2 Nov 2009

Polish refugees commemorate their NZ arrival

8:51 am on 2 November 2009

More than 800 people packed Wellington's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Sunday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the arrival of a group of Polish refugees in New Zealand.

The refugees - 733 children and 105 adults - made New Zealand their home after World War II.

They had been deported to Siberia by Soviet troops who invaded Poland two weeks after the Germans did and occupied the eastern part of the country.

Later, they were freed from Soviet labour camps and after a trek from Siberia to Iran resettled in third countries such as New Zealand.

Many lost parents and siblings on the way, and have come to regard commemorations as a reunion of friends bonded by the same bitter experience.

The refugees hold reunions every five years.