Department of Slavonic Studies

In 1972 at 72 St David Street, where the St David Street lecture theatres  sit now, a group of students hung out a rather official looking sign. It celebrated their “three common kiwi names”, Fudakowski, Nowakowski, Voykovic. As the flat was owned by the University name it made sense to call it, “Department of Slavonic Studies”. Mike Fudakowski told me, “We had a formal-looking plate made for the door by a relative of Anthony Voykovic, one Gary Wyber who with his father had a photographic printing business and could photo-etch a zinc plate. Voykovic thinks that Nowakowski ended up with that plate. I don’t remember.”

The flat cost a grand total of $5 a week. Average at the time. It had a coal range and a gas oven, so it wasn’t too difficult to warm in winter. However it had no hot water at all. “We used to venture down the road to the Student Union or the Phys Ed School squash courts for a shower, so this may not have occurred on a daily basis.”

slavic studies 1.jpg

Paula Worthington, Mike Fudakowski, Andrew Nowakowski and Tony Voykovic with the ‘Staff Car’. Photograph by Nigel Charters, used with permission.

Kasia Waldegrave who provided the photo, told me the flat was visited by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), the name having sparked fears of a communist domino effect having infiltrated Dunedin. Mike didn’t recall this incident, but did remember another. “We were certainly visited by a Polish-speaking gentleman who said he was the Polish Consul from Wellington on a visit. A mystified man, puzzled by my own evident inadequacy with the Polish tongue. Nowakowski was called and came to the rescue to explain that the Department was only informally attached to the University. I think he knew the Polish words for “student humour”.”

Curious about the NZSIS visit, I wrote them a letter. They checked their records, but there were no details of an investigation into the inhabitants of the Department of Slavonic Studies. 

The flat possessed a small, asphalted back yard from which they could see, on Cumberland Street, the rear of “Free Latvia”, a flat where Jim Mora, Radio NZ broadcaster, used to live.

Free Latvia Critic

Critic 1977, vol. 53, no. 5, p.14

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