Author(s): Halina Ogonowska-Coates
Krystyna is one of 732 'Polish children' who survived forced deportation to the Soviet Union and was given a home in New Zealand in 1944. Her remarkable story, a composite portrait drawn from interviews with Polish survivors, begins in a peaceful Polish village and follows her family's harrowing journey to a labour camp in Siberia, the terrible flight to freedom, and Krystyna's lonely voyage to a safe refuge in New Zealand. This might be one of the most poignant stories of the last century. It is a beautifully evoked account of a child's journey through Europe at war, and a young women's bewildering encounter with rural New Zealand. "As a child I loved my mother but she seemed different from other mothers. She didnÃ�Â�t know how old she was. She couldnÃ�Â�t remember where she was born. I wondered what had happened to her that she could have forgotten such important things. It had something to do with the Second World War Ã�Â�" First published 1992. 2nd edition 1998; this New Edition Published July 2008.
Halina Ogonowska - Coates is a writer, filmmaker, broadcaster and oral historian. Born in New Zealand to a Polish mother and a New Zealand father, she has Masters degree (Hons) in New Zealand History from Canterbury University and lives in Sumner, Christchurch. Her work includes touring exhibitions, film and radio documentaries. In 2005 she won the Qantas Media Award for Best Radio Documentary and in 2006 was awarded a Media Peace Award. In 2007 she received a New Zealand Mental Health Foundation Media Award and is currently working on a project associated with this award.