Aboriginal Convicts: Australian, Khoisan, and Maori Exiles

Author(s): Kristyn Harman


We assume that all convicts were white few people know that indigenous people got caught up in the convict system. These men and women were taken prisoner during frontier wars in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, yet they were treated as criminals rather than prisoners of war, and exiled to penal colonies in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land. Their crimes ranged from sheep and cattle stealing, through to arson, mutiny and bushranging. They lived, laboured, were punished, and died alongside convicts transported from Britain and elsewhere. Hardly any returned home. Until now their stories have been overlooked by or erased from the grand narratives of British and Australian colonial history. This powerful book recovers them from history.

Bulldog and Musquito, Aboriginal warriors from the Hawkesbury, were captured and sent to Norfolk Island following frontier skirmishes in New South Wales. Eventually, Bulldog seems to have made it home. Musquito was transported to Van Diemens Land, where he laboured as a convict servant. He never returned. Hohepa Te Umuroa was arrested near Wellington in 1846, with a group of Maori warriors. Five of the men were transported to Van Diemens Land where Te Umuroa died in custody. More than 140 years later, his remains were carried home to New Zealand. Booy Piet, a twenty-six year-old Khoisan soldier from the Cape Colony, was transported to Van Diemens Land for desertion in 1842. After three years of convict labour, he died in Hobart General Hospital. These men are among 130 aboriginal convicts who were transported to and within the Australian penal colonies. They lived, laboured, were punished, and died alongside other convicts, but until this groundbreaking book, their stories had largely been forgotten.


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Product Information

'A rich and engaging study of a long forgotten aspect of Australia's past.' - Henry Reynolds

General Fields

  • : 9781742233239
  • : UNSW Press
  • : UNSW Press
  • : June 2012
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : Australia
  • : September 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Kristyn Harman
  • : Paperback
  • : 994.02
  • : 298
  • : Colour and black and white illustrations