dunedin communities in December 2022.
For the first time in two and half years I was able to leave New Zealand for Poland to visit my family and take part in the celebrations of my mother’s 100th birthday. While in Warsaw I contacted Mr Dariusz Olszewski,
Member of the Sejm (Parliament) of the Republic of Poland,
Chairman of the Poland-New Zealand Parliamentary Group
Ms Anna Romsicka
Foreign Contact Specialist in Chancellery of the Sejm
I was invited for a meeting at their offices in the Polish Parliament. They were interested to hear about POHOS’s activities and achievements, very complementary about both websites (POHOS & 150th) and expressed their wish to take part in the 150th Anniversary Celebrations in Dunedin. I have been corresponding with them ever since, and the official invitations from POHOS were sent recently with the knowledge and co-operation of the Ambassador, Mr Grzegorz Kowal. So, we can expect to host representatives of (Polish Members of Parliament at our festivities.
Planned for February an art exhibition to raise the funds for our 150th Anniversary Celebrations had to be postponed until April as the refurbishing of the Community Art Gallery had been delayed. Special thanks to the tireless perseverance of our Secretary, Anna McCreath Munro for not only gathering and organising participating artists but then, at practically, the last minute having to change all carefully planned arrangements.
On 24th of February the whole world has woken up to the appalling news of the full-scale invasion of sovereign Ukraine territory by Russian troops. Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies go to the Ukrainian Nation. We are very proud of the Polish peoples response in providing shelter, food, money and welcoming millions of refugees into their Polish homes. Here in New Zealand we are trying to do our best to help the needs of Ukraine and our Board decided to share our funds that we will raise at the coming art exhibition with the Ukrainian Charity helping war children.
Future projects and work in progress:-
- Finalising the organisation of the Celebrations of 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand in November/December 2022.
- Finalising repairs and renovation of Mary, Queen of Peace Church at Broad Bay in readiness for the 2022 celebrations.
- The POHOS website, always a ‘work in progress’
- A Campaign to expand our membership
- April 2022 – Another fundraising Art Exhibition.
I would like to acknowledge the support we received from:
- The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum;
- The Broad Bay community and, especially Marybeth Mitchell, Bernadette Newlands and Sam Neill;
- The Polish Embassy in Wellington;
- The Honorary Polish Consul for the South Island and Honorary Member of POHOS, Winsome Dormer from Christchurch;
- All the members and friends of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Trust specifically:
- Anna McCreath Munro for her tireless work as POHOS Secretary;
- Bozena Haug for the sterling work on our Facebook Page and
- Paul Klemick for his dedicated hard work on our website;
- Bernadette Newlands, Cecylia Klobukowska, Marybeth Mitchell and others for cleaning and preparing Broad Bay Church for our monthly mass and, decorating it so appropriately for all the other celebrations;.
- Peter Tait for maintaining and updating our website: polesdownsouth.org.nz; and,
- Lastly, but not least, a heartfelt thank you to the families of our board members, who stood by us, actively and physically helping us throughout our projects.
Finally, my great gratitude goes to the current POHOS Board members
- Secretary, Anna McCreath Munro
- Treasurer, Cecylia Klobukowska
- Carolina Meikle
- Ina Bercinskas
- Paul Klemick
- Bozena Haug
Lisa Warrington, stepped down last year from her active role on the board for personal reasons. But we kept in touch and have seen her at some of our events. We are hoping to see her back on board in the new 2022 – 2023 year.
I am very proud of the Trust’s considerable achievements, which have been as a result of the challenging, conscientious, at times testing, and totally voluntary work, of all our Board Members and the wider Polish Community.
I look forward to the year 2022/2023.
Recipient of Gold Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Chairperson, Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust
14th June 2022, Dunedin New Zealand