Hungarian refugees

After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, New Zealand Red Cross opened the Hungarian Revolution relief response. The New Zealand Prime Minister at the time, Sidney Holland, opened the appeal by making a £10,000 ($474,905.77, 2014 inflation) donation.

Holland also named New Zealand Red Cross as the official agency that all contributions were to be channelled through. The total of the appeal was £67,684 ($3,213,877.33, 2014 inflation).

Internationally, Junior Red Cross (JRC) launched an appeal to provide Hungarian children with a full outfit. There were 131,000 refugees moved from Austria in less than six months.

JRC also got involved and were encouraged to give a shilling each to the international appeal. JRC also took part in the special Christmas relief action for Hungarian children in Austria. They provided 125 children with a full outfit. In early 1957, JRC also helped provide educational and recreational equipment to the 26 refugee camps in Hungary.

The first Hungarian refugees to move to New Zealand arrived in Auckland a few days before Christmas 1956. They were welcomed by Juniors holding up placards painted in the red, white and green of the Hungarian flag, which read 'fogadtatás' (welcome in Hungarian).

Sweets were given to each new arrival. Later flights received sports gear and each person was fitted with clothing by Red Cross. At their new homes, toilet gear, pyjamas and night dresses were waiting for them in their beds.

A sightseeing trip was organised for the Hungarian refugees second day in New Zealand. As seen in the photo above, one of the highlights was the beach.

"Many of them had never been to a beach before and after being assured that it was not forbidden to walk on the grass, they raced across the reserve, down to the water's edge. They dipped their hands in the water, felt the texture of the wet sand and hunted excitedly for shells."

New Zealand Red Cross annual report 1956-57, p.14.