Wellington Polish Christmas Market

After spending many nights last year worrying that nobody would come to the new Wellington Polish Christmas Market, this year’s challenge is to expand the market so that more people can visit in greater comfort whilst adding as much European atmosphere as possible. We’re extending the Christmas Market hours – it will run between 11am and 8pm – 50% longer than last year, and the City Council just granted us permission to use part of Rhodes St for the market.

The street space immediately next to the Dom Polski will serve as a town square. With an outdoor stage and sound system generously provided by the council, this year’s market will feature seasonal and folkloric music and dance performances from a range of artists. So far we have Polish entertainer Artur Gotz, who is in New Zealand en route to PolArt, Magda Sinoff, our very own Koledzy, Lublin Dance Company, Orlęta Polish Dance Ensemble, St Mary of the Angels’ children’s choir, Young Angel Voices, and reflecting the rich diversity of Poland’s rich culture, the band Klezmer Rebs will treat us to a performance featuring Chanukah music. The artistic programme is developing, so expect to see more artists on the day.

The new configuration allows us to provide seating space for an additional 128 diners inside the Dom Polski and outdoors. Our dance groups will sell hot Polish food in the hall and from an outdoor kitchen on our “Rynek Glówny” to help raise funds for PolArt. We also plan to run a bar in both those lo cations, selling Polish beers and the mulled wine which is so much a part of the European Christmas market tradition. The library will become a cukiernia selling tea, coffee, baked goods and sweets.

With over 30 stalls already registered, and space for another 30, most of which will be located in marquees just up the street from the Dom Polski, we have a gorgeous range of stalls ready for you.

Of course, Christmas is not just food, drink and shopping. Last year’s market was plastic bag free. This year we are following that up with a zero waste target so that the planet doesn’t end up paying for our event.

This year’s szopka competition is off to a good start. With one workshop already held and another scheduled for Saturday 27 October, we’re well on the way to having a charming range of entries this year.

We will again collect Christmas gifts for St Vincent de Paul to distribute to disadvantaged children. Let’s beat last year’s 63 gift record.

We hear that Mikołaj will visit us. Of course he speaks Polish and English, so all children can visit him for a pre-Christmas chat (and their families can take pictures without having to pay for expensive department store photographers).

Helena Fagan


Szopka Competition

In preparation for the year’s szopka competition the talented Wellington Polish Christmas Market committee member Ewelina Greń is offering szopka making workshops. The first of these was popular and lot of fun. If you couldn’t make it, there is another one scheduled for Saturday 27 October.


65th Anniversary of Polish School in Wellington Review

On Saturday 6 October the Wellington Polish School celebrated its 65th anniversary at St Patrick’s in Kilbirnie. It
was also a celebration of 65 years of Polish Schooling in New Zealand – Christchurch (10 years), Wairarapa (10
years), Palmerston North (7 years), Mt Maunganui (5 years), Auckland (est 1964, current school 2 years), Hamilton
(est 1958, current school 2 years).

The event began with a wonderful lunch fundraiser, which included barszcz with uszka, surówki and of course
pierogi. Thanks to Orlęta for this great effort. It was an opportunity to catch up with old friends and reminisce over
the photos in the slideshow that featured many photos from the 1950s onwards.

After lunch the anniversary even itself began with a blessing from Fr Tadeusz Świątkowski and speeches from the
Polish Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski, Polish Association Vice-President Helena Fagan, Wellington Principal
Ola Zając and Christchurch Principal Sylwia Śmiarowska.

The Wellington Polish School then screened a 10 minute film written by the children about a panda who goes on an
adventure to look for grass to eat. This was followed by performances from Orlęta. The artistic segment ended with
visiting singer Magda Sinoff performing a song in her wonderfully powerful voice.

After group photos of pupil and teacher alumni, Adam Manterys launched his new book Polish Schools in New
Zealand. The two and a half years it took to write the book was made possible by the contributions of many people
in Polish communities across the country. It provides for the first time a comprehensive history of Polish education
in New Zealand, which began in November 1944 with the kindergarten, and primary and secondary school in the
Polish Children’s camp in Pahiatua.

If you would like to purchase a copy for only $20, please contact Adam at adamm@rock.co m.
Throughout the event, the Wellington Polish School ran a “Glass Class”, where they transported all the furniture and
resources and setup a full-scale model for children and their parents to view and learn about how the school’s
classrooms operate.

A couple of interesting historical items emerged while writing the book. In 1973 the Wellington Polish School
children prepared a patriotic play about Polish rivers and tributaries for Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, where it was
reported that he was moved to tears. In 1983 the Parents Committee lodged a proposal with the Ministry of
Education for Polish to become a School Certificate subject. Also, the Wellington Polish School network (which
included Wellington, Petone, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Tawa) has run continually since its establishment in 1953
to the present day. Today it is taught in the Montessori method, which effectively accommodates the perennial
problem of children in the same class with different ages and Polish language abilities.

The book features many other items of interest but perhaps most impressive is a near comprehensive list of the
names of every child that attended a school anywhere in New Zealand since 1953 – that’s more than 1,000 names.
Plus every teacher and committee member. The book is currently being translated into Polish for a possible future

The anniversary ended with the cutting of a special cake prepared by Ela Rombel, which featured a picture of the
book printed on rice paper on top.

Our Polish Schools are still going strong and are well positioned in five years’ time to celebrate the 70th!
This is a good opportunity to acknowledge some of the people who made it possible for Polish Schooling to reach
65 years. This firstly includes the first Parents Committee in 1953 who pioneered the first Polish School in
Wellington. They were Mikołaj Polaczuk (Chair and Secretary), Jadwiga Michalik (Deputy Chair), Stanisław
Kowalczyk (Treasurer), Urszula Poczwa and Jan Wypych. And all the parent volunteers over the 65 years who
worked tirelessly against many odds and changing times as committee members, teachers, fundraisers and helpers so
their children could engage with and maintain their Polish heritage.

Adam Manterys