• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland
  • NEWS

  • 25 November 2018

    The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Wellington, in co-operation with the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand organised a seminar with four women panelists who, found shelter in New Zealand following horrific experiences of their childhood. A banner exhibition on Polish heroines who shape indepenedent Poland was also opened at the National Library of New Zealand.

    The seminar featured the history of four European women - Vera Egermayer, Stefania Sondej, Susi Williams and Stefania Zawada - who contributed to a culturally diverse New Zealand society. 


    The panellists have been through the horrific experiences of deportation to Siberia in Soviet Russia and the Holocaust and the Nazi German camps. Despite painful experiences of their childhood and difficult circumstances that brought them to New Zealand, they managed to live positive and meaningful lives in this country. Watch the video to find out what impact the experiences of World War Two and of being refugees or displaced persons, made on their future choices, how has their past shaped their life in New Zealand. 



    After the seminar the Polish Ambassador Mr Zbigniew Gniatkowski opened a special exhibition “Women of Independence”. It presents the profiles of several dozen women who served a substantial role in creating the Polish nation and identity. The display presents the women’s part in the fight for Poland’s independence and its restoration in 1918. Moreover, it gives insights on women’s increasing role in the social life in the inter-war period, the difficult tasks they took on during WW2 and their contribution to the democratic changes in Poland.


    The seminar and the exhibition took place at the National Library of New Zealand which is home to hundreds of documents related to the Polish Children of Pahiatua who - on the basis of an agreement between the Polish Government-in-Exile and the NZ Government - arrived in Wellington in 1944.


    On November 20, at Nga Taonga Sound & Vision in Wellington, the Polish Embassy organised a special screening of "The Zookeeper's Wife" (2017) by a New Zealand director Niki Caro. Based on true events, the film tells the story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who helped Jews during World War II, hiding them in the Warsaw Zoo run by them at the time. In 1965, Jan and Antonina Żabińscy were recognized by the Yad Vashem Institute as Righteous Among the Nations.


    By organising those events the Embassy of Poland highlighted two great anniversaries. In 2018, Poland celebrates the Centenary of regained Independence as well as one hundred years of Polish women gaining voting rights, which coincides with the New Zealand Suffrage 125 commemorations.



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