Bid 'not a popularity contest' - Krakow

Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust Russell Chiles with  a Polish flag in...
Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust Russell Chiles with a Polish flag in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Bernie Hawke.
Bernie Hawke.

A City of Literature bid is not a popularity contest and Krakow did not sentence Dunedin to failure, a spokeswoman for the Polish city said.

Krakow City of Literature international projects manager Justyna Jochym said the decision not to issue an endorsement letter to support a Dunedin bid to become a City of Literature was made by a board including City of Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski.

Mrs Jochym said it would have been ''imprudent'' for Krakow to support all the more than 15 cities that applied.

Krakow considered ''mutual communication and understanding a highly significant factor'' for the sustainable development of the Cities of Literature network.

''This was a huge motivating factor in our decision-making process.''

Krakow considers it the responsibility of the applicant cities to outline the links of joint literary interests.

Krakow issued six endorsement letters, she said.

Applicant cities needed five letters of endorsement to file an application to Unesco, she said.

''Popularity would not earn a city the title. Krakow did not sentence Dunedin to failure.''

Krakow prepared its single bid for three years, she said.

Dunedin City Council arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke said the bid application included Dunedin's ability to interact with all the network, not just one city.

''Our application wasn't to Krakow, it was to Unesco.''

Krakow supported the Dunedin bid but decided not to issue an endorsement letter, he said.

The other six Cities of Literature - Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik and Norwich, - were ''delighted'' to endorse Dunedin's bid, he said.

Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust chairwoman Cecylia Klobukowska said she had ''concerns'' with Krakow not providing a letter of support.

The two cities had several links and the Dunedin City Council had been ''wonderful'' supporting the Dunedin Polish community, she said.

Examples included Dunedin hosting an exhibition on Polish writer Joseph Conrad Korzeniowski in 2008.

Another was an unveiling of a commemorative plaque for Korzeniowski at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in June.

Last year, the trust organised a book launch of Alone by Alina Suchanski and in November would launch a book commemorating the 70th anniversary of the arrival 733 Polish war orphans to New Zealand from Siberia in 1944.

A book of poetry by Polish Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz had a Maori translation, she said.

Krakow should have supported the bid, she said.

''I strongly believe that Dunedin deserves 'yes' from Krakow.''

The bid results will be announced on November 30.

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