WANDA ELLIS: MY COLOURFUL LIFE. Memoirs compiled by Matt Elliott from interviews with Wanda Ellis. Hardback, 122pp. ISBN: 978-0-473-39348-9 Quo Vadis Publishing. $30 including nationwide postage. Email: email@example.com
Wanda Ellis QSM was born in eastern Poland (now Ukraine). One fearful night in February 1940 Wanda’s life was turned upside down. Her family were victims of the Soviet deportation of Poles to the Russian far north. She survived two years in a gulag and the long hunger and death-stricken journey across Russia to the relative safety of Persia (Iran). The ordeal claimed the lives of her younger sister, father and uncle, while her mother and an older sister became trapped in Russia. Wanda, then aged only 14, and her younger brother found refuge in an orphanage at Isfahan before traveling with hundreds of other Polish children to New Zealand.
After a short stay at the Pahiatua Polish Children’s Camp, Wanda moved to Auckland and attended Sacre Coeur (Baradene) College. Wanda married and adopted four children and worked for many years in the office at St. Peter’s College. Wanda remains one of the most distinguished members of the Auckland Polish community.
My Colourful Life tells the remarkable story of an ordinary Polish woman whose life became entangled in the world changing events of World War II. Thoughtful, moving and uplifting, this account is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit as it demonstrates the unparalleled optimism and persistent hope of a young girl far from home.
‘This is a very readable book, its 100 pages of smooth-flowing narrative benefiting from the involvement of a professional writer, Matt Elliott.’ – Pat McCarthy, NZ Catholic
Sadly, after a period of deteriorating health, Wanda passed away peacefully on the morning of 7 October, 2017. She was an extraordinarily positive woman and will be greatly missed by all who knew her. RIP Mrs. Ellis.