Massive support from community to help Ukrainian families in Pahiatua twin town

The "Support Ukraine" Fundraiser in our district was a huge success, raising over $10,199 to help Ukrainian families who have fled to Kazimierz Dolny, Pahiatua’s twin town in Poland.

A month-long series of fundraising events were held in a show of solidarity for the Ukrainian refugees sheltering in Pahiatua’s Polish twin town. The fundraising activities included film screenings, an auction and a raffle.

The activities were organised by Pahiatua Museum, Explore Pahiatua and Tararua District Council. Pahiatua and Districts Museum president Gilda McKnight was instrumental in the project and in forging the relationship with the Polish town.

Pahiatua has a special relationship with Poland that runs deep. The town housed almost 733 displaced Polish children and 105 adult caregivers during and after the second world war.

Over 120 people came down to the Pahiatua Regent Theatre for the screening of ‘Overcoming Fate’ – an award-winning documentary that tells the story of the ‘Pahiatua Polish Children’. Director Marek Lechowicz gave permission for royalty free screenings of his documentary, which helped viewers to draw parallels between people displaced by war then and now.

Among the audience were a handful of the original Polish refugees that arrived in Pahiatua in 1944, accompanied by their descendants. Polish Ambassador Grzegorz Kowal and his wife Zofia Halwic from the Polish Embassy were also in attendance, as well as local MP Kieran McAnulty and Tararua District Deputy Mayor Erana Peeti-Webber. Another screening was held in the Dannevirke Regent Theatre which was attended by around 30 people including Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis.

Mayor Tracey says: “The documentary was heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. It really brought home to us just why we are helping the Ukrainian families. Many of the people in the film I have personally met. The refugee children and their descendants have contributed significantly to the development of our district and New Zealand.”

The online auction to support Ukrainians attracted many generous donors and bidders who jointly raised $4,087.00. A givealittle page was started for donations and $1650 was raised. More money was given through donations to the raffle and generous direct bank donations.

Mayor Tracey says; “So many people have been involved to make this fundraiser successful that it’s hard to mention everybody one by one. I would like to say a tremendous thank you to everybody involved for helping with this fabulous and rewarding fundraising initiative. The Mayor of Kazimierz Dolny and I have been in contact and these funds will be used to purchase items for the Ukrainian refugees, including groceries, hygiene products, household products, clothing, underwear and shoes.”

In a heartfelt letter to Mayor Tracey, Artur Pomianowski, the Mayor of Kazimierz Dolny, wrote: “We already know that helping refugees is a long-term challenge both for the Office and for the residents of Kazimierz Dolny. That is why your proposal to support the Commune and help to refugees is so valuable. Your commitment is also a spiritual support, because the fact that you want to join the help proves that we share common values and ideas.”