Magyar Szó

"Documenting the life of the Hungarian community in New Zealand"
- Az új-zélandi magyar közösség lapja.

Issue 79 - March 2005

It's in Our Blood...

When I was young I could never understand why people asked me: "How can you be Hungarian - you were born in New Zealand?" It didn't make sense to me, because a hundred percent of the blood cursing through my veins is Hungarian. Later I learnt to answer that question with: "I'm half Hungarian, half New Zealander" - somehow this seemed more acceptable. Even so, still now it's only Hungarian blood flowing through my veins.

In fact this is what I attribute the strength of my "Hungarian feeling" to. That's not to say that the good Hungarian cooking I came to love throughout my childhood, or the nurturing of my beautiful mother tongue, and just generally the upbringing I had steeped in a love of Hungarian-ness, didn't also have something to do with it. I am nonetheless quite sure, that in spite of it being quite un-measurable and improvable, there's something about "Hungarian blood".

I have come across the seemingly incompatible notion numerous times in the course of my consular work: despite being raised in a completely New Zealand environment, with not even the slightest breath of Hungarian air about it, somehow as an adult some people are still drawn to their Hungarian side. They can't understand it, they can't explain it, they just know that they have to act on it.

These people have a difficult time of it. Often they have no idea where to even begin, they just know they are "different" from others and it's the solution to this puzzle they are seeking. If their Hungarian grandparent is still alive, then there is hope. Grandparents tend not to refuse from their grandchildren what they denied from their children (with the best intention of course). But this road is much more difficult: just try putting together the hidden pieces of your identity. But if you feel it, and the passion to get to the bottom of it burns inside, then you'll go to the ends of the earth to unravel the mystery.

It isn't just here in New Zealand, that you hear and read of second and third generation Hungarians searching for their roots in every corner of the world. They may only be half, or quarter Hungarian, but the strength of that Hungarian blood pulsing through their veins drives them to learn more about it.

Precisely what this "Hungarian feeling" means to them is another question. But as parents and grandparents it is our duty to help our youth. Facing the issue of our identity may well be the most important question we have to deal with. So then what can be more important, than "enabling" our young people, putting the tools for them to learn about their identity within reach?

Klara Szentirmay

Magyar Szó Issue 79- March 2005