Trzeci May, Poland's National Day was celebrated in Wellington in style although the weather was a bit cool and drizzly. Beata Stoćzinska the Polish ambassador to New Zealand organised a very interesting day of activities to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relationship between Poland and New Zealand.
In the morning I attended the wreath laying ceremony by Minister Radosław Sikorski at the Pahiatua Polish Children commemorative plaque on Wellington waterfront. John Roy-Woyciechowski the Polish Honorary consul was there with his wife, Valerie and other original Polish children including Eugenia Smolnicka (my Mum), Maria Wypych, Zdzisław and Helena Lepionka and Krystyna Tomaszek. They were accompanied by family members. The minister spent a few minutes meeting the group.
In the early afternoon I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Anna Applebaum lively presentation at Unity Book store where she talked about her new book 'The Iron Curtain, The Crashing of Eastern Europe 1945 - 1956'. She is Minister Radosław Sikorski's wife and also well known historian who won the 2004 Pulitzer prize for her book ' Gulag A History'.
Later in the afternoon I attended the panel discussion titled 'The EU and Asia Pacific: A Polish Perspective.' with Minister Radosław Sikorski and New Zealand academics: Professor Robert Ayson, Mr John McKinnon and Professor Martin Holland chaired by Professor Rob Rabel, Pro Vice Chancellor(International) of Victoria University of Wellington. The New Zealand academics pleaded for more such visits from European politicians to New Zealand. They talked about the values of NZ and Poland being very similar.
Trzeci May celebrations organised by the Polish Embassy was hosted at the Wellington Club in the early evening where Minister Sikorski gave a speech. He thanked the New Zealand government for their humanitarian effort for allowing refuge and finally a permanent home to the Polish children, personnel and caregivers that arrived in 1944. Minister Sikorski presented honorary distinction to members of NZ Institute of International Affairs and National Centre for Research on Europe. Both the New Zealand and Polish anthems were sung and led beautifully by Olga Gryniewicz followed by a recital of Polish jazz and sung poetry.
Written by Irena Lowe