Panni Palasti
Budapest Refugee and Peace Advocate
Panni Palasti was born and educated in Budapest Hungary.
Having just finished University in 1956 Panni witnessed the uprising against the Soviet influence in Hungary.  She and many other students staged a march in protest.  Shortly after this Panni fled the country as a 23-year-old to Austria, from there entering the United States as a refugee along with thousands of other Hungarians after the Hungarian revolution.
She lived with her father’s relatives and enrolled at Columbia University in New York, studying English literature. She continued her studies at San Francisco State University and UCLA.
Panni worked as a journalist while in America and met and interviewed some interesting people including John Kennedy and Nancy Regan. In 1993 she set sail across the ocean with her husband and son to New Zealand. She lived in Russell for 28 years before moving to Nelson in 2002.
Panni is author of the Budapest Girl, her memories of growing up in Hungary during the rise of Hitler and World War 2 where her two uncles and father were lost in forced labour camps, which is her plea for peace and condemnation of war. She wrote it for those who are experiencing war over and over again, and for the refugees and immigrants wanting to survive what war does to a child.
Panni says her life has turned out very differently after making the choice to flee her home city. She never saw her mother again when she left as a 23-year-old as she died a few years later. Her father was able to visit her in New Zealand.