In 1876 the Polish immigrants came to New Zealand on the ship Fritz Reuter, which landed in Wellington. Some 52 of them were trans-shipped in the SS Taupo to New Plymouth. They were housed in the Marsland Hill barracks, which was used as an immigration centre.
The Polish people first settled in Bell Block, but by 1877 most of the jobs were in Inglewood.
The men worked felling trees, building the New Plymouth to Waitara railway line and then the Waitara to Wanganui line. Some Polish workers even helped create the totally man-made Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. A few of these families settled on Durham and Norfolk roads in Inglewood, while others moved to Johns Road, Tariki, and York Road, Midhirst.
This article (visit link) from the Puke Ariki website describes the harsh life on the early Polish settlers. World War II made life difficult as they were recognised as Germans by English settlers. The Polish people kept to themselves, spoke their own language and held fast to their cultural heritage. The Polish women worked very hard and suffered from loneliness in some of the farm settlements while their husbands were away doing contract tree felling in order to bring in some money.
Then, in the early 1970s, Dr Pobog-Jaworowski visited Taranaki to research the history of his home country’s settlers for a thesis. He re-augmented an interest in Polish family history and their background. As a result, a Polish centennial celebration was held at the end of 1976. Since then, the Polish culture has been alive and thriving in Taranaki. Now every year, at the massive Taranaki Multi-Ethnic Extravaganza, there is a colourful representation of Polish costumes, customs and culinary contributions.
This plaque, along with other centennial plaques, celebrates the Polish immigration and thanks the Settlers for their contribution to the Inglewood District.
THE PLAQUE IS ENGRAVED WITH THESE WORDS: “In recognition of the contribution made by the Polish Settlers in the development of the Inglewood District.”
LOCATION: The fountain monument is situated in a small street plaza off Rata Street near the crossroads, in Inglewood.