Kua hinga te Totara i te wao nui a Tane – a mighty tree has fallen.
With great sadness we inform you of the passing of Polish community leader pan Zdzisław (Eric) Lepionka on Monday 22 August 2022. Pan Lepionka served his community as president of the Polish Association in New Zealand over a combined 5 terms between 1980 and 1982, and again between 2007 and 2010.
He was well known for his work during the early 1980s Solidarność years in promoting the Polish plight in New Zealand, including street marches, protests outside the Soviet Embassy, securing places for 300 Polish refugees to come to New Zealand, and organising the successful Food for Poland appeal.
He also distinguished himself (among many other things) in his work to advance the cause of all refugees coming to New Zealand. He was the chairperson of the Refugee and Migrant Service Commission for seven years. He promoted the position of (and collaboration between) ethnic communities in New Zealand, contributing significantly to the establishment of the first Ethnic Affairs Council which was the forerunner to the Ministry for Ethnic Communities.
Whether in an official capacity or otherwise, he was always a leader in the community. His natural affinity for people, his faith in the potential of our community, his willing to nurture and mentor those who followed him assured him of this position.
One of the most visible aspects of his legacy result from his work to establish a folkloric Polish dance group, the Lublin Dance Company. Lublin, the children’s dance group Orlęta and the new group Orzeł all find their roots in this work.
Pan Lepionka’s life will be celebrated on Friday 26 August 2022 with a requiem Mass, at St Anthony’s in Seatoun. There will be a roseary before the Mass starting at 11:30am. He will be much missed, but long remembered.
Wieczny odpoczynek racz Mu dać, Panie, a światłość wiekuista niechaj Mu świeci. Niech odpoczywa w pokoju wiecznym. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto him , O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.