Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

New Zealand's First Refugees: Pahiatua's Polish Children

A life of hard work

page 210

A life of hard work

My most memorable years were spent in Porewa between 1958 and 1959 in a small railway settlement near Marton in the Rangitikei district, where my husband had a two-year contract with New Zealand Railways.

The wages were low. We had no electricity in the house and I cooked on an enamel Shacklock coal range, which I still consider better for cooking and baking, and it heated the house well. All the other amenities, including a concrete washtub with a manual wringer and toilet (which was hygienic and odour free), were in separate buildings outside. The washing line was a wire between two trees and our water came from a 300-gallon corrugated-iron tank on the roof.

The nearest shop was some 12km away in Marton. I phoned my grocery order weekly for bread, butter, sugar salt and soap – and very little else. Think of what we can buy in supermarkets these days! My meat order was delivered by train and dropped off at the station. Every couple of weeks, I travelled by train with my two little children to Marton to pay the bills. With the few shillings left over, I would buy them toys.

We had no fridge, takeaways, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, TV, phone or car. We learned to grow a vegetable garden, had egg-laying hens and bought milk directly from a neighbourhood dairy farmer's milking shed. The weekends were dedicated to the family, with picnics by the Rangitikei River. We were poor but happy in that place, and had no time nor the need to feel sorry for ourselves. They were good times. But what I found most hurtful was that we had absolutely no relatives, father, mother, granddad, grandmother, brothers or sisters, or fellow Poles to speak to.