ZAGREB, March 28 (Hina) – A book by Smiljana Šunde “Batili su ocean: U potrazi za izgubljenim Podgoranima” portraying the stories of emigrants from the coastal town of Podgora on the Makarska Riviera was launched at the Croatian Heritage Foundation (HMI) in Zagreb on Thursday.
HMI director Mijo Marić underscored that the author tells the story of locals born in Podgora of whom there are more abroad than in their home town, and describes their lives abroad and of their sense of belonging.
According to Ivan Hrstić from the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, the book discloses the dynamics of social events in Croatia and and its southern coastline at the turn of the 20th century. The author describes Croatian communities in Australia and New Zealand, Hrstic underscored.
He underscored that about 1,300 Podgora residents emigrated over a period of one hundred years and that only about 280 had returned to their hometown.
The 831-page book presents some 70 stories, many of which describe marriages at a distance, how women corresponded with men who would be their future husbands without really knowing them and how they travelled to Australia and New Zealand where they eventually met their husbands and married them.
Šunde described that Croats who emigrated to New Zealand after World War I were the first to establish ocean fishing and the local fish industry.
“Croats, including Podgora residents also established New Zealand’s wine growing and were prominent in many other fields of life,” Šunde said.