Cleansing the Colony: Transporting Convicts From New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 272 pages
Author: K. Harman
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781988531069
Other: b&w & colour photos, maps, appendix, index
Publisher: Otago University Press

Everyone knows Australia was once a penal colony, but few realise that New Zealander prisoners were sent there.

During the mid-nineteenth century at least 110 people were transported from New Zealand to serve time as convict labourers in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). Even more were sentenced by colonial judges to the harsh punishment of transportation, but somehow managed to avoid being sent across the Tasman Sea.

In examining the remarkable experiences of unremarkable people, this fascinating book provides insights into the lives of people like William Phelps Pickering, a self-made entrepreneur turned criminal; Margaret Reardon, a potential accomplice to murder and convicted perjurer; and Te Kumete, a Māori warrior transported as a rebel. Their stories, and others like them, reveal a complex society overseen by a governing class intent on cleansing the colony of what was considered to be a burgeoning criminal underclass.

This lively book also offers insights into penal servitude in Van Diemen's Land as revealed through the lived experiences of the men and sole woman transported from New Zealand. Whether Māori men serving time for political infractions, white-collar criminals, labourers, vagrants or the soldiers sent to fight the empire's wars, each convict’s experiences reveal something about the way in which the British Empire sought to discipline, punish and reform those who trespassed against it.

Introduction: An extraordinary discovery
1. Gentlemen and gaol houses
2. English laws and the 'Portenia's' cargo
3. Lives inscribed
4. A segregated society
5. An otherwise untainted colony
6. The Queen's men
7. In open rebellion
8. Perfectly European
9. A woman's place
Conclusion: An ideal society
Appendix: Convicts transported from New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land

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Cleansing the Colony: Transporting Convicts From New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land


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