Saturday, May 1, 2010

Memorial to NZ Croatian immigrants

It's at the edge of the patterned brick frontage to SkyCity in central Auckland, overshadowed by the bulk of the Sky Tower, the landmark almost every tourist passing through my city wants to take a photo of, whether up close amongst the pillars and supports, in front of this period's version of a sanitised and commercialised "den of iniquity". I was invited to a lunch there by friends of mine -- I'm glad that things like pokies and casinos is fairly boring to me. There's other things for me to fling my money away on. Secondhand bookstores comes to mind ...

Anyway ... 

I nearly missed this plaque. It's the only one on some large square planters where cabbage trees grow at the corner of Federal and Victoria Streets. Set down low, I got onto a creaky knee and took a photo of the plaque itself.

It reads:

Between the years 1890 and 1980 this locality was the gateway and meeting place for many thousands of immigrants from the coastal regions of Croatia. The majority being from the province of Dalmatia. In this locality they had their homes, their shops, boarding houses, restaurants and clubs.

Here they paused briefly before moving on to establish themselves on the kauri gumfields, vineyards, orchards, farms, fisheries and quarries of the Auckland province. These streets were central to their social life where they enjoyed the company of family and friends. This was their village. They were a Croatian people proud of their origins and their Dalmatian heritage. For over 70 years in recent history they shared identity as Yugoslavs.

This memorial plaque, arranged by their descendants, commemorates their presence in this locality. It further commemorates their courage, their relentless toil, their commitment to their families and contribution to the making of New Zealand.

New Zealanders of their kin will remember them with respect and affection for generations to come.

This memorial was donated, and placed, courtesy of Sky City Ltd. by Fletcher Construction, Constructors of Sky City, August 1997.
I'll see if I can find out more details of what happened around the opening day for Sky City, 3 August 1997, to see if there's some more information on the plaque. At the moment, I can't find out anything else on the Internet, which is a bit of a shame, for such a piece of our ethnic history.


  1. Croatian immigrants to New Zealand. How odd, by why not. Funnily I just listened to a podcast today about Croation immigrants in our mining town of Broken Hill.

  2. Why would it be thought of as odd, Andrew? Migrants from Eastern Europe were going everywhere from their homelands in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th.

  3. MY paternal grandfather opened The first ethnic restaurant in N.Z. and went on to be one of the founding fathers of the Dalmation club in Auckland. He later moved north to Dargaville, digging gum and eventually developing a farm there. he raised enough funds to bring his brothers out to N.Z. (Jack and Marino)he was my namesake.....Peter Garea (Garelja) He originated from Podgora and married Theresa Petricivich. She was from Korcula