The lost boys: New Zealand’s shame

Hutts Strange World

by Pamela Stirling

From the NZ Listener archive

For two small boys, a post-war scheme offering a ‘new life’ in New Zealand provided slavery, abuse and rejection instead.

When 11-year-old Malcolm Axcell boarded the Rimutaka for New Zealand in early 1949, it was the beginning of a long, sad odyssey. This boy was to be the first of 600 child migrants to step ashore in New Zealand in the post-war years.

He had been sent far from his war-tom and poverty-stricken family in London – his stepfather had lost a leg in the war – to a new life in what a New Zealand newspaper article described in glowing terms as the “space and fresh air” of his aunt and uncle’s state house in Meadowbank.

Such was the belief in the ennobling power of hard work in the colonies that Malcolm was seen as lucky to have the opportunity to…

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