25 October 2017
The hidden history of transported New Zealand convicts
It’s no secret that Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was a penal colony for British convicts. Yet surprisingly at least 110 New Zealand prisoners were also transported to the island in the nineteenth century to do time as convict labourers, serving their sentences in harsh conditions.
Cleansing the Colony: Transporting Convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen’s Land, a new book by Tasmania-based New Zealand historian Dr Kristyn Harman, gives a unique and lively insight into this little known part of our history.
In examining the remarkable experiences of unremarkable people, Cleansing the Colony 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.
“The stories of these people reveal how New Zealand’s governing class was intent on cleansing the colony of what it considered a burgeoning criminal underclass,” says author Kristyn Harman.
“Van Diemen’s Land (modern Tasmania) became a dumping ground for New Zealand’s unwanted.”
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.
Kristyn Harman is a New Zealander living in Australia. She is the author of Aboriginal Convicts, which won the Australian Historical Association’s Kay Daniels Award for convict history in 2014. Kristyn studied history at Massey University and undertook doctoral research at the University of Tasmania where she now lectures in History ithe School of Humanities. Her expertise spans topics across the Tasman Sea and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, largely focusing on the Australasian colonies and the British Empire. Cleansing the Colony is her second book.
Cleansing the Colony: Transporting convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen’s Land
By Kristyn Harman
Release Date October 2017