Remembrance: Christchurch gets a 1956 Hungarian Revolution's memorial

Remembrance: Christchurch gets a 1956 Hungarian Revolution's memorial

(caption for the above picture: Installed wooden memorial poles; Zalan is on the right)

On October 23, Hungarians around the globe and in New Zealand commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of their uprising against Soviet-communist rule.

Hungarians of Auckland gathered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, while in Wellington celebration was held in the Hungarian Millennium Park, then followed by dinner and performances in the Parliament House.

 Members of the Hungarian Club of Christchurch

Members of the Hungarian Club of Christchurch

In Christchurch, the Hungarian community inaugurated the wooden memorial poles in the presence of 80 Hungarians, Kiwis and the Hungarian Ambassador in Beverley Park, next to the Avon river, on the corner of Avonside Drive and Stanmore Road. Four Hungarian craftsmen prepared the woodwork and metalwork with high precision, putting their heart and soul into them.

The artefacts were blessed by a Hungarian catechist and a Maori priest. The delivered poems and speeches induced some tearful reminiscing and soul searching. The Hungarian community expressed its grateful thanks to the Kiwi society for accepting and sheltering 1117 Hungarian refugees who later became useful and much appreciated citizens of their adoptive country.

Addressing the gathering, the Hungarian Ambassador Dr László Zsolt Szabó noted, “Between December of 1956 and February of 1958 1117 Hungarians arrived to New Zealand, either by planes to Auckland, or on the board of MS Sibajak to Wellington. From the Hungarian refugees 160 adults and a dozen of children were moved further to Christchurch. And not only these people could begin a new life and could integrate into New Zealand society, but all the 1117 Hungarians and their descendants. And it could not have happened without the generous help of the New Zealand government, the Red Cross, the various churches, and the people of New Zealand.”

Later, at the Hungarian Club premises, there was a pop-up exhibition made up by photos, historical facts and stories about the Revolution. The finale of the day was a delicious lunch greatly appreciated by everyone present.

If you want to know more about the Hungarian Community or the historic event, please contact Zalan Kemeny at zalan13@freemail.hu.

- This article and the above pictures are contributed by Zalan Kemeny, editor of a monthly newsletter published by the Hungarian Club of Christchurch.

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