New Zealand's First Refugees: Pahiatua's Polish Children
The boys' impressions
The boys' impressions
The two Sisters, as well as the other Ursuline Sisters who came later, were professionally trained to care for young people, so it is not surprising that the boys under their care in the Polish Boys' Hostel remember the life then as peaceful, the food plentiful and the discipline just.
The atmosphere apparently changed somewhat once civilian staff took over from the Sisters. Some of the civilian staff were obviously less experienced in dealing with young boys and therefore too high-handed in the treatment of their charges. As the boys grew, their desire for independence also grew and trouble arose only when some staff member could not accept that.
Christmas 1950 on the steps of the Polish Boys' Hostel, Island Bay, Wellington, during a visit by the Polish priest. Some of the boys arrived from New Zealand schools to spend their holidays at the hostel. Back (l-r): Józef Kubiak, Stanisław Kilian, Józef Zawada, Stanisław Ośeciłowski, Jan Kołodziński, Alfred Sapiński, Julian Nowak 2nd back (l-r): Eugeniusz Szadkowski, Stanisław Wójcik, Jerzy Białostocki (above, boys' supervisor at the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua), Father Broel-Plater, Ellinor Zaleska (Officer in Charge of Polish Affairs, Child Welfare Division, Education Department), Helena Białostocka, Paulina Jastrubecka, Marcin Babczyszyn (hostel manager), Hildegard Babczyszyn (standing front of post), Marian Budny (leaning on post), Lech Lubas (standing front of post), Władysław Wojtowicz (leaning on post) Sitting 2nd step (l-r): Mieczysław Głowacki, Rudolf Szymczycha Sitting front (1-r):Ryszard Białostocki, Stanisław Wójcik, Barbara Babczyszyn, Piotr Adamczyk, Stanisław Brejnakowski, Wacław Juchnowicz
Most boys remember the hostel as a safe, good place to live in. Brothers, sisters and friends visited them there. When the Polish Girls' Hostel was established, the boys would go there to play games, perhaps dance or even take one of the girls to cinema with the permission of Sister Alexandrowicz.
The boys helped not only with the cleaning of the hostel but also with its maintenance. One boy recalls an amusing incident when they were setting-up the vegetable garden. "The hostel had a large plot of land, so one of the male staff decided he would aid in the economy of the hostel by planting potatoes. He remembered how this was done in Poland and that he would need a horse. A friend of the hostel found a horse in Happy Valley and the boys enthusiastically brought it to the hostel. It was duly tied and placed at the beginning of a row, but the horse did not move. No matter how loud and how often the staff member ordered 'Hetta! Wiśta! Wio! Wio!' the horse refused to obey. And no wonder – the man used Polish orders to a horse that did not speak Polish!"