“It seemed right.”

Nina Tomaszyk arrived at our AGM last Sunday with the intention of becoming more involved in the Auckland Polish Association, maybe joining the committee. When no one come forward to be the new president, she put her hand up.

She was challenged, the 27 APA members at the meeting, together with their 13 proxies, went through the democratic process of voting, and she got the job.

“I am really excited about this opportunity, it seemed the right thing to do.”

Nina comes from a well-known Polish family in Wellington. Her mother, Krystyna née Skwarko Tomaszyk, was the daughter of Stanisław and Krystyna Skwarko. Krystyna, her parents, and her brother, also Stanisław, arrived in New Zealand in November 1944, after they and thousands of other Poles escaped the USSR with the Polish army in 1942 and gained temporary refuge in then Persia, now Iran. The Skwarkos spent their first few years in New Zealand at the Polish children’s camp in Pahiatua, which the Fraser government organised for 733 Polish children, mostly orphans, and their 105 caregivers.

Czesław Tomaszyk, Nina’s father, was born in western Poland. He arrived in New Zealand in 1950, through France, as a single man aged 28, among 975 European refugees that the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) brought over with the Hellenic Prince for resettlement here.

Apart from some years overseas, Nina has lived mostly in Auckland. She and her semi-retired husband Darryl White have two children, Ariana, who has lived in Hong Kong for three years, and Ethan, who lives in Wellington.

“Currently, I run the Kate Edger Trust, a non-profit that empowers through education, and that is mostly funded through the hiring and selling of graduation and legal attire through the social enterprise, Academic Dress Hire. I also run a small recruitment business. In the past, I was in the corporate finance world and have been involved with the Neurological Foundation and the Starship Foundation.

“I do speak Polish, but I’m rusty and very accented, something I hope to improve through my involvement at the APA and, more imminently, a trip to Poland in June. As a proud Polish Kiwi, I hope I can bring to the role of APA president my knowledge, my experience, and my love of Poland. 

“A sincere thank-you to the past committee, for coping during the Covid times. To all members, I hope to keep seeing you at our events. A special farewell to out-going president Darek Koper, who is leaving us for Australia. I hope we will see him back at the Dom Polski when he visits Auckland. 

“To my fellow committee members, thank you for being part of it! I look forward to getting to know you all, for all of us to get to know one another, as we take this journey to recognise and celebrate something we all have in common—our love of Poland.”

“The Dom Polski—our Polish House—is a place to mingle, to learn, to meet old and new friends. For all who have a connection with Poland, whether you came by ship, by plane, or whether you were born here, we invite you to join us in loving the people, the language, the food, the singing, the dancing… whatever it is, let’s celebrate!”

Nina is joined by five members of the outgoing committee: Janek Lis, Kelly Mills, Dawid Ramadan, Basia Scrivens, and Martyna Wala.

Other new committee members are Anna Biegańska, Bernard Mazur, Małgosia Stechly, and Anna Swain.

We will meet officially for the first time this Monday, organise duties, and will then let members know of our plans for the APA and the Dom Polski.

Already, the rest of the year includes a Spring Market on 10 September, a Christmas Market on 3 December, and a Pahiatua picnic on 29 October. For those who would like to know a bit more about the Pahiatua connection, see https://polishhistorynewzealand.org/blue-skies/.

For those who would like to know a bit more about the history of Poles in Auckland and the Dom Polski, see the link under the About Us tab on this website: https://poloniaauckland.co.nz/our-history/.