Helena Wiśniewska Brow is a Wellington-based writer and former journalist, and the 2013 recipient of the Adam Prize in Creative Writing. Her book, Give Us This Day: a Memoir of Family and Exile, is the story of her father, Stefan Wisniewski, one of the 732 exiled Polish children offered unlikely refuge in New Zealand in 1944.
Helena grew up in the Bay of Plenty town of Whakatane, where her father’s foreignness provided the only clear connection to her family’s tragic past. Her mother shared Stefan’s Eastern European heritage – the New Zealand-born daughter of a Jewish refugee from Russia, she was a survivor of a different kind – but the couple’s two daughters were largely assimilated into small-town Kiwi life. In the late 1980s, after completing an arts degree at Victoria University and then a postgraduate journalism qualification at the University of Canterbury, Helena worked for the New Zealand Press Association in Wellington and then in London.
After completing two short creative writing courses at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2009 and 2010, she gave up her work in public sector communications to tackle the 2013 Master of Arts in Creative Writing and to draft the full-length book that became Give Us This Day.