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Celebrations marking the 140th anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish settlers in Port Chalmers have highlighted both their harrowing shipboard conditions and significant later contribution to Dunedin and Otago.
The arrival of the sailing ship Palmerston on December 6, 1872, was celebrated by the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust, at the weekend. At a Saturday dinner in Port Chalmers, Ian Farquhar, a Dunedin maritime historian, gave a talk highlighting difficult conditions aboard Palmerston.
During a more than four-month voyage from Hamburg, passengers were beset by sea sickness and other illnesses in cramped conditions and several people died.
A commemorative plaque was also unveiled at the Port Chalmers Museum by the Polish ambassador to New Zealand, Beata Stoczynska.
She praised trust members for keeping alive the memories of early Polish settlers, and highlighting their achievements in helping develop Dunedin and Otago.
A related historical exhibit is being displayed at the reopened Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.