Home Uncategorized Angeliki (Kiki) Polichronaki – Full biography

Angeliki (Kiki) Polichronaki – Full biography

Angeliki (Kiki) Polichronaki – Full biography

Angeliki was born in Crete, in a village called Dris, Sellinos district, on September 29, 1939. Her parents were Spiros Polichronakis and Athina Xsanthoudaki. She was the youngest of nine siblings, four of whom were from her father’s previous two marriages.

Her father was a farmer who owned a large property, which he bought with the money he earned while working in America before the First World War. He grew a variety of crops, but his main income came from olive oil, chestnuts, and wheat.  Angeliki recalls her childhood as a happy one, despite the hardships of the war. She remembers her father bringing home small treats for her and her siblings, and her half-sister Alexia taking care of her.

During the war, her family had to hide from the Germans. Her mother was once kicked by a German soldier for not revealing the whereabouts of her husband and sons. In retaliation, her father shot a German soldier, but made sure to do it far away from the village to avoid reprisals. The allied soldiers would hide in a hut on their hills and the family would provide them with food while ensuring their safety. Angeliki also recalls a Christmas when German soldiers came to their farm and had a picnic with them. They left behind Christmas decorations, which the family kept and used for many years.

Kiki mentions attending school in a nearby village and the impact of the civil war on their community.

As a child, she was fascinated by America, inspired by the stories and gifts her uncle, who lived in New York, sent them. This fascination led her to seize an opportunity to work in New Zealand when she was older.

The conversation also mentions the pride of the mother in raising a large family, the loss of two boys, and the high mortality rate of children during and after the war. It discusses the traditional roles of women in the family, their education, and their involvement in farming and household chores. Angeliki also mentions the dowries of the sisters, the importance of land ownership, superstitions regarding male babies in the family and the responsibilities that fell on the mother after the father’s death. 

She talks about traditional Greek wedding food, the importance of virginity, and the limited freedom to interact with boys. She shared how was her upbringing on a farm, her understanding of reproduction from observing animals, and her decision not to marry young like her sisters. She learned about menstruation through overheard conversations and societal norms, using old clothes and later pads for her periods. She left school at 13 and helped at home, particularly with her sister’s glory box, as she was skilled in cross-stitching. Angeliki didn’t enjoy cooking and always desired city life over the farm. She enjoyed visiting her married sister in the city of Chania and going to the cinema, and found the farm lonely after her siblings left. She moved to New Zealand at 23, rejecting attempts to arrange her marriage.

In recounting her experiences and decisions regarding immigrating to New Zealand, she mentioned how she learned about New Zealand through videos and newspaper articles, and how she was enticed by the promises of a friendly environment and opportunities. She also describes her training in the island of Mytilene where she learned English, etiquette, and various skills for working in hotels and hospitals. The interview touches on her thoughts about finding a spouse, her reasons for choosing New Zealand over other countries, and the challenges of immigration during that time.

She talks about making friends in Mytilene, the diverse backgrounds of the girls they travelled with, the farewell before leaving Greece, the experience of flying for the first time, encountering non-Greeks, and the disappointment of arriving in Wellington without high-rise buildings (as she had anticipated to look like New York). The journey from Greece to New Zealand included stops in Syria and Bombay.

Angeliki shared her experiences after arriving in New Zealand in June 1962. Angeliki and other girls were sponsored by the New Zealand government due to their help to New Zealanders during the war, as evidenced by a certificate Angeliki had. They were taken to a mental  hospital, Kingseat, where they worked. She mentions that the New Zealand government took good care of them, regularly checking on their well-being. Angeliki also shares her experiences of interacting with the locals, including Maori girls, and learning English. She also shares a humorous anecdote about a language misunderstanding involving a friend. The girls spent their free time together, attending parties and outings.  She also mentions meeting Paul, her future husband, at one of these parties.

Angeliki discusses her experiences with sewing, sending money back home, and her relationship with her mother. She also shares the story of how she met her husband, Paul, a New Zealander, and their engagement. Angeliki talks about her family’s acceptance of Paul, their plans to visit Greece, and their wedding celebration. They went on a honeymoon to various countries, but had to cut it short due to an air strike.

Angeliki shares her experiences of returning to Crete after five years, expressing her joy at seeing the olive trees and her family, especially her mother and sisters. She mentions that her father had passed away. She didn’t want to stay in Crete permanently, as she had made a decision to live elsewhere and didn’t want to change her mind.

She talks about her married life, mentioning that she and her husband were opposites in some ways, but not in a negative sense. They had their first child two years into their marriage, and she stopped working full-time after having children. She held part-time and casual jobs instead.

Angeliki also discusses her involvement in the Greek community in New Zealand, including her contribution to the establishment of a church. Her husband, Paul, was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church before their marriage, and their two sons were also baptized in the same church.

The decision to move to Australia was Paul’s, as he preferred the weather there and had other reasons related to the well-being of their children. Angeliki agreed to the move, despite having a strong Greek community and friends in New Zealand. She mentions that her sister, who was homesick, stayed in New Zealand for a few years after she left before returning to Greece.

In Australia, Angeliki found it hard to make friends initially, especially Australian friends. She worked at Target and was involved in the Greek community. She and Paul have many Greek friends and relatives in Australia, but Paul also has Kiwi friends.

Angeliki talks about how her children were friendly and socialized with many people in their neighborhood. She mentions that although she didn’t speak Greek to her children, they learned about their Greek heritage through visits to Greece. Her youngest son even went on his honeymoon to Greece and named his daughter Alexi,a after Ang’s sister.

The conversation also touches on Ang’s connections with Greece and New Zealand, her friends in both countries, and the differences between Greek communities in Auckland and Australia. Angeliki mentions that she prefers the larger community in Australia as it allows her more choice in selecting friends. The interview concludes with a discussion about work experiences in New Zealand and Australia, with Angeliki noting that it was easier to work in New Zealand due to the novelty of being an immigrant at the time.

Angeliki expresses her dislike for people asking where she is from, particularly when it is done rudely. She believes that being a good person is more important than nationality and mentions having friends from various countries. She reflects on her life in Greece and feels that the country has advanced more than the Greek community she is a part of. She misses her family but has limited contact with them, mainly through phone calls. The family house in Greece is now in ruins, and Angeliki discusses the property distribution among siblings. She considers herself a migrant who has spent most of her life in Australia. Ang’s children are proud of their Greek heritage and their Australian and New Zealander identities. Angeliki didn’t plan her life but wouldn’t change it from what it is now