Insanity in a Sea of Islands: Mobility and Mental Health in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Sphere


  • Jacqueline Leckie



This article builds upon the fragmentary historical evidence of mental illness and mental health within South Pacific societies to explore the nexus with migration and mobility. The focus is on the Pacific territories that were under Aotearoa New Zealand’s jurisdiction. The article explores concepts of mental health and mobility within Pacific societies that became entangled with European concepts to designate insanity. The paper then discusses how mental illnesses were exacerbated or induced through migration and travel across the Pacific. The last section explores the transfer of mentally ill patients from some Pacific islands to Aotearoa. This article is based upon the 2018 J. D. Stout Lecture at Victoria University of Wellington.


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