On 6 October 2017 Eva Niedzielski (far left) flew to Christchurch representing the Polish diaspora in Tauranga to attend the celebrations of the 145th anniversary of Polish settlement in New Zealand. Christchurch had been chosen for this event because the first Polish settlers sailing on the ship "Friedeburg" set foot on New Zealand soil in 1872 in Lyttleton.
Project manager Dorota Szymanska gave an introduction to the event and some historic background information, welcomed the attendees and introduced the officials in her speech. On the occasion of the anniversary Deputy Speaker of the Polish Senate, Maria Koc, accompanied by Polish Ambassador to New Zealand, Zbigniew Gniatkowski, Christchurch city officials, Pahiatua children and representatives of the Polish diaspora from all over New Zealand officially unveiled a commemorative plaque at Canterbury Museum. The celebration continued with a cultural performance, "Between the Waters", held at the city's Piano Arts Hall.
An exhibition at Canterbury Museum (9 December 2017 – 3 May 2018), Between the Waters: Canterbury’s First Polish Settlers, was also dedicated to honour the beginning of Polish settlement. It highlighted the experiences of four Polish families - the Kotlowskis, the Geirszewskis, the Szymanskis and the Watembachs – who were part of a wave of immigration which saw New Zealand’s settler population double to about 500,000 during the 1870s.
Once here, the immigrants picked up odd jobs, with many travelling to Pigeon Bay on Banks Peninsula to work on the land. In 1874, landowner Edward Reece travelled to Pigeon Bay and offered the Polish immigrants leasehold land in Marshland. Many of the settlers took up his offer and became market gardeners.
The commemorative plaque unveiled in October 2017 was destined for Polish Settlers Place, a cul-de-sac street in a new subdivision in Marshland.