Hrvatska ženska liga (na engleskom, Croatian Women’s League osnovana je tijekom Domovinskog rata, kako bi se efikasnije i bolje skupljala pomoć za ratom obranjenu domovinu Hrvatsku. Ove je godine večerom u restoranu ‘Brač’ u Aucklandu proslavila 25-tu godišnjicu.
On Sunday 5th May our Croatian Women’s League of New Zealand celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
Our League was born during the time our birth country was fighting for its very existence. Our aim was to fund-raise to help our Croatian people in any way we could. We even sent containers full of sheets and woollen garments knitted by our members. As our Croatia got stronger and no longer needed our small but heartfelt efforts our focus shifted to helping our community in Auckland.
Visiting the frail and the sick and cheering them with cards and flowers as well as acknowledging special milestones of all members such as births, marriages and loss of loved ones. Afternoon teas at our Croatian Cultural Society clubrooms, where the plates of baking by our members could rival any baking show of which there is a multitude these days on television. These are always very enjoyable as we invariably have an interesting speaker and of course the ladies love a get-together.
We have run car-boot sales, cake stalls, sausage sizzles, raffles, you name it. Fund-raising for breast cancer, Starship Children’s Hospital and many good causes. As a small organisation our donations are not bountiful in sum, but certainly in spirit.
We arranged outings for all the women in our community, bus trips to other cities and notable landmarks in Auckland that many of us would never have seen otherwise.
These have always been, and still are, highlights in our ladies calendars, with jokes and singing on the bus there and back – nice lunches and many photographs. But as we’ve got older we have not been able to fund-raise as much though we still keep very much to our ‘oath of allegiance.’
I will wear the badge of the Croatian Women’s League
with pride and with honour.
I shall be part of the hand of friendship amongst all women.
Through my involvement I will endeavour to facilitate better
understanding amongst women of all creeds.
I will always be proud of my Croatian heritage, especially the
Croatian pioneer women of New Zealand.
Our 25th anniversary celebration was held at ‘Bracu,’ the pavilion restaurant on the Simunovich Olive Estate, Bombay Hills in Auckland. It was a fabulous day, and we were greeted by a glass of champagne courtesy of the Simunovich Estate and a welcome by our president Zdenka Batistic. Grace was said by Sr Kate Franich and a minute’s silence observed for our members who have passed away.
We presented our founding members Patricia Jerkovic, Maryanne Grgicevich, Katica Filipcich, Rena Paunovic, Tanja Zarak and our president all these years, Zdenka Batistic as well as our long time secretary Suzanne Pincevic and our new secretary Diane Jelas, with beautiful bouquets of flowers, bottles of wine and goody bags of Simunovich olive oil beauty products. We also thanked our frequent guest speaker at our breast cancer events, Dr. Sonia Frieze for her contribution to the welfare of women.
Our live music featured the powerful voice of our very own Joni Yelcich. And when ‘Oliver’s Nadalina,’ burst forth from the microphone, the entire roomful of mostly grandmothers sprang up to join hands and weave their way through the tables in a traditional Croatian ‘Koko.’ ‘Boze moj, kad starost poludi!!’ Then pretty puffed we sat to enjoy a delicious three course dinner.
After dinner Florida Vela introduced Suzanne Pincevic our artist and author of ‘Britain and the Bleiburg Tragedy,’ with her presentation of her new book ‘Dubrovnik My Love.’
I could not help but heap accolades on Suzanne who has done so much to shed light on Croatia’s turbulent history, holocaust and triumphant rebirth with her painting and writing.
Indeed our Croatia, as well as our Croatian Cultural and Religious Societies of Australasia, and our very own Croatian Woman’s League owe her a debt of gratitude, for her untiring behind the scenes support.
After our decadent dessert we all joined in hearty renditions of ‘Croatio iz duse te ljubim’ and ‘Da te mogu pismom zvati,’ the words of which my daughter Tania had printed many copies of, for there is nothing worse than wanting to join in a sing song but not knowing the words. Our beautiful celebration ended with our president Zdenka’s acknowledgement and sincere thanks to the Simunovich family for their unreserved support, donations and sponsorship of our League throughout its existence.
As I always say when raising a glass to toast, ‘Dao Bog I do godine.’
Florida Vela, Auckland.