Thursday, 19 Nov 2015
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator Seán Brosnahan is one four people from Otago to be awarded one of Poland’s highest honours, the Polish Gold Cross of Merit.
The chairperson of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust (POHOS), Cecylia Klobukowska, said he would be acknowledged for his research into the history of Polish heritage in New Zealand, and in Otago and Southland in particular.
“In 2004, Seán curated Poland to Pahiatua: Remembering the Refugee Children of 1944and in 2006 Our Southern Poles: Otago’s Polish heritage 1872-2006.
“Other exhibitions have included Our Southern Poles: our Polish Heritage (2008), which was shown with the international exhibition from Poland Joseph Conrad: Twixt Land and Sea,” she said.
“These exhibitions have explored the history of the first Polish settlers arriving in Otago and Southland in the19th century and those who arrived in New Zealand during and after World War 2.
“The exhibitions have allowed everyone to learn more about Poland’s history and culture.”
Our Southern Poles also went to Poland and was shown in Warsaw, Gdansk, Starogard Gdanski, Krakow and Lublin.
Mr Brosnahan said he admired the Poles, who had “a rich and at times tragic history”.
“It has been a pleasure to discover these stories, work with this community and to see the way the local Polish community have reanimated their traditions in New Zealand and passed them on to their children and our community.”
Other recipients are: Margaret Ann Howard, artist (Dunedin), Carolina Meikle, POHOS Board member (Dunedin) and Czeslawa Panek, POHOS founding member (Oamaru).
They would be awarded their honours by Polish ambassador H.E. Zbigniew Gniatkowski at a function at the museum for invited guests on Saturday evening.