jim sears

Jim Sears

Sadly one regularly reads the obituaries of those who were deported to Siberia. These are the last survivors, the children who endured two years starvation and hard work in the Soviet Union following deportation by Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, from their home in Poland.

What I enjoy reading about is the full and productive lives that these Poles made for themselves in a foreign country after missing much of their schooling. This blog was inspired by the obituary of a complete stranger, Zbigniew Sierpinski better known as Jim Sears, that was posted in the Kresy-Siberia Discussion Group.

Jim was one of the 733 Polish children offered a home in Pahiatua, New Zealand in 1944. He became a photographer and produced 31 books about New Zealand and the Pacific. Jim was also an adventurer who sailed a traditional outrigger canoe from Kiribati to Fiji to challenge Thor Heyerdahl’s theory of Polynesian settlement. His second voyage nearly ended in tragedy when the outrigger broke off leaving the crew to drift for 16 days in a small lifeboat, before being rescued by a Chilean tugboat. Having lived his life to the full he is survived by children in New Zealand, Fiji and Kiribati (Gilbert Islands). Read the full obituary at


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