Colonial Homelessness




Homelessness (New Zealand), Architecture, New Zealand, History, 19th century, Colonization


Published references to homelessness in newspapers of the 1940s include instances of both foreign and local homelessness. International homelessness is frequently stated to be a result of social conditions: poverty and unemployment. Natural disasters figure small. New Zealand accounts vary more widely, but are dominated by Pākehā homelessness resulting from sub-leasing regulations, "native insurgents" - usually in reference to the attack on Kororāreka, and Wellington's 1848 earthquake, whose homeless sheltered with friends who lived in "wooden buildings." Yet, simultaneously, New Zealand was also proposed as a potential home for England's unemployed homeless, and Auckland - "the neglected offspring of avaricious parents ... exhibiting the tokens of permanent prosperity" due to its merchantile, rather than colonial, British settlement - is stated to have accommodated refugee settlers "driven from their homes by acts of violence and destruction which the native insurgents, intoxicated with success, so wantonly committed." In 1840s newspapers there are no references to homelessness in serialised literature, and few abstract uses of the term.

Māori do not figure large in the references to homelessness as being homeless. There is reference though in the late 1840s to Tommy, who is praised because when he "found himself homeless ... [he] did not return to the savage horde from whence he came, but sought and found other employment amongst the Pakeha's [sic]," and there is a heartfelt plea from a father of half-caste children to other fathers: "let not your children fall back to the state of degradation, from whence their mothers sprung." Potential homeless here is tied to prostitution and disease. This paper will examine the reporting of homelessness throughout the 1840s, and will attempt to isolate specifically architectural issues of the decade which emerge from this.


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How to Cite

McCarthy, C. (2014). Colonial Homelessness. Architectural History Aotearoa, 11, 42–55.

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