GREEK AUSTRALIANS IN THEIR IMAGE: Christina Panos

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Greek City Times is proud to present a weekly historical snapshot
from the archives of the national project “In Their Own Image: Greek Australians”
by photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski.


Christina Panos (nstare Kakulas) – Family, community of identity

The process of migration and settlement imposes challenges encompassing material well-being, family and intergenerational personal relationships, as well as perceptions of self and cultural belonging. Christina (Chrissie) Panos migrated, settled and raised her family as proud Kastellorizians. At the same time, she has been involved in a wide range of activities both for her [Greek] community and the wider Australian society into which his family had settled.

Christina Panos (née Kakulas), Perth, WA, 1987 (Photo: Effy Alexakis)

Christina was born on July 20, 1923 on the Dodecanese island of Kastellorizo, the second youngest child of Evangelos and Triantafilia (née Mallis) Kakulas; his siblings were Stavros (Steve), Michael, George and Nina (born in Australia). Her father and older brother Stavros had left for Fremantle in Western Australia a few months before Christina was born.

“The rest of the family came out in October 1926. The main reason was that the old fashion ‘caique’ [a sailing vessel used predominately for trade by the Kastellorizians] became obsolete and there was not enough money on the island to make steamships out of them. So it cut off the livelihood of the island… the population was 14,000 and all of a sudden the livelihood was not there. So they started thinking about migration. My father’s brother was already there [in Australia]. So he [my father] decides to emigrate to Australia. She was a model [chain migration] in those years. The father, or the men of the family, went out first. If they thought it was good, then they took the rest of the family out.

Evangelos and Stavros first sold fruit and fish and later acquired a fruit wheelbarrow outside Fremantle station. In 1927, Christina’s sister, Nina, was born. Two years later, the family bought a grocery store in William Street, Northbridge, near the business center of Perth. At the end of the 1930s, another store was acquired on the same street. The original retail store is still thriving today (operated by the next generation of the family) specializing in Greek olives, peeled tomatoes, nuts, dried fruits, dried beans, a variety of herbs and species and an extensive range of roasted coffee beans. on the site; a wholesale warehouse was acquired in the 1990s in Wellman Street, Perth.

While establishing their material well-being, the Kakula’s Kastellorizian-Greek identity was firmly maintained from the start of their new life in Australia. Christina explains:

“We had quite a bit of flack those years…that’s the truth! I think due to the strong family background that we all come from, we weren’t overwhelmed by Aussies [British-Australians]. We held on. Even though we were in Australian schools – and there was tension – it was okay, because… there were Jews there, there were Italians there. All we had to do was regroup and then they [British-Australian children] had no chance. Oh, we certainly didn’t consider ourselves inferior. Not at all! We weren’t intimidated by them either. No, we held on. No, I have never experienced the conflict of living in two separate communities – certainly not! Neither did my children. We were given a strong identity… When you have… a father who says: ‘You are going to speak Greek in this house otherwise!’, it was a firm rule. So we went up. We loved our Greek school, we loved the concerts of our Greek school. We excelled at Australian school, we were Duxes… So what was the conflict? There was no conflict for us. But in the neighborhood where we lived, my mother didn’t turn around and say, “You’re not going to play with the “Astrals” [Australians]’. They were all our friends, we all played together, we grew up together. So, therefore, there was no conflict.

In 1947 Christina married Leffy Panos (Lefteris Pitsikas) – who was also of Kastellorizian descent – ​​in Perth. She points out that their children, Margaret and Barry (who died in 2008)…certainly benefited from her strong sense of identity without cultural conflict.

“I gave them a strong identity. But, you cannot raise the next generation on the principles of the previous one. Their identity was so strong in them that Barry was often called upon to participate in debates and to participate in panels, and it was spoken loud and clear: “I am the product of two upbringings. But I’m happy in one and I’m happy in the other, because I chose what I want from here, and chose what I want from here. This is who I am’. My children are well adjusted, thank God for that.

Throughout her life, Christina has been involved in many community and social welfare groups: member of the Hellenic Women’s Association since 1956 (president from 1967 to 1969); founding member of the Association of muscular dystrophy in 1956; a member of the WA Aged Care Committee, 1973-1975; a member of the Multicultural Education Committee, 1976-1982; chosen as spokesperson for Galbally Report on multiculturalism in 1977; involved in ‘Meals on Wheels’, 1959-1973; involved in the formation of Hellenic Ladies Auxiliary in 1979 and was an organizer; chosen to represent Oceania in 2008 by the Society of Greeks Abroad.

Christina states, “In many ways I was a social worker – I raised funds for whatever came up…I hope I raised awareness as well.”


Photos: Effy Alexakis
Historical research: Leonard Janiszewski

© In Their Image: Greek-Australian National Project Archives


Effy Alexakis

Leonard Janiszewski

Since the early 1980s, photographer Effy Alexakis and historian researcher Leonard Janiszewski have traveled across Australia to photograph and collect stories. They have also photographed Greek-Australians in Greece and documented amazing stories. The images and text provide personal, diverse and powerfully moving insights into opportunities, hopes and challenges. Collectively, these stories offer personal perspectives of a diasporic Hellenic identity. Their archive encompasses photography, both historical and contemporary, recorded interviews and literary documents.

They have published 3 books and numerous articles, and their projects are ongoing. The photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Australia and Greece.

VISIT THEIR LATEST PROJECT: Australian Greek Cafes and Milk Bars | Facebook

Keywords:
Athens, Australia, Australian Immigration Centres, Christina Panos, Effy Alexakis, European Migration, Fremantle, Galbally Report, Golden Greeks, Great Depression, greece, Greek Australians, Greek Easter, greek migrants, Hellenic Women’s Association, Hellenic Women’s Auxiliary, Kastellorizian , Muscular Dystrophy Association, Society for Hellenes Abroad, Sydney, Multicultural Education Committee
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