Tears of emotion, but also of the joy that the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Poznan University of Technology “Poligrodzianie” brought to the Polish community in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, a piece of their homeland.
The trip to New Zealand was possible thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which highly rated the project of the Band that was entered for the Competition “Cooperation with the Polish communities and Poles abroad in 2014.” The opportunity to showcase our folklore to the Polish community at the “edge of the world” came with the anniversaries; last year’s 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Poland and New Zealand and the 70th anniversary of the arrival to Wellington of “Children of Pahiatua.”
In Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington the public eagerly awaited not only for concerts and workshops, but also for usual conversation. During each of the concerts we had to fetch additional chairs to the halls were the young and old sat, and Polish mingled with English. Grannies explained to their grandchildren, the differences in the outfits of the various Polish regions, how the dancers comb their hair… The audience sang along with the band, and most knew the Polish words … This was accompanied by a solemn and emotional atmosphere of nostalgia, memories and joy. After the concert, the audience came to talk to the Polish guests. Members of the Band heard many stories about the sometimes tortuous road to such distant place from Europe. Here as well, behind the scenes, there was no containment of tears.
The dance workshop was attended by a lot of young people – in Wellington members of the local folk band “Lublin,” were in attendance while in Christchurch – turned up the candidates to the folk band “Polonaise” established just prior to the arrival of “Poligrodzian”, and numbering more than 30 people. They willingly learnt dance steps in pairs with the Poznan inhabitants. After these “Polonaise” workshops, they debuted on the stage with the “Poligrodzian” dancing… precisely Polonaise. The performance turned out to be a very special one as it was dedicated to the “Children of Pahiatua.” The guest of honour at the concert was the Honorary Consul RP Winsom Dormer.
The performance of “Poligrodzian” in New Zealand was also observed by the Consul Magdalena Ślubowska from Canberry, Australia.
The trip to New Zealand was also an opportunity to sightsee the country. “Poligrodzianie” marvelled at the Hobbiton, known from the Hobbit village movies as well as the village of the indigenous residents of the islands – the Maoris Here, among the geysers, they spent the night and watched a local band, and later – sang in gratitude for the show.
A surprising experience was also witnessed by the guide and tourists in Waitomo Caves, caves full of stalactites and stalagmites.
-It is one of the most beautiful places, stalactites arrange themselves into such shapes that cave recalls a Cathedral. And just like in a cathedral – the acoustics here is remarkable. We have hosted here several concerts of stars; Rod Stewart and “The Beatles” – said the guide and asked: – Perhaps someone wants to sing?
Then “Poligrodzianie” sang…
– Who are you? What’s the name of your Band? – inquired the guide who with difficulty tried to learn the name of the Band. – On the next excursions, I will say that Rod Stewart, “The Beatles” and “Poligrodzianie”, sang here…
The Polish community in New Zealand has about 2,500 persons. Probably twice as many have Polish roots, but do no longer know the language and feel like New Zealanders. A large group of Poles settled in New Zealand after the II World War. This group includes “children of Pahiatua” that is more than 700 Polish children and 105 persons from the Polish caring staff. Most of the children lost family close family members after deportation deep into USSR in 1940 and 1941. Thanks to the Stalinist “amnesty” along with the Anders Army they get into Iran, and then – thanks to Consul of RP in New Zealand and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, at the end of 1943 they were invited to come here for a period until the end of the war. The group arrived in Wellington, where a camp was created for them in Pahiatua. The children were housed in it, up to 15 April 1949. Most of them remained in New Zealand to form a local integrated Polish community. In 2014
Report of the Band’s stay in New Zealand is also found in “Glos Wielkopolski” http://www.gloswielkopolski.pl/artykul/3542137,poligrodzianie-w-nowej-zelandii-czyli-polskie-drogi-na-koncu-swiata,6,id,t,sa.html