You are here:





0 MB


0 MB

Clips (2)

  1. The first of two parts of this documentary.

  2. The second of two parts of this documentary.


This 1966 documentary tells the story of 734 Polish children who were adopted by New Zealand in 1944 as WWII refugees. Moving interviews, filmed 20 years later, document their harrowing exodus from Poland: via Siberian labour camps, malnutrition and death, to being greeted by Prime Minister Peter Fraser on arrival in NZ. From traumatic beginnings the film chronicles new lives (as builders, doctors, educators, and mothers) and ends with a family beach picnic. This was the last film from pioneering woman filmmaker Kathleen O'Brien.


Post a comment

I am:

Please keep your comments relevant to this title. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Comments (31)

 Waldek z Polski

Waldek z Polski

Witam serdecznie

Pozdrawiam gorąco wszystkich Polaków w Nowej Zelandii.

 Eilidh Thorburn

Eilidh Thorburn

Wow amazing story - does anyone know anything about Polish House in McDonald Street, Sandringham Auckland?

 Bruce Lea

Bruce Lea

There will be a special celebration in Pahiatua, NZ in November this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the children in NZ. This is being organised by the Pahiatua Museum Society who have many records, documents and photos of life in the camp. More information from the Pahiatua Information Centre: Phone +64 6 376 6619.



Greetings all from James in QLD, grandchild of W & M Wypych. Would love to have a vodka with you all some time!

 Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson

My mother Zosha Sobko, Aunt, Marisha Sobko and Uncle Yanik Sobko were all invited to new Zealand with the 700. They endured so much pain in their journey to the promised land. They lost their mother and younger sister in the deportation journey to Siberia. After the Russians gave them their so called freedom my grandfather made sure they were safe and joined the polish forces and fought at Monte Casino, North Africa etc. He located his children after the war and came to NZ to be a family again. Such a chilling story with a happy ending for the lucky 700 that deserves to be told and recorded as part of New Zealand's history. I now carry the family's tradition and attend the reunions. Polish House in Newtown, Wellington has great archival material for those interested.

Show 5 more comments


You need to be logged in to add to your favourites.

Related Titles (13)

 Monkey Tale

Short Film, 1952 (Full Length)

Also directed by Kathleen O’Brien

 A Letter to the Teacher

Short Film, 1957 (Full Length)

Also directed by Kathleen O'Brien

 Bright Grey

Music Video, 2007

Phoenix Foundation keyboardist Luke Buda is a Kiwi Pole

 Journey for Three

Film, 1950 (Full Length)

Another dramatic story about migration to NZ

 Exhibition Loop

Short Film, 1947 (Full Length)

Also directed by O'Brien

 Bred to Win

Short Film, 1968 (Full Length)

John Blick shot this NFU doco on horse racing

 Through My Eyes

Television, 2007 (Full Length)

A wartime refugee to NZ

 The Frighteners

Film, 1996 (Trailer)

John Blick was cameraman for The Frighteners

 Our People Our Century - Families at War

Television, 2000 (Excerpts)

An episode of Our People, Our Century looking at NZ families' experience of war

 Pictorial Parade

Short Film, 1952

A long-running National Film Unit magazine series

 Eat Your Cake; I'm a Vietnamese Refugee

Short Film, 2010 (Full Length)

Another dramatic wartime refugee journey


Short Film, 2014 (Full Length)

A short film on a postwar Turkish migrant to NZ

 The State Visit to New Zealand of Their Imperial Majesties the Shahanshah Aryamehr and the Shahbanou of Iran 1974

Short Film, 1974 (Full Length)

NZ's WWII Polish refugees feature in this film

Collections.   See all collections ›  

Included in:

 National Film Unit Collection


Mr and Mrs Sonday were not permitted to leave Russia in 1942. They were faced with a terrible decision: whether to keep the children or part with them and send them out alone to a better life. The three children left and after 17 anxious years they finally managed to locate their parents and bring them out to New Zealand. The past is behind. Now the Sondays are happy to be just another New Zealand family. 
We lived mostly on bread and water but there was never enough. And I remember my mother slicing bread making sure that each of us got exact share so we wouldn't fight between ourselves. I used to dream about having enough bread. 
Why did these children come here? What is their story? They were the innocent victims of aggression.